How to get invited to the Captain's Table on your cruise holiday

The captain's table is the best place to eat, and to be seen at during your cruise. But there is a fair bit of mystery about how you can be invited to dine with the captain. As with many cruising enigmas, there is more than one way to get to dine at the top table. Once you're there what can you expect, and how should you behave?

Get to know your hosts

The most common way to get to dine at the captain's table is to talk to the cruise's social host or hostess. You usually meet them during boarding and it is they who decide, in most cases, who gets the honour of an invite. They will know many details from your booking form, and may pick couples or people who sound interesting, so giving a good first impression is vital. Those picked may have been a loyal cruiser with that line for many years, but that is certainly not a rule. People who simply fit the bill for a particular night (bright young things, old dependables, former navy crew etc.) may be chosen. 

Senior Social Team

Another route to the table is to get talking to some of the senior social team or ship's officers during your cruise. Don't make it obvious you want an invite, but if you seem like good company, they may put in a good word for you. Rumour has it that the ship's doctor gets many unnecessary visits from people trying to make their case. Of course, if you know someone who works at the cruise line or their agents, there's probably no harm in asking 'who is good to talk to?' before you head to sea. 

Should you Complain?

A final possible route to the table is to complain to the cruise company if you have had a poor experience. This could be from a berth in unsatisfactory condition, an unfortunate experience on one of the excursions or simply coming a cropper on board. Certainly don't try to fake anything, as there is no guarantee (among the hundreds or thousands of other passengers) of getting an invite, but if something does go wrong, be sure to mention it to the crew and social team. 

Once you’ve been invited

Once chosen, usually by a formal invite left in your cabin, you would be expected to dress for the occasion, but otherwise be yourself. Certainly, know your limit when it comes the complimentary drinks, and keep some genuinely interesting stories at the top of your mind to join in the conversation. 

Sometimes the captain isn't actually present at his table, with one of the other senior crew standing in. Don't take this as a snub, after all, he's got a large ship to take care of!

On some cruise lines, the menu at the captain's table is superior to the general tables, but the service will definitely be top-tier, with cocktails, free drinks, flowers for the ladies, and a table photo at the end of the night. The captain is usually full of good stories and a good listener if you have something interesting to add. Another bonus is that you may also be invited for a tour of the bridge during the cruise.

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