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AR December 27th, 2001 12:05 PM

Oh Captain, My Captain
I'm a little amused by the stern defenses of the sanctity of the Captain's table in the Summit Overcrowding thread. For those who haven't read it, apparently one or more passengers, frustrated by what seems to be severe overcrowding on the ship, stopped by to see the good Captain during dinner to voice a modicum of displeasure.

It is also said that one passenger, in a desperate attempt to turn the ship into Animal House, winged a dinner roll at the Master Mariner and managed to bean him.

So let's begin by saying that food fights in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant are less than dignified--especially on formal night--and those participating should be relegated to the brig for the duration.

But I don't agree that the simple act of stopping to chat with the boss to voice severe misgivings about a serious situation is all that bad. After all, one of the first rules of consumerism is to take your complaint as far up the chain as possible. Those who say that the "appropriate" venue is the hotel manager should consider the possibility that this and other remedies had already been explored to no avail.

My son, who flies jets for a major US airline, is approached all the time during dinner (usually tuna-on-bagel in a corner of the gate seating area) by passengers with problems. These problems, of course, have nothing to do with flying airplanes, but he always tries to suggest ways to address the issue, and doesn't take offense. Let's face it, people believe that the buck stops with the guy or gal with the stripes on the shoulder, and maybe that's not so awful, even if it isn't always true.

As for the supposedly inviolate wall around the Captain's table, gimme a break. While it's obviously true that courtesy should prevail, and that interruptions should not be a matter of course (at anybody's table for that matter), there are very few times or places these days where access to the Captain is possible. And, let's face it, all he's doing is schmoozing a bunch of travel agents and/or high rollers. They'll survive a 90-second diversion. There's plenty of free wine to swill while he's chatting with the interloper.

Finally, if the Summit Captain's response to the complaint really was something to the effect of "It's not my problem, I'm a technical man," it was the wrong answer by every standard of customer service. Anyone who serves the public is (or should be) taught that once a problem is presented to you, you "own" it. You do not blow it off, give it short shrift, or pass the buck. You absolutely don't. If the resolution belongs someplace else, you take it there yourself.

Now, it's probably true that there's not much that can be done on the high seas about a ship that's got 20% more people on it than it's built for, but the Captain should have at least expressed some sympathy, and sent a free bottle of wine to the folding chair in the elevator lobby where the poor soul was trying to eat his gala welcome dinner. :-)


Robocop December 27th, 2001 01:17 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
You are assuming that there was 20% more people onboard than they are allowed which just isn't possible. Strict rules must be followed and they are checked routinely by the USCG to insure that they do not have more passengers onboard than they are rated for. Additionally, the Captian is not grabbing a quick bit to eat like you brother the pilot is, or like I was when eating while a Police Officer, the Captian is entertaining and anyone with any sense of ediquette knows that this just isn't done. Throwing biscuits!! How childish is that! Why should other passengers be subjected to such crude and boorish behavior! I for one would have been highly offended and would assist security in removing these people if they needed it. I am not a snob by any means, but I do know how one should act in public and how one should expect others to behave. As for who is seated at the Captians table...well, I have had that privledge myself and those seated were a couple on their honeymoon, a nurse who was being honored at the end of a long and dedicated career by her daughter, a couple of ladies that were related to one of the workers onboard, and wife an myself who hold no place of honor to my knowledge except that the Social Hostess thought we were nice people. So goes your observation about only being high rollers and TA's at the table.


AR December 27th, 2001 01:49 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
Sorry, Jim, I stand by my position. I began by saying that throwing food crosses the line and shouldn't be tolerated. I guess you missed that.

But it's also true that polite conversations are not discourteous among civilized people. And, while I'm completely aware that common passengers are occasionally favored by the luck of the draw in getting seated at the Captain's table, show me a successful travel agent (or employee of a travel website) who doesn't eat there regularly during cruises.

As far as the number of people on the ship, I simply went by the one report of 2400 that the crew was supposedly "admitting" to. How the hell do I know how many are actually there, or what the Coast Guard or other authorities have to say about it? Apparently the ship is overcrowded. That's the point, right?

And I'm utterly sticking by my guns re the comments about proper customer service. It is important to remember who is buying and who is selling. The senior officers deserve respect, not reverence.

Finally, I'm sure that none of this is funny to the people on the ship who are probably having a miserable cruise. But there is something mildly comical in a Marx Brothers sort of way to some of us who happen to be currently on dry land. Surely, everyone familiar with the stateroom sequence in A Night at the Opera can't help at least a small grin.

Lighten up. OK? :-)


PS, it's my son who's the pilot, not my brother.

