Damian Marley’s Reggae Cruise 'Welcome to Jamrock' Sells Out Nearly a Year in Advance

From left: Black Am I, Damian Marley, Wayne Marshall, Jo Mersa Marley and Christopher Ellis

Less than a month after its lineup of top tier Jamaican acts was announced on his Facebook page, Damian Marley’s inaugural Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise has sold out all of the 2,300 available cabins aboard the Norwegian Pearl cruise liner, Damian told Billboard.biz in an exclusive interview.

So named for Damian’s 2006 Best Reggae Album Grammy Award-winning “Welcome to Jamrock” (Universal Motown/Tuff Gong), which peaked at no. 7 on the Top 200, and its blockbuster title track which reached no. 55 on the Hot 100, the Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise will sail from Miami to Jamaica, October 20-25, 2014, docking for daytime excursions and beach parties in the island’s resort towns, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

The enthusiastic, globe-spanning response to the cruise -- cabins were purchased by reggae fans from Asia, Australia, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas -- signifies reggae’s broad-based, continual appeal, despite the genre’s persistently modest sales. “Reggae doesn't traditionally move a lot of numbers but it is loved the world over and this cruise is a testament to that; we haven’t done any marketing except announcing the lineup in late September, and it sold out,” Damian told Billboard.biz on the phone from his Miami studio.

The lineup features Damian and his older brothers Stephen and Julian Marley; dancehall superstars Sean Paul and Shaggy, contemporary roots singers Tarrus Riley, Jah Cure, and Etana; sing-jay Busy Signal, Jamaican-American sibling band Morgan Heritage and the roster of acts from the Marley family’s Ghetto Youths International imprint: Wayne Marshall, Black-Am-I, Christopher Ellis (son of Jamaican rock steady legend, the late Alton Ellis) and Stephen’s son, Jo Mersa Marley. Also on board will be renowned UK selector Sir David Rodigan and three veteran reggae sound systems Jamaica’s Stone Love and Renaissance Disco and Japan’s Mighty Crown.

The proliferation of successful American and internationally based reggae acts over the past few years and their dominance on the Reggae Album chart prompted Damian to choose acts coming from the music’s birthplace for the inaugural Jamrock cruise, which will be an annual event. “Reggae’s root is Jamaica, and it seems that the world is losing a bit of that history so we were very strict in having most of the lineup for the first cruise be of Jamaican heritage,” Damian stated.

“We are very excited to have a reggae success story and another platform to present artists that we think so highly of,” added Damian’s manager Dan Dalton of Red Light Management. “There has never been a fully chartered cruise ship devoted to reggae so this will be like a festival with sound systems playing, a rock steady lounge or dub lounge, an 80s dancehall club, a multifaceted Jamaican musical experience.”

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