Carnival of Guadeloupe, West Indies

One of the most important festivals in the West Indies is the carnival of Guadeloupe which takes place for about two weeks and can go up to 4 weeks; but the most important days go from Fat Sunday to the day after Fat Tuesday, or Ash Wednesday. With European origins, this festival has taken place more and more in the West Indian culture and has settled. During this period, there are several events that take place like singing and dancing competitions, costume parades and of course the election of the queen. The most important events take place in Basse-Terre where the public accompanies the musicians, dancers and participants costumed through the streets of the city with the rhythm of the drums. The iconic Carnival character, King Vaval (abreviation of Carnival in Creole), is cremated on Ash Wednesday, ending the festivity and the crowd dresses in black and white for the occasion.

Tips

If you visit Basse-Terre during a ship stop before the carnival, you can usually see some participants who practice for carnival parade during the day in the city center (especially on weekends). This is a good opportunity to know a little about this festivity.

Two or three weeks before the big festivity, you can also attend group parades on Sunday from 17:00.

Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands

Saint Thomas forms a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands, an unincorporated territory of the United States. Located on the island is the territorial capital and port of Charlotte Amalie. In 1917, St. Thomas was purchased (along with Saint John and Saint Croix) for $25 million in gold, as part of a defensive strategy to maintain control over the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during the First World War. The post-war era also saw the rise of tourism on the island, with relatively cheap air travel and the American embargo on Cuba, the numbers of visitors greatly increased. Passenger and limited car-ferry services to neighboring islands such as Water Island, St. John, St. Croix, and the British Virgin Islands run regularly out of the Red Hook Terminal, Charlotte Amalie, and Crown Bay Marina. This is the only place under American jurisdiction where you must drive on the left. However, because St. Thomas is a U.S. territory, most cars are imported from the mainland United States and therefore the steering column is located on the left side of the vehicle. The island has many regular taxis from compact size to large vans, as well as open-air, covered trucks called “safari cabs” with bench seats. To visit : the second-oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere; Fort Christian (built in 1680), the childhood home of Camille Pissarro, one of the best-known French Impressionists, the Cathedral Church of All Saints; built in 1848 from stone quarried on the island, this church has thick, arched window frames lined with yellow brick that was used as ballast aboard ships. Merchants left the brick on the waterfront to make room aboard their boats for molasses, sugar, mahogany, and rum for the return voyage. The church was built in celebration of the end of slavery. You can also take the 700-foot skylift to the top of Charlotte Amalie; it could be good specially if you want to take photos from there.

Tips 

You have a lot of activites to do on the island specially if you like sports : sailing, snorkeling, diving, swimming, golf. You can do it by yourself or on a tour.
If you like shopping, take advantage of duty-free shopping, the stores offer a range of high-quality products available for significantly less than on the mainland.
If you are on a cruise and you only have the day to visit the island, you can do it going on the safari cabs with other people from the cruise. It’s the cheapest way to know the island and the driver will show you the best spots. Don’t forget to ask for the price before getting on because you can be badly surprised at the time of paying. Take a photo of yourdriver’s license to have a proof with you in case he isn’t honest.