Fans of P&O Cruises are enjoying a bit of fascinating banter on the Cruise Critic forum today: the tricky subject of TCFH, also known as Table Companions From Hell!
TCFH must be one of the biggest worries for first-time cruisers, although a genuinely bad experience is, in fact, pretty rare and you can always ask to be moved if things are really dire, or request a table for two. But it’s a peculiar notion nonetheless, that you’ll go on holiday and have to share your dining table with up to six strangers.
The reality today is that most cruise lines offer alternatives to traditional dining – either free-for-all, open seating dining, or a choice of places to eat with tables for two or more, just like a normal restaurant. S0 don’t be put off. But there’s a core of cruisers who very much enjoy the social side of dinner, which is why lines like P&O, Princess and Royal Caribbean continue to offer assigned dining tables and times as an option.
‘Traditional’ dining can often be a chance to make great new friends. Member Rum_Rat says: “On our last cruise we had a table of 8 and ‘clicked’ on the first night. Fantastic. The table was such a laugh.”
And while taking pot luck on your table companions by choosing open seating dining sounds tempting, it can be repetitive, as member Bigpete47uk points out: “The chances are you will sit with different people every evening and have to start the same old conversations again and again. Do you cruise often? Which other ships have you been on? What did you do today? Do you have a balcony? Where are you from?” Yep – we’ve all been there!
Most cruisers ultimately enjoy the company of people they meet but there are nonetheless TCFH out there – encounters you’ll one day dine out on. Some of the more cringeworthy habits mentioned in the thread are:
- Dining companions plonking their ‘gold’ cabin cards down on the table so everybody can see they’re in a suite
- Being unbelievably rude to waiters, snapping fingers and so on
- Eating “like a pig with sound effects”, a horror member Elaine0138 had to endure
What’s your best/worst/weirdest experience in the dining room? The strangest combination I’ve experienced was on a river cruise, as one of only four Brits in a sea of German speakers: me, a geography teacher who doubled up as a Buddhist monk and two very opinionated members of UKIP (UK Independence Party). Despite our political differences, we had a blast.
Tell us your own stories – and please share your top tips for first-time cruisers worried about those TCFH!