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BigKeith

Rules for conversation in the dining room!

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I can't understand why anyone would bring up most of these topics; religion, politics, weight issues, etc.

 

What is wrong with; where are you from, are you enjoying your cruise so far, is this your first cruise, what are your favorite ports of call for this itinerary, etc.?

 

My wife and I run a Christian ministry to pregnant women, so if we make any mention of what we do, religion and abortion are likely involved at some point. Nevertheless, we have had great experiences getting to know our tablemates (always making sure that the conversation remains polite). There was one couple that didn't show up again after the first or second night, but we don't know why.

 

I would find it to be quite offensive to be told that such topics are absolutely out of bounds, because they relate so directly to the essence of who we are.

 

But our focus at the table is usually getting to know our tablemates, finding out more about them, and not pushing any agenda of our own.

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If I wanted to be annoyed I'd stay home and watch FOX, MSNBC or whatever political channel. I'm trying to get away from the realities of life and live a fantasy existence for a week or so. Having said that I'm not telling anyone what to talk about at dinner but if Big Keith and others like him sit at my table I'll politely excuse myself and seek another table. With all due respect to the person who runs the Christian ministry if I were an agnostic or atheist (which I am not) I wouldn't have the same view of the essence of life that you espouse. Please keep your prosleytizing in your pulpit where you can share with like-minded people. I won't make a scene or cause any embarrassment. I just want to put as much distance between your table and where I will dine.

 

I would be gone from a table that chose politics as the subject of conversation.

Who wants to get heartburn discussing heated topics at dnner with strangers?

Not me.

Edited by Don P

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Why would?

How Would?

Someone casually happen to ask what religion you are after just meeting you at a cruise ship dining table? :confused:

 

I can think of no graceful way someone would introduce that question or why they would.

 

 

 

 

No one is suggesting that you ask someone's religion. But religion as a topic of conversation should not (in my book) be out of the realm of a great discussion. Let's say you'd been to Haifa that day to visit the B'hai Temple and that you hadn't known much about their faith before. Might make a good conversation, no? Yet, it is religion. Or perhaps, after a visit to a mosque one might find oneself thinking about and discussing the differences among the world's great religions....

 

I would be gone from a table that chose politics as the subject of conversation.

Who wants to get heartburn discussing heated topics at dnner with strangers?

Not me.

 

Who says it has to be a heated discussion? In my experience, discussions tend to get heated most quickly when one of the parties really doesn't have much factual info to back up their position and then resorts to emotion. But I don't think anyone really likes THOSE kinds of discussions, save perhaps a few TV personalities.

 

I was on a cruise last year on a small ship called the Aegean Odyssey. There is no fixed seating, but because it is a small ship, you tend to get to know others. On the first night, the head waiter seated a group of solo women travelers together at an eight-top and (with one substitution), we all chose to sit together every night thereafter. We ranged in age from 40s to 90 (!), hailed from 4 different countries, and had very different political opinions and life experiences. Yet we enjoyed fantastic and broad-ranging conversations every night that included anything and everything from politics to religion to the prostitution of young girls in Thailand.......along with history, home remodeling, and great personal and travel stories.

 

I would never have gotten to know this wonderful group of women so well if we had limited our conversation to what we did in port that day and what we planned to do the next.

Edited by cruisemom42

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What a great topic for all of us to consider. I enjoy conversations with table mates, and want them to be enjoyable experiences for everyone.

 

However, I also can see where the safe "where are you from," "what did you do in port today" conversations might get old after awhile. I try to think up some different topics of conversation, but ones which still avoid the politics/religion aspects, which are not of interest to me, and which could well lead to diatrabes from other people!

 

Sadly, I had a number of table mates who have decided that they had to broadcast their feelings on these matters, and it has not been a fun experience.

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I would find it to be quite offensive to be told that such topics are absolutely out of bounds, because they relate so directly to the essence of who we are. .

