Docking in Paradise Island, Bahamas

The moment we saw palm trees lining the horizon, upon what looked like an island worthy of being stranded on, I was blown away with happiness and relief after all those days at sea. We gathered on deck, pointing this way and that, exclaiming with ooh’s and aah’s every time we saw a dream future house appear on stilts. Complete with its own private marina, of course.

We’d arrived in Paradise Island, Bahamas. The name says it all, but what intrigued us the most was the fact that we would be docked in a marina owned by a resort. Our stern backed out onto a walkway that was lined with shops, Ben & Jerry’s included, but it all had a Disney-esque feel about it that didn’t quite seem real. The resort was called Atlantis, with an impressive 141 acres of ocean-themed land, and it even featured once upon a time in an Olsen twin movie called ‘Holiday In The Sun’ (thanks to Robyn G for that golden nugget of info).

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As crew members, we were given access to the whole shebang. That meant free rein of the casino (where drinks were free, naturally the betting was not), numerous bars, a full on nightclub, restaurants, fresh and salt water lagoons complete with resident turtles and sharks, indoor aquariums, countless pools, not to mention an actual water park that costs a whopping $130 just for a day pass. We had all of these amenities at our fingertips, for about four whole days. Christmas truly had come early!

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The minute we got there and clocked off, the girls and I hit the hotel bars pretty hard. A couple rounds of Long Island Iced Teas and various shots later, we were having a whale of a time and seriously loving the Bahamian (sounds a lot like ‘bohemian’ when said by me) vibe. The workers in the hotel would say things like, ‘Is this your first time in the Bahamas?’ Me, ‘Yes, yes it is.’ ‘Well then, I just want to say welcome home!’ It really gives you the warm fuzzies. Even more so when you don’t have to pay a penny for such wonderful service.

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Generous goblets of cocktails. One was plenty to get you squiffy after a spell of no drinking at sea.

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We hit up the casino, but were a bit too scared to put down a bet of any real monetary value, and made our way to the nightclub for some dancing. It opened at 10pm, and we were downing our last tequila shots and stumbling back to the boat by 12pm. We weren’t given any time off work until a little bit later, so remained on our best behaviour.

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Before the gift of a day off work was given, myself and Cristina had our hearts set on conquering the Mayan Temple slide. But the attractions were only open from 10am-5pm, and our working hours didn’t permit visitation before or after work. So we grabbed life by the balls, and on our lunch break made a lightning change into our swimmers, grabbed the all access card and made a mad dash through the hotel grounds. A handful of children and some drunken middle of the day gamblers were swatted out of the way for our mission, and it worked! We queued for about ten minutes up the six story structure, chatting to some friendly guests along the way who gave us words of encouragement, and we both made the leap of faith. You drop vertically into a tube of clear plastic, through which you can theoretically see all these sharks. But, by golly, I was going too fast and was in too much shock to register anything other than blind terror. My contact lenses went awry, but we high fived, grabbed our flip flops and flip flopped, dripping, back through the hotel to get back in time for work. Best lunch break, so far.

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When we were finally given a day off, we rejoiced! After grabbing a few sun loungers and naming it base camp, we all set off to explore what the park had to offer. The lazy river took us around the entire compound, upon which brave Jhel embarked on her first ever water slide, ultimately enjoying it after only a few tears of abject terror. Maria, who doesn’t even know how to swim, even did all the vertical drop slides with us there to catch her at the exit. What a hero!

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‘Shark bait, ooh ah ah.’ (Finding Nemo, 2003).

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The pina coladas, daiquiris and contraband beers from the boat were flowing, music was playing…we truly couldn’t have asked for a better day off.

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Sampling kahlua coladas round the pool.

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The sun started to set early at about 5pm, so we called it a day and waved goodbye to our temporary home.

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The perfect end to my first, but hopefully not the last, experience of the Bahamas.

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Slightly overdone wholemeal pita breads that accompanied pork souvlaki kebabs & tzatziki.

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Homemade cornbread, to make an all-American sausage & herb stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner. There may not be any US citizens onboard, but who could say no to a good themed meal? This dish was so tasty, that the crew requested it to be made again on Christmas Day.

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A traditional (ahem) sweet potato casserole, with a marshmallow topping. A dish so steeped in history, it simply had to be part of the spread.

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Pecan & maple pie, made with a spelt flour crust, because we ran out of plain flour mid-crossing.

Next up on our travel agenda is a teeny tiny stint in Miami, before settling into our longer term winter residence of St Maarten, Caribbean.

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