Welcome to the Dominican Republic…BANANA!!!

Our last Caribbean island was Dominican Republic. Again this was one of the Caribbean islands I was excited to say I had been to. We booked a hotel to go into for the day as we were told that again some places and beaches aren’t really safe if you don’t know the area. So $45 included using their private beach and facilities and the all inclusive food and drinks…sweet!! That day we brought Paul (Carol’s boyfriend or as we have named him our new bitch) along with us (Me Kim and Rita) as Carol was on call which meant Paul would have been on his own. So the only condition of him coming with us was that he wasn’t allowed to lie next to me as he was very very tanned by this point…and I was, umm not so tanned shall we say. Yeh I know, you’re all struggling to believe how can that be, I mean factor 4 is too high for me!!! Haha. Anyway the deal was made, and there was all 4 of us finding a perfect spot on the beach, in between several palm trees lieing on our sunbeds. I felt like I was on an episode of shipwrecked, or survivor….except I had a 5* hotel behind me, serving unlimited food and drinks, and I was only there for a few hours.

So ok, maybe nothing like Shipwrecked or Survivor, but I was on a Caribbean island, on a beach, in between palm trees, and the odd lizard or geckorunning around…surely I get one point for that???? Ok maybe not!! Again the beach was nice, and we took advantage of the swim up bar in the pool which was lush, but like St Lucia, the Dominican Republic was one place I was really excited to go to, but having went there, my first impression wasn’t all that magical. I got a little excited when I found out that some of Jurassic Park was filmed there but other than that, I wouldn’t rush to go back there for a long holiday.

Before this blog finishes I forgot to add that on going back to the ship we had a wander round the shops and found they were selling Havianas (a brand of flip flops), any pair you can imagine. Now some may love the idea of fashionable ones, ones that go with anything, sure thing I have them..and if they break, I can always pick up another pair. BUT this shop sold unique Havianas….they actually sold Minion Havianas, they in my eyes are ridiculously cool and yes guys I couldn’t resist buying a pair!!! 26 I may be, but we all know im young at heart at times!!

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So from the Dominican Republic its Adios Amigos, and back to New York!!

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Tortola- Cane Garden Bay

Our next port was Tortola, otherwise known as part of the British Virgin Islands. See I am learning every day as I didn’t even know that those islands existed. Anyway Kim was on call that stay so sadly had to stay on ship, so it was me and Rita that went exploring. Initially we wanted to go to one particular beach, but once we asked a guy how to get there, he informed us it was closed but instead join this bus  that was going to a different beach called Cane Garden Bay. We might aswell we thought, and then after discovering that we were the 2 extra people that made it up to 25 people joining his taxi (23 other people huddled into this safari bus is how I describe it, without any doors!!!), we realize he was actually probably lieing about the other beach being closed as he wanted our custom, robbing bastard I thought but also his plot worked so maybe a high-five for salesmanship!

The trip in this taxi I can only describe as being like being on a coach when you go skiing and your attempting to get higher up in the mountains, painfully slow and constantly winding round the bends until you feel like you’re ready to jump off and throw up. Once we got over the peak of the mountain and started to decline down it, the view was absolutely stunning and one that you would easily see in a holiday brochure.

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Once the taxi/bus/wagon dropped us off, what was the first thing that clocked my eye….oh yes ladies and gentleman, I present you….RUM IN A COCONUT!!!! I was absolutely buzzing at this point.  I was so happy, and even happier once I had had the neat rum!!!!

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Now this beach, although it was busier than Honeymoon beach we visited in St Thomas, I cannot again begin to again describe how lush this beach was. I got to speak to loved ones back home aswell which was nice to actually be on wifi that I wasn’t on a timer that was costing me money!!

So there I was on a stunning beach, looking out to see a yachts docked all over the place crystal clear waters, white sands. I even had proper Caribbean sticky chicken, it was fab. So yes, apart from an incident that happened which I can’t talk about this was my favourite day of the Caribbean so far and I cant wait to return there over the Christmas period!!!

Here’s just a few pics that don’t do this place any justice of its beauty at all…..

