Wednesday, 17 August 2011. Once again we are given time and opportunity to view our port of call at night.
Once again it makes a beautiful scene. We are in Split, Croatia. The last entry dealt with our day in this rapidly recognised tourist destination and we are now standing on the Promenade Deck (Deck 6) of our cruise ship, the Thomson Spirit.
To our left there is still a little colour in the sky although the sun, a while since, dipped beneath the horizon. As we stand looking over the peaceful scene, a number of ferries enter and leave the port.
This doesn't detract from the peace or the aesthetic beauty of the place - the ferries are quiet and at the first or final few metres of their journey they are gliding slowly past. They all bear their company name Jadrolinija in bold letters on their side. There are lots of islands around this area and many are tourist destinations.
We stood out on deck until the pangs of hunger assailed us - that doesn't normally take too long with me to be honest, but I stave them off tonight. This was, after all, the last port that we would be in at night on the cruise. In fact we only have one port of call left! Dubrovnik will be our port tomorrow.
Tonight in the Compass Rose restaurant it is the night for a traditional event on cruise ships - the Parade of the Baked Alaska! It is a feature of every cruise and, seeing as this will be the twelfth time we have clapped along and enjoyed the beaming faces of a line of waiters holding aloft a flaming pudding, I thought it was time to research what it was all about...
The pudding is ice cream on a cake bed and then encased in a baked meringue. A frozen middle that has to remain frozen whilst the meringue is cooked. Still a feat now, but imagine when there were no refrigerators! Apparently Baked Alaska was first created by Delmonico's restaurant in New York following the acquisition of Alaska by America from Russia on March 30, 1867. How they baked the meringue without the ice cream melting and without the aid of little gas aerosol flame throwers I don't know. They must have called in all the local plumbers with their paraffin burners...
Anyway whether you like the dessert or not makes no difference. This is an event that livens up the waiters' week. That much is obvious from their faces. And these guys and girls work some serious hours on your behalf. And it's a bit of fun and you've got to be a cynical old meanie not to enjoy it!