St Vincent

St Vincent

Introduction

OK, time for something a little different from our usual posts. The Lost Promenade have left the British Isles to sail the Caribbean seas on a cruise ship holiday!

Admittedly, this isn’t the kind of holiday we’d usually choose, but Tamsin won the trip through the ‘This Morning’ TV show (yes, people do actually win these things) so we decided to take the opportunity to continue our coastal explorations further afield and observe what the British are like when they visit the seaside on (almost) the other side of the world.

There is also something intriguing about the idea of a cruise ship. We were curious about the characters we might meet and the experience of life on board, but most of all, we were excited by the glamourous and romantic notion of 1930s cruise liners, chock full of murder, mystery and adventure…

We resolved to talk to as many people as possible and to try out every experience we could so we could immerse ourselves in the full cruise ship experience. However, the reality was not quite what we had hoped. This is the story of The Lost Promenade Abroad…

Part 1 Red Pants Do You Want To Dance?

Day 1 All Aboard

The Sea Princess

The Sea Princess

And we’re off! Not sitting together due to another one of Nhung’s loser exes making her late, so instead Nhung is in a draught with nowhere to put her feet and Tamsin is on an aisle seat jolted by massive, quivering arses every 2 seconds.

We check out the free toiletries – not bad but the film selection is piss weak. Tamsin tries to watch ‘500 Days of Summer’ but gives up after 30 minutes, unable to take the simpering fake indieness and bum-obvious references.

We look around us at the other passengers. It doesn’t look like we’ll have much competition in the ‘belle of the ship’ stakes and there are enough Daily Expresses to wallpaper a medium-sized asylum seekers’ detention centre.

Middle-aged Lady 1; “I’ve decided to have wine with my meal”

Middle-Aged Lady 2; “You told me that 2 weeks ago.”

Arrival – Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

We are shunted straight off the plane onto a coach, are photographed looking our absolute worst, Tamsin’s polka dot shoes are admired and then we stumble out against a big white wall. A door in the wall opens, we inch through and find ourselves in a cavernous lobby bedecked in palm trees and mirrors like a 1930s hotel, a spiral staircase at the centre, cascading like a disco double helix. We are aboard the Sea Princess.

A bit lost and confused, we eventually find our way to our cabins. We put down our suitcases, look at each other and break into big grins and high 5s. We’re on a Caribbean Cruise and it’s free, free, free!

Barbados

Barbados

Our stateroom steward, Joseph introduces himself to us. He is lovely and very impressed that Nhung is half-Chinese. We immediately reveal ourselves for the divas we are and request waffle bathrobes and fresh fruit. Because we can.

There is a fire drill in the theatre – more 1930s chic – all red velvet and geometric lighting.

We’re starving by now and pretty knackered so we decide to leave exploring Barbados till the return leg and go for our first cruise meal instead, before we set sail. We’ve plumped for ‘anytime dining’, which means we turn up when we like for meals and don’t sit at the same table with the same people every night. We’re too tired to make much conversation with our dinner companions tonight, all we can do is order something random from the menu, which features 1970s sounding dishes like ‘Frozen Pina Colada Soup with Pineapple Tots’, but the food is fine, and we’re so sleepy that we miss the ship setting sail. Damn, we’d planned to go on deck and wave to the departing land.

Barbados

Barbados

We go for a little walk on deck. The ship’s band Opus are playing ‘departure songs’. As they strike into ‘Summer of 69’, some Dad dancing can be observed amongst the passengers, also some wheelchair dancing. We leave to the sound of ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘Valerie’ and on the way back to our cabin observe a Scottish couple having a screaming argument of which the only intelligible word is “och”

Day 2 St Vincent

St Vincent

St Vincent

We wake at 7am but it takes us until 11.30 to get ready. Nhung has an infinite amount of stuff in her bag and every day she tips it onto her bed then takes ages assembling it together again.

Breakfast is a bountiful spread – nearly everything you could ever want to eat in the morning, not least lots and lots of cake.

St Vincent

St Vincent

Off the ship and straight into a water taxi to Indian Bay. Tamsin loves skipping along the surf in a boat and can’t stop smiling. The first choice of the other passengers is Villa Beach, but it’s tiny and packed. Indian Bay is almost empty apart from locals and is much nicer, with sand that’ s partly black lava. It’s Easter Sunday and gospel singers in white robes are singing to the sea.

Once we’ve found our spot, we chuck down our things and plunge into the sea without a frisson of cold. The luxury of warm water! We gambol and splash and giggle then we have a lie down in the sun. Various local blokes go past in pairs and all of them are flirty little devils; “Hi, you look lovely”, “I like your tattoo”, “Would you girls like some company?” We decline but regret it when we’re joined by a man who smells of wee and tries to sell us some gourds.

 

St Vincent

St Vincent

After a while it’s time to return (we’re paranoid we’ll miss the ship and get left behind) so we head back and Tamsin manages to lose her first item of the cruise – leaving her polka dot sunhat in the water taxi. We take some photos around the docks – no cheery palm trees and azure seas for us, instead we photograph the grime: ruined buildings, graffiti saying ‘fuck you’, rusty bus shelters, rotting fish heads.

