Simply put, your island visit is incomplete without a water experience. After all, most of us can do that landlocked stuff at home. Of course there are many options – whether your interest lies in scuba or snorkeling, fishing or jet skiing, wave running or parasailing. Whatever your particular choice, a catamaran cruise needs to be close to the top of the list. And amongst catamaran experiences, there are others, and then there is Island Routes; boasting the newest fleet and arguably the most robust drink and food menu with some of the friendliest people on the water! We recently hopped aboard the infamous ‘Red Dread’ boarding in Montego Bay and took on the 3-hour Island Routes Reggae Catamaran Cruise for a taste of Jamaica’s idyllic scenery and lively music. Island Routes catamaran leaves from the Tropical Beach pier, which boasts a picturesque waterfront with beautiful vistas. Upon entering the property you’re encouraged to relax, expand your horizon and roll with the tide. The Red Dread is one of the largest catamarans in Montego Bay, measuring an impressive 65 feet in length. A popular choice, the Red Dread sails weekly (excluding Mondays) and it’s recommended that you prebook to guarantee your space.
We gathered at the dock just before 10am and eagerly waited for our catamaran to approach. Before you see the boat, you’re guaranteed to hear it as the rich sounds of reggae music float across the turquoise waters promising good things ahead. It might have been morning but, as the saying goes, and the rhythms reinforced, it was certainly afternoon somewhere in the world. The party vibes quickly embraced us in their frenzied reggae rhythms and as the catamaran approached, cutting through the Caribbean Sea. Jacques Cousteau once said of the ocean, ‘it casts it’s spell and holds one in its net of wonder forever.’ As we embarked the catamaran, the beck and call of Jamaica’s clear waters was like a siren’s call to the passengers. Everyone was magnetically drawn to the netted areas of the catamaran, looking out at the ocean and basking in the sunlight of Jamaica’s never ending summer. After a friendly, and comprehensive, safety brief we were able to relax and ready ourselves for what Island Routes proclaimed was the “LIVE FUNNER” philosophy in everything they do. The friendly team and fun philosophy is admirable especially in light of the company’s commitment to ‘responsible fun’ and its sustainable tourism practices.
We went snorkeling at the Doctor’s Cave Reef, which so happens to be depicted on the back of the Jamaican $50 note. It was truly magical. A definite must! Once we had our fill of snorkeling, drinks appeared and the party kicked into high gear. ‘Captain Shaggy’, as he introduced himself, set out a delectable spread of tuna wraps, chips and salsa, chocolate chip cookies and fresh fruit kebabs, while the bartender, Dellena, served the cocktails. We made our way over to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville to release our inner child and enjoy the water slide and ocean-facing trampolines. As we left Margaritaville, the party escalated and the energy on the Red Dread moved up to another level. It was an hour of reggae-fueled partying and libations; an experience that takes you beyond the resort and into the heart of the island’s playful, live-life-to-its-fullest culture. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and so our catamaran adventure ended just as it had started - on a pier with the pulsating sounds of reggae wafting across the clear blue Jamaican waters