Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Gala Night, Alaska Cruise
There is an air of refinement and sophistication as the Ass’t Maitre d’ in his crisp suit swings open the double etched glass doors to usher the guests into the diningroom.
All the waiters, their assistants, the sommeliers, the photographers, the cocktail servers are standing at the ready, their suits and tunics formal and impeccable. Their greetings, smiles and bows seem even more polished tonight.
The string quartet at the top of the Grand Staircase is playing light classical music.
And you, you are comfortable among all the Beautiful People taking their place at their tables, because you too are one of them, for tonight anyway, in your best formal attire, ladies gowned in their finest, the gentlemen tuxedos or dark suits.
As you settle into your chair and your waiter lights the candle on the table and places your napkin on your lap, the semitransparent blinds in the windows begin to descend at a measured rate, as though they too had been waiting on an unspoken cue from you.
This is the Gala Night, the night before the last night of your cruise.
There’s grilled lobster tail for your entree, and dessert will be a flaming Baked Alaska, brought to your table by a parade of singing waiters amid cheers and flashes from countless cameras.
Then you’ll join hands with your tablemates and the servers to sing Auld Lang Syne. Tomorrow we’ll all be going our separate ways, but some friendships made on board will continue long after the cruise.
The Gala Night is carefully orchestrated to make you feel Baronial, and it succeeds.
So what if tomorrow, once Customs and Immigration are through with you, you are again in your usual world of jeans, Dockers, shorts, tees and tops from the discount department store, that you have to lug your own bags and are destined for a burger and fries at McDonalds for dinner?
Gala Night is Cinderella time. A glass slipper may turn up later unexpectedly to give you another chance at being a prince or a princess. Who knows?
Here comes the movie: Flaming Alaska dessert and we'll sing Auld Lang Syne.
(Pictures and movie taken on previous cruise to Alaska, sister ship)