Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Hey Tina

What do you like and/or dislike about sharing a table with strangers?

Recommended Posts

What are the pros/cons of getting a table in the MDR for just your family/group versus sharing a larger table with strangers.

 

Best/worst experiences for each way (alone/ with strangers)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can speak only as a part of a traveling couple (DW and myself) who have spent over 1200 days on numerous cruise ships over decades. While we sometimes will take a 2-top to either be by ourselves or because its the only option, we have long preferred to share a large table. While early in a cruise it might be strangers, on many cruises we will eventually make a few friends and often dine with some of those folks on other evenings. For us, the socialization that can happen at a good table is lots of fun and can be the beginning of a good friendship. Just this past weekend we had a 4 day visit from an English couple (they flew in from England are now on their way back on the Queen Mary 2) that we met on a cruise (in Asia) over 25 years ago. We have twice been to their home in England...and now they have finally made the long trek to our home. We have previously had other guests and its always been fun.

 

In the olden days when everything was fixed seating...we had a few bad tables...but it was just a matter of asking the Maitre'd to please move us elsewhere. But these days we always book Open Sitting schemes (Anytime Dining, Select Dining, etc) which gives us the opportunity to meet more folks. We simple show up when we want to dine...and ask to share a large table. On many cruises we eventually form our own table (after a few days) with others we have met who have a similar desire. Our tables are often a lot of fun and we are often among the last to leave the venue (we dine late). We have only 2 rules for our tables. If anyone starts texting or using their cell phone....we will avoid dining with them in the future. and we prefer not to be at tables with men who think its cool to wear a hat. In my world that is just rude behavior of which we want no part. DW would probably say "they must have been raised by wolves." Perhaps etiquette is dead for many....but not for us.

 

Hank

Edited by Hlitner

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For us, traditional fixed seating is part of the ambiance of cruising. We like to get to know our tablemates and wait staff. We have only twice has 'bad' tables. Once, when we were asked to move to a different table for a reason we didn't understand, until we got to the table. We were three adults and a child, and were seated with another family with two children, one of which was a 5 y/o in a continual bad mood. We made the best of it, the others only showed two nights. the other time it was a table of people who seldom showed up. The only time we were forced into open seating because we booked late, we always asked to sit with others and it was enjoyable. EM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I cruised to Cuba on 5/29th as a solo traveler. I sat with others on 2 of the 4 nights. It was a great experience.

Monday afternoon there was a jewelry auction. A woman who had imbibed quite a bit was whooping and hollering while the jeweler was trying speak and give a presentation prior to the drawing. I turned and shushed the woman. Guess who was at my 'shared' table that night! Oh well, I just apologized and we had a fun dinner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We prefer to be alone...don't mind meeting folks around the ship casually but do not cruise to meet people or make friends.

We usually do ports on our own. Prefer to have room service for breakfast and generally get just a table for 2 for dinner.

 

We have shared tables in the past, when we first started to cruise, okay but not something we really enjoyed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When DH and I cruise just us (or us and my mom) we take As You Like Dining, and on nights when we go to the MDR, we tell the M'D, "See us wherever makes it easiest on you." We just love the big smile that engenders! It almost always means at a 8-10 person table -- I'm a big talker and my DH is a recovered shy person who will slip into that mode at times. I have also learned to listen from him! Anyway, have had basically all good experiences (although there have been people we would not seek out again!) -- if the others are talkative, we have conversations, if they are not, I entertain!

 

On two Russian River trips we had set tablemates and (twice) got lucky. When we travelled to Alaska with six other family members, we did have fixed (early) seating with just us at table, and the same lovely waiter/assistant. It *was* nice as they were funny and attentive both. And it was time to touch bases with the family who may have been off doing other things during the day!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I've had approxamately 20,987 breakfasts and dinners while on this planet and I have spent a vast majority of them with the same people. My mom and dad and brothers and sisters for the first 5,000 - 6,000. My friend(s) for the next 3,000 or so and my DW and our kids for the next 10,000 or so times. So I figure we can eat with some strangers at breakfast and dinner 7 or so times a year while cruising. Heck, it can't be worse than dining with my SIL.:D

 

Geeze, it just added that dining with my SIL up, X years times 4 - 5 times per year = :eek::eek:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our experiences have taught us that odds are we're better off on a two top. For example, during one prior cruise, we were seated at a table of eight, and the family of four at the table never showed and never called to say they were not coming. The staff refused to take our orders until they waited almost a half hour for this family that never came.

 

This message may have been entered using voice recognition. Please excuse any typos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have been very fortunate to have had only good experiences dining with others. For us it enhances the whole experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have been eating together 55 years (we eloped when we were 17 and they said it'd never last) so we like meeting others and eating with them. Table for 6 or 8, more is too big, have to yell at person if not next to you.

 

In 2006, on a cruise ship we met Bob & Nadine. We were tablemates. This past year is the 1st time since time 2007 that we haven't cruised together.(for medcal reasons). Three times they have driven from Flint, MI, to our house on the NC coast. We then drive together to the ship.

