On 5th February 1938 Normandie set sail from New York, heading for Rio de Janeiro and the world-famous Carnival. This spectacular 22-day cruise was organised by a Boston travel agency, Raymond-Whitcomb. For this cruise, Normandie was operated as one-class, with nearly 1,000 passengers aboard. In a precursor to today’s cruise liners, the agency even hired a cruise director with an assistant, a social director and a large entertainments staff to keep everyone amused. A variety of professional entertainers were brought along.
With stops at Nassau and Trinidad on the way south, Normandie arrived at Rio in the early hours of 16th February, at Guanabara Bay, and soon after passengers began pouring onto the tenders to go ashore. However, in all the advance planning, no-one had thought to arrange for tickets and invitations to the various balls held during the Carnival. All the passengers could do was enjoy the street parties! Leaving Rio on 18th February, stopping at Martinique to refuel, Normandie was back at New York on 27th February.