 

With all due respect, it isn't the essence of most of us, so we may not enjoy hearing about your views, your works, or your goals, even though these are your work. No offense intended, but that is reality. If we were plumbers who specialized in emergency sewer repairs, would you want to hear about our work and what we had to deal with on a daily basis? :D

Edited by boogs

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No one is suggesting that you ask someone's religion. But religion as a topic of conversation should not (in my book) be out of the realm of a great discussion. Let's say you'd been to Haifa that day to visit the B'hai Temple and that you hadn't known much about their faith before. Might make a good conversation, no? Yet, it is religion. Or perhaps, after a visit to a mosque one might find oneself thinking about and discussing the differences among the world's great religions....

 

I couldn't agree more!!

 

On my last MSC cruise we were seated with 2 young couples from the States. During the cruise, one of the couples got engaged in Egypt so on the nights following, the discussion turned to wedding plans.

The couple were mormon, which would play a big part in the wedding, so I got to learn a lot about mormon faith and it was very interesting.

 

My DD has a BA in Religion, so when travelling, she is a great source of info on the religions of the places we visit.

 

Lois

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Big Keith, may I sit at your table? I think I'd enjoy a meal with you!

 

I'm not shy about discussing most topics, though I also don't care for a heated argument. But I think that it's possible to be civil even when disagreeing. A lot of it is in the way it's presented. Let's say, for example, that someone from a foreign country can't fathom why in the world the U.S. has the Electoral College. They could ask me, "I wonder if you wouldn't mind explaining the purpose of the Electoral College? I just don't see the logic in it." I'd be more than happy to take a stab at it. But if they say "You Americans are so stupid with that nutty Electoral College; the way we do it in _________ is so much better." Well, then, let's talk about the weather, shall we? :D

 

Or, let's say you do want to delve into politics. Again, there's a nice way and a not-so-nice way to do it. It's the difference between "Bush was a cowboy and a warmonger who alienated the whole world" and "I feel that Bush should not have invaded Iraq and should have focused more on building international consensus." Or, "Obama is a socialist who is hell-bent on destroying our economy" versus "I'm concerned that Obama's increased spending is unsustainable and will harm our economy."

 

You see the difference? Your opinion is expressed either way, but one of the ways will likely lead to argument and frustration; whereas the other MIGHT lead to an interesting exchange of thoughts and ideas. And if it doesn't? Well, then I'm always happy to talk about our next port of call!

 

Id be happy to share a table with you Bus Man. Like i say, if conversations are civil and everyone consents then why the hell not talk about such interesting subjects. I just wish more people would realise, you get so much out of sitting and listening and dont always have to push your own opinion and 'win'

 

Ive enjoyed reading everyones contributions, it has been an interesting thread. There's been some disagreement though so my next question: Is it ok to discuss rules of the dining room when in conversation in the dining room?

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With all due respect, it isn't the essence of most of us, so we may not enjoy hearing about your views, your works, or your goals, even though these are your work. No offense intended, but that is reality. If we were plumbers who specialized in emergency sewer repairs, would you want to hear about our work and what we had to deal with on a daily basis? :D

 

When I'm at work or at a trade conference, I "talk shop" with my colleagues who are, after all, in my same industry. But when I'm on a cruise meeting new people, finding out the ins and outs of their respective careers is, for me, part of the fun. What better way to learn about different occupations than from the people who are in them? I have a basic understanding of the work of crisis-pregnancy centers, and no knowledge whatsoever about plumbing; but I would love to hear about both of them, so I could learn something. And yes, I think it would be quite interesting to learn about what goes on in those sewers!

 

There's been some disagreement though so my next question: Is it ok to discuss rules of the dining room when in conversation in the dining room?

 

You want heated arguments? Religion and politics have nothing on "Is it OK to wear jeans on formal night?" :D

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Most topics, including the potentially prickly ones such as religion, sex and politics, can be discussed on an objective level -- which means discussing the facts, and not putting forth ones interpretation of those facts on a subjective level. It takes a fair amount of maturity and courtesy to do that -- and it requires both from all parties: making it risky to try with strangers. If you can establish that all present are open-minded and able to discuss rather than argue, you can start into such topics -- but it is rare that this can be done in seven evenings.