 

St Lucia Man

So once again I woke up having docked in St Lucia, I was rather happy at this point as this was 3 consecutive days in port. I loved the idea that every day I was waking up somewhere different, that essentially is why I am doing this, not only to nurse but to see the world whilst doing it. Anyway, St Lucia….I was told it was a tender port. A tender what??? It’s basically where a few lifeboats are lowered into the sea and you have to get in one in order to get over to the mainland, as the ship is too large (and the water is deep enough) to dock right at the port. So as I travel there I’m told to go and get some closed in shoes in case you fall getting into the lifeboat. I mean seriously, I have more chance in closed in shoes that  I would fall rather than my Havianas which most people know I live in most of the year. Anyway rules are rules, so off I get with my playsuit…..and stupid pumps on a ridiculously hot day….yeh i was rocking the “uber cool” look..or not!!!

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So Tender port/ lifeboat saga over with, 4 of us girls hit St Lucia. We grabbed a taxi which looked pretty safe and we asked him to take us to a beach which had good reviews called Reduit Beach. On the way I was quite interested when speaking to the taxi driver about the local culture. He was also talking about how the crime rate is quite high there at the moment, with 11 rapes reported over the last 3 days. What did make me laugh though was he was saying when Prince Charles visited last year sometime, if prisoners had been on a period of good behaviour, they were granted day release whilst he was there to go and see him. Needless to say some of these prisoners didn’t return to prison that night….funny that!!!!!!! Anyway the taxi driver, dropped off at the beach where we greeted by another woman who then escorted us through a hotel complex and onto the beach as it was classed as too dangerous to just wonder to the beach on your own, especially as it would be obvious we were tourists! Once we got to the beach, again it was lovely, the water was clear and the views of the mountains in the background were lovely, however because it was full of vendors constantly offering us stuff, from necklaces or kayaks to drugs and fish, you name it somebody they were selling it. It hardly was the relaxing day that any of us wanted. But it was still nice.

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The only thing that I was starting to get a bit annoyed with was the fact that I had come to the Caribbean…and still not found a pina coloda served in a fresh coconut…how hard can it be, I mean im not asking for milkshake in a cow udder am I (the thought of that has made me  want to vomit.com)?!?! Anyway a few hours on the beach and some lunch later, it was time to get back on the boat. Because of it being a tender port, we had to be back earlier to make sure we made the ship!

 

So what I thought was probably going to be my favourite island, was probably my least I have visited. Don’t get me wrong, it was lovely, but the fact we didn’t have very long there, and it seemed very commercialized and dangerous, and put me off from spending a lot of money to have a 2 weeks holiday there shall we say!

Aeroplane Beach-St Maarten

Since joining the ship, Kim has been going on about when we get to St Maarten we have to go to Aeroplane beach. Now I’ve never heard of it but apparently its world famous and according to Kim it’s “mega” (shes a proper northern girl from Nottingham/Derby, I’m not sure which but I’m not going to knock on her cabin to ask her, so just trust me she’s northern!).
So finally we arrive in St Maarten, alongside 3 other cruise liners also visiting for the day, and decide to have a wonder round the shops first. Kim has been wanting a specific TAG watch for the last 3 years, and has been all over the world trying to find the cheapest price one. Anyway we go through Tiffany&co out to a jewellers that stocks TAG watches…you may be thinking where am i going with this but i walked in, and you know at home you get absolutely nothing for free, NOTHING….well in the caribbean they even give you free beer. I’m not kidding, there in the corner of this jewellers was a crate of a variety of beers, local and imported all in a bucket of ice. I jokingly asked if i could have one to which the assistant said “of course ma’am and showed me where the bottle opener was. So there i am stood in the middle of a jewellers cracking open a bottle of Budweiser whilst looking at a lot of expensive watches, jewellery etc. Just Amazing!!!

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After realising that they don’t have Kim’s iconic watch in stock any more, we quickly left and hunted down a taxi to take us to aeroplane beach. the taxi was nothing like i had ever experienced before. oh no, it was no weyline taxis on 777777, in fact this was a mini bus with kitchen vinyl flooring with reggae music blasting out and being driven by a guy called Carlton (standard!) a.k.a “MR UNCLE PRETTY” (which was actually printed all over his car). ok so a big caribbean Rastifarian with massive dreadlocks he was anything but mr pretty, but he was cool and chatted to us the whole way about different things around the island.