 

Met a couple from Gig Harbor, WA and on our 2nd cruise together we picked them up in a Costco parking lot in FL and we all drove to the ship!

 

Mary invited us to her house in FL and we drove to Windsor, Canada, to meet other tablemates. Some we just stay in contact.

 

We just tried 'Any time Dining' on Carnival and hated it! We asked to share a table but only had one couple once- at a table for 10!

 

But we have asked to be moved. Once only one husband spoke English, everyone else was from Norway. And another we were the only young (60!) at the table. Everyone else wanted 1st seating and were in their late 70's and were 80 something. All they could talk about was what pills they were taking and for what!

 

I always email the maître'd and ask for table location and size so we don't get e big round table to 10!

 

As has been said, new friends don't remain a stranger for long!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We usually have Anytime Dining. We ask for a table of 6 and have never regretted it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've always chosen traditional, late seating at an 8-10 top and have always loved it - we've been lucky to have great table mates. Love being able to share experiences and learn about each other night after night as well as having the wait staff know us by name and our preferences

 

Our next cruise we're trying Any Time dining, and we've initially requested 6-8 top. We'll see how it goes.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've met some interesting folks but on our first cruise with assigned dining we were at a 4 top and after the first night the other couple never returned. Ran into them on the ship and they let us know that they had been waitlisted for ATD and it had come through. Our last cruise we were at 10 top that never had more than 8 people at it. We enjoyed the 3 couples we dined with and stay in contact with one couple on Facebook.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For us, traditional fixed seating is part of the ambiance of cruising. We like to get to know our tablemates and wait staff. We have only twice has 'bad' tables. Once, when we were asked to move to a different table for a reason we didn't understand, until we got to the table. We were three adults and a child, and were seated with another family with two children, one of which was a 5 y/o in a continual bad mood. We made the best of it, the others only showed two nights. the other time it was a table of people who seldom showed up. The only time we were forced into open seating because we booked late, we always asked to sit with others and it was enjoyable. EM

 

This is how we see it - meeting with the same group each evening allows growing familiarity and ease of conversation - additionally, it is good to be able to go straight to your table rather than have to wait to be seated. The fact that people who are not comfortable dining with others means that the chances of having a compatible group are greatly increased.

 

While my wife and I greatly enjoy dining together most evenings at home, it seems absurd to not take advantage of the unique opportunity to have a consistent dinner group for several days - an opportunity not available anywhere other than on a cruise ship.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When traveling with my daughter, we like to share a table with others and have met some very interesting people but no one we kept contact with. When traveling with my husband, we eat alone. He wears a hearing aid and can't really focus on a single conversation at a larger table. Also, larger groups take longer to get through, especially if you're sitting with someone who orders multiple servings. DH has back problems and sitting in those stiff back chairs for an extended period can really be painful for him.

 

Sent from my SM-T550 using Forums mobile app

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Our experiences have taught us that odds are we're better off on a two top. For example, during one prior cruise, we were seated at a table of eight, and the family of four at the table never showed and never called to say they were not coming. The staff refused to take our orders until they waited almost a half hour for this family that never came.

 

This message may have been entered using voice recognition. Please excuse any typos.

 

That must have been really annoying! I hope you asked to be moved to another table after this happened a couple of times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've mostly had good experiences with good tablemates. I like getting to talk to others about how they spent the day and what their plans are for the next day. We have had a few clunkers: the other couple at a four top that simply wouldn't speak to us at all (we asked to be moved), the woman who mentioned her Elite status in nearly every sentence (we get it - you're Elite), and some scattered instances of people showing up late. I think it averages out as good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Traveling with my mother last summer, most of our dinners were at shared tables. We really enjoy meeting new people. The folks we ate with the first few nights were lots of fun and we saw them repeatedly on the cruise - so it was nice to be able to strike up a conversation and with a little shared background. Out of 12 nights there were only 2 that were memorably negative - one couple we just did not click with - to a point that if we saw them in line ahead of us, we simple stepped back and waited until we were sure their table was filled. The other couple was downright annoying - complaining about how the food was prepared incorrectly, but then refusing to let the kitchen replace the meal (big sighs about how they would just eat it as prepared). The maitre 'd, a manager, and the Chef all came to our table to see what they could do to make it better - and were all told that they would just eat it as it was served...

 

We are traveling in a few weeks as a group of 4. I'm hoping that we can still get shared seating so that we can meet additional people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like meeting new people each night so prefer the open dining

there are some nights we get a 2 top but usually we share with others

If you find someone annoying it is usually only 1 meal you have to sit with them

You get to meet a variety of people with open dining VS Traditional set dining & you can go to dinner when you are hungry

 

Did the set dining on a recent cruise & one man came to dinner every night with his hat on ...not the way we were raised

dislike buffets so we just enjoyed the other tablemates company for that cruise

 

Personal choice

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wanted to react to a few of the other posts. We think that entire "game" changed with the implementation of Anytime or Select Dining. With Fixed dining you are essentially stuck with a specific table...and making changes can be a bit complicated, If you happen to get a great table...that is good...and if you get an OK table you will likely stick it out. A bad table...and you can try to move. And then there are the tables where your tablemates may not show up.

