After our exciting trip to The Giant’s Causeway, we had to rush back to the ship. We all needed to get dressed up in our “glad rags” for the first of two “galas”. Now, when I refer to “galas” on Hebridean Princess, I don’t mean there was a band and dancing or anything. Basically, everyone gets decked out in formal wear or at least dresses up a bit and there’s special food and such. It’s a chance for everyone to mingle and get to know each other and hear from the purser and captain. The first gala is intended to allow the staff to welcome everyone properly.
On all four of our Hebridean journeys, Bill has worn his Army Service Uniform, also popularly known as “dress blues”. Bill still manages to look good in the uniform, despite having retired three years ago. However, there is some doubt as to whether or not he should be wearing the dress blues on a ship. I came across an interesting thread on Cruise Critic about U.S. military retirees wearing uniforms outside of military events. Although I doubt anyone would bust Bill for wearing his blues on a tiny British cruise ship, I think we may have decided that this was the last cruise during which he would be wearing his blues, especially since he will soon have a custom made kilt of his very own.
I don’t generally like wearing formal dresses because I don’t enjoy shopping for clothes. I’m short and fat and it’s hard to find dresses that are really flattering, yet comfortable. I bought a couple of dresses for this cruise that were okay, I guess, but really didn’t make me feel pretty. Still, I gamely wore a purple velvet get up for the first gala. Bill squeezed into his blues and we went up to the cocktail party.
I think I will miss seeing Bill in his blues, especially on Hebridean Princess. The uniform is a conversation piece and we have ended up meeting some fascinating people on the Princess who have military backgrounds themselves. In attendance on our cruise was a man in his 90s named Ian. Ian got a look at Bill in his dress blues and immediately chatted him up. It turned out that Ian had joined the British Army in 1937, when he was a very young man. He served in the British Army for thirty-five years, eventually ending up in Baden-Baden, a German city not far from where Bill and I currently live.
Ian met and married a German woman and was recruited by the Canadian Army, which allowed him to stay in Germany with his wife. He served the Canadian Army for another fifteen years. Then, he retired in 1987. His wife preceded him in death and Ian has apparently become a return guest on Hebridean Princess. I heard a staff member talking about what a lovely man he is. And he repeatedly apologized to me for “stealing” Bill away to talk about the military. Frankly, it was an honor for Bill to get to talk to another soldier with such an amazing history.
On our first Hebridean cruise, we met a man who was 89 years old and had served in World War II as a young man. He was still amazingly lucid and had all kinds of stories about what it was like to serve in those days. Bill and I both enjoyed meeting the man.
Anyway, after the cocktail party, we went to dinner. Below are some pictures from that night.
Bill in his blues. He said he was a little afraid to sit down because the jacket is a bit tight. He bought a new one last year, but it needs to be tailored. I think he still looks good.
The starter… bacon makes everything better, right?
I had lobster for my main course. It was a treat, since it’s hard to find lobster here in Germany.
Bill went with pork. The pork was good, although I get enough here!
This was dessert! Naturally, I had the chocolate…
And Bill went with panna cotta, I think.
After dinner, we went back to the Tiree lounge for drinks and conversation. I don’t remember all I had, but I do know I tried one of the local beers…
I managed to ramp up my Untappd entries on this cruise!