The Welcome to Jamrock Cruise is the ultimate reggae music experience on the sea. Picture it, all of your favorite reggae artists in one location, music pumping, smoke plumes (and you know what smoke I mean) and people rocking non-stop. No drama, no scene, no negative vibes, people of all faces and races enjoying life joined by their love of music. Even if the artists aren’t your personal favorites, you leave knowing that you will add their music to your iTunes collection. It just so happens that anything Marley I love, but Jr Gong has been my favorite since his first album Mr. Marley. I’ve seen him and Stephen several times in Atlanta and the chance to “rock and come in” on the high seas was an opportunity that I refused to miss. Little did I know that on this trip I would encounter a medical emergency that would leave me partially unable to see in my right eye and miss my favorite artists performing.
This cruise is for lovers of reggae music and people who want to vibe, dance, and have fun with people from all over the world. If you do not fit that description I would advise you to find another cruise, or maybe just stay home. The cruise left from Miami and everywhere we went we saw people in Marley gear, and when I say people from all over the world I mean people from as far as Nigeria, Australia, Sweden, and of course every island in the Caribbean flew to Miami just for this cruise! I even met a crew from Tonga, hell I had no idea where Tonga was located until I met them. Now that is the definition of love and respect for the reggae music. Everyone was smiling, happy, friendly, you would swear we were all friends and that was the vibe on the way to the cruise terminal, and all over the ship. Vibes, positive vibes, loving vibes, chill vibes, and nothing but respect for fellow men and women.
The cost of the cruise is reasonable, but it could seem pricey since it was only 5 days, but you have to remember this is literally a music festival on the water night and day. Regardless of the time there were activities, parties, DJ sets and concerts all over the ship, so really this cruise is a steal. The food was excellent, real Caribbean flavors, buffet style, jerk, curry, brown stew, peas an rice, corn soup and nuff vegetarian options for the ital crews. Warning, this is not the cruise for customer service and pampering. The staff is basically available to keep the ship clean, and sell drinks, that is all, do not bother them with outlandish requests, they are busy enjoying the music, dancing and watching the antics of cruisers because there were plenty. Please do not take this trip expecting to be waited on hand and foot. The pool area is jammmmm packed, flags strewn all over the rails and everyone is singing, dancing and smoking, join the fun or go back to your room.
What should you expect? Spectacular musical performances, hands down. The artists lineup will not disappoint, even if you aren’t familiar with their catalog, they put on a great show and the crowd response will bring tears to your eyes. The Marley brothers are true performers and have set the bar high for all artists, they are without question the dreams of their father manifested. Between sets expect excellent DJ’s to keep the crowd moving playing the latest soca, danchall and hip hop as well as many of the classics that only require the beat to drop for the crowd to lose it. Bring your flag and be prepared to represent your country and culture, because this trip is a celebration of love. The itinerary changes based on the week you go, my ports were Monetgo Bay and Ocho Rios. Most people spend the day enjoying the sights, smoking a few trees, and relaxing in the sun on the beach. Take a trip over to Negril as we did and stop at the world famous Rick’s Cafe and watch the the brave jump off the cliffs. Head over to Dunns River Falls, or visit the Green Grotto Caves. All of these activities are in close proximity to the cruise port, yes it is a little drive but you have time to enjoy several activities while on the island. Stop at one of the roadside stands and enjoy some fresh fruits as well as some comical conversation from the locals.
The morning we pulled into Ocho Rios the sun was shining bright, not a cloud in the sky and I was excited because I was going to spend the day with my aunt and take a quick trip over to the Green Grotto Caves. I should have known something was wrong, I should have felt it, I was having too much fun. I found my aunt easily after I left the cruise terminal. After hugs, we stopped at a little café for a quick breakfast, problem number one, after I ate I had to go to the bathroom, and I threw up. I felt better, we walked to the car, now I usually don’t have a big curly fro while traveling, but on this trip I did. I wanted my hair to flow in the wind as I flowed with the music. Well, a wasp had decided he wanted to flow and fly right into my hair. Thinking it was a leaf from the trees we walked under, I grabbed it and tried to pull it out of my hair, epic fail, not only did it sting my hand, it stung my eye lid as well as the side of my face. Shit! Where is a Benedryl when you need one? Apparently nowhere in Jamaica at that time as we walked to several pharmacies looking for some type of antihistamine. Not sure what I was given but I trust my aunt wouldn’t try to kill me and being the trooper that I am, well experienced in tree climbing and bug stings, I kept it moving and at that time my face wasn’t swollen, it just hurt.
