After over 20 years in the music industry, Ali Samii is enjoying some of the biggest successes of his career right now. The manager of DMX and N.O.R.E. decided to take a break for a family vacation on a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise early last month and when it was time to go home, things started going haywire. Sami and his family got stranded in the ocean in the aftermath Hurricane Irma.
"When we get to Miami [to start the vacation], nobody's thinking about Hurricane Irma, nobody knows what's going on," Ali told REVOLT TV. "We get on the ship September 2nd. September 3rd is my nine-year wedding anniversary. We got to the restaurant, we're in the ocean, everything is cool. On the 5th, we're on an island off of Belize, Harvest Caye. We get out, go shopping. We get back on the ship. And, by this time, we've heard about Irma. People are hitting me like, 'Are you okay?' But we're on a cruise ship on the other side of the Caribbean, we're good."
Ali notes when he and his family got back on the ship, the captain made an announcement that Hurricane Irma was making a direct hit on Miami and the ship would be going "full steam ahead" back to the Florida city's port where everyone first docked at the beginning of the trip.
"He said, 'Whoever can get off there, get off in Miami. If you can't, if you can't get home, stay on the ship and we're going back out to safety," Ali described. "'But here's the catch, we don't know where we are going and when we are coming back.'"
Ali admits if he were by himself, he may have thought about risking it and getting on the road to drive to New York during the storm. But seeing that he was with his wife, two young kids, and elderly grandmother, he opted to stay on the ship. It's not like he had a choice anyway.
"I get to Miami, I'm making calls, no flights, the flights are deaded, couldn't get a hotel. I could have gotten a car from one of my people in Miami, but I'm looking at the roads, people are telling me '[the weather is] ugly all the way up to New York and its gas shortages,'" he explained. "I had to make a decision: Do I take a risk or do I get on the ship to nowhere? 'Cause on the ship, you're living. You have twenty restaurants, food all day long, pools, entertainment, anything you want. Plus, Norwegian cares way more about their ship than me. It's an $800 million dollar ship. They definitely want to protect that. Plus, I know Cee-Lo was on the ship too. The ship is so big, I didn't see him personally, but one of my peoples took a picture of him. I was like, how did I miss Cee-Lo?"
Ali and his family spent one week on the ship circling the ocean and evading Irma.
Although the clan were in comfort, they couldn't fully enjoy themselves because they didn't know when they could get home and were concerned about the loved ones in true peril. The Norwegian Cruise Line didn't charge the passengers anything extra and gave everyone 25-percent off the next cruise.
"A lot of people had it worse," Samii admits. "I drove through Miami after Irma was over. People really suffered and my heart goes out to them. We were blessed to be on a luxury cruise line and I'm definitely praying for everybody that was affected."
After Irma hit Miami and parts of the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria followed, relentlessly leaving mass destruction to anything in her path. Ninety-five percent of Puerto Rico is still without power and a multitude of the island's residents have not just been displaced, but left without food, water, gas and other provisions.
This week, Ali helped N.O.R.E. and EFN put together a special episode of Drink Champs on which the likes of La La Anthony, Angela Yee, Ebro Darden, and Wyclef Jean called in to not only discuss the crisis in Puerto Rico, but also talk about relief efforts.
"We're all horrified by the disaster going on in Puerto Rico and are keeping the people in our prayers," Ali expressed. "Puerto Rico is real close to the heart with both N.O.R.E. and EFN. N.O.R.E. is half-Puerto Rican and EFN is Latino, as well. Everyone wants to help. We're just so grateful to have a platform where we can bring awareness to what's going on in Puerto Rico and help the people in that way. With so many people calling in, it shows how much love N.O.R.E. has in the community and how much love people in general have for Puerto Rico. We have to rally around the people of Puerto Rico."