I am not all that big on the dressing up part myself. We do go to the two formal nights, and Hubby even wears a jacket and tie. But he doesn't own a suit, and we're not about to buy one just for the times we go on cruises. I typically wear a cocktail dress, but not a particularly sparkly or showy one, and heels. I refuse to wear pantyhose, though. What I DO like is the formality of the meals at dinnertime on a cruise ship. Even when the dress is "casual," the atmosphere is still very professional and polished. More on that in my blog post about our waiter and assistant waiter.
Hubby says he doesn't much like meeting new people and being forced to talk to them every night for a week, but he is very good at it. We usually find a lot more in common with these "strangers" than we think we will, and it turns out to be an enjoyable time. That was certainly the case last week.
The first night, only one other person was at our table, a woman from Puerto Rico. (The other couple assigned to our table never did show up. My personal guess is that they didn't want to pay the expected gratuities.) She was a woman of indeterminate age, but younger than I am, and she said her husband had stayed at the bar because they had a stressful experience getting to the ship. Their flight was delayed, and they only barely made it in time to board.
Hubby and I both thought he would turn out to be some stick in the mud if he wouldn't even accompany his own wife to dinner. (I think Hubby started getting ideas, but I nipped those in the bud.)
We couldn't have been more wrong. Luis turned out to be a wonderful dinner companion, with a sense of humor and excellent conversational skills. Both he and Symara had a little trouble with English on a couple of occasions, but one of them usually bailed the other out. Symara had a tendency to speak hesitantly, and we couldn't decide if it was a language problem, an attention-getting device, or the result of a car accident that left her in a coma for three months. (I forgot to ask her when that happened.) I'm betting it was the accident, though. It required patience to wait for her to finish a thought, and I admired Luis for the fact that he didn't often interrupt her to finish it for her. Luis lived in New York from the age of 6 to about 14, and he attended U.S. schools up to 9th grade, but I guess Spanish is still the language he uses most. He asked for help for a couple of words, but he didn't seem to have any trouble understanding us. Even with our Southern accents.
Luis is 32 years old, and I guess Symara is about the same age. He works for the FAA and is in the U.S. Army Reserves, and he will be spending 5 months in Missouri starting next week. Symara works for the mayor in her small town (they live about half an hour from San Juan), and she said something about promoting tourism for Puerto Rico. I don't know if that's her only job, her main job, or just a facet of her job.
I find the easiest way to get to know people is to ask questions (duh), and listen instead of waiting for an opportunity to jump in. It was fascinating to hear their opinions on such diverse topics as whether or not Puerto Rico should become the 51st state (they are on opposite sides of that issue), capital punishment, taxes, travel, etc. She called him "Poppy," and he called her "Mommy," which I found very cute and sweet since it SOUNDS like something only old people would do.
We didn't hang around them other than dinnertime, although we did run into them once on the private island owned by the cruise line and Luis scared the bejeezus out of me when he came around a slot machine and asked if I were having any luck.
I enjoy meeting new people, and I wouldn't mind having dinner with Luis and Symara if we were ever in the neighborhood of San Juan.
As for the picture below, I took my camera with me to dinner every single night. And the only time I asked our waiter to take a picture was the last night, the ONLY night I didn't do anything to my hair. My I-don't-have-cruise-hair hair. Sigh.
|Front: Luis and Symara. Back: Hubby and me. You could probably have figured that out by looking at the Georgia "G" on Hubby's shirt.|