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Just reading a thread on the Carnival board. One CCer asserted that the following should never be discussed when meeting new companions in the dining room:

 

Religion

Politics

Abortion

Economy

What you paid for the cruise

Weight

Opinions on what other people like to eat

 

I must say I disagree with these 'rules'.

 

I agree with these rules, as any lady or gentleman should.

 

Religion - I don't want to hear your opinions on religion, don't judge me, I won't judge you.

 

Politics - Same as religion

 

Abortion - Inapropriate to talk about death, wounds, or any other topic that may deal with bodily fluids at a dinner table

 

Economy - Too depressing, I am here to have fun

 

What you paid for the cruise - Why would you care? We're all there now, enjoy the moment

 

Weight - very rude

 

Opinions on what other people like to eat - Discussing what everyone is having is fine, disagreeing with thier choices is inapropriate though.

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To the OP, it's clear you like to discuss these topics for curiosity or education's sake, but some people can either misinterpret your intentions, get defensive of their views, or just be easliy offended. Like another poster said, it's best to get a feel for the other people at your table before discussing certain topics. Sometimes something can start off innocently enough and then turn into a heated debate. I prefer to avoid these topics, but if someone wants to discuss them in a way that is not too preachy or judgemental, I think it can be very interesting to learn about other people's cultures and beliefs.

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No one is suggesting that you ask someone's religion. But religion as a topic of conversation should not (in my book) be out of the realm of a great discussion. Let's say you'd been to Haifa that day to visit the B'hai Temple and that you hadn't known much about their faith before. Might make a good conversation, no? Yet, it is religion. Or perhaps, after a visit to a mosque one might find oneself thinking about and discussing the differences among the world's great religions....

 

 

 

Who says it has to be a heated discussion? In my experience, discussions tend to get heated most quickly when one of the parties really doesn't have much factual info to back up their position and then resorts to emotion. But I don't think anyone really likes THOSE kinds of discussions, save perhaps a few TV personalities.

 

I was on a cruise last year on a small ship called the Aegean Odyssey. There is no fixed seating, but because it is a small ship, you tend to get to know others. On the first night, the head waiter seated a group of solo women travelers together at an eight-top and (with one substitution), we all chose to sit together every night thereafter. We ranged in age from 40s to 90 (!), hailed from 4 different countries, and had very different political opinions and life experiences. Yet we enjoyed fantastic and broad-ranging conversations every night that included anything and everything from politics to religion to the prostitution of young girls in Thailand.......along with history, home remodeling, and great personal and travel stories.

 

I would never have gotten to know this wonderful group of women so well if we had limited our conversation to what we did in port that day and what we planned to do the next.

 

 

Just speaking for myself,

 

I would not welcome that conversation with strangers at a dinner table on a cruise ship.

 

We have managed to have very pleasant conversations through a great many years of a great many cruises without discussing anyone's religion.

 

And yes, even the day we visited B'Hai Temple in Haifa, we still felt no need to discuss religion.

 

Were that subject to arise directed at me, I would skirt it and divert the conversation elsewhere.

 

If others at the table wished to have that conversation, I would not interrupt.

 

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I think it is more of a challenge these days to hold a conversation which will not have the potential to offend. However, some good manners and common sense will likely avoid or solve most problems.

 

A couple of years ago I joined a couple for breakfast. To start the conversation, I asked where they were from, and what they did for a living. I could quickly tell that the latter question was not welcome, so we switched topics and had a really nice conversation about their cruising experiences, and places they had visited.

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After reading through everyone's comments, there's one topic I'm surprised hasn't been mentioned, but could lead to some very funny comments. I think most husbands will agree with me on this. A wife should not mention that her husband's snoring sounds like a lumberjack clearing a forest! And if she does, it's only fair that the husband gets to say that she is not allowed to put her ice-cold feet on him!:D:D

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Being from Canada, I quite often get asked about politics, it is always interesting comparing our two versions of democracy. I also always get grilled about our medical system.

