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BigKeith

Rules for conversation in the dining room!

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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've mostly always had great table mates and I feel most of these points can be discussed without a full blown row kicking off and people feeling offended. I have my opinions on all these things but I wouldn't argue with someone who disagreed with my point of view. It's just a shame not everyone can be so tolerant and mature.

 

Looking at them one by one

 

Religion - one of my favourite topics to discuss and something I think a lot of people feel comfortable about. I'm a Protestant and love hearing about how people of all different religions think and how they worship. My knowledge of Judaism has greatly increased from discussion with table mates

 

Politics - most of my table companions have been Americans which I think makes this one easier. Saying that, vie never had a political debate with British companions, just adhere to the golden rule of 'never ask'. I like talking to Americans about politics though, if they want to share their ideology then I'm very open to that. Furthermore, Im interested to know more about what the Supreme Court actually does and how the US and states have different laws

 

Abortion - can safely say this one has never came up. Should it? I know it's a much bigger issue in America but seems a weird one to put on there. Are gun laws allowed to be discussed?

 

Economy - something a lot of my conversations have been based on. When you learn someones job it seems natural after a while to ask them how their industry is faring (more so now). Or perhaps how the recent crash has effected jobs where they live, some may feel uncomfortable but being on a cruise suggests they aren't exactly in poverty.

 

What you paid - a lot of running jokes about the British and doing this. I must say, this isn't something that interests me so I've never asked anyone. I usually forget how much I've paid aswell, i just know I'm enjoying myself to the max!

 

Weight - I'm a big guy, in my circle of friends we have a lot of jokes about my size 'hey big guy' and it doesn't particularly bother me. Im trying to shed a bit and will keep going. I'm very happy to talk about my weight and how I'm trying to get it down, I do understand some don't like this however so wouldn't bring the subject up

 

Opinions of what others like to eat - a strange one i think. A lot of people not necessarily goodies tend to talk about what they like to eat and perhaps talk about their local cuisine. Again, it's all about opinions, i don't go on about it if someone doesn't like something

 

What do you think?

 

Big Keith

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My father-in-law and my wife's grandmother have a difference of opinion with regards to politics. I have no desire to listen to them fight it out. Therefore, it is not a topic I will discuss with anyone. I also don't feel it is anyone's business what I paid for the cruise, so if asked that question, I would clearly state NYOB.

 

There are just certain conversations that don't need to be had with people you have just met.

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I do not discuss religion or politics with people I know let alone strangers.

 

I understand that and can see the subjects aren't for everyone and if that was your choice I'd respect that.

 

But let's say, one night after a few meals we were talking about our countries and I said "I've always thought it strange but, how come it takes so long to elect a President". Would you feel uncomfortable answering that?

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I have no problems Talking about religion or politics as long as it stays talking and does not go down the road of bashing, criticizing or one upping others. I love to learn about other religions and people's thoughts on politics/governments as long as eveyone respects each other's opinions and rights to have those opinions (which is where the wheels usually come off the bus!)

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After a great many years of travel and loads of cruises, we've found great success by avoiding discussing:

 

politics

sex

religion

money

 

Those seem to be the hot button topics best avoided when meeting new people.

We've had very congenial tables when sidestepping anyone who raises those subjects. :D

 

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On Navy ships, where wardroom officers got to know each other a lot better than a group of random tablemates on a cruise might, there was a widely accepted rule that politics, sex, and religion were not to be discussed at meal time.

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Why would anyone take the chance of starting a fight over what are such personal topics? Abortion? Are you kidding me? People have been killed over this topic and has no business in conversations with strangers. I've been involved in political discussions with travel companions from across the pond, and it always degenerates into name calling and accusations. My religious beliefs are no one's business.

 

The safest topics involve travel, cruise ships, shore excursions and basic generalities. I certainly would feel the need to change tables if one of my tablemates would have the gall to ask my views on abortion and religion.

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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'.

 

Religion - one of my favourite topics to discuss and something I think a lot of people feel comfortable about.

