Because the Ocean Princess is a smaller ship, there is no option for Anytime dining. That caused a problem for us as we found our table mates poor dining companions. Never before on any cruise has dinner been more stressful.
We had requested a table for six, but only two of the other table mates showed up the first evening. We didn’t like the fact that these people knew where we were from and also knew the same about the two who didn’t show up. We had never really thought about what information passengers are privy to, however, especially after meeting these people, we wondered what else they knew about us. We left the table that night with one of us considering this a horrible experience and the other finding our table mates fascinating and anxious to see how they would outdo themselves at the next meal. We hoped that the two absent people would show up the next night; they did.
What a contrast these two women were to the other couple. Astutely perceptive, or maybe not so much considering the cringed looks on my face, they quickly realized how miserable I was. Neither we nor they discussed the other couple the first night, not knowing if these people might have found anything unusual about them. It didn’t take long for them to say something later when we ran into them on the ship. We made a pact that we would let them know if we wouldn’t be coming and that we would do the same. Every night, they buffered us with their bodies that separated us from the offensive couple.
It seemed that the entire dining room staff surrounded our table on a nightly basis pandering to the demands of the high-maintenance couple; nothing was good enough for them. In actuality, there were only four or five staff catering to this couple. They requested the next evening’s menu so that they could make several selections cooked exactly as they wanted. Every night a special six item salad and a particular soup, neither of which appeared on the menu, had to be served. The soup came with a special cover on it and often times in spite of a huge cloud of steam that escaped when uncovered, the soup still wasn’t hot enough or didn’t taste like the soup mom used to make or had one too many noodles in it. Nothing pleased this couple, although they consumed more food than the rest of the table combined.
In addition to the excessive food demands, one of the couple had a nose that ran like a Class V river. It dripped on the table, onto plates. It went everywhere. When tissues were used to try to wipe the snot away, they ended up all over the table and on the large window sill next to our table.
We spoke to our head waiter about the disgusting situation and were told that there were no available tables. He also informed us that it was the couples’ vacation and that they had a right to enjoy it. What about the other 600+ passengers? We didn’t appreciate that response. Some other passing guests overheard us and also chimed in as they had endured our table mates at lunch. The head waiter’s attitude offended them as much as it did us. We all agreed that Princess works hard to satisfy guests, but doing so at the expense of the majority of guests seems very short-sighted.
Not being buffet types and not wanting to abandon our other table mates, we returned to our table for dinner. Our good humored table mates saved the evenings for us. But, they eventually got disgusted with the unhygienic practices and the histrionics of the narcissists. The people at adjoining tables approached us during the day and asked what was going on at our table every night. They complained that their meal time dragged on due to slow service resulting from too many staff concentrating only on two people. We filled in our service comment card and deposited it into the box at the purser’s desk.
We never received a response and filled in a second card. The snotty-nose guy showed up to dinner with an IV port in his hand. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When we saw our nice table mates, we informed them that we wouldn’t be eating at that table anymore. We just could stand it no longer. We decided that we would have to eat pizza for dinner, but then made a fortunate discovery. We had read about the Bistro, but just thought that was what they called the pizza place and buffet in the evening. We were quite surprised to get sit-down service and a menu. We were so happy to have an option that we enjoyed.
After we had eaten just two days in the Bistro, our table mates told us that the couple would be leaving the ship because the man was so sick that he would have to go to the hospital to recuperate enough to be able to take a plane back home. They disembarked and we had plans for a great celebration that evening. When we returned from our port visit in a state of elation, another passenger who knew of the situation told us that she saw these people return in a cab with their luggage and get back on the ship. Surely she was jesting and playing with us. She was not.
The return provoked a visit to the doctor. We know that there are confidentiality rules, but we had serious concerns about somebody who was so sick, who announced he supposedly had bronchitis, who was not responding to meds, who had an IV port, who was asked to leave the ship….. and then allowed to return. She couldn’t say much other than the person was supposed to limit contact with other passengers, but called the maitre d’ about the situation. That evening, we had another table. (Our original comment cards got overlooked somehow according to the Captain’s Circle hostess.)
Shortly after we switched tables, the pleasant companions became severely distressed. The sick guy touched everything. Even seeing him touch the salt and pepper shakers or a menu was enough to cause disgust. They joined us and for the rest of the cruise, we had quite enjoyable dinners. We will never understand why this couple and their foolish needs took precedence over the rest of the passengers. And why did no one ever bother to respond to our complaints? The maitre d’ did say to us that he was surprised that we lasted at the table as long as we had and also commented that these were some of the most difficult passengers he had to deal with. Well, considering the demands on the staff and the amount of time devoted to attending to this couple, you might think that he would have been proactive in this situation.
Well, I guess that there is more about the food to talk about, but in our case, we could definitely say that as far as dining, the experience was everything.
Next time: more about the food.