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Barbados

Barbados

Day 15 and counting…the scenario reads like a plot from a disaster movie. Stranded on a ship in the Caribbean as a volcanic ash cloud takes over the world. Our only weapon an extensive wardrobe of retro cruise-wear, our only ally a disaffected ballad singer. The Lost Promenade relationship becomes strained. Tempers flare as Nhung and Tamsin start to gripe at each other. Nhung gets irritated by Tamsin. Tamsin gets irritated by Nhung. Will the Lost Prom ever make it back home again? And if we do, will we still be friends?

Day 15 Barbados

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This was to have been our leaving day, but instead we’ve been allocated a new cabin. It’s not so conveniently placed as the last one (which was right by the buffet and pool), but it has a window! We regretfully leave Joseph though.

After lunch we go out to explore Bridgetown. It’s an attractive town with New Orleans style buildings, a vibrant yet relaxed vibe and lots of smart, well-dressed people. Tamsin sees, for the first time, a souvenir she would actually like to buy, a pineapple-shaped oil dispenser. But sadly the shop is closed.

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As we stroll back through a pretty park full of courting couples, they all say hello. “Everyone’s so friendly”, gushes Nhung. We pass a bench where an old man sits with a small black cat. “Ahhhh” coos Tamsin, looking at the cat. “Are you smiling at me?” shouts the man, “Fuck off you stink-arsed woman.”

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In the evening we watch a ‘Barbados Folkloric Show’, replete with dancers, fire eaters, acrobats and an actually quite hot stilt walker. At dinner we sit with the most boring people yet. Back in our stateroom we climb up onto our windowsill, turn off the lights and sit behind the curtain watching the waves outside.

Day 16 St Lucia

Tamsin gets a phone call from her sweetheart. It’s sunny in Brighton and Melita’s cycling to Shoreham. The cruise is starting to blend into one big melange of eating and burning and boredom. Tamsin and Nhung are starting to bicker quite badly.

 

No Bathing, No Swimming

No Bathing, No Swimming

We feel jaded and tropical islanded-out. We walk into town, but it’s raining and everything is closed. We’re running out of money and can’t really be arsed. It all looks a bit dull; buildings that look like banks, greyness and ‘Everyday is Like Sunday’ in our heads. Snatches of mournful sounding bluegrass drift out from a building called Prio’s Country Palace which is supposed to house a market but is empty but for a few dejected looking stalls. By the harbour is a sign saying ‘No Bathing and Swimming’ with a discarded pair of jeans hanging over it. We get a cab back to the ship and sulk in our stateroom reading and watching rubbish blockbusters. There’s nothing on TV though. It’s a typical rainy Sunday.

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We pull ourselves out of our torpor to go to afternoon tea where we ask the couple sharing our table what the St Lucian countryside was like. “There was a good dual carriageway” says the man, “And there was a Sandals. And the beach was the best yet. It had lots of great hotels built up behind it – just like the Med.”

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Day 17 Trinidad

We’re looking forward to seeing Port of Spain, it has an exciting ring to it and true enough, it lives up to its name. The docks are pleasingly industrial, lots of cranes and multicoloured containers, and sitting behind them is a proper city. Until now we hadn’t realised how much we were missing the urban. There are lots of high-rise glass office buildings and the people again, are friendly – old ladies help us across roads. It’s not as exotic as we expect though – there’s no sign of carnival culture.

 

Port of Spain

Port of Spain

Suddenly we’re caught in a torrential downfall and soaked through but luckily some kind men let us shelter in their lock-up garage . Though they’re disappointed that we’ve never seen the Queen.

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In the evening, tiring of repetitive small talk, we eat alone. The dining room is half empty, so maybe others are feeling the same reluctance to chat. We discuss who will star in the blockbuster movie of the ash cloud, and plump for Daniel Craig as the hero, Billie Piper as the female lead, Shia Labeouf as the young upstart and a cameo from Bruce Willis as a scientist. We disagree on who will direct, but we’re agreed that Jerry Bruckheimer will produce. And for the title? Tamsin goes for ‘Death Cloud’. Nhung had a much better idea but on reading it on the printed page, she decides it’s shit, so censors it from the blog. You’ll just have to make your own suggestions, readers.

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Day 18 Grenada (again)

We’re out before breakfast to find an internet café and contact home. Nhung immediately starts getting chatted up by a young man called Denkie, “because you’re Chinese and Chinese babies are the best-looking”. He gives us his address (his mum owns a bar) and tells us to come and say hello on our way back to the ship. So we do, and are introduced to his mother and son. “So when are we getting married?”, he asks Nhung. “Can you take him back with you?” asks his mum.

Broiling

Broiling

Back to the ship and we lie by the pool, broiling in the heat. We hear a rumour that UK airspace is about to open. Could we be home soon?