 

And I disagree with you on this. If you were sitting at my table and you started talking about your "favorite" topic of religion, you would get a very icy reception from me for certain. I have zero interest in discussing religion with people I don't know. Your views and opinions on religion are totally worthless to me. The same applies to politics or abortion. I couldn't care less what you think about these topics. And I simply don't want to ruin my dinner by finding out I'm sitting with people who I might consider idiots for their misguided or unrealistic beliefs.

 

The economy is fine for conversation. Same with what people paid for their cruises, which I would find interesting rather than upsetting, even if someone paid less than I. That is because I consider myself a realistic person and know full well that what a person paid depends on many different factors. I would appreciate knowing the different factors that led to lower fares with the hopes that I could take advantage of them in the future.

 

As to what other people like to eat, this would drop into the gossip category. Although I don't particular care to participate in such a conversation, I would find it more boring than annoying or upsetting.

Edited by SantaFeFan

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I have no problems Talking about religion or politics as long as it stays talking and does not go down the road of bashing, criticizing or one upping others. I love to learn about other religions and people's thoughts on politics/governments as long as eveyone respects each other's opinions and rights to have those opinions (which is where the wheels usually come off the bus!)

 

My thoughts entirely

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I think the rules are to err on the side of caution when talking with those you don't know. Most of these topics are hote buttons and people have passionate opinions one way or the other. I enjoy intelligent conversations with open minded people - open minded as in willing to talk and discuss diffences of opinion, not open minded as in I can change their mind). Talking to people who think anyone who disagrees with thier opinion is an idiot, not so much fun.

 

So I would take a day or two and get to know your tablemates before delving into a deep hot topic. Or play it safe and talk about the wonderful places you have seen or will see. No need to offend or ruin your vacation or thiers.

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And I disagree with you on this. If you were sitting at my table and you started talking about your "favorite" topic of religion, you would get a very icy reception from me for certain. I have zero interest in discussing religion with people I don't know. Your views and opinions on religion are totally worthless to me. The same applies to politics or opinions on abortion. I simply don't want to find out I'm sitting with people who I might consider idiots for their beliefs.

 

The economy is fine or conversation. Same with what people paid for their cruises, which I would find interesting rather than upsetting, even if someone paid less than I. That is because I consider myself a realistic person and know full well that what a person paid depends on many different factors. I would appreciate knowing the different factors that led to lower fares with the hopes that I could take advantage of them in the future.

 

As to what other people like to eat, this would drop into the gossip category. Although I don't particular care to participate in such a conversation, I would find it more boring than annoying or upsetting.

 

I wouldn't say I go out of my way to bang on about my religion but I find it an interesting topic. I don't purposely push any of these types of conversations. I like most people love talking about ships, excursions and ports of call. I have been in many situations though where I've heard people criticise Clinton/Bush/Obama. Whilst I have my views I am civil enough not to push my own ideas and love listening to other peoples perspectives and opinions. My opinions on religion might be worthless to you, but unlike you I enjoy learning about other peoples perspectives and beliefs (as long as they're comfortable to discuss). You may not wish to find out if you're sat with 'idiots for their beliefs', however I am not so judgemental.

 

I accept that talk about food doesn't interest you, we're all very different. Im thankful for how much I've learnt about wine from table mates and also interesting food knowledge to increase my understanding

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I think the rules are to err on the side of caution when talking with those you don't know. Most of these topics are hote buttons and people have passionate opinions one way or the other. I enjoy intelligent conversations with open minded people - open minded as in willing to talk and discuss diffences of opinion, not open minded as in I can change their mind). Talking to people who think anyone who disagrees with thier opinion is an idiot, not so much fun.

 

So I would take a day or two and get to know your tablemates before delving into a deep hot topic. Or play it safe and talk about the wonderful places you have seen or will see. No need to offend or ruin your vacation or thiers.

 

Very wise words. You sum it up well in your second paragraph

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Talking to people who think anyone who disagrees with thier opinion is an idiot, not so much fun.