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As a slight side-road to this topic, I like to have a few stock replies to use if the conversation gets into an area I'd rather not follow. I have no problem discussing virtually anything, until my companion starts trying to convert me to his/her way of thinking. This is whether it's religion, politics or any of the other topics mentioned.

 

I'm going to be on a cruise in New Zealand in November, shortly after the US Presidential election. I'm already sick of it and really will not want to answer about how I feel about the result. I'll be relieved or disappointed but I won't want to talk about it.

 

Anyway, some of my favorites:

 

"What an interesting question." Then I change the subject

 

if it's about income or what I paid for the cruise: "Not nearly enough" or "Far too much" and then I change the subject.

 

And there is the ever-popular "Well, bless your heart".

 

Oh, and when someone tries to hand me a tract trying to convert me to their religion, I use something I heard a friend once say "Let's save us both a lot of time and YOU throw it away."

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What I find interesting from this topic is that in a way OP's question as to why these questions cant be asked, is being answered by peoples reactions. Ive seen that more than one person has been offended by OP just asking and/or talked down on him as if he was actually discussing these topics. His topic was about him disagreeing with what can and cant be said, or the way I take it : "why should we limit what we discuss?" he never said anything like, "Do any of you know where I can get a coupon for an abortion?" Yet a lot of people on here are treating him as if those are the discussions he is having at every table conversation. I fell that his statement/question is there in plain English. In a way trying to find out why people can get so sensitive about certain topics. he isnt saying he wants badly to discuss these topics and no one lets him! So IMO its funny how peoples reactions on this thread is actually answering his question. the reason certain topics shouldnt be brought up isnt because they are offensive or wrong, but more likely because not every one is mature enough or in the right state of mind to discuss them without conflict. I personally wouldnt bring up many topics for this very exact reason, however some of the best discussions Ive had IN MY LIFE are in regards to at least three of these subjects. Its a shame that people let their emotions interfere with what could be a very interesting and insightful conversation.

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Yes, but some people seem to have an extremely narrow set of comfortable topics. Must everyone at the table accept the constraints of the least flexible among them?

 

Sort of. If a hot topic starts & somebody deflects the conversation with one of those it's-clear-I-don't-want-to-talk-about-this conversation changers, it's best to let it drop. I'm all for a healthy debate with some one as engaged in the subject as I am, especially on opposing sides, but I will always respect someone else's decision to not talk about it.

Several years ago on a cruise we were having dinner with some CC friends. There were about 16 of us. At one end of the table we were engaged in a robust political debate about all the "no no" subjects. We weren't loud but we were intense. The wife of one of the guys I was having the discussion with came over & told him to stop talking about politics. She thought she was "protecting me". I asked if the discussion was bothering her or if we were getting loud. She said no. I told her we were having fun going back & forth. She rolled her eyes, said "more power to you" & happily walked back to the other side of the table.

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After reading through everyone's comments, there's one topic I'm surprised hasn't been mentioned, but could lead to some very funny comments. I think most husbands will agree with me on this. A wife should not mention that her husband's snoring sounds like a lumberjack clearing a forest! And if she does, it's only fair that the husband gets to say that she is not allowed to put her ice-cold feet on him!:D:D

 

 

 

Not every wife has ice-cold feet. :D

 

 

 

As a slight side-road to this topic, I like to have a few stock replies to use if the conversation gets into an area I'd rather not follow. I have no problem discussing virtually anything, until my companion starts trying to convert me to his/her way of thinking. This is whether it's religion, politics or any of the other topics mentioned.

 

I'm going to be on a cruise in New Zealand in November, shortly after the US Presidential election. I'm already sick of it and really will not want to answer about how I feel about the result. I'll be relieved or disappointed but I won't want to talk about it.

 

Anyway, some of my favorites:

 

"What an interesting question." Then I change the subject

 

if it's about income or what I paid for the cruise: "Not nearly enough" or "Far too much" and then I change the subject.

 

And there is the ever-popular "Well, bless your heart".

