Posted August 6th, 2017, 08:15 PM
The officers speak excellent English, so you could certainly interact with them in English, (when I was on the Europa the CD was actually an ex-pat American), crew on the level of waiters and bartenders speak decent though not nuanced English unless it is food and drink related, and the lower base service people, e.g., those who dish out foods in the buffet areas or clean suites often speak better English than German, as they may be Filipino, like on Regent or SS, or are from other non-German countries where English and not German is their second language of choice. My stewardesses were Ukrainian and Filipino on the Europa, and they were pleased to have me talk English ( or Russian, with the Soviet-born Ukrainian) rather than German, but on the E2 the butler was from Berlin and his English was on the level of Filipino butlers on SS. He was reluctant to say anything about himself or his life in Berlin, so I did not force it, he was just all business.
Unlike on SS and Regent, and SB, however, I was told by a crew member that other than officers and bartenders and people in social positions, crew are not supposed to engage in chit-chat with pax, their supervisors frown on it, as that distracts from their duties, though they are instructed to be polite, friendly and responsive to requests. They are told they work for their affluent customers, they are not supposed to pretend they are their friends.
Some of us on English language lines have been annoyed when crew, e.g., bartenders, are busy socially chatting on and on with pax they know, (especially the important high-end regulars) rather than moving on to getting us our drinks and food, so on the one hand I like the business like approach, on the other I could see how regulars and those who have status and like to chat might be put off.
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We always interact with the officers and crew of our preferred luxury cruise lines, however, their work comes first and we would never interfere with them taking care of other guests. If I'm saying something to a bartender, for instance, and see a passenger waiting, I'm interrupt myself and tell the bartender to go and attend to her customer and we'll continue later. Some of these crew members have actually become friends that we have kept in contact with for years.
The cultural differences are what concerns me (as well as a language that we do not speak). These articles, IMO, express this well. The BBC article, IMO, this would be similar for those of us in the U.S. and Canada.
BBC News excerpt:
"There are Britons in Berlin who get taken aback by the directness of Germans. And there are Germans who get really annoyed when Britons (and Americans), in an effort to appear friendly, say things that they don't really mean. Some Germans call this 'lying'.
She found (or verified) that Germans really don't do small talk, those little phrases so familiar to the British about the weather or a person's general well-being, but what she describes as "empty verbiage".
Saying things like "It's nice to meet you" are rarely meant the way they are said, she says. 'It's just words. It's stimulating interest in the other person'. From a German perspective, this is uncomfortably close to deceit'"
Lastly, excepts from an article entitled "Communication Styles in Germany and the United States (from a class taught on "Intercultural Education in K-12 Classrooms"):
"Germans tend to say exactly what they mean and do not value superfluous "fillers" within conversations, Americans on the other hand, usually include these fillers without even realizing. Due to this cultural difference, Americans often see Germans as impolite and harsh.
I remember being startled the first time I called a friend's house in Germany and her father answered the phone by saying 'Linnemann' (his last name). There was no polite 'Hello?', only a quick confirmation that I had reached the Linnemann household. While this seemed unnatural to me the first several times it happened, I soon came to realize that the German way of answering the phone was not impolite, but efficient. The same can be said about their communication style in general; it is direct, clear and to the point.
There is one instance in which German communication is not so different from the United States. In both cultures, a lack of eye contact can be interpreted as a sign of weakness, dishonesty and poor self-esteem".
I learned a lot from these articles and wanted to share.