>> 2. When couples arrive at the table, the lady should sit to the right of the gentleman because.... well, because a gentleman always shows respect for a lady by giving the place of honor, which is to his right, to her. The only exception is if the gentleman holds an office of higher rank, which would entitle him to greater honor as a matter of protocol, in which case it's acceptable either to follow protocol or to follow the normal social custom. >>
I would have to say on our last cruise to the Baltic, our table of eight did not follow this etiquette rule. We all enjoyed each others company so much we played musical chairs. Some nights all the women sat on one side with the men across from us. Most nights we did not even sit as a couple. The other couples were concerned we would miss out on dinner, the night we had an evening tour in St. Petersburg. That is until they found out it was open seating that evening. Oh well so much for etiquette when you are having such a great time at dinner that they go on for hours and continue after dinner.