Happens on almost every cruise. Dining at the Captains table happens on every cruise and unless the Captain is required on the bridge or has other pressing duties he is always there. We have had the honor of dining with the Capt a few times and once the Staff Captain filled in for him as the seas were very rough that night and he was required on the bridge.
I have read many posts from people who have been asked to dine at the Captain's table, although I have never personally been invited or known anyone who has. Based on these posts, it seems that most often it is not actually the Captain who is hosting the table. Most of the posts say they dined with an officer other than the Captain. I have seen everything from the Hotel Manager, to the Chief Engineer, to the Staff Captain. Although it is not something I would personally be interested in, almost every post I have read said that they enjoyed it immensely and would do it again in a heartbeat.
It is strictly by invitation and the request is sometimes sent from the home office if there is some real big wig onboard they wish to schmooze. For most of the folks it is done by the Socialo host looking for interesting couples, pretty young singles, someone who might have cruised a large number of times, newlyweds, and sometimes even strange people like us. We have had dinner with the Capt three times I believe and it is quite an honor really. Only once did the Staff Capt. fill in with the Capt's profound apologies but the weather was very bad and he was needed on the bridge that evening. The Capt. is seated last and directs to conversation and also orders the wine of which they are exceptionally good at selecting and they order both a white and a red. The Captian also begins eating first and is allowed to take the first bite. <G> Silly I know but it is a time honored formality and the dinner itself is quite formal with 'rules' that you will be informed of prior to dinner. If you happen to be asked, by all means accept and of course after the dinner it is proper to write a letter of appreciation to the Captain within a day or two at most of the dinner. Usually the next morning.
After reading Jim's description I am all the more sure that this is something I would NEVER want to do! All that formality and pretentiousness! You might think you were dining with the Al Mighty himself!
I would rather dine with the bus driver who drove me to the pier. At least then I could have a nice dinner without having to worry about my every move being a faux pas!
I've dined at the Captain's table a number of times, but unlike Jim's description, I've never found the occassion to be pretentious at all, and I've never been instructed on appropriate behavior.
A large part of the Captain's job on cruise ships is the social aspect, and most are very adept. In my experience the evenings can be alot of fun, as the conversation (and the wine) flows pretty freely. We've always felt comfortable enough to joke and laugh just as we would at our regular dinner table.
If you're ever invited don't think twice about accepting for fear of being intimitated. It's part of their job to make you comfortable, and they do a good job at it. Go and enjoy!
I never said it was pretentious. What I said was that it is formal. Certain rules of ediquette should be followed like allowing the Captain to lead the dinner. You should not show up without a tie or jacket or a sundress or try and take over the conversation. I have never felt intimidated and hopefully we might again be asked to dine with the Captain. I just believe in manners when you accept this honor including writing a letter of appreciation to the Capt. afterwards. Every time we have been so honored we have had a wonderful time and yes even joked and laughed with the host.
Jim, no of course you didn't say it was pretentious. But from your description, the next poster did see it being described that way. And I wanted to assure everyone though it may be a formal evening (because the Captain normally only hosts his table on formal nights) the "attitude" at the table isn't formal, and no one should be intimitated.
Of course good manners are required.
We've often given the Captains a CruiseMates or CruiseMates group t-shirt as a thank you , and we've even had a Captain put it on during dinner.
Most of the Captains we've had the pleasure of meeting have had excellent senses of humor.. and when dealing with passengers like us they need to <G>