When I requested the assignment to cover Beres Hammond Love and Harmony cruise, I anticipated having a good time. My expectations were greatly exceeded.
The Love and Harmony cruise was a One – Love Caribbean cultural experience full of fun. The six-day five nights Caribbean cruise left Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Montego Bay Jamaica, on to George Town, Grand Cayman then back to Florida. What made the “Love and Harmony cruise ” special were the nonstop activities on board and, at sea. There were three nights of Reggae, Dancehall and Soca live concerts performances, the theme parties, sound systems DJ showcases, Domino tournaments, and two nights of Caribbean comedy.
The menu offerings were a fine mix Jamaican cuisine courtesy of New York Restaurant, the Door, and continental American cuisine. Some of the menu delectable offerings were Ital Stew, Bun and Cheese, Jerk Chicken, Jerk Pork, Stew peas, Oxtail, Escovitch Fish, Curry Goat, Curry Chicken, Cornmeal Porridge, Liver & Banana, Ackee and Saltfish w/fried or boiled Dumpling, Yellow Yam & Banana and banana porridge and an assortment of desserts.
The festivities and activities were nonstop. They began with the Welcome on Board party during boarding from 11: am to 3: pm. The Celebrity cruise liner departed Fort Lauderdale at 4: pm amid the emergency drill. Cruisers, then moved to the Poolside Sailway party, featuring New York’s Hot 97 Massive B with Bobby Konders and Jabba on the high seas. There was something for everybody. The players tested their fortunes at Casino Open House, while others sampled complimentary Rum Punch for Players. The Build Your Bar offered complimentary liquor tasting, while free health assessments were conducted by Dr Raj. Others cruiser visited Rooftop Terrace 12 to enjoy the action comedy “Crocodile Dundee.”
The evening activities began in earnest at nightfall. With romance in the air, the single men and women made their way to Rendezvous 4 for the Singles and Solo Meet and Greet to get their groove on. At 8:00 pm the Celebrity Theater came alive with standup comedy. Comedian, actress, and writer Gina Brillion, a Comedy Central Alumni, well time witty brand of Nuyorican comedy had the audience in stitches.
By 10: pm we had two choices, a movie on Rooftop Terrace 12 or dance the night into the morning to the music of Road International, Glamour Wayne, Ricky Platinum and DJ Excitement at the Sweet Dreams Pajama party. My date and I chose Pajama party. Many others did as well, the house was packed.
On route to Montego Bay, Jamaica my breakfast treat was Ackee and Saltfish with boiled Dumpling, Yellow Yam and Banana and Cornmeal porridge. My date spent the morning in the gym then had continental breakfast. The cruisers spent the morning pampering themselves in fitness and Zumba classes, engaged in the complimentary wine tasting of Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, gym workout session with trainers, acupuncture, and rest and chillaxing in Jacuzzis. For the health conscious, they attended Life enhancement seminars on detox and weight loss. Others watched movies, then we all went poolside to feast and dance at the Jerk chicken pool party and participated in the Domino Tournament hosted by DJ Roy from Road International.
Sunday evening the Celebrity Theatre on deck 5 was the place to be. The comedy showcase featuring YouTube sensation Major Hype, the man with many Caribbean accents” and Jamaican comedy duo Ity and Fancy Cat was the buzz on the ship all day. Hosted by the tambourine man, Kingsley ‘Raggashanti’ Stewart Ph.D., the stand-up comedy routine was worth the wait. Openers Ity and Fancy Cat ripped the place. Their tightly scripted, well timed comedic- skits, were delivered with intense high energy.
Beres Hammond joined the audiences for the comedy set. At intervals, he gave several thumbs up approval to self-deprecating jokes about his songs. The most memorable line was Ity’s who called out Beres for lies in his song ‘Full Attention.’ “Beres … (I know) you nah stand in the middle of the road make no car run over him fi get nuh woman full attention. Yu too lie”
Major Hype’s comedic flow and timing were delivered in typical Caribbean laid-back fashion. From a sanitized version of Mitzie and the Rass, he was funny and well received by the standing room only audience.
The poolside Soca concert at International (Caribbean) Flag Night closed the evening. Caribbean America was in full effect. They waved the flags and ‘wine’ and Get on Bad to Soca music’s biggest stars. Kevin Lyttle asked them to stop ‘Drive Me Crazy’ and ‘Turn Me On’ the come ‘Dance with Me.’ Patrice Roberts’ made things ‘Sweet Fuh Days as Rupee was ‘Tempted 2 Touch.’ The after party closed flag night on deck 12.