It’s another formal night, and another quiet night in the dining room. We manage to rinse a free rum punch from the ‘Captain’s Cocktail Party,’ then we go to watch a Movie Under the Stars. Comfy cushions and tartan blankets are arranged on loungers and there’s popcorn, milk and cookies. Two old ladies are sitting next to us. “The wonderful thing about a cruise is that there’s something for everyone”, says one, and her friend agrees. Then she says it again. And again. Later on she falls asleep and snores.

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We finish off with another hand shimmying sparkly song and dance show; ”Tribute’, which consists of songs from the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Rat Pack and then a strange diva segment peaking with ‘Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves’.’We still wish we were a Sea Princess dancer or at least could get to hang out with them.

Day 19 Bonaire (again)

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The transformation is compete, we’ve finally morphed into the other cruise passengers. We sleep in, and give Bonaire a miss as we’ve already been there, and instead head for the sun loungers. Heart FM type music tinkles out by the pool; Frank Sinatra, Donna Summer, Lipps Inc, when suddenly and bizarrely, Rammstein’s version of Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’ comes on. This is followed by ‘Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’. We both heard it, it wasn’t a dream.

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We’re on tenterhooks, waiting for news of our flight home. Tamsin goes back to our cabin and nothing. She asks at the passenger service desk and nothing. But then in the lift, who is it but the Captain! “How is everybody?” he says. “Fine” we all mutter like dutiful school children, then someone asks if there’s any news and hooray! Flights have been confirmed and he’s about to make an announcement. Finally at dinner, we get our flight times. We’ll be flying out from Aruba tomorrow.

Day 20 Aruba. And home!

Our last day and after breakfast we lie by the pool, observing the passengers for the last time, before going for a walk around Oranjestad in search of confectionery. The town is glitzy and Vegas-like, with a theme park feel and a plethora of designer shops. Out of all the places we’ve been to, it comes across with the least character.

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Back on the ship, as we wait for the passport officials, two teenage girls wrapped in towels come in to say goodbye to their holiday romance boyfriends. While we wait for our plane, random thoughts cross our minds:

  • All the passengers seemed to come back from land each day in t-shirts/baseball caps/bags with the name of the place they’d been on them. All the items of clothing are exactly the same other than the slogans. Do they get one for everywhere they go?
  • With flights grounded was there a UK shortage of gigs as touring bands couldn’t get in?
  • And did it also affect the drugs trade?
  • What a shame we didn’t get to go home via the navy on the Ark Royal and be able to do Cher impersonations astride canons
  • Who comes up with some of the phrases on the dinner menus on the Sea Princess? ‘Ladyfingers’, is a recommended delicacy and all the food is served with ‘fresh and enhancing sidings’. Incidentally ‘ladyfingers’ becomes the Lost Prom’s new name for women’s sanitary items
  • And how much food is wasted and thrown away?
Sea Princess

Sea Princess

Finally, after a 2 hour wait, we’re on the plane, and some time later we’re home. So glad to be home. The chance to go to the Caribbean for free was amazing and the cruise experience an eye opener. But never again. Never. Again. I, Tamsin, will move from the third person for just a minute. I laughed at the British passengers for their laziness, but by the end of the cruise, I felt I was almost as bad as them. Staying in our cabin and watching turgid Hollywood pap rather than going out and experiencing new sights. Gobbling and gorging on free food instead of spending money in communities that could do with tourist bucks. Making vacuous judgements, about the locals, “Oh they’re all so friendly” instead of getting to know people properly (hampered by the fact we were never anywhere for an evening). Bickering and sniping at each other on a free holiday. I can’t really explain why a cruise brought out the worst in me but it did. I felt the poetry in my soul dispersing. I felt my thighs become tree trunks and root themselves to the ground. I felt rivulets of fat forming into thick membranes and cutting off the flow of blood to my brain. I felt myself morphing into a completely different person.

This never happened in Portslade.

Lost

Pineapple-shaped oil dispenser

Tamsin’s digital camera (stopped working)

Company at dinner

Diamanté hair slide (somewhere during the cabin move)

Barbados

Barbados

Found

A hottie on stilts

2 bottles of Hawaiian Tropic

Blue Magic Pressing Oil (for hair)

G.B.s Balsam: For Relief of Pain from Arthritis, Backaches, Sciatica, Lumbago, Muscular Pains and Strains, Also Used for Relief of the Symptoms of Colds

Calamine Lotion

2 types of soap

Ennui

2 dresses – one yellow floral, one cream & multicoloured floral

Green striped wood bangle

Bronze twisted wire earrings

Blue flowery baby outfit

2 calabash tree decorations

A prospective husband for Nhung

An inner idiocy

A dislike for cruises

Trinidad

Trinidad

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