 

And that is exactly why these topics of religion, politics or people's rights as in abortion should not be brought up. Everybody has been in a situation where they have been so annoyed with what someone is saying that they had a very negative opinion of them. That's human nature. No sense in sparking those sentiments in people you will be sharing a table with for several days. Lets keep it simple and non-controversial.

Edited by boogs

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I wouldn't say I go out of my way to bang on about my religion but I find it an interesting topic. I don't purposely push any of these types of conversations. I like most people love talking about ships, excursions and ports of call. I have been in many situations though where I've heard people criticise Clinton/Bush/Obama. Whilst I have my views I am civil enough not to push my own ideas and love listening to other peoples perspectives and opinions. My opinions on religion might be worthless to you, but unlike you I enjoy learning about other peoples perspectives and beliefs (as long as they're comfortable to discuss). You may not wish to find out if you're sat with 'idiots for their beliefs', however I am not so judgemental.

 

I accept that talk about food doesn't interest you, we're all very different. Im thankful for how much I've learnt about wine from table mates and also interesting food knowledge to increase my understanding

 

We are all judgmental in our own ways. While you might not judge someone's religious beliefs, you might judge someone's beliefs that it is acceptable to kill animals for their fur, or to allow loaded guns onto campuses, or to use every opportunity to avoid paying taxes. It is much safer, considering how different each and every one of us are, to keep on topics that we obviously agree with, such as travel, cruising, etc. We have all had our moment when we considered someone an idiot for some outrageous comment or action they have made. We may only differ on what those comments or actions are.

Edited by SantaFeFan

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We are all judgmental in our own ways. While you might not judge someone's religious beliefs, you might judge someone's beliefs that it is acceptable to kill animals for their fur, or to allow loaded guns onto campuses, or to use every opportunity to avoid paying taxes. It is much safer, considering how different each and every one of us are, to keep on topics that we obviously agree with, such as travel, cruising, etc. We have all had our moment when we considered someone an idiot for some outrageous comment or action they have made. We may only differ on what those comments or actions are.

 

I honestly think I can get on with almost anyone. Disregarding extremes, Ive met lots of people I don't share political, religious, gun wielding, fur wearing or tax paying views with but I don't judge them simply on that. Don't go putting me down as some highly opinionated person who tries to be controversial. I just thought it was strange to list these things after my experiences of meeting so many interesting people who spoke about such subjects

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Let me share my experience with table mates who also enjoyed "interesting" topics of conversation. Every evening, after a pleasant day on the ship, our table mates criticized my country. Ok, I do not want to argue about anything on my vacation and I don't care what other people think about international politics. I was taught that polite dinner conversation involves topics that are not controversial and requires participation that is neither monopolizing or silent. I guess these people enjoyed introducing these topics to our table of 10, but I did not.

 

I guess my husband enjoyed it less- after a few nights he refused to go to the MDR.

 

So stick to "safe" topics at dinner on the ship. Or please...don't sit with us.

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Jeez...we've NEVER had to "filter" our conversations....mostly stuff like, where do you usually vacation...is this your 1st cruise...where do you live...what do you do...what are you doing in port tomorrow....etc.....general stuff! Then, the conversation takes it's own path! Found out some of our tablemates lived right next to our son when he was living out of state....small world!

You really can't think too much about this stuff! You talk to tons of folks....most you'll get along with just fine!

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On my first med cruise Sept 2008, every person I met from Europe, Canada, Britian, South Africa, Australia, asked me "Do you think Obama will be elected president"? They were so curious. We had wonderful conversations about politics and the different ways of governing. This was usually in the bars or around the pool. I was amazed how much they knew aobut our elections.

 

At dinner the conversation was about the ports excursions, past travels, where we live, history, our professions, and always some good jokes.

 

I always meet the most interesting people while on vaction of any kind. Have made many friends over the years and we still keep in touch.

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Normally, it is suggested that you not discuss religion or politics because they are topics that can set off arguments. I agree that asking about someone's religion in order to learn about it is one thing. To start to proselytize is totally another thing, and totally inappropriate with strangers (or new friends). Sadly, many cannot discuss politics civilly either. We travel with one couple who has to be kept away from politics and the economy -- he cannot discuss it calmly. On the other hand, I frequently get in very civil discussions with people on the topic, keeping it a discussion rather than a rant.