We docked at Montego Bay pier at 9:45 am, After five hours of sight-seeing, shopping and a swimming at Doctors Cave we boarded for the Mo-Bay Concert Pool Party. Singer/DJ duo, Chaka Demus and Pliers, got the music vibes rolling. With a medley of their hits, including ‘I want to be your man’ ‘Murder She Wrote’ ‘Workie Workie /Young Gal Business’, ” Dem a Bleach’, ‘Bam Bam’, ‘Tease Me’, ‘She don’t let nobody’ and ‘She give me lovin’, they exited to crowd applause. Next up was Sanchez, who has one of the finest voices in music, along with his tightly knit band, wove a tapestry of great music. His song selections were a perfect blend of timeless classics from Reggae, Rocksteady, Dancehall and Rhythm and Blues.
His seamless transition and well-timed delivery between genres, paid tribute to Gregory Isaacs, Morgan Heritage, ” Down by the river, Freddie McGregor’s ” See it in You’, Dennis Brown’s ‘Here I come’, (which he owned) Barrington Levy ” Every day I love her’, Alton Ellis, Sugar Minot ‘Mr. DC’, Jaheim ‘ Fabulous’, ‘The Dells ” ‘The love we had”( stays on my mind), Tracy Chapman ‘Sorry’, ‘Sam Cooke You Send Me’, Freddy McKay ‘Picture on the Wall’ and Wayne Wade ‘Love you too much’ (to ever start liking you). The singer melded his hit ‘You’re not alone’, ‘Lonely won’t leave me’, ‘This little girl’, ‘Let me love you Down’, ‘Missing you’, and ‘Never dis the man’ into a brilliant set. He closed the set with the gospel track ‘He looked beyond my fault and saw my needs’. This was arguably the best performance of the evening and the audience loved it.
The Doctor, Beenie Man delivered his catalogue of hits in his imitable style. His rapid-fire lyrical prose DJ style, showmanship totally captivated his audience. He took the fans where ever he wanted to and had them in the palm of his hand. Beenie Man exited the stage and the Send of Party with Massive B sounds began.
Dancehall concert Night featuring Mr Vegas, L.U.S.T and Elephant Man took centre stage at poolside and lasted for two hours. Mr Vegas spit firing the lyrics of his hits like ‘Hot gal today’, She’s a Hoe’, ‘Nike Air’, ‘Head High’ ‘I am Blessed’, ‘Bruk it down’, ‘Hot Wuk’, ‘Tek Whey Yu-self’, and ‘Sweet Love Story.’ It was dancehall energy to the max. He closed his set with the gospel track “Nobody Greater”.
The group L.U.S.T, the reggae version of the Temptations changed the vibe to a mellow energy. The vocal quartet of Luke D, Tony Curtis, Singing Melody and Thriller U opened with Beatles classics ‘Let it Be’. Melody launce into ‘Run Free’, then Lukie D belted out ‘Center of Attraction.’ From that point on we have treated to music lessons a vocal styling with Reggae/Dancehall, Ska, Rocksteady and Rhythm @ Blues. Singing Melody closed with ‘Just as I am’. Elephant Man aka the ‘Energy Gad close the show. The highlight of his set was a Japanese caped dancehall mania named ‘Blackanese.’ He almost stole Ele’s show. The energy god tried to throw him off the stage, Blackanese dance his way to centre stage. Ele then challenged him to dance off. Blackanese went toe to toe with Ele and then some. Ele simply lets him dance his way off stage, but not before taking Blackanese black cape.
After early morning Fitness Abs class, Sunrise stretch and meditation, morning stretch and Soca Body Movement, and a sumptuous breakfast as we anchored at Hog Sty Bay, George Town Grand Cayman. We visited Devil Hang Out, got up close the Dolphins at The Cayman Turtle Center. Others visited the Atlantis Submarine Expedition and Queen Elizabeth Botanic Gardens. We shopped for rum cake, rum cream and souvenirs before boarding a tender back to the ship. The Send of Party with DJ Excitement, Ricky Platinum, and DJ Sallie welcomed us onboard. There was the ladies Pamper Party, the Captain’s Toast show. At 10:00 pm we dressed in formal attire the Captains Ball on Deck 4 and 11. We danced to the music of Steelie Basement, Ricky Platinum, Karim Hype, Platinum Kids, Massive B, and Glamour Wayne.
The final day was the grand finale with All White Concert featuring the legendary Beres Hammond and the Queen of Reggae Marcia Griffith. The day began with indoor cycling and Wet Fete Cardio. At midday the poolside Shorts and Shade party, then Karaoke and Silent Disco at the Martini Bar. When the regally dressed Queen of Reggae hit the stage she gave a classic Marcia Griffith, performance. The electric slide queen drew from her five decades of hit songs and kept us entertained. All while fighting a headwind that refuses to cooperate. Great men who transcend their craft have the distinction of being known by one name, like Pele, Jordon, Magic, Michael or Prince. In reggae, it is simply Beres. Before he hit the stage there’s a little feeling in his stomach. Beres all-white concert was a great performance. Beres gave a first class show. From his opening song “I Feel Good”, until he exited the stage with ‘Rockaway’ we were thoroughly entertained, well pleased and satisfied.