MarieA December 27th, 2001 02:30 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
ok, I have to wade in here - I don't believe that interrupting the Captain at dinner (no matter who he's with) shows a modicum of respect, ... let alone reverence. It is said that there is a time and place for everything .. and interrupting a dinner table is neither the time nor the place. By the way, in my Thesaurus, interrupt means to butt-in.

pamda December 27th, 2001 03:47 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
AR ...

We usually agree on most things, but this time? Not. The ship is not "overcrowded", it's simply full to the max.

Now, that just may be "overcrowded" by some people's lights, but it's exactly what anyone travelling during the Christmas week should expect or have been told to expect by their TA.

To me, accosting the Captain during his dinner about ship's business is about the same as meeting a physician at a cocktail party and rolling up your pant leg and saying, "Do you think this is a melanoma?"

Or, meeting a lawyer at the same cocktail party and asking about deed restriction problems in your neighborhood.

Arguably, the Captain should probably have said, "Talk to the Staff Captain/Hotel Manager/Maitre d' tomorrow and tell them I sent you," rather than blowing it off. If, in fact, that's what happened. But the person should never have intruded on a social event about a business question.

We only have one version here, and that should be remembered.


Liz December 27th, 2001 04:24 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
I actually agree with AR. Is this captain a diplomat or politically protected by body guards? He is a officer of the ship that's purpose is to please passengers - period. The captain's reply was more disrespectful than the interruption. Perish the thought that complaints are broadcast publically. If I were not sitting in the dining room because of overcrowding my mouth would not be shut except whilst chewing.

AR December 27th, 2001 04:55 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
You're right Pam that we do only have one version and it could be full of errors.

Couple thoughts:

* I don't really know where "full" ends and "overcrowding" starts. Of course you're right that agents should warn people that holiday cruises are likely to be crowded and crawling with kids. But it's just as true that passengers have a right to expect a seat in the dining room for one sitting or the other. If the posted report is true, everybody didn't get a seat. Now, regardless of the published capacity, or what the Coast Guard says is OK, subjectively I think it's reasonable to conclude that if there's not enough room for the passengers in the dining room, the ship is indeed overcrowded. If people are sitting up on Deck 10 in their tuxedos waiting for somebody to bring them some food, there's a serious lapse in progress, no matter how you care to define it.

* Your comparing complaining to the captain in the dining room to talking shop with doctors and lawyers at a party is not apt. Doctors and lawyers at a party are off duty. The captain, in uniform in a public area of the ship he commands is most assuredly not off duty. He is, in fact, performing one of his duties. I understand the "manners" issue completely, and under most conditions would not run over to say hello (never have, not likely I ever will). But I've also been cruising long enough to know that the captain used to be a fairly available guy. You got to shake hands with him at the welcome party, you got to go up and visit with him on the bridge if you wanted to, and it was never a surprise to run into him out on deck, walking around the dining room, or even in one of the bars. In short, if you really wanted to find him somewhere other than the captain's table, you could. Not any more. On Celebrity, unless you're a Captain's Club member or a repeater, you're very likely not to lay eyes on him except for the night he marches down the stairs at the opening reception. That's why I understand why somebody might use the dining table as a "target of opportunity," knowing that it isn't likely he'll ever be available anyplace else.

* And in the scheme of things it's pretty small potatoes compared to the unbridled rudeness--passenger to passenger--that we encountered on our Summit cruise earlier in the month.

By the way Pam, it's ABOUT TIME we disagreed!


Rick December 27th, 2001 04:55 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
Not true......EVERYONE knows you are a "high roller" Jim <G>
Semper Fi

AR December 27th, 2001 05:02 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain

Pleased to have your views. It's always best to look in the dictionary for definitions. The thesaurus is good for synonyms, not all of which apply to every situation. Mr. Roget expects you to be selective in your use of synonyms, which is why he often provides so many of them.


MarieA December 27th, 2001 05:20 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
and the synonym I chose to use in making my point was butt-in, which Mr. Roget was kind enough to supply which did in fact fit the situation. My dictionary said "to hinder by breaking in" or "to break in with remarks while another is speaking" .. "butt-in" - "break-in" ...... whichever - I still find it rude.

