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CAPTAIN’S TABLE


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Stacy Sheehan asked a question .

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When you watch the tv show the Love Boat you always hear about sitting at the captains table. Was there actually a Captains table at one time. I know there isn't now.

 

 

Yes, the Captain and senior officers each hosted a table on P & O many moons ago. Not sure about other lines. When I was younger was delighted to be invited to sit at the Purser’s Table on several cruises. We were also invited to ‘Pour Outs’ in his cabin and on officers’ decks. Now I have ‘grown up’ not so sure I want to pay cruise prices to eat with the crew !!!!!!!!!!!!

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In 2009 on Celebrity we enjoyed being invited to the Captain's table with 8 others. It was very nice, 5 course meal with wine pairings.

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On one cruise, we got to sit a table with the Chief Sanitation Officer of the ship.  We had some strange conversations w dinner but it was actually extremely interesting especially as I was the lab manager of a waste water treatment plant at the time.  Not sure that some of the other people at the table appreciated the conversations however.

 

DON

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A Captain's Table where people were seated on a daily basis?  Yes, on QM2, in the Britannia Restaurant on the bottom level of the Restaurant, at the foot of the stairs, there did appear to be such.  The Captain, however, was only in attendance on Formal nights.  From where I was seated, I could see that there was always one empty chair that he filled on those evenings.  That is the only ship that I have sailed where I was aware of a Captain's Table.

 

On HAL, at least once upon a time, on some Formal Nights the Officers would host a large table.  I was once invited to dine with the Chief Engineer.  A round table that seated at least 10, maybe 12.  Because it was so large, it was difficult to carry on much of a conversation--or even hear--with the Chief Engineer.  

 

On HAL, Mariner's Society Luncheon, some ships' Officers will host tables with specifically invited guests.  This does not occur on a regular basis, however.  Twice, I have received invitations for that, but did not know in advance what Officer would be the host.  The first time, it was the Captain and the group was small enough that conversation among us was possible and interesting.  The second time, it was the Staff Captain who was supposed to be the host, but, the DRM apologized that he was unable to attend because of his duties.  That group were also experienced Mariners and it made for an interesting luncheon.  

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Our table for 6 was next to the QM2 "hosted" table [in the Britannia dining room, by the big tapestry]

Over the course of our cruise, the Captain hosted the table about 4 times, other senior staff [Hotel Manager, Chief Engineer] a couple of times. 

One night it was empty during our late seating.

Other nights it had performers from the National Symphony [eastbound] or the RADA for the westbound, hosted by their senior folks.

Edited by TheOldBear
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7 minutes ago, donaldsc said:

Chief Sanitation Officer

 

On every Behind the Scenes Tour I have taken, the Chief Sanitation Officer is one of the most interesting Officers with whom to converse.  They are so proud of their work and of their crew!  They make a special effort to praise their crew when we are touring the Garbage Room, etc.  

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4 minutes ago, TheOldBear said:

Other nights it had performers from the National Symphony [eastbound] or the RADA for the westbound, hosted by their senior folks.

 

Thanks for your post.  Interesting to compare experiences.  My experience was during a Caribbean cruise while yours was during TAs.  

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My relative was seated at a large table on Cunard's Queen Elizabeth,  where there was a nervous young couple who were on their first cruise,  and who were always afraid of getting something wrong.

One night they were invited to the Captain's table, and afterwards they appeared to have grown an inch and were full of confidence about cruising! 🙂

And, of course, they booked their next Cunard cruise whilst they were on board...

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12 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

Thanks for your post.  Interesting to compare experiences.  My experience was during a Caribbean cruise while yours was during TAs.  

We really have no interest in traveling to hot places - and we have been picking transatlantic round trips ]by theme] to avoid the need to fly anywhere.

 

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15 minutes ago, TheOldBear said:

we have been picking transatlantic round trips ]by theme] to avoid the need to fly anywhere

 

Not knowing your cruising history, but, I wonder, since you like TA round trips, were you able to take advantage of the crossings that permitted a 2-3 day visit to London or Paris and returning on the following crossing?  I know S. S. France offered such crossings from time to time.  Not sure if any of the Cunard vessels did so.  

 

I like your idea to choose those crossings "by theme".  I have seen those listed in the Cunard brochures and some are attractive to me.  

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Back in my day working for P&O, many officers with 2-stripes and above hosted a pax table, normally at 2nd sitting. Pax were assisgned based on number of cruises, cabin, who they knew, etc. We would have the same 8 pax for dinner each night of the cruise. Depending on watch schedules, we could meet them for pre-dinner drinks and also attend the show after dinner with them.

 

The Captain/Deputy Captain's tables were the most highly saught after assignments.

 

Back in the early 2000's, we took a RCCL cruise, as I knew the Captain. Actually had hired him a few years previously for his first civilian job after leaving the Navy. He had a table in the MDR and invited about 8 - 10 pax on formal nights, so we joined him on one of the formal nights.

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Never on a sea cruise (although there was an uncomfortable 2 days in the North Atlantic going from Halifax to Portland ME) but on a Victory Cruiseline Montreal to Boston cruise (Victory 2) a couple of years ago my wife and I were invited to the Captain's Table.  No special meal or anything but it was still pretty cool and we found out that the Captain's wife was more interesting than the Captain.

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3 hours ago, Reina del Mar said:

When you watch the tv show the Love Boat you always hear about sitting at the captains table. Was there actually a Captains table at one time. I know there isn't now.

 

With all due respect, we beg to differ.  When we were sailing with Regent, Seabourn and Silversea prior to  Covid-19 they had (and hopefully will continue to have) a Captain's table.

