Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Soca Brainwash
Epic Carnival Launches All-Inclusive Floatel Experience for 2023 Trinidad Carnival
The inaugural Epic Carnival Experience (ECE) promises an all-inclusive Trinidad Carnival experience that lives up to its name. After two years without Carnival due to COVID, Trinidad anticipates a monumental comeback. While flight and stay accommodations are limited, if not fully booked, ECE offers a way to make your 2023 Carnival dreams still come true.
Marketed as “the only all-inclusive hotel experience in Trinidad & Tobago for Carnival 2023,” ECE’s one-of-a-kind floatel concept is attracting Carnival newbies and seasoned visitors.
The visionary behind the brand is Trinidad native Johnny Mack of Angel Magik and Dream Weekend Hawaii. Mack’s dream team of legendary Caribbean partners includes Walshy Fire, Caesar’s Army, Scorch, and DJ Private Ryan.
Travel Noire spoke with Mack about the Epic Carnival Experience to learn more about its all-inclusive perks and how ECE is creating a next-level Carnival experience for guests.
Travel Noire: How did you come up with the concept of Epic Carnival as a floating hotel experience?
Mack: “Trinidad welcomes 40,000 to 60,000 people that fly in for Carnival. Our capacity for hotels is only 2,500 [rooms]. Trinidad wasn’t built for tourism. Trinidad has one of the largest natural gas supplies in the world, oil, and asphalt. We have an economy that’s not built on tourism. So we never built out our hotel capacity for tourism.
“How I came up with Epic was in 2014 when my wife and I got married. I brought in 40 people to Trinidad from the US and around the world for the wedding. The wedding was the week of Carnival. I had everyone fly in; took them to fetes, J’ouvert. The week after we all flew to Tobago where I had my wedding.
“But, trying to find rooms and accommodations for 40 people was extremely difficult; almost next to impossible. Coordinating activities so everyone could go to the fetes and parties during Carnival was its own mission. Then, getting transportation for everybody to go to all of these events was another mission.
“So, the realization was there are so many people that want to come to Trinidad for Carnival but don’t know how to maneuver in it. Carnival is its own culture; barriers to entry for lack of a better word. There are different bands that if you don’t know the band leader or have a friend, you don’t get in. They’re not selling tickets or access to everyone. So, you have to be in the know to access premium events that everyone wants to get into.
“During that time, I was working with Damien Marley and I went on the JAMROCK Reggae Cruise with him. I saw what an amazing draw it was and I thought this could be used as a hotel for Trinidad Carnival. Not sailing from destination to destination but come [to] port and we’ll set up the experiences for you.”
Fueled by the inspiration of the JAMROCK Reggae Cruise, Mack immediately started making plans to bring a cruise to Trinidad in 2015. Initial plans to launch in 2021 were halted by COVID, a devastating blow to the entertainment industry.
“Carnival didn’t happen for two years. As soon as we found out Carnival  was happening, we re-engaged the cruise ships and locked them in. I put together what I consider the cultural innovators of Trinidad Carnival. I put together a team of promoters, DJs, and experience makers that I believe are exporting Trinidad Carnival culture at its highest level and being presented in a manner that’s professional and well-respected around the world.”
TN: Can you share how the Epic Carnival Experience is different from other travel groups?
Mack: “I’ve got a group of guys that have never worked together before to come together to work on this project which became Epic. We have a world-renowned Caribbean DJ, DJ Private Ryan, who also has a brand Soca Brainwash. Another partner is Walshy Fire, one-third of Major Lazer, whose originally from Jamaica. Scorch – also a Trinidad native – has an entertainment company that does events anywhere Carnival is happening around the world. Caesar’s Army is also a partner who attracts people like Usain Bolt to his events.
“I’ve put together a dream team to evangelize the culture, spread the good gospel of Carnival culture, and bless the world.
“The concept of Epic is [guests] fly into Barbados on February 16th. Flying into Barbados during this time is $500 to $1,000 cheaper than flying into Trinidad, because of supply and demand. So, it’s a cheaper way to get into Trinidad for Carnival by saving on the flights.
“You board the ship. We’re going to have an amazing party with iconic Caribbean DJ, DJ Puffy, and different soca artists [performing] on the ship. As soon as you dock in Trinidad on Friday morning, we have a brand new fete aka a big party, a huge production. There will be music, food, drinks, live entertainment, and steelpan drummers.
“[Guests] will go to a bunch of fetes and the ship will have all-day parties and entertainment. Everybody on the ship has access to free alcohol and free food, all day. Your cruise ticket to get on the floating all-inclusive resort, or floatel, also includes tickets to all of these events. It’s saving you money, time, and energy in trying to get access to events.”
Epic attendees have an itinerary filled with access to more than a dozen fetes and other various events. The list of events includes a new brand under the Epic umbrella, Duck Work, Aqua, and Pandemonium, to name a few.
Mack continues, “Our premium upgrade gets you into A.M. BUSH and Soca Brainwash. Both events are already sold out; the only way to get tickets right now is to buy premium access on our ship because they are partners. You also get access to some breakfast parties including AWAKE Breakfast Party & Elements, a breakfast fete that includes all-you-can-eat breakfast and all-you-can-drink alcohol.
“Basically, at any hour of the day, we can celebrate life, or fete.
“Our package also includes the option to get into J’ouvert. The band I like to play with and that everyone will have access to is called Coco Devils. Trinidad has one of the highest tiers of cocoa in the world, and we take raw cocoa and paint our bodies in the raw cocoa. You’re going through the streets of Port of Spain seeing everybody having fun and dancing. Nobody cares about color, race, or creed because you’re all blended together in this harmonious intermixing of colors, paint, music, and sound. J’ouvert is one the best experiences of Trindad Carnival because you do this until sunrise and, for that moment in time, you’re all truly one being of people.
“I put together this team of partners that I believe is epic and brings accessibility and amazing, quality events. This is your premium, exclusive way to experience Trinidad Carnival headache-free, like a local that is in the know, has connections, and relationships for the best experience you can have at Trinidad Carnival ever.
“What’s special about 2023 is we haven’t had Trinidad Carnival for two years, so this is a built-up eruption of the mother of all carnivals that we’ve ever seen.”
TN: How does your work with Trinidad tourism factor into this experience?
Mack: “Trinidad tourism is part of the endeavor as well. The tourism board is going above and beyond what they’ve ever done before. They are creating a ‘safe map’ in Port of Spain where people can walk around to various areas that has services on every corner, and the streets are well-maintained and well-lit.
“We’re going to have information areas and EMTs. Plus, they’re going to provide shuttles that you can hop on and off to experience different sides of Trinidad. They’re also providing shuttles to a lot of festivals and concerts. The tourism board is actually going to help with transportation, accessibility, security, and also providing cultural entertainment.”
For a $100 discount on your cabin, use the code NOIRE during registration, for more information on the Epic Carnival Experience, visit myepiccarnival.com.
Mack ensures the floating all-inclusive resort and Carnival experience will be “pumping” 24/7.