Monthly Archives: March 2017

Guests Say The Stupidest Things!

Friday 31st March 2017

I feel that I ought to write this as a kind of rebuttal to the other day’s admission that I lie frequently and unashamedly. Especially to the guests. When I wrote it, it was meant as just another amusing anecdote of my voyage around the oceans, but it rather took off, with over 300 people having read it already.

I hope that everybody took it in the jestful way that it was intended, but I feel that no one will believe a darn word that I say now. Which might actually be a good thing for them and me. But before you all condemn me as an awful person (well actually I am, so it’s OK if you do), I thought that I’d try and justify my frequent fibbing, with this little post.

I actually wanted to do it as a comedy sketch in the crew talent show for the guests, but thankfully somebody saw fit to persuade me not to, as I think that it may have been another case of me committing career suicide. So I’ll post it here instead then, on the privacy of the World Wide Web…

Of course you won’t believe me now, but guests really do say the stupidest things. It’s appears that when going on holiday, they decide to give their brain a vacation and leave it at home. From the minute they come onboard, they can’t help but say the most ridiculous things. They say that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but these lot definitely put that theory to the test.

The sort of things that I get asked on a daily basis include “Which way is the ship going?” Now this might seem like a fair thing to ask, if we were not stood right by a window looking out at the sea rushing past. Well if the water is going that way <<< then I think that it’s fair to assume that we’re moving this way >>>…

The next question is then usually “Which is the front of the ship?” From the casino I point in the direction of the bow and say that just there at the theatre is the front end. When this question gets followed up by “Which way is the back then?” It always leaves me completely bemused. Well if that’s the front >>> and we’re stood next to a window overlooking that water, then I think it’s safe to assume that the back, or stern, is in the opposite direction, that way <<<, but I do often point to the side of the vessel on the right ^^^ and say over there, which always leaves them looking a little perplexed. I certainly shall not be backing this lot in the nightly quiz.

If you zoom in you’ll see a large blue lama on the balcony. #WheresWally #TrueStory

We have a wonderful saxophonist onboard, who delights the crowds with his playing 3 or 4 times every night. You wouldn’t believe the amount of people though, who admire his undeniable talent, but suggest that it would be better if he sung as well. At the same time… Now he’s very, very good, but I don’t think any musician can sing and play the saxophone simultaneously. I’m not quite sure if they understand how a saxophone works, or if they’ve just imbibed a bit too much of the all inclusive.

One of my favourite casino related inquiries is “How much is this worth?” when examining one of our casino chips, or “tokens” as some guests refer to them. Now I understand that not many of our patrons are regular casino players, and we do have up to 5 different coloured chips each with different numbers on them denoting each denomination, but let’s see if you guys can figure it out by looking at the picture below…

Hmm, is this rocket science or brain surgery? I’m going to have to phone a friend for this one.

Oh course my sarcastic answer is usually £3.75. I mean you just gave me a crisp £20 note, and I gave you four shiny red “counters” with the number “5” on them in large lettering. It’s hardly simultaneous equations now is it? I know it’s easy for me because I work in the casino everyday, but sometimes the customer’s innocent inexperience leaves me more baffled then them.

One of the hilarious comments that came up whilst crossing the Atlantic was a complaint about how absolutely unfair it was the the guest in question had booked a suite with a balcony, but that it was positively disgraceful that there was never any sun on his balcony, and that it was always on the other side of the ship. Every single day! The guy was incredulous. In his opinion it was UNACCEPTABLE!

I don’t really know what he expected me to do. Phone the Captain and ask him to reverse all the way to the Caribbean, so that “Mr. Smith*” (*not real name) could get a tan? Maybe I could set up a complex series of mirrors to reflect the light onto him lying on his sunbed? Maybe he really expected me to move heaven and earth for him?

“Sir, I work in the casino. I think this is definitely a question for guest services. I’m sure that they’ll be able to help you… (Not).” Well it was either that or suggest that he stay onboard until we sail back across the ocean in April when he’ll have sun all the way. As long as it’s not raining that is!

I think my all time favourite absurd question by far has to be “Do you sleep on the ship?” The first time I got asked this I was like “What??” Thinking I must have misheard the inquisitor. But no, they were actually asking if we, crew members, slept on the ship. I was unsure how to answer this. We’re they joking? We’re they implying that we seem to work 24/7 so didn’t actually sleep at all? Or were they seriously along if we physically slept on the ship.

“No.” I replied deadpan, “There’s a tug boat behind that we all sleep on.” What did think, that we stayed in hotels on the islands and got dropped off by helicopter each day? Or that an aeroplane flew us from port to port to meet the ship?

It was a bit like the cruise before the Atlantic crossing when the guests were curiously asking us how we were going to get there. “Are you flying there?”, “How does the ship get there?”, “But there won’t be people onboard will there?”. It’s a ship people, and the ocean is water, so believe it or not we’re actually going to sail there. All of us. Crew, guests and chickens!

