At The Captain’s Table

Every formal night, there is a special table at the good end of a cruise ship’s dining room with some special invitees. It’s the Captain’s Table. The social hostess arranges the seating, the wine is freely poured, and the Captain grandly hosts his guests. Who are these people?

They are important travel agents, perhaps the leader of a large group on board, loyal repeat guests who have sailed a significant amount of times, and sometimes (when there’s a shortage of important people) a travel writer. On some lines the makeup of the table is done by the Captain himself, on others that duty falls to the Maitre D’.

My first Captain’s Table seating was a New Year’s Eve. The captain sat directly across from me and topping off his uniform was a silly stiff paper hat, a tight elastic strap under his chin holding the upside down cone in place. OK, I’m going to say it. He looked stupid. The British woman next to me told me I had to put my hat on or I would insult the Captain. The invitation hadn’t said and “wear a silly hat”, but I did as told. The elastic made it hard to chew.

The largest Captain’s Table was on a World Cruise. it consisted of four long tables that formed a square with a large space in the center. It was impossible to talk to the Captain unless you were sitting next to him. I was not, This was about a six course dinner, and the Maitre d’ rang a huge gong to announce each course. Seeing as some of the diners were quite old, they tended to fall asleep between courses, and, when the gong gonged, the somnolent ones jumped several inches off their chairs. Watching the Maitre d’ approach the gong, and then the aftermath, was my entertainment for the evening.

One Captain with whom I sat on two different cruises, told basically the same stories and tolerated no interruption. A whispered “please pass the salt” to a tablemate, got an upraised hand, palm forward, and a stern “listen” from the Captain. He actually was charming, but the second time around, I had a hard time overcoming the urge to give away his punch lines. And I never did get the salt.

My favorite was the Captain who firmly tapped each of his rolls on the table. When I asked him what he was doing, he blushed and shyly admitted he was a former freighter Captain, and while the cruise line had given him an etiquette course on hosting passengers, he had yet to overcome the habit of tapping his rolls in order to get the weevils out. Now, when at a formal Captain’s dinner, I always tap my rolls. Deep down inside, I’m hoping for a weevil.

I’m not sure what it is about my quirky nature that makes me just want to say “no’ to the Captain’s Table invite. I simply don’t know how to do it without getting on someone’s walk-the-plank list. But, if you see me with an invitation clutched in my fist, take it. I’ll never tell.

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One Response to “At The Captain’s Table”

  1. Geoff Says:

    I’m from idaho…..and the next time I have a dinner roll, I will be tapping it on the table hoping for a weevil also. Great post!

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