Ubersoca Cruise 2017 was, by far, one of the best travel experiences I’ve had to date. The combination of sweet soca music, the essence of Caribbean Carnival, great people from all over the world and events on board geared towards the love of soca makes this event a must for anyone who considers themselves a lover of soca music.
Between the live artist performances, themed parties, comedy shows, football tournament, beach j’ouvert, rum tastings and just about everything in between, there was no shortage of things to do, people to meet and bacchanal to be had on Ubersoca Cruise 2017. In true Cruzan Foodie fashion, I’m going to give you the rundown of the good, the bad and the not so good of USC 2017. Regardless of what is written after this line, believe me when I tell you that Ubsersoca Cruise 2017 (USC) was an unbelievable experience that I didn’t think was possible! From the ease of the USC payment arrangement to the final goodbye at the Port of Miami, this cruise is one that I would highly recommend to any person looking for the ultimate soca experience.
How Much Ih Be?
The 5 day, 4 night Ubersoca Cruise 2017 set sail to Cozumel, Mexico on Thursday November 16th from Miami, Florida. The cost for cruise varied based on the accommodations chosen. Because I knew I’d be spending little to no time in my room, I opted for the inner soca cabin. After taxes and fees, the final cost was $1099 (did not include flight to Miami). Trust me when I say, it was worth every red cent especially when you consider the payment plan that allowed you to pay over time. At $140 per month, it made paying for the cruise an attainable goal.
Prices of drinks at the bar on the ship were also surprisingly affordable! A double shot of Hennessy with a chaser ran me about $11-12 and beers were between $3-5. According to USC attendees from 2016, the prices in 2017 were way better than their inaugural year. Unfortunately, there were no drink packages available for purchase since this was a chartered cruise. Can you imagine how often the cruise ship would have to replenish their inventory with a bunch of Caribbean people signed up for unlimited drink packages on a soca cruise??!! They wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand!
Ayo Ready, o wah?
J’ouvert Mike repping the #VIStrong Tee at the preparty
The USC fun kicked off with the pre-party in Miami the night before we set sail. This gave you a slight taste of what was to come for the next four days on board the Carnival Sensation. While the pre-party venue was not ideal for a soca fete, one could not deny the level of vibes felt throughout the night. Even standing in line waiting to get into the fete was bacchanal with shots of Cruzan Rum from my fellow Virgin Islander – the tuhn up master himself – Julien! Drink shots before the feteing start? Sign me ALL the way up! Attending the pre-party allowed cruisers to meet and mingle with the people they’d be partying with for the next several days. This was the perfect way to start the experience.
Dat Ting Too Sweet
I came on this cruise because of my undying love for soca music! From the moment you arrived at the port until the morning you disembarked from the ship, soca music was heard ALL DAY EVERYDAY! Walking to your room? Soca music is flowing through the speaker system. Eating breakfast? Soca. On the elevator? Soca. In the bathroom? You guessed it – soca music! At one point, I thought to myself that it was soca music overload. However, I quickly reminded myself that this was what I signed up for and that thought never entered my head again!
The live artist performances each night on the pool deck went until the wee hours of the morning, leaving you voiceless from screaming lyrics at the top of your lungs as you sang along to every song. The impromptu performances by Rupee, Iwer George & Lyrikal during one of the after parties injected a level of vibes that I won’t even try to put into words. The way the DJs had each party more lit than the last one speaks to their sheer talent. The close out performance on the final night where most of the artists blessed the mic while Kerry the Drummer provided the beat was EPIC! Watch the video below to understand what I mean. Shout out to my VI artist, Pumpa, for representing during the cypher! I was a proud Virgin Islander throughout Ubersoca Cruise 2017 but even more so during that moment! Check out the vibes below on how they closed out the cruise.
I Consider Allyuh My People
One of the best things about the Ubersoca Cruise 2017 was the ability to meet, chat with and fully engage with the soca artists and DJs that I’ve been listening to the better part of my adult life. They were all cool and down-to-earth for the most part, always willing to take a selfie or pose for a picture with anyone who asked. This access truly elevated the experience for me because I am a conversationalist at heart. Being able to speak with them directly was the icing on the cake. I learned more about who they were as individuals through conversations over a meal or a drink at the bar.