I also had a guest say once, when she was asking me about life onboard, that she thought that we shared beds. “Er, no. We share cabins, but definitely not beds!” “No, but doesn’t one of you get the bed for half the day and the other one get it for the rest of the day, when you’re working opposite shifts?” Jesus Christ!! Don’t repeat that again, you’ll give them ideas! Sharing cabins in bad enough…

Yes, that is me stood next to a giant pink lama wearing rubber wellies.

But I’ll leave you with the classic question beloved by all crew members, and answered with a hearty laugh; “What do you do on your day off?”

So now hopefully you understand my penchant for mischievousness responses when subjected to these kind of queries 7 days a week, for up to 9 months at a time. Have a good day folks!

I am a compulsive liar.

Tuesday 28th March 2017

Spring 2017 – “What do you do?” Is one of the many annoying things that I get asked on a daily basis.

I often tell people that I work in the adult entertainment industry. It either invites a lot of questions, or stops the conversation dead. Well it’s true, the casino is over 18s only, therefore adults, and gambling is definitely an entertaining way to spend an evening. I don’t know why I do it. Boredom? Mischievousness? Or simply because I hate being asked intrusive repetitive questions? But something rebellious inside me makes me tell lies all the time, even when the truth is very straightforward and simple to admit to.

Sometimes the mistruths are spur of the moment flippant answers, but some are far more elaborate, carefully thought out fantasies. I have a very vivid imagination, and working in the casino dealing a few cards doesn’t always give it a thorough workout. Plus with new guests arriving every week, with the same manuscript of interrogation into my privacy, my tolerance for inane boring questions is about minus 10. Hence where the compulsive unnecessary lying comes in.

The things I lie about are basically limitless, and it does make it quite hard for people to believe some of the rare truths that I throw in amongst all the fibs and fabrications. Like the one where I used to be a racehorse trainer. And that I speak fairly fluent French. Both those facts often get laughed at when I reveal them, and they both seem so far away and preposterous, that sometimes even I wonder if they are actually true, or just another figment of my overactive imagination.

So, to set the record straight, I do not make the sushi onboard the ship in my spare time. Nor do I star in the show. Not even in the crew show as a Magician, although I’m a dab hand at making people’s money disappear on the Blackjack tables. I’m also not running from the law, or a suspect in a murder case. Nor did I get fired from my last job for stealing the casinos profits in a rucksack (I wish!). I’m also not married, divorced or the mother of any children… That I know about at least!

To set the record straight, I am not and are never going to be a concert pianist.

I have met the Queen (I once rode one of her horses when she came to visit the yard and was introduced to her whilst still on the horse), I really did use to live in France, twice. I did train winners in France, the UK, Denmark and the US. I did climb Mount Kilimanjaro (I think I’ll actually post about that amusing experience on here one day). Two of my best friends really are television presenters (Go Hayley, Go Sally Ann!). And I did fly unaccompanied for the first time at the age of 5 (even though my mother actually lied about my age and said I was 6). Hmm, maybe my fibbing is genetic?

One of the highlights of my lying career though, was when I convinced people that I was Chinese. It started off innocently enough, basically I was so sick of people asking where I am from, that I said the first outrageous thing that came into my brain. When they laughed and immediately dismissed my ludicrous claim, I decided to accept the challenge of making them believe my absurd story.
With a deadpan serious face, I asked why they were laughing. “You’re not from China!” they chortled. “Yes I am!” I countered, with the perfect mixture of insult and defence. I then went on to detail about my imaginary parents who were missionaries and the reason behind my oriental birthplace, my fake life at boarding school in England, to explain my perfect English and even described my fictitious “village home” deep in the heart of mainland China.

When asked if I spoke Mandarin or Cantonese, and plumped for Mandarin and even churned out a couple of convincing phrases, which were actually me counting to six in Cantonese, which is the absolute limit of my made up vocabulary.

What amazed me was that people actually believed me. They started asking me questions about when I was last “home”, even though the closest I’ve ever been to China is the Panda Express takeaway. They were intrigued. What was China like? How was my childhood? Do I still live there when I’m not working on the ship? I managed to successfully placate their curiosity and concerns, with some more fairly innocuous make believe.

The best bit by far was when other guests asked the same question as to my heritage. When I repeated my previous mistruth about being from the Far East, the original passengers jumped in to defend my fake nationality, as soon as the new victims of my lying scoffed at my citizenship. “No, no!” They countered. “She really is from China!” They convinced their fellow travellers. It was great, now I didn’t even have to lie anymore, my oblivious accomplices were doing it for me.

