While the Carnival “OG” title goes to Trinidad, a Bermuda native upped the ante by taking Carnival onto the ocean.
After taking a few cruises with his family, Nathaniel Turner realized that the programming on cruise ships didn’t necessarily cater to him, or Caribbean culture. Instead, he thought it would be pretty cool to create an experience for Caribbean culture in a cruise format.
Turner pitched the idea to his friend Daniel Reece, a well-known promoter in Bermuda and together they approached Jodi Lewis, to help them bring it all together.
“When they came into my office with the idea, I was initially speechless,” Jodi Covington-Lewis, PR manager for UberSoca Cruise told Travel Noire. “This was something that had never been done, and required people to support an entirely new Carnival experience on a ship.”
Despite the initial hesitation, Turner, Reece, and Lewis put their respective talents together to launch The Ubersoca Cruise in 2015. They literally created everything from scratch.
The first sailing went to Jamaica in 2016. The team was able to sell out 65% of the ship, but they knew that providing a top-notch experience would be the key to drawing in new passengers, and keeping the returning ones coming back.
“USC is a complete cruise ship takeover with non-stop programming, 24-hours a day, over 50 activities and events, and well over 80 Soca artists and DJs.”
The team also enlists the help of their own culinary team to curate an authentic Caribbean menu for the duration of the sailing, that features dishes and flavors from nearly all Caribbean nations.
The following year (2017), the team sold out their Cozumel sailing. In 2018, they added an additional sailing, sold out the first, and booked most of the second which took place right after the first. In 2019, they sold out both sailings in just 10 days. Over 7,000 people from countries including Australia, Kuwait, Poland, France, Sweden, Japan, UK, USA, and the Caribbean— took part in this carefully curated and well-executed Caribbean experience.
“It’s really a testament to the hard work the entire USC team as well as our extended partners and passengers, put in year-after-year,” Lewis said. “People trust the experiences we create now. When we announce our sailings, we release very few details and sell out before people even know the port or artists that will be on board.”
Just 5 years in, Ubersoca Cruise is now officially the ‘largest music-themed cruise in the world.’ Yes, the WORLD. Did we mention this is Black-owned?
If you think this experience is only about partying into the wee hours of the night, you are mistaken. A large component of the programming is also the networking and conference offerings that take place. The team always adds in time for passengers to link up, exchange business information and ideas, and to gain knowledge on topics that affect us as a culture.
“Yes, we are here to have a great time and to party, but the networking and connections that are built during the cruise are just as important. If you don’t make at least one business connection, you’re missing out.”
This year was set to be even bigger and better. The team had locked in bigger ships to allow even more people to take part in the Ubersoca experience. They were also set to sail for 5-days versus the normal 4 to two exotic locations. Unfortunately, COVID postponed this year’s cruise.
As of now, the plan is to come back stronger than ever in November of 2021. The 2021 sailing dates are inin place, Nov. 5-10 and Nov. 10-15. RSVPs are officially open, too.
“Our motto is “an experience beyond the music,”” Lewis explained. “With Caribbean culture, the music brings everyone together, no matter where they are from. What makes Ubersoca stand out, is our ability to bring so many cultures and countries together. There is no judgment on USC, we appreciate and love everyone— we are a family. The friendships continue well beyond the cruise. It’s such a magical experience.”
To become apart of The Ubersoca Cruise family, and to stay up-to-date on how you can get on 2021’s sailing, visit their website: www.ubersocacruise.com. You can also follow along on IG at: @ubersocacruise.