For many cruisers, mealtime is the highlight of the trip, with gourmet food and amply stocked bars. If your dining plan seats you with other guests at each meal, you can also use this as a wonderful opportunity to make new connections and forge lasting friendships.
Come Prepared with Conversation Starters
Image via Flickr by Australian Civil-Military Centre
Banish those awkward silences at the dinner table by coming ready with a few good conversation starters. Your conversation will naturally skew toward vacation topics to do with your cruise. Try presenting some of these questions to the table:
- What countries or islands have you visited before?
- What’s your favorite part of being on vacation?
- What’s the most memorable thing that’s ever happened to you on vacation?
Avoid yes or no questions that send the discussion to an abrupt end point. Encourage other diners to open up and discuss their experiences. Seasoned cruisers offer a valuable source of information and advice to first-timers. Even if you’ve cruised before, perhaps this is your first experience with alaskan cruises, or a particular cruise line. It’s easy for frequent travelers to fill the time discussing the highlights and hot spots of various destinations.
Discuss Cruise Activities
Via Flickr by Sonny Side Up!
Activities and destinations on your current cruise are something that all diners have in common. No matter how diverse your backgrounds, you’re all on the same journey together. Discuss your favorite pools, bars, or on-ship activities. Talk about the excursions that you’ve signed up for.
If you’re interested in finding other couples or families who may want to join you for certain activities, but you don’t want to ask outright, try saying “I really want to go play bingo tomorrow.” This gives others the perfect opening to say “We do, too!” This way there are no awkward no’s or maybe’s, but you’re opening yourselves up to making plans with others on the ship.
Be Mindful of Dining Faux Pas
Via Flickr by Craig Hatfield
Your own family members may accept your gagging at the sight of their peel and eat shrimp, but criticizing any of the items on the menu can put you on a slippery slope with new acquaintances. Avoid any discussion points that openly critique the food. Mentioning your adverse feelings toward escargot could put your companions in an awkward position if they were looking forward to savoring this delicacy.
If you enjoy discussing food, stick to positive talking points. Mention the dishes that look and taste especially delicious. If you’re asked for recommendations, be honest but tactful so no one feels embarrassed about the food on their plate.
Stay Friendly In and Out of the Dining Room
Via Flickr by JordanWong
When you’re on vacation, it’s easy to put your blinders on to others around you. Try to avoid this syndrome on the cruise ship. Keep an eye out for your fellow diners. If you’ve really hit it off, then by all means grab the lounge chair beside them and send the kids off to the pool together. If not, a smile and wave on your way to another activity is fine.
Over the course of your cruise, your table may go from being a group of complete strangers, to becoming a group of great friends. Many a wonderful friendship has been born on the high seas.