For two whole cruises, I had everybody convinced that I was Asian. Eventually I felt bad and told one of the guests that actually I had a fast more uninteresting lineage and was born and bred in the UK like they’d originally and rightly assumed. Strangely he didn’t find it quite as amusing as me. “Why would you pretend to be from China if you’re not?” he questioned politely “Why not?” was my reaction. When I told him that I couldn’t believe that everybody believed me, he suggested as to why they wouldn’t believe me. Why would anybody expect me to lie to them? Fair point I guess. Most of the time when asking a new acquaintance where they’re from, you take what they say at face value and don’t expect that they’re going to invent a fanciful heritage just for the sake of it.

Then there was the time that I convinced a table full of players that my second job onboard the ship was to look after the chickens. “Chickens?? You have chickens on the ship?” They probed me. Amazed at the thought of live poultry sharing the vessel with them.

“Of course!” I replied. “Where do you think all the eggs come from?” I continued. “Oh yes. Good point!” They answered. “I’d never really thought about it before.” They said.

I then went on to elaborate about the imaginary hen house and how, when I’d finished in the casino each night, that I had to go and collect all the eggs and deliver them to the galley before 5am sharp.

My concocted part time employment also involved me feeding the barnyard fowl three times a day and cleaning out their coup twice a week. Well according to my warped imagination anyway.

It’s not just strangers or mere acquaintances that are subjected to the perplexity of my irresistible fantasies though, but as my best friend Sally Ann will readily attest to, nobody is safe from my tall tale telling. I still don’t know how she believes me time and time again. I guess that I do so much ridiculous and random stuff, that anything could quite conceivably happen in my life, but I’m still incredulous every time she falls for a new fable or fairy story. She often points out that people don’t expect their best friend to lie to them. That’s a fair call for normal people, but she has me as a best friend, so should really know better.

Sally Ann (right) – If I said “Sorry!” for all the lying, you’d know that I was lying right?


Well, that’s quite possibly my most honest post yet. And it’s about lying. Oh well, nobody’s perfect right?

Islands Part 3 – Where to buy Jaffa Cakes

Friday 24th March 2017

Winter 2016 – Seemingly, for a price, there’s a different animal to swim with on each of the islands that we visit. The species that you can splash about in the water with include, Stingrays, Dolphins, Turtles, Horses, Fish, Sea Urchins and even Seaweed. Call me crazy, but I’d pay $20 to swim where there’s no bloody creepy crawlies in the water. I guess you’d say that’s a swimming pool then. But I do like the ocean though, just not the slimy stuff that’s going to touch my feet unknowingly or look at me inappropriately with big creepy eyes. Anyway enough of my weirdness and on with the final part of my island highlights tour…

Road Town, Tortola BVI – The best thing about the British Virgin Islands is that you can get things like British chocolate here! There’s even a Best of British Store, selling over priced, out of date delights such as Bovril, Jaffa Cakes and Party Rings. What could be better? I’m happy to be fleeced in the name of some real, authentic British Cadbury ‘s chocolate!

There are of course all the usual things to do, but beware that the best beaches here are on the far side of the island, so it means passing over the mountains on a scary death defying road, littered with pot holes. If you survive it will have been worth the wild ride, just don’t forget that you’ve got to get back that way later in the day…

Road Town itself is fairly ordinary. There are shops and restaurants etc. (the highlight of which is a nice coffee house near the port with an exceptional young busker outside, that offers wifi), but you’ll definitely find better places to do your browsing and purchasing. Remember also that smoking in public (even outside) is illegal in Tortola, so smokers watch out! Currency : US Dollars.

Roseau, Dominica – This luscious land is famed for its waterfalls and rainforest. Check out Trafalgar falls for one of the best spots to visit. There’s also the free to enter Botanical Gardens, hidden just behind the centre of town. Not only can you see some fabulous plants, parrots and a yellow school bus squashed by a tree, but you can also connect online here to the free wifi dotted around the park. This is definitely the most beautiful and relaxing place that I’ve ever gone online! Currency: US + EC Dollars.

Bequia, The Grenadines – This is by far and away my favorite stop on our Winter tour. Pronounced ‘Beck-way’ this exquisite isle is just 7 miles square, with a population of only 5’000. It’s exactly what you’d imagine a Caribbean Island to be like if you’ve never visited one before. There’s no Diamonds International, no Harley Davison store, no generic watch shops. Just a guy under a palm tree selling coconut milk direct from the coconut.

Bequia is simply stunning.

This island is as real as it gets. Ship’s anchor offshore, so when you get off the tender boat, turn right and follow the stone sea wall path past all the restaurants and bars (wifi available), through the first beach, up through the woods and around the rocks until you reach Princess Margaret beach.

The walk back to the ship along the sea wall.

The walk is a real adventure and for the less mobile, take a water taxi instead. If you have trainers or small running shoes, they’re definitely a better bet than flip flops for this unusual trip!

There are a few steps involved, so definitely don’t try this after dark or after a few too many rum punches…

You won’t find many places like this on cruise ship itineraries, so forget the tours for this one and just sit back, relax, and soak up the blissful, idyllic, laid back lifestyle that the Caribbean is famed for. Currency: US + EC  Dollars.