 

In many ways, it is unfortunate that we can no longer discuss politics or economics in a civil way and have a full national discussion to arrive at some real, necessary national answers. It just seems that so many of us are so polarized and don't want to discuss any other alternatives. They are, sadly, topics that need careful handling.

 

Of course another problem would be if the new friend does not have the ability to keep the discussion within calm bounds, you have a problem on your hands.

 

I would never discuss someone else's weight unless they brought it up, that's for certain.

 

As for what someone paid for the trip, that too can cause problems only because there are so many different rates for everything. We made our reservations very early, got some early savings, and some others have come along the way. I'm not sure I even know what the current number is for our Med cruise in October. You might be very proud of yourself for having found a way to save x dollars, but the person you are bragging to about it will not love you for it. The same is obviously the case for airline fares these days. I might tell people where I found my fares, but a comparison isn't going to make one party to the conversation very happy.

 

The OP does state one good method -- asking the other person. If you are not telling them about yourself, but rather asking about them, you will make better friends.

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Big Keith you can sit at our table any evening :D Our last cruise was so much fun and our table mates were great (with the exception of the couple who only showed up twice and barely spoke to any one) ! We all talked about the economy and our jobs and how they were effected by the economy. We hit on religion because of the president. We taked about politics and Obama. We talked about our kids and their schooling and/or jobs and our home lives. When we bumped into them in other places on the ship sometimes the dinner conversation would continue for a few more minutes. No we did not all have the same views but no one let that effect the evening. It was nice to hear others take on things. Yes we also talked about the port we were in that day and what we did or what plans we had for the next day. Some people have an open mind and can listen and not be offended by others not having the same ideas as them and some people close their minds to any thing or person different from them.

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Amen sister!

 

Why would anyone take the chance of starting a fight over what are such personal topics? Abortion? Are you kidding me? People have been killed over this topic and has no business in conversations with strangers. I've been involved in political discussions with travel companions from across the pond, and it always degenerates into name calling and accusations. My religious beliefs are no one's business.

 

The safest topics involve travel, cruise ships, shore excursions and basic generalities. I certainly would feel the need to change tables if one of my tablemates would have the gall to ask my views on abortion and religion.

Edited by Don P

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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.?

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To listen to crap that I get exposed to everyday on the television or in the newspaper is not my idea of a relaxing vacation. Perhaps the concierge can arrange for a table for those who care to go in this direction. I'll take the quiet table please!

 

I wouldn't say I go out of my way to bang on about my religion but I find it an interesting topic. I don't purposely push any of these types of conversations. I like most people love talking about ships, excursions and ports of call. I have been in many situations though where I've heard people criticise Clinton/Bush/Obama. Whilst I have my views I am civil enough not to push my own ideas and love listening to other peoples perspectives and opinions. My opinions on religion might be worthless to you, but unlike you I enjoy learning about other peoples perspectives and beliefs (as long as they're comfortable to discuss). You may not wish to find out if you're sat with 'idiots for their beliefs', however I am not so judgemental.

 

I accept that talk about food doesn't interest you, we're all very different. Im thankful for how much I've learnt about wine from table mates and also interesting food knowledge to increase my understanding

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I understand that and can see the subjects aren't for everyone and if that was your choice I'd respect that.

 

But let's say, one night after a few meals we were talking about our countries and I said "I've always thought it strange but, how come it takes so long to elect a President". Would you feel uncomfortable answering that?

I wouldn't feel uncomfortable at all. I wish our presidential "season" was much shorter.

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I think it would be great to have Keith and ToxicFairy at our table. It got me to thinking - I wonder if you could request to be seated in MDR with people from other countries? I love talking with people from all over. Very few subjects would be off limits to me, unless the other person was overly judgmental or self righteous

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To listen to crap that I get exposed to everyday on the television or in the newspaper is not my idea of a relaxing vacation. Perhaps the concierge can arrange for a table for those who care to go in this direction. I'll take the quiet table please!

