Mon. Sept 3rd: Started the day with room service, coffee and omelets. Nice to sit on balcony, watching the water move swiftly by. No land in sight. We’ve been at sea all night heading south. Joe and I took a tour of the boat, learning our way around, identifying what was going on where. We got some great shots of the sun coming up on the water.We ended up on deck 2 at the Test Kitchen, where we ran into JR and Jackie. We watched a live recording of America’s Test Kitchen TV show. A lady on stage demonstrated two awesome salmon recipes and explained all about the different kinds of salmon, showing us the five finger salmon trick, which we already learned from one of our bus driver/tour guides. She also explained the difference between farm raised salmon and wild salmon and how best to cook them, none of which I recall. JR and Jackie told us they signed up for a package deal with the Greenhouse Spa, where they could go as often as they like to revive their bodies and minds, so after the show they left to do their own thing and Joe and I headed to the Lido Market for lunch. It was not much different than Golden Corral, with a myriad of troths for us to feed from. Not sure where the Hoppers and Gloria were, but we had reservations at the Pinnacle Grill for 5 pm that night, so we’d meet up later. With no cell phone coverage on-board texting or calling in order to hook up with one another was impossible.
It was Gala night, so we all dressed to the 9s for the evening. For us Kentucky gals that meant make-up, jewelry, hair up (Jackie put Rita’s long blond hair up in a twirl) and, silky flowing blouses over black slacks. Jackie wore a black dress covered by a glittery shawl. Joe and JR wore sports jackets Ron a dress shirt and tie. We were a handsome bunch of old people, for sure. Our head waiter, an older gentleman with dark hair and a mustache told us his name was Clifford. When Jackie asked where he was from, he would not say. He could have been from Pakistan, Iraq or Iran. So we understood his reluctance to share. We felt like aristocrats in Downtown Abbey as the other waiter, a young man also from some mid-eastern country, hovered over us, anticipating our every need. He pulled out chairs to help us get seated and poured our wine with a white napkin draped over his forearm. None of us had experience with five course dinners, but Clifford was a professional and helped us order from each section on the gilded menu. Bowls and plates and silverware were swooped away after each course, and all new place settings appeared for the next round. When my lobster tail arrived, our young waiter bent in and expertly removed the white meat from its bony casing, which he then whisked away on another plate. Joe, Rita and Gloria ordered the poached salmon for their main course, Ron had the stuffed egg plant and Jackie had crab legs, which had already been magically cracked open lengthwise. All the sides were brought in larger dishes, set on the table for us to share: roasted Brussels sprouts, asparagus, glazed baby carrots and whipped garlic potatoes. Dessert was another event at our table. Joe and I had the Baked Alaska and the others had a fancy soufflé.
After dinner we did our own thing. Joe and I walked around the boat and outside on the upper deck. Then we retired to our room where we drank a glass of wine on the balcony. I left around 9:30 pm to join Rita and Gloria on deck 2 for the BB King All Stars show. Joe stayed back in the room. He didn’t want to get dressed up again. JR and Jackie were already there. They stayed for a little while then headed on to check out some of the other shows going on. We had a great time. The band sang a lot of blues and some Motown. There was sax, horn, keyboard, electric guitars and two lead singers, a man and a woman. (I don’t know their names). The guy sang hits by Otis Reading, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye. The woman did a good Tina Turner impression and Etta James when she belted out “At Last.” We enjoyed watching the older couples on the dance floor. Most were dressed to the hilt for Gala night. Rita, Gloria and I gave a few of them nicknames. A guy with a silver comb-over who was boogying with his younger lady, we dubbed Trump. Gloria called the drummer Obama since he could have been our ex-presidents younger brother. And no one could help but notice William Shatner, as he stood in his suit coat, barely moving his feet while his wife, a shapely woman in a tight fitting dress, shimmied and swayed her hips, moving her feet in a fast Cha-Cha, in and out and all around him. But our real treat was watching the Dancing With the Stars couple. The guy was younger, maybe 30s, had dark hair, a handle bar mustache and the necessary stubble on his face. He wore a dress uniform, probably part of the crew. The lady wore a sequined silver gown, with a slit up the side showing her shapely dark leg, a tiara on her head and glitter in her hair and on her neck. She shimmered as she danced. They both were tall, but he was lean and she could have been Serena Williams, strong and curvy in all the right places. Most everyone stopped to watch them move, they were fabulous to behold. I wish I could remember the song they danced to, but it eludes me. When they were done, many of us clapped. Later Serena started dancing with a group of younger ladies, whom we learned were all employees of Holland America. With the next song Respect, Serena pantomimed and danced to the whole number. She and the performer on stage were both doing an excellent job channeling Aretha Franklin. Later, as I stood beside Serena at the bar as we waited for our drinks, I told her how fabulous she was and complimented her dress and tiara. She said, “I’m a diva, and not ashamed to say so.” I learned her name was Jillian and that she worked for the cruise ship. She said she was from the Chicago area, and her mother was from Gary Indiana and went to school with Michael Jackson. She said she would be working the next day on the top deck wearing a “puffy white shirt”.
When the show was over around 11, I left and went back to my room. Rita and Gloria stayed out a little longer and ended up at another party where they met many of the younger people who worked on the boat, dancing and cutting loose, after hours.