 

With Anytime dining you have lots of flexibility. Not only do you choose when to eat, to a great degree you choose the size of your table (which you can change every night) and with whom you dine. Meet some nice folks....simply ask them if they would like to dine with you. Find a great waiter....ask the Maitre'd if you can reserve a table with that waiter. In the mood to socialize? Ask to share a large table. Want a quiet dinner? Ask for a 2-top. In a sense you maintain nearly all the advantages of Fixed dining...while gaining lots of other advantages. Our norm is to go to a bar/lounge before dinner for a cocktail. At that time we have often met others and gotten into fun discussions and groups. We are not forced to leave for a fixed dining time...and can take advantage of the moment :). On many occasions some or all of these new friends might decide, "lets dine together tonight" and off we go to the MDR with our new group.

Another advantage is that we can usually avoid the "empty table problem" which can happen with Fixed Dining...if you are at a large table and nobody shows up. With Anytime Dining you can always ask to share a table...and it will be filled.

 

We started cruising in the early 70s when nearly all dining was Fixed Dining. It was usually a great experience. But with the introduction of alternative restaurants, open sitting, etc. the Fixed Dining scheme has really suffered. In the old days your tablemates always showed-up because it was the only place to eat. Now that is not the case. A few years ago we had a table of 8 on RCI....and never ever saw the other 6. It turned out they were a small group...who decided to eat all their meals in the Lido. There was no other space at large tables...so our choice was to either dine alone at a table for 8...or go eat in the Lido. That was the last time we ever did Fixed Dining.

 

Hank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've mostly had great experiences sharing tables.

Since we have Anytime, we never have to have dinner again with anyone unless we wish. ;)

Even back in the "old days" when there was only TD, we could get our table changed if we wished. Fortunately, we never need to. :)

:D Sharing a table with strangers is rather like a Blind Date ... some are better than others. ;p

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly, we prefer to dine by ourselves. I dislike making small talk and getting to know people. Probably because I have to do this all day, every day at my job. On vacation, I enjoy having a break from socializing. We do meet people in passing and will be friendly, but I don't like 'having' to do it.

 

Also, every shared table we've ever had, at least one person has to bring up politics. I don't understand why people assume you will agree with them or think these perfect strangers that you just met want to discuss politics in the first place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That must have been really annoying! I hope you asked to be moved to another table after this happened a couple of times.
After the second night, we asked the staff to take our orders at the appropriate time. They wouldn't. The next day we made a point of bringing the head waiter over and he apologized, but still our order wasn't taken at the appropriate time. We're now more than halfway through the cruise and I chased the head waiter down to complain about being kept waiting, and he officiously told me he'll be over to take our orders personally. He didn't. The next night we ate at the buffet, due to a late-returning excursion. The last night of the cruise, magically, our orders were taken at the appropriate time.

 

And, yes: The poor service we received from our wait staff and the head waiter was reflected in the amount of cash we put into the gratuities envelopes. That doesn't make it better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have taken a number of cruises, more than half with family and friends, so we generally eat with them. We also do Anytime/Open dining all the time now because we got tired of rushing around to get ready for dinner after an excursion/port day.

 

Our experiences with sharing a table have been mixed. Once we sat at a 10 top and all had a great time sharing our day in port. Another time, we got seated with 2 other couples who knew each other. They never stopped talking to each other, didn't even acknowledge our presence. Very awkward. Another time we were seated with one couple, started out pretty well but then the wife started ranting about what a cesspool New York city was (which may be true to some extent. I was born there) but her complaints leaned a bit racist for us. And then, there are the religious types or those who want to argue politics. I don't want to be converted, lectured to, or argue over dinner. After this bad streak, we either sit with the friends we are cruising with, or ask for a 2 top.

 

Others seem to have better luck than us :)

 

ML

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think specialty dining makes fixed seating more awkward - one cruise we had a 5 night package on a 10 night cruise, and so did the other people at our table; at a table for 6, there was only 1 night we all ate together. And 1 night we were by ourselves. It was always awkward waiting for others to show up when they may not be coming and delaying getting started. Since we eat early, it would throw off the plans for the evening. I was told when we purchased and booked the specialty dining that the MDR would be aware of when we would not be there, but no one ever seemed to know how many would be at any night's meal, and we were always kept waiting in case others showed up.

 

BTW I prefer a table for 4 or 6. At larger tables I can't follow conversation since I have a hearing loss. Even with my hearing aids there is no way i can hear in a busy restaurant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter for a chance to win a $3,000 Norwegian Cruise Line Gift Card
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...