And this is where it gets really tricky. But it’s certainly worth the effort.

Fort De France, Martinique – I really like this port. It’s just the same as France. Only hotter. So expect baguettes, abrupt service, pain aux chocolat and everything to be closed on Mondays and all lunchtimes. The town itself is large and there are lots of shops. It has a much more metropolitan feel than a lot of its neighbours.

You’ll find wifi dotted about the city and there’s a nice park where you can pick up a connection and enjoy some shade under the trees, close to the kiosks selling coffee, crêpes and ice creams. There’s also a small beach close to the pier for those who don’t want to venture too far. Currency: Euro + US Dollar in some of the bigger stores.

Pointe A Pitre, Guadeloupe – The city is busy and lined with streets selling cheap clothing and other accessories. It’s worth a look, but I wouldn’t recommend staying there all day, unless you’re a shopaholic with a penchant for downmarket garments.

Instead check out one of the tours, like a glass bottomed boat trip to the Jacques Cousteau Marine Reserve, where you can marvel at the wonderful and colourful sea creatures through the clear floor, from the comfort of your small vessel, or even dive into the water and take a swim with the local inhabitants, such as the luminous parrot fish. Currency: Euro + US Dollar in some of the bigger stores.

So that completes my wifi guide to Caribbean ports, next up some amusing anecdotes about my interaction with guests and passengers. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’m actually allowed out in public, let alone encouraged to engage with paying customers…

Islands Part 2 – Betting & Brownies in Barbados

Thursday 22nd March 2017

Winter 2016 – Today I’ll highlight some more of the hot spots in the Caribbean. You’ll find that many of these Islands have plenty to offer, not least the chance to go to the beach, or beaches, where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. I can’t believe that it was actually shot in so many different locations, but to be fair to the taxi touts who claim that it was definitely filmed on their Island, once the tourists get to the supposed spot, they’re normally so blown away by the beauty, they don’t really care if it is the true setting or not.

And don’t be afraid to eschew the ship’s tours some days, in favour of giving in to the crowds of local guides all trying to persuade you into their vehicle. It’s safe, reasonable (especially if there’s a few of you), and can often give you the best insight into your destination.

Kralendijk, Bonaire – Is just off the South American coast of Venezuela. This Island makes up the Dutch Antilles, along with its nearby brothers and sisters, Curaçao & Aruba. It’s far less developed and commercialised than those two and is billed as a Diver’s Paradise. It definitely has rugged charm.

From the cruise port you can walk to a nice beach if you turn left and head all the way along the seafront. When you get to the end, turn inland, round past a couple of diving shops and take the first left again, down a driveway to a hotel complex, the beach is at the end of the road, to your right. There you’ll also find a bar with wifi. You’re welcome!

There are some nice souvenir stores and restaurants located near where the ships dock, plus a lot of market stalls selling local niknaks and produce, if you want to stay closer to “home”. Currency : US Dollars.

Oranjestad, Aruba – Billed as “One Happy Island“, this place doesn’t disappoint. Take the trolley tram from the port area along the main shopping street, walk back along the seafront and stop at one of the many bars, restaurants or casinos. For places of interest further afield, check out Palm Island, Casibari Rock, The Natural Bridge & the California Lighthouse.

If you go to the main hotel resort area, a short taxi ride away, there’s even more shopping, beaches and fun in the sun. You’ll find wifi in most establishments and you’ll also find that you won’t want to leave this place. Don’t worry, there’s a nice big airport if you do decide miss the ship and stay. Currency : Aruban Florin + US Dollars.

Aruba – One Happy Island as the call it!

Willemstad, Curaçao – The most unusual of the Caribbean Islands. It’s mini Holland in a hot climate, a real gem. Take a walk over the wooden swing bridge into town (if it’s open to let boat’s through, there’s a free ferry nearby to help you cross the river), explore the floating market, the shops and the pretty river front facades.

If it’s wifi your after try the casino in the Renaissance Hotel, as although there’s free wifi covering the whole of the town, it can be a little slow. You’ll pass by the casino if you dock at the cruise terminal. If your ship moors in the river, instead of crossing the swing bridge follow the river towards the sea and you’ll find the Renaissance among the precincted shopping area.

For the beach, try Aqua Beach. There’s a small cover charge to enter, but once inside, you won’t be disappointed. There’s a pool, bar, sunbeds, plus dozens of shops and eateries. The “sea” is actually a man made lagoon complete with an inflatable play area and a floating wooden pontoon that you can swim out to and lounge on if you so wish. Currency : Netherlands Antillean Florin/Guilder + US Dollars.

Aqua Beach in Curaçao

Bridgetown, Barbados – This is our home port for the Winter season, and it’s certainly not a bad place to call “home”! There are loads of exciting things to do here including Harrison’s Caves and swimming with turtles (just go to any beach and say yes to any of the guys offering to take you out on their boat. The cost is usually $20).

