After a three-year hiatus due to COVID, Damian Marley and his annual JamRock Reggae Cruise departed from Miami yesterday (December 7), bound for Jamaica. Joined this year by such reggae icons as Burning Spear, Shabba Ranks, Shinehead, Maxi Priest, Stephen Marley and more, the five-day excursion blends reggae with the Jamaican culture, such as food and more, as well as yoga and other activities.
The 2022 edition has been sold out for some time, but tickets are on sale now for the 2023 edition, being held December 4 – 9 of next year. I spoke with Marley about this year’s cruise, the artist he’d still love to have him on the cruise in the future and more.
Steve Baltin: I’m glad that we get to connect. I appreciate you being flexible with this. Sometimes the universe, as my friend says, just laughs at you.
Damian Marley: I hear that, sure.
Baltin: But then again, you know that well, because, of course, you were in the midst of planning cruises. And then COVID happened.
Marley: Yep, I think everyone in the world knows it pretty well by now.
Baltin: So this is the first one in three years, right?
Marley: Yeah. The first one since two thousand and nineteen.
Baltin: I spoke with so many artists during the lockdown. And it was a very fascinating thing to see how people either missed or didn’t miss touring. Since we’re talking specifically about the cruise, did you miss that camaraderie?
Marley: Not particularly, I was good. I wasn’t even focused on that. I was more actually giving thanks for the time. It’s the first time that I’ve been in one place since I was a child.
Baltin: It’s interesting that you say that because I spoke with Lucas Nelson, who was at the house with his mom and dad, and they would have dinner as a family at five-thirty every night. And I think for so many people they really enjoyed that feeling of being able to live let’s call it a normal life for a minute. Did you find that having the time away, it makes you appreciate these things more?
Marley: Yeah, I appreciate these things more. And it made me think about other things to where as I was saying, reset. It really occurred to me that it’d be really a great thing to learn like a trade. So it made me want adventure outside of just the music business. To learn some other stuff that may be more helpful in a situation outside a music life.
Baltin: What are some of the extra-curricular activities you have on board?
Marley: Throughout the years we’ve always had various activities and events plan. We have soccer games that happen. There’s been like domino tournaments. There are a lot of activities there that we plan for the cruise and, of course, there’s also live entertainment happening right throughout the day. But we just really try to make sure that we get everything properly and smooth as it should be rolling out this year, before we even try to undertake any kind of new things. This year is really trying to get back to just the cruise itself. But as we said, there’s a lot of extra-curriculum activities.
Baltin: I’m: sure the anticipation is really great, and that you’re seeing people are incredibly excited.
Marley: Yeah, of course. I think people just in general are excited for any event that’s being held right now. People are tired after being locked up for so long that everyone wants to get out and get back to life and enjoy themselves. And being social, people are excited about the cruise and then definitely can follow it.
Baltin: What made you then decide initially a cruise was the way to go?
Marley: You have other cruises that are music oriented that we have seen as examples. And we know that it will work very well with regular music. You get to go to Jamaica, it’s sunshine, it’s good weather, it’s Jamaican food, and, of course, like I said the music. So it works well with our culture. I’ve never been on a cruise ship prior to our cruise. I didn’t really have any interest to go on a cruise.
Baltin: Since it is your cruise, are there a couple of artists that you would love to have on there?
Marley: Yeah, a lot of them are on it this year. So, for example, this year we have Burning Spear and we have Shabba Ranks and various other acts. But every year we try to get more and more acts that have never been before. We have some people who repeat, and what not. But I’ve had a lot of my heroes been on the boat already and we still have some more that we’d like to do in the future. I’d hope to have Jimmy Cliff one year.
Baltin: You just did some producing as well for an album that’s Grammy nominated.
Marley: Yes, indeed. So it’s for an artist named Kabaka Pyramid, who I know in the genre of reggae music. This would be the second album that we’ve worked on together, but on this one I produced the entire album. We did the whole thing together, and it’s his first Grammys nomination. So we released the album through our label. We’ve been nominated prior with Third World. But this being Kabaka’s first nomination it’s a milestone for us.
Source: “Q&A: Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley On His Welcome To JamRock Reggae Cruise, Jimmy Cliff And More” by Steve Baltin. Forbes. Dec. 8, 2022.