Robocop December 27th, 2001 07:23 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
I think we may have hit upon not only on an area where we agree, but most likely, the problem area itself! Maybe it is the passengers and thier rudness that is at the crux of the problem! I heard somewhere that someone is pointing out that may of these self-serving passengers are just showing up for dinner in the dining room at a time not assigned! That would definately screw up the delicate ballet that the staff does to seat and feed their guests. What do you do when you arrive at your table for early OR late seating and find it occupied by someone else that just decided they wanted to eat there and then? What a nightmare that would be if it was more than just the occasional boor. I stand behind my statement that the Captian is strictly off-limits while he is entertaining guests for dinner. There are other times he can be made available if it is necessary, which it shouldn't be as he has Officers that are in charge of certain areas and THEY are the ones you speak with first. My training in the military chain of command may be at fault for this attitude but I still maintain it is just good manners. Oh, as for someone who works for a travel website that is not often at the Captains table. That would be me. We have only had the pleasure once and I can assure you they had no idea at the time who I was other than maybe I was a retired cop as that is the only information that is on my ticket information packet.
PS I am trying very hard to become lighter btw, good food does tend to wiegh one down <VBG>

jcpc December 27th, 2001 08:30 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
AR - Why are you assuming that individuals employed in the travel industry are the ones likely to be seated at the Captain's Table. I believe your assumption is totally erroneous. The fact is that more often that not it's the "common folk" that are invited to dine with the cabin.

jcpc December 27th, 2001 08:32 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
Sorry - I meant to type "captain" not "cabin" !!

Babette December 27th, 2001 11:40 PM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
Funny, if things are sooooooobad on the Summit... and internet access so readily available... why haven't we seen more postings on the various cruise boards?? Hmmmm?????????

The original poster, Andrew" is just very lucky he did not approach my father's table.. as Dad would have given him an earful and thrown him out of the dining room. AR - it just isn't done - there is shipboard etiquette and protocol. If Andrew wanted to speak to the Captain, all he had to do was write a note o his personalized stationery and have the note delivered to the Captain's office by his butler.

For those dining in the "cafeteria" - hey, they chose to be there. It is the casual alternative on formal night... and by reservation. If people did not make their reservations.... there is always room service.

Obviously, the Captain knew if he entertained any discussion with this poster - it was going to be a long drawn out affair.. and not a pleasant one.
On board Celebrity ships, the Hotel Manager oversees cabins, ships stores, housekeeping, the casino, Food & Beverage, etc. etc. There is nothing except the technical side which is not under his juristiction. He IS the person to talk to.

As far as the roll hitting the Captain.... boy what a good shot... I guess those seated in front of the Captain must have been very short people for the roll to clear the tops of their heads.

As one who has been invited to the Captain's table on my last two Century cruises.... we are just ordinary people. The first time was at the request of my agent (I had no idea) and the second time, the social hostess asked me if I would like to dine once again. Other than being a single female and helping round out the table... I am just an ordinary cruise addict. As far as schmoozing goes..... ha!!! Topics of conversation ran the gamut from overcrowding during the summer months on Mykonos to cyclical recessions to coping with a parent with Alzheimer's. Nice schmoozing conversations!

All in all, I think the original poster doth protest too much and is full of himself. After all......if things are soooooooo bad, there would be more online complaints!!!

ErnieMCC December 28th, 2001 08:38 AM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
Well said, Pamda... as usual. I think you have it exactly right. Boorish behavior is boorish behavior where and whenever it is found!


KV December 28th, 2001 10:30 AM

Re: Oh Captain, My Captain
Your good Babette lol

Rick December 28th, 2001 12:35 PM

To Babette
Why are you so anxious to discredit Andrews post? Were you there? As far as internet access...due to the cost and other factors, most (I would think) cruisers dont take advantage of it. I found your post very sarcastic, mean spirited and bordering on being "a personal attack". Why dont we hold judgement on the post until the cruise is over and then see if others post about it? If Andrew's post is accurate, I can certainly understand his anger and frustration. Your post reeks of sarcasm and serves no purpose other than to inflame the issue.
Semper Fi
Rick and Deb

AR December 28th, 2001 01:02 PM

Re: To Babette
Babette et al:


Well it seems as though the new post "Captain's Table Manners" by the original poster, Andrew, clarifies matters considerably, and justifies even further the action taken.

As for the sweeping "just isn't done" mantra, I still say it's baloney, and if your father (who I assume is or was a sea captain) decided to give me an earful, I promise you I'd be up to the task of returning the favor. The captain is the master of the vessel and the crew, and a servant of the paying guests, just like everyone else who collects a paycheck from the line. If there is no redress from other quarters, it's perfectly reasonable to accost him. As for writing him on your personal writing paper and having your butler deliver it, please note that while we're very impressed at your ability to regularly stay in suites for steerage money, some others on the ship are blessed with neither suites, butlers, nor personal note paper. Some, in fact, don't even have windows.

In Andrew's case, the captain's table guests were evidently exclusively other officers, which makes the interruption even more justified.


AR December 28th, 2001 01:20 PM

Re: To Babette

Simply because I know a lot of people employed in the travel industry, and when they cruise they are virtually always invited to the captain's table. They tell me so. Maybe they are being untruthful to impress me, but that's what they say.