The Boatyard is one of the favourite haunts with guests on the ship, especially those who are cruising back to back and get to spend a whole day on this lovely island. It’s basically a beach bar offering a free drink, sunbed and taxi back to the ship for $20 US.

If you’re on a budget, like me, then walk the 20 minutes to the beach instead, it’s a very pleasant stroll. Just head out of the port gates, follow the path on the right hand side under the trees, next to the water, and soon you’ll find yourself in the town itself. Keep to the right, cross over the small bridge, and you’ll then be at the back of a number of beach bars.

Walk through any of these and you’ll be on the beach itself. Swimming and laying on the sand or your own towel costs nothing. If you’re desperate for wifi then you’ll have to buy a drink or similar. Currency: Barbados Dollars + US Dollars.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Barbados on a day when they’re hosting horse racing at the local track of Garrison Savannah (in Bridgetown), then definitely head along if you’re in any small way a fan of the gee gees. I do suggest that you take a taxi from the port through, as although you can walk (we did!), it’s over 4km and can get very hot!

They’re under starter’s orders, and they’re off!

The track and locals are very friendly and the racing is exciting. There’s a small entrance fee if you just want to sit in the littlest grandstand, and it’s close to the paddock where you can check out the horses before the race which is a nice bonus.

The Tote (PMU) betting system had just been upgraded and was experiencing quite a few technical problems the day that we were there. However it didn’t manage to stop us lumping on all our remaining Barbados Dollars on number 5 in the last race, and we were handsomely rewarded as he romped home having made every yard of the running. Maybe all those years of riding and training racehorses finally paid off, as we turned a tidy profit on the day!!

C’mon number 5, you can do it!!

If you’ve walked to the track and decide to walk back as well, despite having backed a number of winners and having more than enough money for a taxi, then at least stop by the beach on the way home. You can take a refreshing dip in the sea, as you’ll definitely need it after all the exercise and excitement. Personally I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a day. If only I didn’t have work all night when I got back that is…

If you’ve cash to splash, then head to the very upmarket part of the island, St. James. I was lucky enough to get picked up from the ship by my friend’s Mother, who was holidaying in Barbados, and taken to The Cliff restaurant for lunch. My goodness, the views, the ambience and the food… WOW!

And I’m not just saying that because I eat rice and brown meat or chicken/fish (no one knows the difference, not even the chefs or the people who’ve already ingested it) in the mess everyday. I had Octopus Carpaccio to start with, Spicy Lobster Risotto for my main course and the best ever Salted Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and a small syringe of Caramel Sauce to drizzle over the top.

My goodness, I was in heaven. And I was full for a week, which was a good thing because there was no way that I could go back to eating mystery meat and rice bricks, with such delicacies still fresh in my mind. It was one of my favourite days of the whole contract, and so nice to catch up with my friend’s Mum and all the news from my former life. Although working all night long afterwards, carting around triplet food babies, made for a kind of uncomfortable evening!

So there you have Part 2 of guide to the best bits of the islands. Don’t forget, that although you can pay using US Dollars in most places, you’ll more than likely get change (coins at least) in the local currency, so if you can’t spend them, save them up and put them all in one of the mixed coins charity money boxes that you’ll find at some of the ports (Aruba) or airport on your way home. See you next time for the final instalment of my Caribbean Wifi handbook, including my favourite of all the islands! ♡

All The Saints

Tuesday 21st March 2017

Winter 2016 – Quite honestly, once you’ve been cruising round the Caribbean for more than a few months, all the islands start to look a bit the same; white sands, crystal blue seas, palm trees and lush rainforest topped peaks. For today’s post, I thought that I’d detail the first batch of our winter ports of call, to help you tell them apart, plus guide you to the wifi hotspots, with the correct coins in your wallet. Seeing as we visit so many Sainted places, I thought these were a good way to start.

St. John’s, Antigua – Good shopping by the port area, if it’s Internet your after, turn left as you leave the pier and connect to the free wifi inside King’s Casino. Antigua is famed for its beaches, apparently there’s a one for every day of the year on this island, but for one of the best, try Jolly Beach a short taxi ride away and relax on the white sands. Currency : US + East Caribbean Dollars.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten – This island is split in two, half French/half Dutch. You’ll arrive on the Dutch side at the very huge and often very busy pier. You can walk into town (it’s not far), or take a water taxi if you’re feeling lazy. The main street is famed for its discounted duty free electronic stores, as well as clothes, diamond and watch shops. Once you’ve shopped and are ready to drop, there is a long beach front, with chairs and parasols for hire, littered with bars and cafés (wifi), running parallel to the main street. The water is warm and very inviting.

