Carnival Fever, Soca, Calypso, J'ouvert, Mas, Costume, Fete, TnT

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I'm sure you've heard about the annual "Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise"? Where Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley (yes, Bob Marley's son) takes you on a journey to Jamaica (from South Florida) with him and some of the world's top tier Reggae artists & djs on board a cruise ship. We're talking multiple live concerts and numerous Sound Systems blazing reggae/dancehall vibes all day and all night throughout the cruise. The ultimate Reggae music adventure! So when the guys behind the now "Ubersoca Cruise" told us about their idea to have an all out 100% Soca cruise back in 2015, I thought not only it was brilliant, but deep inside was applauding their courageousness to take on such a feat. Yes, promoters have hosted Soca events on a cruise ship before, but only utilizing part of the ship or sailing for a few hours. The Ubersoca Cruise was going to be the "Real Deal" when it comes to Soca and a cruise.

 

The anticipation and buzz emanating from everyone on board as The Norwegian Pearl sailed out of the Port of Miami was intense. It can be compared when you first hit the road on Carnival Monday, walking to meet your mas band. That feeling of what your next few days were going to be like... the drinks, the food, the fun, the people and the feeling when the sweet Soca music hits you. We were all looking forward to what Nathaniel, Daniel, Jodi and the Ubersoca team had in store for us over the next 5 days (4 nights). And boy, we weren't let down. These guys provided an all-star lineup of artists and djs from around the world in the Soca arena for our entertainment. Yes, believe the HYPE... all the artists and DJs advertised were PRESENT (and yes, Crown Prince did miss his flight... lol). It was like being at a Soca convention. Speaking of conventions, "Talking Soca", turned out to be a surprise highlight for most cruisers where we all got an opportunity to learn things about the artists, djs and folks in the industry (including myself). From Destra's childhood stories to Lyrikal's talking about being shot (1st time telling the story publicly), or Vincy's Skinny Fabulous dream of being a dancehall artiste to Ricardo Drue's fight to break thru... it was not only insightful, but showed that celebrities are still human.


Now, this was my very 1st cruise, so I had nothing to bench mark against. It was non-stop parties and events, not to mention Soca music played 24/7 throughout the ship, and it wasn't long before you started humming along as you walked down the hallways. Daily Ubersoca Cruise morning announcements with a run down of the day's activities made it clear that sleeping wasn't an option on board... get your butt up! We counted, and no joke, there were on average 12-16 different events/activities for the days spent at sea.Socasize, Soca Bingo, Steelpan, Dance Like Michael Jackson, Soca DJ 101 DJ Tutorial, football & basketball tournaments to mention a few.

 

The majority of our partying, apart from when we were in Jamaica, was in two main areas. The Main Stage was outdoors on Deck 12 by the pool area. The sound and light system specially built for the cruise was on point. If you didn't know better, you would have thought you were on land, and most of our partying was done here. And then, the 'after hours' feteing till the sun came up was in the Atrium, which was a split level indoor area where you could party, drink and have snacks. The Atrium was also the area used for alternate events, along with Spinnaker. So if the main stage entertainment wasn't enough for you, the Ubersoca guys always had you covered. My two highlight events were the "Theatre Turn Up", a comedy show which featured comedian Majah Hype and the "J'Ouvert Beach Party" which took place in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. For many, it was the 1st time seeing Majah Hype doing stand up, and he delivered. But it was the end of the show, when the massive Ubersoca branded balls and glow sticks were released in the theater along with live performances, that reminded me of the energy and atmosphere of Machel Montano's very 1st show at Madison Square Garden in New York City back in 2007. As for why I enjoyed the "J'Ouvert Beach Party"? Simple. Jamaica + Beach + Paint + Kes the Band = Soca Junkie Heaven.

 

Let's talk food for a minute. You NEVER went hungry! There was no shortage for food options, including 24 hour room service. Most cruisers ate at the buffet on Deck 12 because of the wide selections available pretty much all day. However, other options available were the al la carte Summer Palace, Chinese at Lotus Garden, BBQ on the main deck and other smaller snack restaurants and bars. The more upscale restaurants that weren't included in the cruise package had very reasonable prices, including the French restaurant, Tempanaki and Cagneys Steak House. The Ubersoca team provided recipes to the Norwegian Pearl's chefs to replicate some of our known Caribbean cuisines such as roti, curry, stew, BBQ pigtail, rice and peas and even Trini doubles (but I missed that one). For the most, the chef's did well for not knowing what most of these dishes actually taste like. A+ for effort. English Harbour Rum was the Official Rum Sponsor of the Ubersoca Cruise and lots of folks were walking around with what could easily been litre size punches, and of course, having a super time. I particularly enjoyed the Ubersoca Cruise Cocktail Menu, which consisted of around five (5) choices all for $9.95 each. Bartender, another Uber Punch please!

 

All the main parties concepts were carefully thought out in the planning process. Pool Party - check! Who does a Midnight Mas? Ubersoca does! J'Ouvert (on a beach too) - Check! All White Party - check! And in comes "UberTrucked", the last main event before getting back to Miami. The New York Trucked concept hits the sea, and it was performance after performance keeping flags of every Caribbean country waving high. But my most memorable experience was the "Soca Cypher" that took place at UberTrucked. What's a "Soca Cypher"? "Cypher - Anything cyclical. If your freestyling, you rap in a cypher (one after the other). Interrupting another man will break that cypher (unless he's next in line and the dude behind him is falling off)." - Urban Dictionary.

 

For 2016, the Ubersoca Cruise was certainly the next level of Soca entertainment. As they state... Whatever your taste, Ubersoca Cruise promises to deliver "An Experience Beyond the Music".

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