Clockwise from the top left: Voice, Skinny Fabulous, Kes, DJ Kevin Crown
Ayo Know We Love To Fete
Each day on the cruise brought about different themed parties that made packing for the trip a breeze. Some of the parties held on USC 2017 were:
White Party – because Caribbean people love an all white party
Midnight Mas where you wore a Carnival costume
Theatre Turn Up Comedy Show Pajama Edition
Uber Jammy Jam
Rum & Water Pool Party
J’ouvert in Cozumel
Rum & Water Pool Party
There were a host of other events and limes happening throughout the cruise but these were the ones that stood out for me. The good thing is that you ended up wearing the outfits from the themed parties to the after parties that ended sometimes 7 or 8 in the morning. While I still took way too many clothes for this trip, next year I’ll be sure to pack accordingly.
Soca DJ 101
I absolutely loved this showcase! This was definitely one of my highlights of Ubersoca Cruise 2017 simply because it highlighted an integral piece in the world of soca and music in general – the DJ! DJ Kevin Crown shared what it takes to be a soca DJ and his thoughts on ways to move soca music forward so that it’s internationally recognized. He was an open book – answering questions and showing us how versatile soca music can be. At one point, he mixed Nirvana’s “Smell Like Teen Spirit” with “Party Bad” by Mr. Killa & Mr. Legz. He even played one way a DJ can wind down the fete as it comes to an end. Pure vibes but educational and insightful at the same time! Check out the footage below to see what it was all about!
The Shell Down!
Ready for J’ouvert!
The highlight of the cruise for me was the beach j’ouvert in Cozumel, Mexico. The rum punch flowed, the vibes were on a hundred thousand trillion and the bacchanal ensued for more than 6 hours! Performances from Kes the Band, Kerwin DuBois, Lil’ Rick, Peter Ram and Lavaman were jam packed with energy. Even the return back to the ship resulted in a full-blown fete in the duty free store. I swear you can’t take Caribbean people anywhere lol My advice for j’ouvert is PACE! I made the responsible decision to go back to the ship early because I was sure I would fall asleep somewhere in Cozumel and the cruise ship would leave me behind. As a result, I missed out on the performance from Kes the Band (this one hurt like hell) as well as the fete in the duty free store back to the ship – but I lived to fete another day! Next year, I’ll start drinking when I reach the j’ouvert and not all morning before the j’ouvert starts. That rum punch was dangerous. Shout out to English Harbour Rum for supplying the drinks that helped make j’ouvert in Cozumel an epic experience!
Pah Ayo Geh Dis Ship From?
Ubersoca Cruise 2017 was held on the Carnival Sensation, one of the first ships in the Carnival Cruise fleet. This means that it is one of the oldest ships cruising on the waters today. It was clear of the ship’s old age when the elevators worked less than half the time and some rooms used scotch tape to keep the air conditioning vent in place. Lawd send help! On the other hand, the staff was great. My room steward, Viktor, was the real MVP! He brought extra towels, checked in to make sure we were okay, complimented our various outfit selections and was an overall mood booster! He earned every bit of the tip we left him for his unparalleled service (remember to tip your room steward/stewardess)! I personally believe that USC 2018 MUST be on a different ship in order to provide a better overall experience. Let’s hope they’ll take this into serious consideration when planning for 2018.
Who Cooking Back Dey?
Day 1 Lunch Menu
This is where Ubersoca Cruise 2017 fell short for me. Naturally, I’m all about the food when I travel, regardless of the experience. As a result, this is why I do not like cruising AT ALL. I expect to at least be somewhat satisfied with what is offered. Instead, I spent a large portion of my time eating lackluster food that resulted in an upset stomach. I was popping Tums like candy! I applaud the USC staff for injecting Caribbean flavor as much as possible when it came to the food. Curry chicken, oxtail, cornmeal porridge, and sorrel & ginger beer were some of the food options offered to cruisers. With the exception of the curry chicken, everything else was a disappointment for me. The sorrel and ginger beer tasted like they were made from a concentrated mix of some sort – and not the good ones either. I failed to try the ginger beer before pouring it into my Johnnie Walker. I was too vex with myself from that one. I still drank it (who throwing away alcohol? Yuh mad?), however, it was not as enjoyable had it been my Barritt’s Ginger Beer. The food on USC was not good. Point. Blank. Period. I’m eating sandwiches and salads from room service and avoiding the food hall in 2018.
Who Drinking Rum?
