Dining with Strangers on a Cruise: How Was our 2nd Experience?

If you’ve been on a cruise before, you’re probably familiar with this quirk of cruising: you may be assigned to eat dinner at a table with other guests.

Some people think this is a bit of a deal breaker, and they will request to dine alone or change their table after the first awkward encounter. Others love sitting with new people and chatting through dinner.

Out of my family’s previous 12 cruises, we’ve only been assigned a shared table one time. I wrote about my experience a few years ago. In short, it was a bit awkward, and I was self-conscious about my kids’ behavior. So, I didn’t enjoy dinner as much.

But on our recent Carnival cruise, we were once again assigned to dine with strangers. How did it go?

Shared Dining Table Round 2

On this cruise, it was just me, my 15-year-old son and my 12-year-old daughter. As we walked into the dining room on the first night of the cruise, a crew member escorted us to our assigned table.

Dining room on Carnival Celebration

It was a round table for 8 people right next to the floor-to-ceiling windows at the back of the ship.

Our table location was great! We had a prime view of sailing away from Miami and our other ports during dinner.

Another family of 3 with a 14-year-old son was already seated. We introduced ourselves and waited for the other 3 people assigned to our table. It was a mom with two daughters in high school and college. They didn’t show up the first night, but they did show up the next night.

As the week progressed, I discovered that sharing a table once my kids are older is much more pleasant. I didn’t have to worry about them having meltdowns during dinner. We didn’t have to share a bread basket because a server came around twice per meal to serve us bread from her basket.

What I liked most about sharing the dinner table was hearing about the other families’ experiences on other cruise lines. Both families had sailed on MSC before and gave it glowing reviews.

My daughter and the 14-year-old bonded over Roblox. We saw one family during the day, and we chatted over ice cream.

While we didn’t become besties with our table mates, I honestly enjoyed our dinner conversation and overall experience with them.

Will we do it again?

Yes, I’m open to sharing a table in the future. When my entire family of five is on a cruise, there is less of a chance we will be assigned to a shared table. But, on two of my upcoming cruises, we are a party of two. Our chances of being assigned a shared table are high.

What’s the worst that can happen? If our table sharing goes awry, we can always request a change later, or eat at another included restaurant on the ship. No biggie.

Cruisers, what has been your experience with a shared dinner table at sea?

How does my family travel so much? We use miles and points from credit card bonuses. See my Travel Hacking 101 post as well as current credit card offers here.

Author: Nancy

Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.

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