 

Oh, and when someone tries to hand me a tract trying to convert me to their religion, I use something I heard a friend once say "Let's save us both a lot of time and YOU throw it away."

 

 

Yes !

 

I love the one about YOU throw it away. :)

 

 

 

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Full disclaimer: I am not a religious person.

 

Having lived as long as I have, I have come to believe that religion is the cause of more evil than good. The most biased, prejudiced, intolerant and unforgiving people who I have had the misfortune of crossing paths with in my many years have been deeply religious people. Throughout history more wars, killings, subjugation, and ethnic cleansing have been done in the name of religion than all else combined.

 

These are some of the main reasons I have no interest in talking to you about religion, have no interest in hearing about your religious beliefs, have no interest in being "saved" by you, and especially have no interest in being expected to act in a way that meets with your particular religious mores.

 

Keep the topic at our shared table safe, non-controversial, and we can be good friends. Bring religion up, and you have earned my scorn and you will know it.

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Not every wife has ice-cold feet. :D [/quote]

 

Well, he should have some recourse in the event his snoring is discussed.:D

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What I find interesting from this topic is that in a way OP's question as to why these questions cant be asked, is being answered by peoples reactions. Ive seen that more than one person has been offended by OP just asking and/or talked down on him as if he was actually discussing these topics. His topic was about him disagreeing with what can and cant be said, or the way I take it : "why should we limit what we discuss?" he never said anything like, "Do any of you know where I can get a coupon for an abortion?" Yet a lot of people on here are treating him as if those are the discussions he is having at every table conversation. I fell that his statement/question is there in plain English. In a way trying to find out why people can get so sensitive about certain topics. he isnt saying he wants badly to discuss these topics and no one lets him! So IMO its funny how peoples reactions on this thread is actually answering his question. the reason certain topics shouldnt be brought up isnt because they are offensive or wrong, but more likely because not every one is mature enough or in the right state of mind to discuss them without conflict. I personally wouldnt bring up many topics for this very exact reason, however some of the best discussions Ive had IN MY LIFE are in regards to at least three of these subjects. Its a shame that people let their emotions interfere with what could be a very interesting and insightful conversation.

 

My thoughs also. What i thought would be a light hearted thread seems to have got some people quite riled. Not sure at all why though

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Full disclaimer: I am not a religious person.

 

Your saying this is, of course, discussing religion.

 

Having lived as long as I have, I have come to believe that religion is the cause of more evil than good. The most biased, prejudiced, intolerant and unforgiving people who I have had the misfortune of crossing paths with in my many years have been deeply religious people. Throughout history more wars, killings, subjugation, and ethnic cleansing have been done in the name of religion than all else combined.

 

This, unfortunately, is a valid point. It's a shame you feel it should not be stated.

 

These are some of the main reasons I have no interest in talking to you about religion, have no interest in hearing about your religious beliefs, have no interest in being "saved" by you, and especially have no interest in being expected to act in a way that meets with your particular religious mores.

 

Agreed: being treated to an effort to convert me is not my idea of an enjoyable conversation. However, discussing how such an approach is offensive surely makes sense.

Keep the topic at our shared table safe, non-controversial, and we can be good friends. Bring religion up, and you have earned my scorn and you will know it.

 

You seem to have fallen into a trap of your own making.

The point is: virtually any topic can be discussed in an intelligent fashion -- it is just the dogmatic approach (such as yours) which can turn any topic into a minefield.

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The point is: virtually any topic can be discussed in an intelligent fashion -- it is just the dogmatic approach (such as yours) which can turn any topic into a minefield.

 

I think that is exactly what swsfrail was saying - her feeling on this topic, which she has as much a right as anyone else to have, is a good example of why it's not a good idea to bring these topics up. Not everyone sits on the same side of these controversial topics. Like coming upon a dog wandering loose - it's safer to avoid it than to try to approach the "nice doggy" to pet it and end up getting bitten.

 

People sitting at her table who never bring up the topic of religion will never know how "dogmatic" she may be. And that would be a good thing for everyone, wouldn't it? :D

Edited by fortinweb

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