Don may I sit with you. Great thread Keith, on my last cruise I was on the Anytime dinning plan and shared everynight met a lot of great people of all kinds Brits, U.S. and Canada .So the next to the last night a single older man sits down and he don't like Cathloics and Mormons and all Republicans are idiots, I kind of thought it was funny at first and I did not know how to react in this kind of situation I would normally try humor but I dont think this jerk would get it . It made the whole table quiet and un comfortable. So it is easy to say I like to talk about Relgion , poltics, guns whatever but one jerk like this will change your mind. I think we should leave debates to talk radio not the dinner table.

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Hot Topics like Sex/Politics/Religion are usually subjects we all have strong feelings about and it's very difficult to remain objective when someone's personal feelings begin to intrude, and they always do. We once spent a very uncomfortable evening as the only nonAmericans on a table of vocal Reps and Dems who just couldn't resist taking cheap shots at each other. Our evening with an evangelical Christian didn't end well either when he started the convo with "have you accepted Our Lord Jesus Christ into your life as your Saviour?". Hmmmmmm.

 

And speaking as a Brit/Aussie any discussion about income, cost of cruise, money in general is strictly out of bounds although Americans seem much less "uptight" about that sort of thing.

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I think the rules are to err on the side of caution when talking with those you don't know. Most of these topics are hote buttons and people have passionate opinions one way or the other. I enjoy intelligent conversations with open minded people - open minded as in willing to talk and discuss diffences of opinion, not open minded as in I can change their mind). Talking to people who think anyone who disagrees with thier opinion is an idiot, not so much fun.

 

So I would take a day or two and get to know your tablemates before delving into a deep hot topic. Or play it safe and talk about the wonderful places you have seen or will see. No need to offend or ruin your vacation or thiers.

 

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.?

 

I so agree that there are certain subjects that are okay such as your cruising history. But I would be hesitant to bring up religion and politics -- and this is a good policy in any setting (unless of course you are at an occasion such as a political fund raiser, etc. in which you know most of the people there share your views).

 

One thing I like about traditional dining is that once you get to know your tablemates better you can start touching on general subjects such as your hometown or occupation but be aware that some people don't like to discuss even those subjects (maybe they have an unusual job that they don't like to talk about). Once someone says they prefer to talk about something else, that should be your cue to switch to another topic. Don't use this as a chance to psychoanalyze strangers.

 

I remember once the subject of cruise specials came up. Not necessarily about how much one paid for the cruise, but where one can find specials. That certainly would be okay for many people.

 

On another cruise, we were seated with a British couple and an Australian one. After one meal, hubby said we should try to avoid politics as he was guessing the Brits were probably 180 degrees from us. But further in the week, somehow politics did came up and as it turned out, the British man felt the same as us about the then current president.

 

As for subjects such as religion, if someone is wearing a cross or star of David on a chain, you may have an idea of their religion. But the topic can still be a minefield. If someone was insisting on talking about their religion to me, I might start thinking the next thing would be for them to proselytize, which is something I'm strongly against when unsolicited.

 

If it's something that could make someone uncomfortable, don't bring it up. If you had incorrectly felt a topic wouldn't make someone uncomfortable, drop it.

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I agree with some other posters, those who bring up religion in a conversation, are normally... well not someone I want to talk to!

 

I will put it this way, one day years ago, my husband was just having a bad day at work. It happens to everyone. His work environment was one where he DID NOT have to interact with other people. Well, one lady he worked with saw he was in a bad mood. She followed him for 4 HOURS telling him to turn to God to solve all his problems. He asked her to leave him be many times w/o out success. In the end he ended up yelling at her, resulting in him loosing his job. All because someone decided THEIR God was the answer.

 

I cruise with my kids, if we had table mates who wanted to talk about sex during dinner, yeah that wouldn't work well either IMO! My kids are only 10 and 14, but they are well informed 10 and 14 year olds! We have no problems discussing powder keg topics with our kids, others have no business doing it! Sex topics go along with the Abortion topic in my mind. No offense, I want to talk about a medical procedure at all during dinner! Would you want someone telling you all about their surgery while you are eating with all the details?

