MY UBER SOCA CRUISE REVIEW

Good day all!
Now that both Boat 1 and 2 are back and everyone is back into their normal groove of things, I will try my best to give you my experience on Boat 1 of the UberSoca Cruise.

BOOKING:
This process was a complete mess for people who didn't know how to plan and who were not pre-registered in the D.A.M.M. (Dat Ain't Missin' Me) program.  I had a bittersweet experience with it and that's partially because I was enrolled.  This is a program that allows you guaranteed sailing for the following cruise before knowing dates, the ship to be sailed on or the destination.  D.A.M.M. members are people willing to take that risk and decide to go on the cruise no matter what.  In my humble opinion, this is a huge leap of faith for the patrons and the benefits (for them/us) is minimal to none and there is no discount. I however have decided to do it again for  2019 because the good (on the cruise, not the program) outweighs the bad.
(Package collected at the USC customer care center)
This package was given on the ship at the V.I.P. Party on the first day. We were given specialty boarding, VIP access during jouvert, free entry to the V.I.P. party, first dibs on cabin registration and an opportunity to get a free costume in Carnival Rogue (a band in the Trinidad and Tobago's carnival).  Booking (for me) was a breeze, however I was a part of a team of about 40 people plus who planned on traveling together and that was a task. Only a few of us were in the D.A.M.M. program.  Those who weren't were not given an opportunity to book (which was expected).  After the D.A.M.M. members booked, there was an R.S.V.P. crew. The R.S.V.P. ticketed people basically booked the majority of cabins which left friends wanting to sail with me out in the cold.  It wasn't until all R.S.V.P.'s were booked did they advise to John Public that they were offering a second sailing.  Unfortunately, this made groups of people separate.  Including mine. Boat 1 registrants were not allowed to choose Boat 2 and it was being advertised that Boat 1 was completely sold out. What a dilemma! This pissed me off for a couple reasons.  Two days before we set sail friends of mine were permitted to purchase cabins for $500 for Boat 1.  Which equates to $250 a person to sail on a boat that was "completely sold out"!  I had friends that would have cut both arms and legs to come on Boat 1 with me and were willing to pay full price yet they 'gave away cabins' at the last hour.  Some felt bullied into Boat 2 just to have the UberSoca Cruise experience.  Boat 2 was never their 'choice' and they weren't given an option.  To then later see cabin giveaways at $250?  These cabin giveaways, they enjoyed the same cruise as I for a more than discounted price meanwhile we as D.A.M.M. members got nothing.  I'm not hating because I love to see people win but the UberSoca team needs to do more for their loyalists because as of now, MANY of us feel that D.A.M.M. is a rip off.  What D.A.M.M. is; is UberSoca team's way of pregaming.  Allowing them to know who will be not only GOING on the following cruise but who will be PAYING for their ship! Yeah, I said it.  D.A.M.M. needs to be reconfigured so it better benefits their members.

PREPARATION:
There was none.  Only because of the first two cruises had I known what to prepare for.  Things like the obvious All White Party, my carnival costume for Midnight Mas and a pair of pajamas, lounge pants or onesie for the pajama party.  Low and behold, we were sent a "what to pack list".  I actually thought that this was dope and liked the suspense of it all BUT too much suspense can be a killjoy.
(click image to make large)
If you noticed, this initial "What To Pack" list was missing an all white outfit for their All White Party which UberSoca Cruise veterans were used to and expecting. There were many complaints while others welcomed the change.  About a week or two before Boat 1 sailed, there was an "updated packing list" which included an all white outfit for the 'newly added' All White Party.  
I am unsure of what caused this sudden change. Maybe it was the outcry of the feterans or it could have been that this event was just assumed then in turn forgotten to be added to the original pack list but it made lots of people happy.  After this, we were given the itinerary for all cruising days.  Although it was very late, this is what I was waiting for to start my packing.  Why most wait on the itinerary is because it helps one plan what to wear, when to wear it and where.  If there are two things happening at the same time, the itinerary can help in the decision making and know what doesn't have to be packed.
Once we boarded the ship everyone mingled a little, had some drinks, found their cabins located friends and so forth.  This year the safety drill was taken a lot more serious so there was no drinking in the cabin like last year.  Reluctantly, we participated in the safety drill.  The crew of folks with me were already tun up so I heard none of it.  I enjoyed myself at the sail away party and appreciated music from the late Mighty Shadow.  This year, I left the sail away party to attend the VIP Party (only because I enjoyed it last year).  This too turned out to be good but the complementary cocktails had me a little buzzed so I didn't stay late and completely missed the D.A.M.M./V.I.P. package distribution.  There was no announcement or note left in the cabins for us so I didn't look out for it.  I left to get ready for the All White Party.  The All White Party, is what it is.  Pace.  No complaints.  After party. Sleep.

