Spring 2023’s Uber Soca Cruise was most definitely a week I’ll never forget. From the feel-good music that was heard nonstop on the six-day ride and the legendary artists who put on great shows, to the food, the tropical pitstops and the nonstop parties all day and night, feeling withdrawals since its ending only comes naturally.

On my birthday this year, I got one of the best presents ever – an email from the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism inviting me to be a guest at the festivities. The Uber Soca Cruise is actually the largest Soca festival at sea, and I knew I would be foolish to not attend – and for free at that!

After being flown to Puerto Rico – along with my sister who I asked to also be invited – I knew the event was going to be one of the best adventures ever. This was actually my first cruise. I never really thought they looked special. But, the fact that this was a Soca cruise was definitely a game-changer. I had no idea those existed and being Vincy-American, I was ready to witness one for myself.

In fact, the older I’m getting, the more I want to be more in tune with my Caribbean roots. My family are proud Vincentians and my father, who passed in December of 2022, also made it a point to teach me about my Garifuna heritage and Vincy culture. He was a proud Garifuna man. So, this invite truly came at a great time when I’ve been feeling this urge to connect more with my Caribbean ancestry.

To the star, any celebration of Soca is a win for the culture. “I love my genre and that it was born in the same country as me. It’s the happiest music in the world and you are not able to stay still when the music starts playing,” she added. “I definitely think that we are on our way to mainstream success and that’s my hope. We are telling our stories, sharing our talents and showing up, so it will happen. As far as the evolution of Soca is concerned, I hope that my colleagues remain authentic but continue pushing the envelope.”

Rising artists performed on the cruise, as well. When asked what ingredients made a Soca hit, Star Martin, who competed in season 23 of “The Voice,” told us, “The answers may vary based on who is answering but for me, the key ingredients to make a great Soca song are catchy lyrics for people to sing along, a Sweet riddim to make people dance, and choosing the right tempo for that specific song.”

Martin is just getting her feet wet in the industry, but she’s more than ready to make a name for herself. “USC (Uber Soca Cruise) actually had an online competition for up-and-coming acts who wished to perform, and I was the winner through a voting system,” she revealed.

Speaking about what song made her first fall in love with Soca music, Martin continued: “There are quite a few, but one song that stood out for me at a young age was Alison Hinds’ ‘Faluma.’ I was mesmerized by the African Saamaka language, which is the language of the Surinamese Saamaka ethnic group, in the beginning and throughout the entire song. I then researched and figured out that Soca music also stemmed from many African instruments and became intrigued, and the rest is history (laughs).”

Soca music has been around for years – since 1970 to be exact – and it’s here to stay. Year after year, it only gets bigger and continues to do its job of making more people who hear it feel like they’re on Cloud 9.

“Soca music is growing rapidly and with artists such as Machel Montano and Patrice Roberts intercrossing the sound with different genres, I feel that even more listeners are now paying attention,” Martin added. “Although Soca is getting there, I do believe that there is still much to be done but once we work together collectively, we can achieve the same success as Afrobeats.”

Roberts even stated, “I know my songs are great contributions when it gives me a specific feeling. It’s really a feeling that I cannot explain,” while adding that Soca legends like “Machel Montano, Alison Hinds and Destra” inspired her to jump into the lane.

The Uber Soca Cruise and the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism understands the power of the music more than anyone, which is why such an incredible celebration takes places at sea. The Caribbean is full of jewels – from its people, paradises, food, tunes, and vibes. This cruise was a cumulation of all this and for that, I think I speak for all guests who are proud of their Caribbean heritage when I say we are truly grateful it exists.

Until next time from this Vincy bad gyal.