While the French side is lovely also, the absolute must do in St. Maarten is Maho beach. This small strip of sand might look unassuming at first, but just wait until the planes start flying in! Located at the end of Princess Juliana’s runway, this had to be the most fun and most unusual way to spend an afternoon.The bigger planes land and take off later in the afternoon, so arrive before lunch, find a spot to grab a bite, try your luck in the nearby Casino Royale (more wifi!) and then head for a dip in the sea before snapping away top your hearts delight at all the wonderful aircraft that will be swooping just above your head. Just make sure you’re phone/camera batteries are full charged before you leave the ship!

A Delta flight delighting the crowds on Maho beach.

When the planes prepare to take off, join the other lunatics hanging onto the wire fence by the road and try not to get blown away by the jet blast, as the aeroplanes hurtle down the runway and disappear back into the sky. Now obviously there is a danger of death and is not actually a recommended thing to do, but you can’t come all this way to miss getting sand and fuel spray being whipped into you face with ferocity. It sounds brutal, but it’s an unmissable opportunity and amazing fun to boot.

The underside of the Air France flight from Paris Orly.

To get to Maho beach, take a taxi from the cruise terminal. There are huge vans, and if you jump in with a load of strangers, it’s just $8 one way. There’ll be plenty of cabs to take you back to the boat once you’ve had your fill of aviation antics. Currency : US Dollars, Netherlands Antillean Florin/Guilder & Euros on the French side.

It brings a whole new meaning to the term “Catching a flight”!

Basseterre, St. Kitts – A cute little island, less developed than some of its neighbours. There is a large bustling shopping area at Port Zante, where most of the ships dock, with all the usual jewellery and souvenir stores. Some offer wifi in exchange for purchases.

A view of Nevis Island from it’s big Sister St. Kitts

If it’s a beach that you’re after, try Frigate Bay just past the airport. There’s also the old Sugar Train Scenic Railway, where you’ll tour the island on an open air double decker train at a very leisurely pace, using the tracks originally laid down to transport the now extinct sugar cane trade. It’s the only surviving railway in the whole of the Caribbean, so it’s certainly unique. There’s also free rum punch and lovely local choir to keep you amused as you wind your way the countryside. Currency : US + EC Dollars.

There’s no delays due to leaves on the line or the wrong kind of snow on this railway.

Castries, St. Lucia – Is home to the world’s only drive in Volcano! The capital Castries, where the ship’s dock, is best left alone in favour of an island tour to the Pietons, a shopping/beach trip to nearby Rodney Bay, or take a walk around Pigeon Island, which adjoins the mainland via a causeway. They also offer whale watching and catamaran trips for those that feel the need for more sea. Currency : US + EC Dollars.

St. George’s, Grenada – Known as The Spice Island, this place is full of lush green jungle and hidden treats. Try a hike to the Seven Sister’s Waterfall, an island tour from a local guide (there’s always heaps of folk in the terminal offering to tailor a private trip for a negotiable price) or take a water taxi to Grand Anse beach, for a beautiful day relaxing on the golden sands. The port terminal has some good shops for buying souvenirs and an option to pay for super fast wifi. The town itself can get busy and isn’t really anything special. Currency : US + EC Dollars.

Kingstown, St. Vincent – This island used to be part of The Grenadine Islands, but recently gained independence. There’s not so much to do in the locality of the port, so take a water taxi to one of the neighbouring islands like Bequia or Mustique, or find a friendly driver who’ll tour you around the place for the entire day for a very reasonable fee. Some of the locals are exceptional at proudly showing your their home turf, so don’t be afraid to put yourselves in their hands for the day. Currency : US + EC Dollars.

Well that’s it for the moment, work beckons and I’ve got to leave some of the jewels for next time…

Crossing The Atlantic

Saturday 18th March 2017

November 2016 – After my very untimely fainting episode, it was time for the Tui Discovery to cross the Atlantic, so that she could begin her winter tour, based in the Caribbean. Our final port of call in Europe was Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, where we took a last chance dip in the ocean, and then raided the large supermarket by the dock, to stock up on sweets, treats and Heinz Chicken Soup, to keep us going during the long voyage.

I know that soup may seem like an odd thing to want to take to a group of tropical islands, but sometimes when finishing work in the early hours of the morning, I craved something hot and savoury, and what could be better then a can of Heinz Cream of Chicken Soup? Plus with only a microwave and hot water at our disposal, our cooking options were limited to tinned soup, cup-a-soup or Pot Noodles. I think I picked the best of the Michelin starred options available to us.

We were expecting the ship to be only semi full for the transatlantic trip, with just a few senescent retirees to entertain, on our long journey. The entire cruise was 16 days in total, but after stopping at a few places in Spain, before The Canaries, the actual crossing part was due to take seven nights and six days, before arriving at the port of St. John’s in Antigua on the morning of the 9th November.

165 hours straight sailing might not seem like much, but for us spoilt casino employees, who were used to getting time off during the mandatory closure of the casino whilst we’re in port 6 days a week, it was going to be tortuous. We’d be working all day and night, with no restrictions on opening hours when we’re in International waters. The guests would have to sleep at some point though. Wouldn’t they??