So we got to the beach and to be honest its not the best beach in the world but everyone is there for the same reason to watch the planes fly over you so low as they come into landing onto the end of the runaway which is right on the beachfront. The atmosphere there is just amazing, and everyone is having a good time, music is being played all over the beach and its just a general good vibe! So the planes are coming in and going out and i was gobsmacked by how low they are on the beach before touching down on the runway. Anyway whilst i’m in the sea an Air France plane comes in, so i start trying to rush up to get my phone to take a pic, but whilst i’m doing that (to my family you don’t need to read any further…) a massive wave takes me out and knocks me down and when i stand up….i realise that my bikini top has completely come off a my bottoms are half way down my thighs!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So whilst the others found this absolutely hilarious, i wanted to die with embarrassment (another Brooklyn bridge moment). And i have also come to realisation that people from all over the world who have visited to get these epic photos of planes coming in over the beach, now will more than likely have myself non intentionally photo bombing their pictures with my “anything but Jennifer Lopez/Michelle Keegan body”. Completely ruined!! Somebody said to me the other day that they were going to start calling me Bridget Jones…i’m starting to see the similarities.
So after that we going across the road, to watch the big KLM (don’t ask me the size, i just know its a jumbo double decker one i think) take off. Now literally because of the sheer force of the power coming from the plane in preparation for take off, you have to hold onto the fence that goes around the runway otherwise you will literally get blown over. But guys i am not kidding you, its only for about 2 minutes or so, maybe less, but the sheer power g-force that i experienced from this, words cannot describe how much of an adrenaline i got from this, i was quite simply fucking awesome, and i would tell anybody that they have to go and experience this one day in their lives if they can!


After being completely stunned by what had just happened a few of us got a taxi back. Sadly it was no Uncle Pretty, but he did put on some caribbean rap reggae music….and even put the video on, and pulled down another screen so people at the back could watch it, and so we watched what could be described as Caribbean soft porn for the music video…only in the Caribbean eh guys!!!!

Welcome to St Thomas me lady!!

After another 3 days at sea, yeh they are lovely when you have one every few days, but i had been away for 11 days by this point and only been to one port, I needed to see land again and get off! So again i woke up and knew we had docked, i looked out of a porthole, and what did i see, sunshine, and land…the land of St Thomas.

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Me and Rita had done some research into what beach to go to (yes i know its a hard life the decisions that have to be made). Sadly Kim had to stay on board as she was on call (mine is coming up in a few days in St Kitts). We decided we were going to get a water ferry over to a little island called Water Island where there is what looks like a perfect beach called Honeymoon Beach (i suppose its got to be pretty special to be called that!). So after getting off the ship en route to the ferry, theres loads of shops and stools selling everything you could think of relating to the caribbean, playing caribbean music, everyone being friendly and trying to get you buy something, but there was no pressure, just a friendly sales pitch!! “rum,pina colada get your coconuts here me lady!!” that was a common phrase. Needless to say me and Rita did stop for a quick Pina Colada….im sorry to the Nook and Aura in town, but you aint got a patch on a caribbean cocktail, it was just so refreshing and very..ummm….well there was a lot of rum in it!!!!

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Anyway we get the water ferry over, and then a taxi that i can only describe as what you would see on safari to give us a lift down to the beach. We got in and there were 2 other girls in there who were literally the most stereotypical american country girls you could ever imagine. Daisy Dukes springs to mind! platinum blonde hair extensions, veneers, straw hats, matching cerise pink bikinis, obvious boob jobs etc. So after them becoming obsessed with my “british accent” and asking if I liked the queen (i kept stet about my kate and wills obsession!!), i discovered they were from Alabama and their names were Kiki and Betsy….of course it was, they were hardly going to be called Emma or Claire were they!!
So after the very short drive on the outback truck, we arrived in what I can just simply describe as absolute paradise…..yes Paradise. So close your eyes and imagine the pure white sand beach, with crystal clear waters, with a few sun beds right on the shoreline and a small caribbean bar playing reggae music. It was the most gorgeous beaches and probably one of the most places i have ever been to!! The sea was so still and warm. And it was even better as there were only a dozen or so people on this beach, so it was relaxation at its best. There We were sipping cocktails on the beach and it was just pure heaven, and whats even better i got back on the ship later and didn’t even burn…but i did get a nice glow!!