Moreover, I have met a number of travel professionals on cruises. . .guess where?


pamda December 28th, 2001 02:56 PM

Re: To Babette
Dear AR ...

With all due respect (isn't if fun that we are finally disagreeing?) 10:45 PM is NOT the proper hour to take up issues other than overflowing bathrooms or similar. And you wouldn't take those up with the Captain and staff. Especially over dinner.

There wasn't a thing the Captain could have done at that hour to rectify a situation that had already occurred.

"Redress from other quarters" should have been taken up the next day, IMO.

Keep in mind, we have only heard ONE story -- so far. And that from someone who seems to be angling for a free cruise or a rebate on one already taken.

I also don't think the Captain is the "servant of the paying guests" ... it's his job to keep the ship and the passengers safe, not to worry about whether the veal doesn't meet proper gourmet standards. If he serves anyone, it's the company which employs him, the stockholders who have invsted in the company, and for good reason. There are plently of people running around to keep the passengers happy.

To me, there is absolutely no justification for interrupting a private dinner to complain about something that couldn't be fixed.


Rick December 28th, 2001 03:05 PM

Re: To Babette
Pam, as much as it pains me to agree with a Vietnam era college hippie protestor <Big G>. I do agree. Although, if Andrew is giving a fair assestment, I do understand his anger. However, that anger probably clouded his judgement. Bad judgement in approaching the Captain at that time......with a problem better addressed to the appropriate staff member at a time when Andrew had "cooled off" and could have articulated his complaint in a rational way.
Semper Fi

pamda December 28th, 2001 05:35 PM

Re: To Babette
Now, Rick ...

I love my country, I just hated an unjust war that my generation (that would mean you) was asked to die for something that I considered to be totally insane.

If you read the VietNam piece on my website, you know I've come to terms with the whole thing. But I wish I could bring everyone's sons, brothers, fathers and husbands back.


Rhonda December 28th, 2001 05:42 PM

Re: To Babette
As a very successful TA from a large agency in the mid west. I have been on 60+ cruises and have never been invited to the Captains table. But I have many clients who have. Am I upset, absoulutely not I think that the paying public are the ones who deserve this honor.

I think interrupting the Captain while dining is rude. I don't care if you are a Dr., Lawyer, Police Officer. No one has the right to bother these people at meals unless it is a true imergency. This was not. The gentleman involved needs to grow up.

Rick December 28th, 2001 05:49 PM

Re: Pam
I am so sorry....I did'nt mean that comment in a mean way. I was actually taking a stab at humor and as we all know I don't do very well :). As one who was involved in that mess from a 1st person view, I took the liberty of what I intended as humor. I earned that right to humor with blood shed. Pam, please believe me, I meant no harm. I got over all (most anyways) my anger years ago. I am so sorry if I offended you.
Semper Fi

jcpc December 28th, 2001 06:36 PM

Re: To Babette
AR - I have had the pleasure of dining at the captain's table several times on several different cruises lines, Celebrity being one of them. Each of these times, the table was made up of "normal" passengers with the exception of one time when there was a Travel Agent from Florida seated at the table. Be that as it may.....whether the Captain was dining with travel professionals, his officers and staff, or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it is still rude to interrupt anyone during dinner regarding a business manner. It could have and should have been handled differently by Andrew.

pamda December 28th, 2001 08:26 PM

Rick ...
No harm, no foul, no problem.


AR December 28th, 2001 09:36 PM

Re: Rick ...

What can I say? You asked and I answered. Our experiences differ.

Besides, it's a silly aside that's way off the point anyway. I shouldn't even have mentioned it in the first place because it really has nothing to do with the issue at hand.


Carole Dunham December 29th, 2001 04:45 PM

Re: Rick ...
Boy am I staying out of this one. I'm scheduled to sail Summit later on this year. Am I going to cancel? Nope. Not until I hear a lot more from people sailing on non Holiday cruises. Happy New Year all.


Rick December 29th, 2001 04:51 PM

Re: Carole
I agree Carole <G> I am finished with this lol.......I am sure you will have a wonderful cruise. If I take anything away from this would be that Deb and I will never sail on a Holiday for lots of reasons other than just the added cost of the cruise.

Jeff Coudriet December 29th, 2001 06:35 PM

Re: To Babette
I agree! Frankly I think this Andrew guy sounds like someone grubbing for a refund...g*d only knows's not like it's the Titanic! :)


>>>I think interrupting the Captain while dining is rude. I don't care if you are a Dr., Lawyer, Police Officer. No one has the right to bother these people at meals unless it is a true imergency. This was not. The gentleman involved needs to grow up.

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