It turned out that the ship was actually full for the crossing and with it being an adults only cruise, every guest onboard was a potential customer. With little else to do each day, save a bit of bingo, the nightly shows and some sunbathing, we were going to be at their mercy morning, noon and night. I just prayed that the weather would be good and they’d be outside topping up their tans during daylight hours at least.

There were a number of courses and initiatives being run during the week, to keep the more active guests entertained, including a complete guide to learning to play the ukulele, improving your golf swing, virtually, in six simple stages, and even a discover your voice “Discovery Choir” that would practice each day and then perform a little rendition in front of the rest of the ship, along with the new ukulele players. Hmm… Looks like we’d still be very busy then…

We scheduled Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournaments for each afternoon, along with Blackjack competitions, virtual roulette and various other promotions to entice the good folk to come and visit us.

During night number one, we realised that they needed no encouragement to come and try their luck on the tables and we soon knew that they would be bombarding us mercilessly during the entire trip. Oh and I’m not sure where all the polite antediluvian pensioners were, these guys were straight from an episode of Brits Behaving Badly.

It probably didn’t help that I’d picked up a particularly nasty cold/flu virus, which might have root cause of my fainting episode in Cartagena. By the time we’d got no further than about three nautical miles from Gran Canaria, I was feeling like death warmed up.

By Day three, the battalions of golden-agers had drunk all of the ship’s entire stock of Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur and were demanding that we get more. Sure guys, we’ll just chopper in a couple more crates, to sate your thirst. Talk about growing old disgracefully, we had more animals onboard than Noah did on his Arc.

Water, water everywhere.

It wasn’t all bad though, despite having to work hideously long hours, as the sea was ridiculously calm and the weather warm and sunny for the most part. The guests, despite being quite rowdy and having a penchant for drinking everything and anything, we’re actually very entertaining and the regulars soon became friends. Some had even been pre-prepared enough to bring some snacks for us, as way of a tip or bribe, so we at least got to sample some good old British delights such as Barbecue flavoured mini Cheddars, Marmite crisps and someone had even brought Bovril Cubes with them, which they gave me two of, and I gladly added the hot water and drank down the brown liquid to help ease my flu symptoms.

If it seemed like the days were endlessly long, it’s because they were. First we ran into the annual wintertime hour change, and then we went back in time on 5 more nights of our 7 nights at sea, so that by the time we pulled into Antigua, we’d be on local time. Excellent, even more hours in a day than usual for the passengers to drink and gamble. For them I’m sure it was paradise. For us it was purgatory.

The last of 7 nights at sea. Finally!

Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity we finally arrived at dry land again, and the torment was over. Well nearly… As I excitedly approached the gangway ready to enjoy a walk on land for the first time in over a week, I was stopped by the dreaded sound of the access denied chime when swiping my crew card. What the hell? How can I be IPM on this of all days?

What made it worse was that my friend, now stood a few feet ahead of my on the edge of the pier, had successfully made it off the ship. How could this be? We had the same saftey duty.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that there were set limits of crew allowed off the ship at any one time, and I was the one too many. Apparently if I’d waited for someone to come back, I couldn’t then gone out, but not knowing this at the time, I watched my now former friend disappear into the distance and sulked back to my cabin like a very angry but very feeble bull, to convalesce and try and rid myself of the last of my illness. I’d just have to wait until St. Maarten the following day before getting back in terra firma. Well what was one more day in the grand scheme of things? 

So it turned out that crossing the Atlantic by sea was actually way less interesting than it sounds. In reality we worked our asses off dealing blackjack and poker from dawn until dawn again, for 7 nights and six days, with little change in the scenery that consisted of 360° views of deep blue sea. I’m not sure what I’d been expecting. Pirates? Whales? Rogue waves? Well we did get a fantastic free show by a pod of dolphins during our mid Atlantic life boat drill. Now that’s something that you don’t get on you 8 hour smooth flight with wall to wall interactive seat back movies and a small tray of food!

My Most Embarrassing Story Yet…

Tuesday 14th March 2017

October 2016 – I can’t quite believe that I’m going to share this excruciatingly embarrassing moment with the world wide web, but after some of the things that I’ve admitted to on here, what’s one more shameful tale?

So, on our last cruise before we were due to cross the Atlantic, we had a huge and very crucial saftey inspection that we had to pass. The ship was full of important and intimidating looking people, including two external auditors and the ship’s designated person from ashore, Captain Oleksander.

Their job was to check all the safety procedures etc. and ensure that every crew member knew their rocket flares from their sea anchors, along with their own specific role in the unlikely event of an emergency, plus any relevant contingency plans. It was definitely a big deal for everyone and we’d even been subjected to extra trainings to prepare us and refresh our memories, so that we could answer all of the questions correctly.