Brooklyn baby!!

So i woke up around half 5, and suddenly thought to myself “umm i think we have landed”, no douche your not on a plane, the correct phrase is docked! So after getting ready in my room, Kim knocked on my door and suggested we go up on top deck to look at the views of New York.
Walking through one of the rooms, i was looking over through one of the windows in a distance and could see some twinkling lights. I could fill me getting more excited and the smile on my face was starting to appear…and then i opened the door and stepped out. OH…MY…GOD, that was all i could think. The only way i can describe it is remembering when i was a little girl and still believed in Father Christmas and becoming absolutely speechless when I saw all the christmas presents under the tree. I couldn’t believe what i was witnessing. It was just simply amazing. Yes guys i really was speechless, i was actually looking at what I always see on the TV and in films, the Manhattan Skyline at dusk. Manhattan Bridge in the distance, with Brooklyn bridge in front, The empire state building, the new world trade centre. The statue of Liberty. Yes i could describe every bit of what i had seen, and some of you would probably be yawning because you have been there, done that etc, but i still couldn’t believe it, i was in bloody New York baby!!!!

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We still have clinic on turnaround days, but normally if you have a day off, you can normally leave ship after clinic, but because we had a annual inspection from the US coastguards, every crew member had to stay on until the full drill had been done. Whilst i knew the importance of this, i couldn’t help but slightly feel a small amount of torture at the idea that I just wanted to get on land and go exploring this amazing city. 12pm comes, and i had to be back on by half 3, so this time there wasn’t enough time to actually go into New York…..so Brooklyn had my undivided attention!
I literally ran off the ship as soon as we were granted permission to get off, and grabbed an infamous yellow taxi (Yes i know Bournemouth have them, but this was the original place of the yellow cabs in my eyes) and told the taxi man to take me to Brooklyn Bridge. As we were stuck in traffic, i was just staring out of the window trying to absorb all of the surroundings. From the skyline of Manhattan still on my radar, even the street signs i loved. The houses were like you see on Sex and the City, or Hocus Pocus, or generally any american show/film (funny that!). I was going wild taking pictures of everything, the outdoor gyms, the yellow school buses, even the NYPD cars….i even took a picture of a passing FDNY ambulance. Sad you may call me, but its slightly different from the good old bright yellow SWAST ones I’m used to seeing back home!
So the taxi driver pulls up and explains which way i have to go. Now somehow i managed to make my way to the bridge, without getting lost….but you ask me to get to Bristol or somewhere, I’m Fubared and normally need help!! Anyway i get to the bridge, and start walking over it, trying to still take in the fact i was on dry land as well as being in New York. On my way back over walking over the bridge, i decide to stop and use my selfie stick. Yes we all know im a sucker for them, but i thought i would try this selfie stick out…Bingo i managed to take a half decent pic, making sure i didn’t have half a head, and that the bridge and skyline wasn’t on a diagonal etc.

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So as i start to put the stick away in my bag, i put one foot in front of the other (i cant even make it sound cool), and before i know it my hands reach out, my feet stay pretty much stationary with my knee bending, my bag nearly goes up in the air and yep you’ve guessed it….I’VE FACE PLANTED…..ON BROOKLYN BRIDGE!!! this is only something i can describe as what you may see on legally blonde, or miss congeniality, you get my drift. So what seemed a lifetime and was probably only a second being face down on the bridge, this NYPD officer (it couldn’t get any worse or surreal could it?!!?) asked me if was ok Ma’am. So i quickly got myself up dusted myself down , whilst wanting the ground to swallow me up (or in this case the bridge to open up and me fall through!), thanked the officer and said i was ok and quickly carried on. I didn’t cry, but it was one of those moments where you think how the fuck did that just happen?? Luckily i had ripped jeans on and they just ripped up a bit more, as well as scrapping a bloody layer of my knee off (im 26 and still manage to trip over absolutely nothing….jeeeez).