 

My thoughts are there is nothing wrong with being civil. While there are some who loves their tablemates and keep in touch with them for years, most you will never see again after the week. To be honest, I just don't care what religion someone is, what they think about politics, or what they think on ANY topic!

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... Our evening with an evangelical Christian didn't end well either when he started the convo with "have you accepted Our Lord Jesus Christ into your life as your Saviour?". Hmmmmmm.

 

Made me lol. What a way to clear your table for the rest of the cruise.

Now about that weather....

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Normally, it is suggested that you not discuss religion or politics because they are topics that can set off arguments. I agree that asking about someone's religion in order to learn about it is one thing. To start to proselytize is totally another thing, and totally inappropriate with strangers (or new friends). Sadly, many cannot discuss politics civilly either. We travel with one couple who has to be kept away from politics and the economy -- he cannot discuss it calmly. On the other hand, I frequently get in very civil discussions with people on the topic, keeping it a discussion rather than a rant.

 

In many ways, it is unfortunate that we can no longer discuss politics or economics in a civil way and have a full national discussion to arrive at some real, necessary national answers. It just seems that so many of us are so polarized and don't want to discuss any other alternatives. They are, sadly, topics that need careful handling.

 

Of course another problem would be if the new friend does not have the ability to keep the discussion within calm bounds, you have a problem on your hands.

Bingo. Talk radio and tabloid journalism are the worst offenders, and unfortunately many of their adherents have accepted their model of "shout it louder" and "reduce the most complex issue to a ten word mantra" and mistake this for discourse. It is neither educated nor educational, which ought to be the point of conversation, to learn something!

 

I guess I'm a bit of a trouble maker; when confronted with a blowhard who insists on shoving his/her views down my throat (regardless of topic) I'll bait them and argue the opposite point, regardless of what I actually think or feel.

 

Among calm folks (not like those I mentioned above) if wonder why, if you are only willing to discuss the most innocuous of topics (and even those at only the most superficial level) one would choose to sit with strangers? Why not just stay among yourselves where you can discuss what you want?

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Hot button issues can be the basis for lively interesting conversation but ONLY if everyone involved in the discussion wants to be there & the tone remains civilized. Many people do not enjoy discussing these subjects & don't want to debate during vacation so it's safer to avoid them.

The key to any dinner conversation is being polite. Stay away from subjects that make people uncomfortable.

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Hot button issues can be the basis for lively interesting conversation but ONLY if everyone involved in the discussion wants to be there & the tone remains civilized. Many people do not enjoy discussing these subjects & don't want to debate during vacation so it's safer to avoid them.

 

The key to any dinner conversation is being polite. Stay away from subjects that make people uncomfortable.

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?

 

In another thread on this topic someone posted that they refuse to discuss where they live, what they do for a living, etc. He/she didn't leave much room at all, which again leads me to wonder why they would want to sit with strangers at all.

Edited by euro cruiser

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First, we would love to sit with eurocruiser! Just want to thank you again for helping us with great port information on our Med cruise! Hope to meet you on one of our cruises...:)

On one cruise, we shared a table in the MDR with a wonderful mother/daughter who loved politics. The mother spoke for several nights about how she adored (really) Pres. Bill Clinton. One night, I said: "All Bill Clinton will be remembered for is Monica Lewinsky". The next evening, we asked the daughter where her mother was. She said her mother was not feeling well. We never saw the mother again for dinner. :D

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Almost any topic is worthy of "talking about". Almost any topic is NOT worthy of "arguing about". There's a difference!

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In all of my cruises, none of these subjects have ever come up at dinner. It's mostly vacation conversation. I would think that most people having fun on vacation are not interested in bringing up all the mess and stresses going on in the world.......Heck, you go on vacation to get away from all of that.

 

Just relax, smile, and say, "How are you enjoying your cruise?".......I bet none of that other foolishness is mentioned.

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Abortion......what ninkumpoop would consider that an appropriate dinner topic. Lets just throw in venereal diseases as well as prostate issues.......sheesh!:eek:

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