The first test was at the passenger boat drill, and of course they came to my station and asked me all sorts of complex questions. I wouldn’t say that it went smoothly, but overall I think I just about scraped through with my knowledge of painter lines, emergency positioning radio indicating beacons, and where the biscuit tin containing the emergency rations is stashed.

The next day was crew boat drill. We were in Cartagena, Spain, and on my side of the ship it was roasting. The blazing hot sunshine beat down on us mercilessly, and there was not a breath of wind nor centimetre of shade. Plus I’d forgotten my sunglasses, so I was dazzled by the bright light reflecting off both the water and the boat deck. The drill was going to be like a very slow and very hot form of torture.

As the minutes ticked by inch by inch, I became more and more uncomfortable trussed up in my thick foam, fluorescent orange, life jacket. There was just no respite from the huge yellow ball of fire high in the sky, that continuously and relentlessly scorched my entire body.

After standing there sweltering for the best part of 1 hour, the auditors and Captain Oleksander were getting closer to my station. By this point the sweat was running in rivers all down my body and I kept threatening to break into the lifeboat and drink all the emergency water before I threw up from heat stroke.

As they got to my station and started interrogating my colleague, I was feeling really unwell. I was queasy and dizzy, and desperate to get out of the furious glare of the sun. Had it been any other day, and a regular drill, I would’ve asked to go inside, I really felt that ill, but because the auditors were there, I knew that there was nothing I could do.

As they were finishing up questioning the last girl before me, I knew that I really needed immediate help. I tried desperately to get my life boat commanders attention to let him know that he needed to get me out of there asap, but he was transfixed watching my fellow comrade getting grilled on thermal protective aids and their uses.

Too late. The auditors were now right in front of me, and started by asking me simple questions, like what my name was and which department I was from. I was trying so hard to focus my attention, and mouth out the word “Amy”, but I couldn’t even speak.

Next thing I know, I’m waking up on the floor with a million alarmed faces right by my face looking at me worriedly. I had no idea where I was, how I got there or what was happening. All I could hear was them calling out the emergency medial alarm of “Code Alpha!” over the tannoy and asking if I’m all right. I just kept struggling to gasp the words “I’m fine!” whilst trying to get off the scorching hot floor.

Eventually I managed to convince them to let me out of the recovery positon and get me inside out of the heat. I kept telling them that I was fine and just a little too hot, and that all they needed to do was let me sit down and take a drink of water. But no, no, no, the onboard doctors were now on scene and the next thing I know I’m being carted off to the medical centre where I was put straight on a drip, hooked up to a heart rate monitor, whilst being subjected to a battery of tests including, but not limited to, blood tests, glucose tests, blood pressure, temperature and even electroded up for a full bloody ekg heart test.

Apart from my blood pressure being through the floor and a slight low grade infection of some sort, there was nothing much wrong with me apart from the gallons of sweat and a pale face.
I kept trying to convince them that that was a perfectly normal skin tone for someone from the UK, but they wouldn’t let me go until they’d given me a vitamin injection into my hip of all places and I’d sucked up most of the bag of fluid, which eventually I demanded that they take out because it was causing me great pain due to the fact that the fluids were no longer going in my veins, but leaking straight into my arm.

Just be thankful that I didn’t follow this childhood whim and become a medical professional. (I’m the one on the right by the way.)

After a bit longer just laying on the hospital style bed with my clothes all undone and disheveled, I was dispatched off to the mess to eat chicken soup in front of all the people who’d just witnessed my fall of shame and then packed off to bed to sleep before work.

Later that night, Captain Oleksander was passing through the casino whilst I was working and stopped to enquire if I was feeling better. I was mortified. I thanked him for his concern and assured him that I was a lot better now. The auditor that he was with looked just as frightened as he had done earlier in the day when I looked up at his face, when I’d come to. He seemed mightily when they left, scurrying away before I had another chance to throw myself at his feet. I’m not sure that anyone had ever passed out before during his routine questioning, especially before he’d even got to the hard part of the examination.

It got worse later, when my casino manager told me that he was the one that actually ran an caught me when he saw me falling face first to the floor like a tree. Apparently he’s saved me from face planting the deck and potentially a whole lot more pain, by catching me in his arms. Excellent. Way to go Weaves.

Everyone else around the ship was taking about the girl that fainted during drill and when they found out that it was me, kept asking if it was because I was really scared. I wasn’t scared! I was bloody roasting. Which probably didn’t bode well for the future seeing as we were heading to the tropical Caribbean 2 days later.

Anyway, despite my feebleness in the heat, the ship passed it’s inspection and we were cleared to sail across the Atlantic. So there you have it. Not only had I passed out during drill in front of everybody, but it had been at the exact moment that the shoreside Captain and the auditor had come to question me. Add to that I’d fallen into the arms of my manager and it makes for a pretty cringe worthy event. Just another day in paradise making a fool of myself then. Goodness knows what I’ll do next…!