My family is embarking on a cruise soon, and I’m wondering if we will be dining with strangers on vacation again. Say what?!?!
Sharing Tables on a Cruise
Some cruise lines, including Disney Cruise Line, assign multiple families to the same table in the dining room. A table for eight could include four couples, or a family of five plus a family of three.
Many folks are surprised on the first night when they walk to their assigned table and find another family already sitting there. I’ve heard of families becoming best friends this way, and I’ve heard stories of families asking to be moved.
Benefits of Sharing a Table
Sharing a meal with another family, night after night, is a great way to make friends on a cruise. If you have kids, it’s also a good way for them to get to know other kids and feel more comfortable in the kids’ club together.
At a shared dinner table, you can ask your tablemates about their excursions and get good ideas for your next cruise. If you hit it off, you can make plans to meet up at another on-board activity, like trivia or karaoke.
Drawbacks of Sharing a Table
If both families don’t have much in common, sharing a table can be a little awkward. For introverts, it can be stressful trying to make conversation or being ok with silence.
If you have kids who are misbehaving, it can be stressful for parents to try to contain the behavior without disrupting the other family. Also, if one family arrives late, the wait staff sometimes delays the entire table before taking everyone’s order.
My Family’s Experience
I’ve been on 9 cruises in my lifetime. On my very first cruise on Royal Caribbean in my 20s, I shared a large table with other couples. We were all different ages, but it was a very pleasant experience.
After we had kids and started cruising on Disney, we had a table to ourselves for the first five cruises. We didn’t request a table to ourselves, but that’s just what we were assigned.
On our sixth Disney cruise, we were assigned to an 8-top table with a family of 3. At first, we were excited for this change and hoped we would hit it off with the other family.
While we did have some pleasant conversations about our excursions and what we did each day, the whole experience wasn’t as great as we hoped it would be. It was tiring to make conversation during dinner every night. The other family’s child was older than all of our kids and was very quiet.
One night, the other family didn’t show up for dinner, and we were stuck waiting on them for a while. Also, my kids like to pig out on the dinner rolls, and I felt awkward sharing the bread basket.
While we didn’t hate sharing a table with another family, we didn’t love it either. Admittedly, my husband and I both lean toward the introverted side.
On our next Disney cruise, we requested a table to ourselves. On our summer cruise on Royal Caribbean, we had My Time Dining. We were never assigned to a table with another family.
I love meeting other families on our cruises. We’ve been a part of some great cruise groups that chatted first on social media and got together once on-board.
However, I’d rather not have an extra layer of stress at dinner. I don’t want to worry if my kids bicker or eat all the dinner rolls in the basket.
If we get assigned to a table with another family, it’s not the end of the world. But, I’d prefer to just dine with my immediate family.
Have you experienced shared dining tables on a cruise or another vacation? Do you like it? Or, do you prefer to eat alone?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.