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Around twenty years ago, we were invited to dinner at the Captain's Table a number of times.  We never knew "why us?".  We were in ordinary cabins, were not big spenders, didn't "know" anyone.

It was always delightful.  Always a table of eight or ten people.  Conversation followed the traditional dinner party protocol of the men chatting with the women to their right (which was not their wives), then all switching when the Captain switched.  We were seated next to our spouses except for one time when we were opposite each other: Mrs. Shipgeeks next to the Staff Captain, and Mr. Shipgeeks next to his wife.

We met a lot of interesting people!  We learned that one Captain had gone to medical school prior to choosing a life on ships.  Sadly, that evening was marred somewhat by a passenger who insisted on interrupting everyone to propose a toast every few minutes, his wife who got up and waved to friends all over the dining room, and a passenger who spent his time complaining about his excursion that day.  But overall, very fond memories of all of them.

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3 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

 

Not knowing your cruising history, but, I wonder, since you like TA round trips, were you able to take advantage of the crossings that permitted a 2-3 day visit to London or Paris and returning on the following crossing?  I know S. S. France offered such crossings from time to time.  Not sure if any of the Cunard vessels did so.  

 

I like your idea to choose those crossings "by theme".  I have seen those listed in the Cunard brochures and some are attractive to me.  

Some round trips have the crossings scheduled to make this fairly easy. Our 2019 crossing had some folks disembark in Southampton, and re embark in LeHavre after taking a “road scholar’  tour in Normandy. We stayed onboard while the ship sailed to Hamburg and back.

 

Next years sailing has a 12 night “Norway and Northern Lights” cruise (M235) between our pair of crossings (M234a) 

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9 hours ago, Reina del Mar said:

When you watch the tv show the Love Boat you always hear about sitting at the captains table. Was there actually a Captains table at one time. I know there isn't now.


What I want to know is whether the ship’s purser and doctor on modern ships are always trying to hook up with passengers 🙂

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A few years ago, the Maitre"D came to us mid meal and inquired if we would enjoy dinner with the Captain the following night in the MDR.  We certainly accepted the honor.  Now it wasn't like the Captain was showing up every night at an assigned "Captain's" table - this was the only time we saw him in our late time MDR.

 

One other couple was invited, and since the table picked for this dinner was directly behind the welcome station, we received lots of doubletakes as cruisers filed in for their meals. How we were picked for this remained a secret of the Maitre"D.  

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3 hours ago, evandbob said:

How we were picked for this remained a secret of the Maitre"D.  

 

21 hours ago, shipgeeks said:

We never knew "why us?".  We were in ordinary cabins, were not big spenders, didn't "know" anyone

 

Both of your comments reflect my situation most of the time when I have received such invitations.  The exception would be when the invitation was for the Mariner Society Luncheons.  

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The captain and other officers routinely eat with invited passengers. We have enjoyed many of these meals. One of the most fun was when the chief engineer canceled on us due to upcoming bad weather and sent two engineering interns, nice young people who were very worried about messing up in the dining room. 

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13 minutes ago, Pudgesmom said:

sent two engineering interns, nice young people who were very worried about messing up in the dining room. 

 

An excellent post.  Often, these young Officers are quite uncomfortable being around guests in a social setting.  During receptions that I have attended, after the receiving line has dissolved, it's almost like a magnetic attraction that many of these young people congregate with each other ("birds of a feather flock together" syndrome, I suppose).  When I have approached one of these junior Officers, they will converse, but, I keep my conversation short.  

 

One Senior Officer on a Behind the Scenes Tour, in response to a question from a tour member, stated that in most social situations where Officers are expected to attend, the Master will require participation of the Junior Officers, particularly Cadets.  It is part of their education/introduction to being an Officer on a cruise ship. 

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10 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

An excellent post.  Often, these young Officers are quite uncomfortable being around guests in a social setting.  During receptions that I have attended, after the receiving line has dissolved, it's almost like a magnetic attraction that many of these young people congregate with each other ("birds of a feather flock together" syndrome, I suppose).  When I have approached one of these junior Officers, they will converse, but, I keep my conversation short.  

 

One Senior Officer on a Behind the Scenes Tour, in response to a question from a tour member, stated that in most social situations where Officers are expected to attend, the Master will require participation of the Junior Officers, particularly Cadets.  It is part of their education/introduction to being an Officer on a cruise ship. 

 

There are always exceptions, but generally the Captains/Senior Officers who are more comfortable around pax are those that started as Cadets on cruise ships.

 

When I started as a Cadet, our attendance was mandatory at all the Cocktail Parties, unless we were actively on watch. We stood at the end of the receiving line and escorted pax to a waiter and were expected to make brief small talk before returning to the receiving line.

 

Once the receiving line was complete, we were not permitted to be in a group of more than 2 Officers or Cadets. We were also expected to mingle between groups, so we couldn't find 1 group of pax and stay with them for the remainder of the party.

 

Those Cadets that couldn't meet & mingle didn't get an Officer position on cruise ships.

 

However, it has changed significantly from my day and attendance is no longer mandatory. I recall visiting our son on his first Princess ship, when it arrived in Vancouver. He had been aboard for 3 months. His mess jacket was still in the cupboard, never been starched or had buttons/epaulettes attached. He had never been on passenger decks in 3 months.

 

When he was 3rd Officer, on 1 of the ships he was the only member of the Bridge team who spoke natural English, so he made all the Noon announcements and also hosted the Navigator's Presentation in the Theatre. None of the other officers had sufficient confidence.

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34 minutes ago, Heidi13 said:

 

However, it has changed significantly from my day and attendance is no longer mandatory.


That’s fine with me. All I want from the officers is for the ship to run safely. In fact, the less social the officers the better. 

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