Chinese Finery for Red Lantern Gala

Day 26, Grand Asia 2017

Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 – At Sea

Hundreds of festive red lanterns dangling from the dining room ceiling were the first sign that tonight’s dinner would be special. Tonight’s Red Lantern Gala felt like the formal nights of old. We had our choice of lobster tail and chateaubriand among other dinner entrees. Our dining room and wine stewards wore tunics with Chinese dragons.

Not too long ago Holland America replaced its formal nights with gala nights. Some passengers love dressing in tuxes and fancy formal dresses, but many don’t. Formal nights required a suit, or at least a jacket, for men ands cocktail or dressier attire for women. On gala nights the rules are more relaxed.

img_0508Before the cruise Holland America had notified us of the themes for our 10 gala nights. I shopped in Chicago’s Chinatown for a Chinese jacket, one of the few clothing purchases I made specifically for this cruise. Most women wore similar jackets or dresses. And everyone turned out. We had been commenting that the dining room was less than half full on most nights. Tonight diners even filled the seldom-used round dining room tables for 10.

During the day we fell fully back into our sea day routine. I spent an hour or so in the watercolor class and learned a new way to make piecrust in Spencer’s America’s Test Kitchen demonstration. Who knew vodka was key? (In the piecrust, not the baker.)

Whenever I take the aft set of stairs, I make sure to carefully hold the handrail. When the Amsterdam repositioned to San Diego from Alaska for our cruise, the ship carried work crews instead of passengers. Some of them replaced most of the public room and staircase carpets.

The forward and midship staircases have light-colored carpet to signify when you have reached the top and bottom of each flight. But on the aft staircase, the light carpet is on the second to the last step as you descend. I know of one passenger who took a nasty fall and sprained both ankles when she missed the last step during our Pacific crossing. I thought that Holland America would fix the erroneous carpet pattern while we were in Japan, but it continues. I won’t be surprised if there aren’t more tumbles.