St Vincent

St Vincent

As we walk back, a friendly man says hello and asks if we’re mother and daughter (Tamsin is in a prim dress, Nhung an on-trend playsuit). Tamsin loses her second thing on the trip: her confidence. But as she walks on, she hears the lovely rocksteady tones of June Lodge’s, ‘Someone Loves You Honey’ trickling out of a building and it’s suddenly a beautiful moment.

St Vincent

St Vincent

Back at the cabin, we continue to be impressed by Joseph’s ministrations, he’s folded a pair of knickers Nhung left lying around in the bathroom and arranged all our shoes into a neat line.

We head for the pool, have a ‘dirty banana’ cocktail and proceed to explore the ship. We find

  • An art gallery with horrendous paintings for sale, mainly involving women’s bottoms
  • A photography room showing the hideous pictures of passengers embarking – not even worth looking for hotties, everybody looks awful
  • An internet room – it’s $55 for a hour’s use. We won’t be using that then
  • A perfume shop – Nhung spends a lot of time trying different scents and we bemoan the fact that all Chanel perfumes smell of old lady.
St Vincent

St Vincent

For our evening meal, Tamsin experiments with a frozen daiquiri soup for starters (basically melon milkshake) and we sit with the dullest people we’ve ever met. They have a protracted conversation about how one of their sons has unusually curly hair, “like a darkie”. As they get merrier, the off-colour jokes start: “What’s the difference between a chicken leg and a man’s penis?” We never find out. Any suggestions?

We expected to meet lots of interesting freaks on this trip , especially Americans. But in fact this ship is aimed at the Brits, so there are no Yanks, just the odd Canadian. Instead the Sea Princess is Middle England on sea.

Day 3 Grenada

Grenada

Grenada

We knew exactly where we wanted to go this time as Tamsin had been here before – straight to Grand Anse Beach.

After a frolic in the sea and posing for waterproof pictures in the surf, the Calypso Man does the rounds, singing bespoke songs to all the sunbathers (all with a suspiciously similar tune). To Tamsin, “Hey lonely girl, sexy sweet girl”, and magnificently, to a man in scarlet trunks, he sings,

“Man in red pants

Do you want to dance?

Red pants. Red pants.”

The man is stony-faced.

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Grand Anse Beach has become more commercialized since Tamsin was here 3 years ago – there are many more loungers, parasols and people selling stuff.  But it’s still beautiful.

In the water taxi back we pass a yacht, “Old man in a thong!” shouts Nhung and the whole boat titters.

Back on board ship, by 3pm everyone in sight is snoozing. Apart from 2 Yorkshiremen who held a 10 minute long conversation about shaving. There’s a big screen to show films on deck, but, oh Christ, it’s ‘500 Days of Summer’ AGAIN! Other poolside entertainment includes a golf competition, cocktail making and an ice carving demonstration.

 

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Tamsin has an ice cream, and then brilliantly at about 3.30, a lady with a trolley comes round , calling “Cookies and Milk!” She also has an apron and a hat (coveted by Tamsin) emblazoned with the same slogan. It seems certain that the Lost Prom will end this holiday at least a stone heavier.

Then Nhung sees IT. She lost her heart, her soul, falls head over heels in love, becomes obsessed. The object of her desire? A powder blue trench coat pictured in a fashion magazine. “I can’t stop thinking about it”, she says. For the rest of the holiday, she every now and then gets a faraway look in her eye that means she’s dwelling on her love. At one point Tamsin asks her, “What have you thought about most since you’ve been on holiday, the trench coat or your boyfriend?” Reader, suffice to say, when Nhung returned from holiday, she split up with her hapless beau within a few weeks. And the tragic postscript to the tale, is that when she finally got to see the coat in the flesh she didn’t like it after all.

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So it’s all very exciting because tonight is the first Formal Night! However, although Nhung and Tamsin look splendid (if we say so ourselves), most of the the other passengers are a bit disappointing. The men all look dapper in their DJs and dickie bows, but they don’t have to think much about that. The women show a general lack of flair and imagination and mainly look insipid in black dresses. There’s nobody really glamorous though we do spot a lady with a Barbara Windsor bouffant.

So 3 days in and we’re starting to get to grips with life on board. The short length of time we spend in each destination does mean we’re finding it a little difficult to get the essence of each place. And starved as we are of warm sun and seas for most of the year, we’ve not been able to resist some serious beach action, but visiting the beach means there isn’t time to see much else of a place. However, we’ve got ages to go yet, so hopefully some glamourous noirish escapades or screwball scrapes will develop very shortly. And no more Zooey bleeding Deschanel.

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Lost

Polka dot sunhat

Confidence momentarily

Heart to a powder blue trench coat

Found

Middle England far from home

Free in-flight toiletries

Joseph the lovely stateroom steward

How to carve ice

Cookies and Milk

The cruising life

 

Barbados

Barbados

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