Since I’ve finally come down from my travel high, returning from the reggae cruise to Ocho Rios and Falmouth Jamaica, I can finally tell you about my trip!
Reggae Cruise- The cruise was a 5-night cruise to Jamaica, on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. It is called the Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise. The service on the ship was good and as to be expected, there was an abundance of food and the variety spoke of the Caribbean cuisines expected to accommodate the cruisers. I ate for the most part on the 11th deck and on our last night of the cruise, we ate at Giovanni’s Table where reservations are required. Though you might think cruisers would only be from the Caribbean, they actually came from all over the world. It was their fifth year and 2019’s cruise has already sold out, this time a year in advance! Unfortunately, I’m on the waitlist because I didn’t act quick enough. I have to mention that if you love reggae music you definitely have to experience this cruise at least once in your lifetime because I can see it continuing for many years with its success.
It mostly covered the following genres of reggae music…dancehall, lover’s rock and hip hop reggae. Founded by Damian Marley, the youngest son of legendary Bob Marley, it was definitely professionally organized and a big production, even grander than any concert I’ve been to on land. The setting is perfect and what a genius idea to incorporate a trip from mainland U.S. to the home of reggae music, beautiful Jamaica! It would be great if there was a cruise port in Kingston. It would bring a lot of business to the area and tourists from other countries can finally discover the city that the world hears about often but have not experienced. I know Kingston is densely populated, however, it would definitely be great to expeditiously revive the area so that the world can venture to and experience Kingston, Jamaica!
We saw and met people from all over the world. All of who we spoke to had been there at least twice since its inception five years ago. That definitely speaks volumes and attests to the fact that reggae is not only popular in the Caribbean. Over the years it has evolved internationally with many countries putting their own spin on it. For example, Reggaeton, Hawaiian reggae and Soca and has grown popular in every corner of the world.
The ship featured many reggae artists from Jamaica. The other highlight and tradition was the Sound Clash, where DJs compete with the crowd as its hype meter and win their approval with their DJ skills. Unfortunately this year, we did not get to see Mighty Crown showcase their talent but nice to see them stake their claim as retired champions. Still, however, very entertaining as I was told.
One of the best parts for me was watching the Marley brothers perform on stage together, keeping their father’s legacy alive (Ziggy, Stephen, Julian, Ky-Mani and Damian). Growing up in Hawaii, most of us were familiar with Bob Marley’s music and as I got older everyone became familiar with Ziggy. But with Damian Marley’s crossing over and success with hip hop reggae it was definitely great to see all of them on stage, and as I closed my eyes to feel the music I thought…wow they all sound like their dad. Julian even has his dad’s mannerisms when he performs. It was surreal! Every single one of them has contributed so much to reggae music and work to keep it alive. You see the passion within them, as many artists that also performed.
As you all know, I’m quite the adventurer but my age reveals itself being that I can no longer stay alert past 3am?! My body shuts down, so like many of the artists were saying on the cruise, if you snooze, you lose! Quite true, if you can’t make it past 3am, you miss out on the DJ performances, after parties and meeting the artists that were freely open to mingling with the cruisers. Talk about classy and appreciative of their fans!! Unlike one of my friends on the ship, I am a bit shy when asking an artist for a selfie so if I have the nerve to do it, it means I was pretty bold ‘at the moment’. One of my funniest moments on the ship was when I saw Damian Marley about 10ft away by one of the elevators but I completely froze! haha The last time that happened I was, I think 18 at a Dallas club, in my college days and met Brian McKnight and I could not speak when introduced! Also, another moment I remember was on All White Night when this dude who was about 7ft tall stood in front of me while I was watching the artists perform. I was so mad, I remember tapping him on his bicep saying “umm excuse me, how you going stand in front of my 5ft 2in self (with my island girl twang)! I’ve been standing here for two hours, can you move please!?” Oh and he was rude acting like he didn’t hear me. He mumbled something and stayed there. Eventually the crowd dissipated a little then I was able to see again…and dance again!
The first port we stopped at was in Ocho Rios. We took a taxi to Mystic Mountain and went on the Tranopy tour. Our driver also took us to Tracks and Records restaurant.
I loved Mystic Mountain! The tour consisted of a round trip lift ride up to the mountain that took us to the zip line and bobsled ride. The views were gorgeous and I had a blast! The tour guides on the zip line are pretty good at keeping it light-hearted so that everyone is comfortable and it helped in taking the fear away. I, of course, wanted to go first on the first of five zip lines and I got nicknamed weed head and fun size…don’t know where they got that from but okay whatever, I was a good sport. Please visit my instagram to see my videos and pictures from the trip.
Tracks and Records- The location is definitely smaller than the Kingston location. I was ready to order my fave jerk spring rolls only to be told that they did not have any so I tried the curry chicken and it was delicious. Luckily we left early enough to make it back on the ship. There was traffic heading back from the restaurant.
The second port we stopped at was in Falmouth. We went to Martha Brae River, known for its river rafting. It was an hour ride on a river about 3 miles long. It was serene and lovely. Our guide was very nice. Along the river you’ll see vendors with various items that were quite nice, artwork and sarongs etc. We opted to buy a coconut carved piece of artwork from our tour guide. Very beautiful.
Our next stop in Falmouth was Burwood Beach, about several minutes from the port. It was quiet, private and nice. There were a few locals and tourists there as well. A hidden gem suggested to us by our driver Cory who took us to Martha Brae and the beach. Like everywhere else in the world, a local will always show you best therefore venture out and do something different. I had never been to Ocho Rios so I definitely wanted to get off the ship and enjoy the attractions. Falmouth, I never really heard of, but it was a quaint town that reminded me of my small country town in Hawaii. Away from the hustle and bustle, and very laid back. I enjoyed it.
It was nice meeting so many people, from all over the world. Shout out to two couples we fell in love with, our New Zealand friends and Mr. & Mrs. Treestepp 😉 If there’s anything that unites people from all backgrounds, it’s music! This cruise was proof of that. If you love reggae music and cruising, you have to check out this event. You will definitely enjoy it!
For more information on the cruise, please click here—> Jamrock Reggae Cruise
Thanks for reading about my trip! Big up to Damian Marley…great cruise, great job!
Haze- Blue Crush Travel
Pic (clockwise): Artist Abba Yahudah, performance of the Marley brothers, me with Spragga Benz, DJ Westafa, Third World, new friends from New Zealand, me on the bobsled ride at Mystic Mountain, the ship and me at Tracks and Records.