THE FOOD
If you read this blog regularly, you would know that I don't play with the belly.  I woke up extremely hungry and made a dash to the 11th floor dining room.  None of the ones for additional payment but the buffet styled food that was free.  Ah done pay over eleven hundred dollars per person to be on the people ship, I was eating what they gave me with a smile! There were some complaints about the food but I had NONE. I mean, we as Caribbean people/ people of color already have our preconceived notions on what food should look, smell and taste like.  So whyyyy go on the people ship to complain bout things like doubles?  If something doesn't look right, move on.  It has doubles right here in South Florida, in Brooklyn and hell, TRINIDAD SELF that don't taste good so it's on a ship that you're expecting a bess doubles?  I've heard horror stories from people about how tasteless the food was, fights for pizza, etc.  I was quite pleased with the food on the 11th floor and whoever didn't, poor you.  Should you see a line that is too long for your liking, come back later or choose something else.  I would never fight over pizza especially pizza I hear wasn't even giving you lives, it just tasted good.... I had the pleasure of stuffing my face 3 times a day with the main courses, had couple snacks in between, fruits, salad, every nature of bread and desserts.  Hell, I ate more than I drank on that boat and NEVER missed a meal. I was one of the fortunate ones to get some macaroni pie, rice and peas, callaloo, stew oxtail and stew pork for Sunday lunch AND HAD SECONDS! I did as everyone on the boat should have done.  I know it is VERY easy to mess up a callaloo, so I tasted a small portion of it and once it passed, I went in! To the ones who complained about the food, I believe they came on the cruise expecting to nyam caviar and lobster.  Food on the UberSoca Cruise (in my opinion) is what most people eat to prevent drunkenness or nurse hangovers so it should be appreciated that they went out of their way to accommodate us with traditional dishes and not the bland stuff that I KNOW the normal cruise lines gives.  I've never had Haitian food but the day we were in Haiti, I heard that the food was spot on as if it was made in a Haitian kitchen.  So what are we complaining about again?
Each event today was better than the last because everyone was still getting used to their environment on Thursday. I want to believe that Boat 1 was full of newbies to UberSoca Cruise and was a little stuck in their social shells on Thursday evening but after the after party, they learned! Everything was enjoyable and I enjoyed the UberSoca on Ice the most on this ship.  I believe that it was because my husband almost killed himself as he tried to skate while intoxicated and I almost died from laughter.

After all the laughter from the ice skating and eating, we slept straight through the Game Of Thrones comedy show.  From those who attended, I heard that it was extremely funny and Majah Hype wasn't missed.   It was said that the full comedy show would be televised (on ship tv) but no one (that I knew of) stayed in their rooms long enough to ever catch it. Back to preparation, reasons like this is why we need the itinerary at the very least two weeks in advance.  I'd be ecstatic if we got a month.  Due to the itinerary, I packed something just IN CASE I made it to the comedy show.  The lack of interest was solely because of the Game of Thrones theme.  I've never seen the show and didn't want to feel out of place.  The Game Of Thrones after party I did attend and that was great and so was the after after party.  I think the after parties were when people REALLY misbehaved.
So now we're in Haiti.  We made it.  While on the deck, I looked over to see how beautiful the island was.  It was really peaceful and serene then the thoughts of what we came to the island to do started to creep in.  It was almost a shame how we deliberately came to the people good good island to mash it up and that we did.  
Leaving the ship we took some amazing pictures and video footage.  To get to the jouvert we could have walked for about 20/25 minutes or be driven in what looked like an extended golf cart for about 5. We took the ride.  
As we walked into the jouvert we did a quick scan for the complementary rum punch they distributed for years one and two but was told that it was done. 

I'm sorry, it was what?  Maybe I couldn't hear with all the noise.  So I leaned in.

I heard right.  The people say done.
Done as in finished. Complete. No more.  All gone. Vanish. 
Very bothered, I had to suck on a watered down Hennessy and pineapple with a splash of cranberry served in a pineapple...

At this point I was dumbfounded. 
I'm an intricate planner. I planned to get to the jouvert early enough so I can tun up and return to the ship before everyone else to selfishly eat and enjoy the Wi-Fi.  The switch up was disappointing and I call it a switch up because the first two years the rum punch lasted for a very long time.  It felt like the rum punch was catered for 1,000 people. 1500 tops! And we all know that the ship (Boat 1 anyway) had 3/4,000 people! Although I enjoyed the jouvert, I couldn't get past the rum punch fiasco and stayed back stage for the rest of the day where I enjoyed taking pics and drinking with Soca music's royalty.  