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So after that huge embarrassment, i then realised i was absolutely hank marvin and wanted food. Now some people may know that my favourite pudding is cheesecake, so i knew that whilst i was here, thats exactly what i was getting!!! So after trying to navigate my way through Brooklyn, staring right at me was an american diner called “JUNIORS”. In i walked, and my eyes were dazzled with all the cheesecakes lined up along the counter, about 100 different flavours and sizes, i literally had gone to food heaven…..! I propped myself up at the bar, sitting in between two americans who looked like they were there for the day (no, i didn’t interrupt a romantic meal for 2, they didn’t know each other, and it was the only seat going). I was given the menu and literally had no idea what to order, so i thought i would try a traditional strawberry cheesecake, and boy it did not disappoint, i have never eaten such a big slice of cheesecake in my life, but do you know what?? i literally did not care. Although my hips probably didn’t thank me, we all know i have big hips and ass so i wasn’t gunna beat myself up about it!! haha.

 
So whilst i got back on board later that day it is tradition to go up to top deck with some champagne and watch us sail away from New York in the evening. I went up and joined the other medics and I had the same breathtaking moment that I had that very morning when i arrived in New York. It was bloody cold and windy, but looking at New York skyline at night all lit up was a definite pinching myself moment. It was so romantic (ok so i wasn’t with a boyfriend up there, but you know what i mean). As we sailed away, with New York getting further into the distance, I took a moment to not only embrace this but also to think how much in the last year my life has changed. It has been the best year of my life, and although my god am i finding it hard without the most special people in my life not being around, i never thought i would be sailing around the world, seeing so many countries and getting paid for it!!! So 3 more sea days and then…..next stop Caribbean baby!!!!

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the most surreal evening….

Are you coming to cocktails after work? and do you want to join us for dinner in one of the restaurants in the passenger area?? ooooooooooo this sounds nice, what shall i wear i thought. And my mind is completely stopped when i’m reminded that after 6 no crew are allowed in the guest areas unless dressed in the correct uniform (Why did i buy that dress in River Island last month??). So basically as nurses we have to wear uniform every.single.day! during the day we just wear our tunic and trousers, and if we are in officers only area we have to wear this uniform up until 9pm (other crew areas, like laundry, shops, gym we can wear whatever we like, but i think my minnie mouse onesie is probably best behind closed doors…). So because i havent been venturing out that late at night, i haven’t literally been wearing uniform all the time. BUT this is where my little brain starts getting slightly confused. Ok so here’s the deal, after 6pm we are still allowed in guest areas however we have to be in smart suited and booted uniform, be it the informal uniform or the formal uniform. So formal is a black short cut jacket, a 3/4 length skirt pleated white blouse and black odd looking cravat. Informal is a long black jacket, a short skirt, normal white blouse and a different cravat again. oh and was told that when we are in hot countries like the caribbean, we going into white uniform. Confused yet??? So that night, as a team we were going out for cocktails up to the guest area and then for dinner in one of the restaurants, but I had no idea what i was meant to be wearing. what blouse? which shoes? which jacket?. Oh heck, i needed Kim and Rita in my room that night basically dressing me.

so this is how i ended up looking...
so this is how i ended up looking…

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So if you know me you know that my favourite film is Titanic. I mean 60+ times watching it and i still am thinking why the bloody hell did she not share that wooden door with him in the place then the jack and Rose love story would have continued…..yeh im sure James Cameron had his reasons for not doing my version of the story!! Anyway, this night the only way i can describe it was from the scenes from when Jack is suited and booted by Molly and he joins the upper class for dinner. So there is the girls in my room dressing me up and then we go up the most beautiful ballroom where flowing champagne is being served. And the purpose of us being there you may ask is? Well as medical officers we are expected to drink champagne (moderately of course) and generally smile, and wait for passengers to come up to you and make small talk. It may be them talking about their voyage or them asking me questions about my job. I mean, here I am little old Douche from Weymouth who was lounging on the sofa with Lauren last week watching don’t tell the bride, and now I’m on one of the Grandest ships in the world drinking champagne and making complete small talk with all varieties of people!

As a team, we all went for dinner at one of the restaurants which was lovely and had some vino of the red variety too and it just rounded off a really nice but surreal evening!
And before you ask…no i didn’t ‘go to a real party’ below decks and dance to irish music…instead I come back to my cabin, lay on my bed thinking what the hell happened tonight, got in my minion pjs and went to sleep…and again another hour went back that night!