As planned we headed to Green Grotto Caves. I am not a fan of caves because I despise bats, but Green Grotto has so much history surrounding the location and the beauty is breathtaking. Seeing the inside of the caves that are dimly lit and the crystal clear waters I was mesmerized by the words of the guides, and even peeked up to look at the ceiling to see the thousands of bats. If you have the opportunity, I recommend the trip. At this time my eye began to swell and was becoming noticeable. Luckily I was wearing large sun glasses. A quick stop at Scotchie’s Jerk Center for some Jerk Pork and festival, hugs and I headed back to the ship with a swollen face and an unstable stomach. A police officer made me take off my glasses to verify my cruise pic going back onto the ship and gave me the “what the fuck happened to you look” so I knew at that moment I looked like shit!!!!!!!!!
Got back to the room and luckily I did have some benedryl, I took a shower and decided to take a quick nap because Busy Signal was performing that night and that is MY BOY! So I refused to miss his performance, but by the time I woke up the entire right side of my face was swollen and my eye was almost closed completely. I decided to go to the infirmary because maybe a shot would help. A shot of benedryl cost me 140 dollars, yes my insurance reimbursed me but if I had trip insurance it would have been free. The Dr. advised it was dangerous to be walking around the ship because I was visually impaired. I couldn’t wear my contact lens in my right eye and my glasses hurt. Why was I being punished? I saved for this trip, I didn’t lie and get a doctors note so I could miss work (I do that at times, no shame) my child was safe, I was having the best time ever and here I am laid up in the damm bed looking like a modern science experiment. I was so mad that I cried because it was not possible for me to do anything but listen to the music and lay in bed.
The following day it really wasn’t any better and that was the night that Jr. Gong was performing as well as Bounty Killer, I was pissed, self continuous about my face and mad as hell that I had to lie down like an invalid. Yes the shot helped but it also made me sleepy as hell, the swelling went down enough for me to be able to put on my glasses but my eye was still partially closed. The last day on the ship I said fuck it, I’m going to the party on the inside deck, that was the night everyone was repping their country, the DJ was playing the latest and some of the past soca classics and then he played PALANCE. Who told me it was a good idea to PALANCE with one eye half open, wearing my sunglasses inside a dimly lit area with 1 functioning contact lens, but I didn’t care. Then my glasses fell off and everyone gave me that familiar look “what the fuck happened to you” and I had to explain I was stung by a wasp in Ocho Rios and everyone responded with “that is fuuuucked up” like I didn’t know that already. They guys who were so eager to chat and dance before seemed to mysteriously disappear LOL. I can admit I was a MESSS. But I enjoyed my final night on the cruise, I danced with one eye open and made the best of a bad situation.The final night had a series of sound clashes and Capleton performed at what seemed like 1 in the morning. By this time everyone was drunk, really drunk, high, and all those new cruisers who really didn’t understand how the billing system worked were trying to figure out how to pay their bill for all those premium liquor bottles they popped for the past 5 days. This was the last night for any and all hookups and it was obvious.
All in all this was a great cruise experience. Would I go again? Most definitely, I probably wont get off the ship in Ocho Rios LOL, but I would jam on JamRock again at anytime. The artist line up was spectacular and diverse for all types of reggae and dancehall lovers, the trip accommodates every traveler including those with disabilities, the food was great, and the artists were very personable and easy going. The guest appearances were sweet surprises, my favorite was Spragga Benz. Both ports in Jamaica have several close activity options for a fun filled day on the island so in essence you are getting what can feel like two mini vacations in one. Despite my horrible incident, I had a ball, still not sure why Karma dealt me that hand at the time, but I will take it as a lesson learned. I never skip on travel insurance, I keep my hair braided up and I pack a full box of Benadryl.
Wishing you positive vibes, a contact high and one love as you rock to the sounds of the Marley brothers on the high seas! Nyri Un~Swollen
Check out the links below for the locations mentioned.