As KES The Band was singing, I got the "lehwe go" nudge from the hubby.  We walked back to the ship, enjoyed some smoking hot Wi-Fi and ate like pigs.  The itis kicked in so we took a small nap before the Midnight Mas party.  This too went well and I'm glad more people showed up than last year which I believe has to do with the missing rum punch at the jouvert.  Last year was a scene and my hubby to this day believes that some people were left in Mexico.  I skipped all after parties this night because I didn't feel like partying with my wings.  There was absolutely no room this time around.
(costume: Wassi Ones)
Sunday was filled with mixed feelings.  We gained an hour from the previous night yet somehow still woke up feeling drained.  Dressed for the 50 Shades of Pink Brunch and waiting for the crowd to gather, I murdered some people for hours in All Fours (card game that I believe only Trini's play).  Mariano of Euphoria Mas was my partner.  I never left the table because I just wasn't feeling the vibes and I was content listening to the music as I looked on to the people alongside us.  The attendance for this event was pretty low.
The Wakanda Ball went well.  Everyone came out in their African attire and stuck to theme.  There were more people than expected.  The dining room was gorgeous! If I counted correctly, there were three floors to dine on.  People on the floor above were able to look down at the one/ones below. The problem I had was that there were so many people to feed that it took a very long time to get our dinners.  I ended up having to take mine to go. When we got back to the room there was yet another "costume change" as I called them.  We had to get into our pajamas for the Pajama Party.  Both The Pajama Party and the after party on the promenade were LIT! I already over love both Bunji and Fayann but if you didn't before that finale performance, something is wrong with you. I refuse to explain it.  Next time, just be there. Then that damn after party.... I don't know.... It's as if everyone was just waiting until the last night of the cruise to literally do EVERYTHING crazy. Lord it was pace!  I saw women being carried across the promenade over men backs like cave women. There were people dragged across the floor on chairs while sitting. Then there was someone who was sitting in a chair who was carried IN THE AIR across the floor. There was an #SSS ritual done on the boat which is called a baptism.  You would have to attend an SSS baptism done on land to understand the level of crazy experienced on the people good boat that night and although the baptism's are done to a certain person in particular at these events, this baptism was done to any and all who got wet with the people champagne.  That after party was a true finale.

MY OVERALL VIEW:
My view is that the UberSoca Cruise team is between a rock and a hard place.  It's unfortunate to say but when dealing with the masses especially our own people no one will ever be pleased.  I will admit, I boarded the ship being very upset with the UberSoca Cruise team but I understand that there are things that they just can not control yet there are things that they could have.
  • It upset me that I wasn't given an opportunity to pre purchase bottles of liquor or water from Royal Caribbean.  I rather a cup of water over juice any day and we were given glasses of water and juice that were prepoured and the drinks sat there until someone came to drink them. For sanitary reasons, I didn't trust it and rather have bottles of water to pour myself.  Just like the drinks.  I know how I like my drinks made and if I had my own liquor, I would have made the drinks to my liking. With each drink purchase I made, the drinks were watered down. Just like the prepoured ones in the dining hall. 
  • The two boats.  Although it was an overall success, stick to one boat.  I would have liked for year three to have the exact experience for all.  There were different people (including artists) on Boat 1 and Boat 2. Take for instance the rum punch for jouvert.  The rum punch ran out before I stepped foot into the jouvert (Boat 1) and was flowing all throughout the Boat 2 jouvert.  As I looked at footage from Boat 2, it was a noticeably smaller crowd than Boat 1 and that alone showed that it was a more intimate setting and that in itself made me think that Boat 2 would have been the better boat for me.  Never have your patrons feeling regretful. 
  • Overpricing/ overcharging. Two beer buckets cost $95. A mixed drink of Hennessy with cranberry and pineapple was $18 and I almost died at the price of bottled of water.  For the regular Joe Shmoe, that would have been fine but on a normal day I chug a gallon of water easily.  It's my drink of choice.
  • It's understandable why cruise lines do not allow irons but to not have at least ONE iron on board per floor was madness. If anything needed to be ironed, you had to have guest services wash/iron it for you.  We get it. This is a business but some things were just outrageous and felt like robbery. 
All in all, I had an amazing time but have come to realize that all my real complaints had very little to do with the UberSoca Cruise team.  Once God spare life, I will be back for UberSoca Cruise 2019. Hopefully on the next go round I will be able to cruise with ALL my friends and we can afford to pre-purchase bottles of liquor AND WATER.  I hope the food is just as good as it was this year or better.  The special prayer is they do something more for the patrons with the current D.A.M.M. program that they currently have and they communicate more with their patrons.  Give up on even mentioning the Rogue costume. By that time, all who are going to Trinidad for carnival and plan on playing mas ALREADY HAVE A COSTUME and not everyone is interested in going to Trinidad for carnival.  

UberSoca team, I applaud you.  It's not an easy task pulling together something as wonderful as this and you've successfully done so for 3 years with 4 sailings.  Keep up the good work!

For my 2017 experience, you can click HERE

CONVERSATION

2 comments:

  1. Well written, and as an avid reader of dcarnivalbaby blogs, your detailed account of ‘what happens in de party’ makes me feel that I was a part of the events as well. As for your latest commentary about that fabulous cruise, I am well interested in that booking early excitement, but seems like there are a few, but minor kinks that needs to be smoothed...hopefully next year I can join you.

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  2. Great work giving the play by play from beginning to end. For someone like me that is interested in attending this event your thoroughness and honesty is much appreciated. Very well written!

    ReplyDelete

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