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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Perfect table size for a cruise

I've been writing a guide of top tips for first time cruisers for awhile now but it occurred to me earlier that I'd never really discussed how to pick a table size on your cruise.
For anyone that has yet to cruise, (and what's taking you so long may I ask), when you book a cruise there will be two main areas you can eat onboard. There will be the self service restaurant or buffet where you can sit where you want and dine any time you want and then there will be the main dining room.
The main dining room will normally have two dinner sittings of an evening, first dining from around 6:00 - 6:30 and second dining around 8:00 to 8:30. If you choose to dine of an evening in the main dining room then you will need to choose your table size and with a couple of exceptions this will be where you dine for the entire cruise. I'll address the exceptions at the end of this post but for now it's best to remember that you need to pick your table size when you book your cruise and each choice has it's own pros and cons.

Tables of two - It's best to remember that no travel agent or cruise line can guarantee you a table of two, these are only ever requested and then granted on a first come first serve basis. The great thing about a table of two is the privacy it will grant you. You wont have to share your table with anyone else and so put up with annoying table companions however it does mean you're a lot less likely to meet anyone on your cruise so you need to be happy in just the company of the person you're travelling with.
As I say, perfect for some, horrible for others. The big downfall to a table of two on a cruise is the fact they're only assigned on a request basis which means if you don't get it you will be randomly assigned any other table size. What I tend to do for my clients is tell them to pick another table size they'd be OK with and then wait list them for a table of two. There chances are slightly reduced but it means they don't end up with something that they really don't want.

Tables of four - This is a table preference I've never tried myself so I'd appreciate some feedback from anyone who's actually tried it. If you're put on a table with another couple that you get on really well with then I can imagine you'd end up having a really, really great time but the thought keeps going through my head of what happens if you're put on a table with someone you just really don't get on with? It could spoil the entire cruise! This is the table size I would always choose/recommend last but as I say I've never been brave enough to try it so if you've different thoughts on it let me know.

Tables of six - My favourite choice for a table size and I think by far the most civilised option. If it happens that you do end up seated with a couple that you don't get on with then there's another couple you can talk to. You're also not shouting over the table, as you have to with the larger tables, to talk to the people on the opposite side of the table. One couple will be to your left, the other to your right. As I said, in my mind the perfect combo.

Tables of eight - Not my first choice on a cruise but miles better than a table of four. This table size has most of the benefits of a table of six, only more so, statistically you're that much more likely to find someone to talk to on a larger table. The only problem I've found with this option is that everyone can end up over talking everyone else to speak to the people opposite them so these tables tend to be a bit more lively, great for some, maybe not so for others.

Exceptions to the rule - As with all things in life there are a few exceptions to the rules, the most prominent being the open dining option. Several cruise lines will allow you to dine in the main dining room on an open dining option which means you can turn up at any time during service and request any table size. The plus to this option is that you can try all the above options to see which suits you best, the downside is that you'll be at a different table each night so you wont get to dine with the same set of people over and over. great if you weren't getting on with them, not so great if you were. This option is also only available on a limited basis so request it with your travel agent early and remember some cruise lines may ask you to pre pay your gratuities to select this option.
If you find that you do end up on a table where you're really not getting on with the other couple you don't need to suffer in silence or hide out in the self service buffet every night. You can ask the head waiter to move you to a different table/table size, just bear in mind this can lead to some awkwardness if you then bump into the original couple and they want to know where you've gone.

Right then, I've tried to be as comprehensive as I can but I'm sure I've missed a few things. If anyone thinks of anything to add please do, or even better, if you have any personal experiences you'd like to share fell free and as always

Happy cruising.

1 comment:

  1. The answer we have found is to book table of 6 or 8 and then perhaps swap seats around the table each night. That way you get to be able to talk to everybody.