The Caribbean South area of the popular Caribbean cruise region has become increasingly attractive to European travellers in the last ten years. The tiny islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles are known as the ABC islands and are favourites for diving, shopping and sightseeing. The mainland port of Cartagena in Colombia could not be more different and provides an abundance of Spanish colonial architecture alongside a thriving international beach resort. The southern waters of the Caribbean are generally too far south to suffer from hurricanes but the seas can become a little choppy at any time of the year. Although ships operate in the area year round, the main season is between the months of October and March. Many itineraries incorporate Southern Caribbean ports of call on a voyage to the Panama Canal. Some take a whole day to transit the canal through to the Pacific Ocean whilst others enter the Gatun Locks in the morning and spend a day cruising in the Gatun Lake before returning to the Caribbean Sea in the evening. February sees the traditional carnival season on the Spanish speaking islands as well as in Colombia, Panama and Venezuela. Trinidad is especially vibrant as the island endeavours to exceed the flamboyance of the extravaganzas of previous years. Spice estates, rum distilleries and banana plantations provide interesting insights to the life of these eclectic islands and each has a variety of tropical beaches for relaxation after a morning sightseeing. The island of Grenada is well equipped for its daily influx of cruise passengers and is recognised as the spice capital of the world. The capital, St Georges, has traditional, English style, red phone boxes, a hilltop fortress and plenty of opportunities to buy up souvenirs in the colonial streets. Every port of call offers a host of excursions to suit all expectations, from leisurely sightseeing tours to snorkelling and diving.