On our first night at sea, brimming to please, our waiters approach the table repeatedly offering ‘more’ wine and ‘more’ bread. Do they think perhaps that I like to drink, or that I’m not watching my carbs? Goodness gracious!
Some lessons in etiquette live on with you forever. As a teenager, my dear Aunt Vivienne, who would be 110 if she were alive today, taught me never to ask a guest if they’d like ‘another’ slice of cake, or ‘another’ cup of tea for fear that they may think you’ve been counting. Quaint, but spot on!
Now on board Silver Whisper for a cruise around South America, the Head Sommelier, Robin, a charming young Indian from Madras, comes and asks what we think of the delicious Alsace wine being ‘force-fed’ upon us by the eager to please waiters. Did I take this opportunity to let him know about the etiquette of ‘more’? He said he would address the matter. Edmundo feels he heard what I said, but his only understanding was of my eccentricity!
At lunch the next day, I get more of the ‘more wine?’ treatment from a different, smiling group of waiters, and Sommelier Robin miraculously appears again for me to suggest to him that his staff briefing on the etiquette of ‘more’ hasn’t exactly worked. This time, Edmundo sees him talk to the waiters, after which we have a steady stream of staff coming to the table with a bottle, smiling as they suggest that I might like ‘some wine’!
Eccentric or not; Mission accomplished!
Chapter 2 on Etiquette – “The English Family”
Come evening on the first full day at sea, we read ‘Formal Dress’ for dinner. My blue blazer and dark tie is ‘formal’ enough for me, but we decide to make a reservation at one of only six tables for the ‘Lobster Lavishly” menu in the smaller Champagne Room. The smaller venue appeals much more than the ‘hoop-la’ of a Formal evening in the main dining room particularly after attending the ‘Solo Sailors’ welcome aboard drinks last night, and being sat, trapped in a circle making polite conversation with no line of escape.
The table of “The English Family” stands out; mother and father with two sons in full Evening attire. Mother is quietly elegant in black and pearls; perhaps the bosom is up and out a bit much. The boys, a smiling ‘Prince William’ of about 21 and a younger brother of about 17, in black tie, wing collars and French cuffs, are relaxed with champagne and wine and cheerful conversation. Dad reigns dignified.
The eye-catching stand-out of the evening is the ‘stand-up’ of the boys, so naturally each time mother and father leave and return to the table. And they remain standing until the parents are seated. How nice!
A possible matter of etiquette that needs to be explained to me though is why both mother and father leave the table at the same time. Is it that the gentleman should accompany the lady to the powder room and wait to escort her back to the table?
Hilary, where are you when I need you?