There was an enormous amount of confusion surrounding what patrons could and could not bring with them on the ship. On regular cruises, guests can bring a 750ml bottle of wine or champagne along with cans of soda. Because Ubersoca Cruise was a chartered cruise, patrons were told this wasn’t an option. However, I met a number of people who brought their wine and champagne bottles on board with no issues. See where the confusion lies? Thankfully, you were able to purchase alcohol bottles through Carnival once your booking number was issued. This was a great alternative to purchasing drinks a la carte from the bar. While the bar prices were more than reasonable, the difficulty of getting a drink varied depending on time of day and bar you went to. Overall, the few times I went to the bar resulted in me getting drinks without any issues. Oh and that coconut water they had at the bar was blasphemous. God is upset that they’re trying to pass that off as real coconut water and they need to repent for that sin! Jeez and bread…
The turn up always started in the room!
The Not So Good
Organization + Bacchanal is Possible
As previously mentioned, there was no shortage of things to do on the ship. Unfortunately, some events didn’t start at their scheduled time and ended up running over or running into the time for other events. Ayo know Caribbean people could never start anything on time and the same rang true on USC 2017. The Destination Showcase, hosted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and the Natural Hair Linkup were held back to back in the same location. With a late start, the Destination Showcase was a bit disorganized with the trivia game where audience members could win prizes to various Caribbean destinations. There was no possible way to compete when people were screaming over each other. What should have been a fun event caused people to be more aggravated than anything else. Whoever stuck it out amidst the confusion are the people that won the prizes, like my roommate that won accommodations and tours to Belize. As a result of the late start, the Natural Hair Linkup also started late and ran into the Talking Soca event that was scheduled immediately after.
Talking Soca – the event where the soca artists and DJs shared their thoughts about the genre in detail – was one of the most highly anticipated events on board in my opinion. Here is a clip from the event featuring Kees, lead singer for Kes the Band.
While I learned more about how some artists, DJs and promoters got their start (shout out to Patrick the Hypeman, Back to Basics & Skinny Fabulous stories), it did very little in educating attendees on how to move the soca genre forward. If this event could be organized like a panel discussion, this could be an amazingly powerful event! Artists and DJs could answer a set number of questions from a moderator around how to elevate soca music while weaving personal stories into their answers. In the end, open the floor where attendees could ask questions to the artists and DJs on stage. Instead, I walked away with information I already knew – buy soca music on iTunes and attend various soca events being held throughout the year. This was another event that started late that resulted in people leaving early because the formal dinner started at 6pm for some attendees.
Wah Deh Ass, Man!
There were a myriad of things happening all at the same time on Ubersoca Cruise 2017, much like when you travel to a Caribbean Carnival. Due to the short time frame for the cruise, the pump starts the MINUTE you get on board. There is no buildup to the bacchanal like there is when you typically go to Carnival. Now this might be a plus for some but I personally like the buildup. You touch down at the airport then head to the avenue for a little lime. From there, you build on the bacchanal intensity as the days go on, leading to the day when (or if) you play mas on the road. This is not the way USC is designed and it’s important that future attendees understand that. The pump begins IMMEDIATELY!
More often than not, there wasn’t any time to yourself unless you stayed in your room. There were people everywhere you turned, music playing every waking moment of the day, and little, if any, downtime to be had. Even something as peaceful as taking in the sunrise once the after party started winding down was next to impossible. People were always there, talking and shouting as the sun breaks the horizon to usher in a new day. I enjoy traveling because it allows me to enjoy the space I’m in while still having moments of solace to myself. That is NOT the case on USC lol Again, USC is designed to maximize your soca experience within 5 days. This means pumping 24/7 until the cruise returns to port in Miami or you pass out from complete exhaustion, whichever comes first. This isn’t anything that USC can control or change, nor should they. Therefore, I plan on carving out a moment or two in the gym or even getting a spa service where I can take a moment to myself in 2018. This is my personal travel preference and it’s what I need to do to ensure I enjoy my Ubersoca Cruise experience.
There you have it – my raw and honest review of Ubersoca Cruise 2017! As I mentioned above, I thoroughly enjoyed myself on USC 2017 and have no regrets about this trip. If you are a lover of soca music, carnival, bacchanal or all of the above, do yourself a favor and book your spot on Ubersoca Cruise 2018! While I don’t expect that people will agree with everything I’ve written above, this was a review of my personal experience aboard this year’s cruise. I’ll see you aboard in 2018 – that’s if they’ll have me after reading this review lol
Anquanette Gaspard is a food and travel entrepreneur, freelance writer, blogger, and social media influencer, based in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Anquanette uses her blog, CruzanFoodie.com, and social platforms to share her experiences in a way that is authentically Caribbean.