There was nothing more fitting than watching Billy Ocean sing his massive 1985 single, “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)” while sitting on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The singer came on board during a stop in Falmouth, Jamaica long enough to wow the crowd with an exuberant performance. Ocean may have been best known in the U.S. for a string of chart-topping hits in the 80s, but he had a much longer career in England. His career first took off with the 1976 single, “Love Really Hurts Without You,” a Motown inspired song that went all of the way to #2 on the UK charts.
For the next decade, Ocean continued to have success overseas, but it was the 1984 album, Suddenly that propelled him into the international spotlight. The record went double platinum and spawned three top 10 singles. He went on to build on the success of Suddenly with 1986’s, Love Zone, and 1988’s, Tear Down These Walls. As the 80s drew to a close, he decided to take a break from the spotlight to spend time with his family. By the time he was ready to rejoin the music industry, his momentum had faded and 1993’s, Time to Move On was mostly ignored on both sides of the pond.
That string of 80s hits never really fell out of favor, so when Ocean was ready to start touring again in 2007, he found eager audiences waiting for him. He has toured steadily since then, including his stint on board The 80s Cruise. It was fitting that he was playing on the night themed, “Neon Beach Party” because the crowd decked out in bright colors blended nicely with the Ocean’s optimistic lyrics and upbeat performance.
When Ocean shimmied onto stage, his band and backup singers were already grooving to the 1980 song, “Are You Ready?” The funky track set the tone for a show that had the crowd on their feet more than in their chairs. There were a few slow tracks, including a cover of “No Woman, No Cry.” The Bob Marley cover might have been fitting considering the location but paired with two other slow tracks brought down the vibe in the room. As soon as he moved onto “Stay the Night,” everyone was back on their feet.
Ocean’s voice has lost none of its famous soulfulness as evidenced by his performance of “Suddenly.” If it weren’t for the long gray dread running down his back, it would have been easy to forget it was 2018 instead of 1988. He shuffled and grooved across the stage during, “Loverboy,” “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” and “When the Going Gets Tough (the Tough Get Going).” By the time he finished his set with, “Caribbean Queen,” the crowd was ebullient with many saying it was the best they had seen on the cruise. As Laura Ann Nikita from Greenfield, WI put it, “He sounded amazing and seemed like he truly was enjoying being a part of the cruise.”