One can choose whether one has dinner at sixish pm or eightish pm and which out of four restaurants and what size table - seating two, four, six or more. Ultimately it is up to the Maitre' d to make the final decisions.
So far I have been lucky with my dining companions - it can really affect your cruise.
One ship mate was in tears as she told me just one person was spoiling dinner for their table. The culprit was an elderly lady who habitually turned up half an hour late which interfered with the smooth running of service, wearing the same less than pristine clothes (to put it politely) and with an unpleasant, aggressive manner. Eventually my S.M. spoke to the Maitre 'd who handled it with the utmost tact and the culprit was seated elsewhere. We never discovered where.
Apparently my ship mate was told that although the Maitre 'd couldn't control people's behaviour he could control the seating arrangements. The next evening she was invited to dine at our very dishy Finnish Captain's table and ironically had a day of angst deciding what to wear:)
Alone again - on this cruise - I really looked forward to seeing my five dining companions for a delicious dinner and convivial chat.
Sometimes Jean and I would meet for an aperitif before dinner and Hazel and I were often doing the same excursions and got into the habit of meeting in the Observatory bar watching the sunset over a digestif. Fay was a delight - my senior - and graciously used her second name as she also was Patricia. She had some mobility problems but men were charmed by her and she was never allowed to struggle alone.
Hazel and I became friends. She told me her mobile had saved her life. She was a farmer in Wales and had a prize ram which she had trained. One day in the fields he butted her - he was a bad tempered beast - and she couldn't get up (she has had knee and hip surgery, has difficulty rising from a chair and is also diabetic) Thank Heaven she had her mobile so was able to summon help.
Like myself she chose her excursions carefully but would always leave the coach to brave the cobbles to see what there was to see.
One of the excursions I had booked - the Hermitage seemed to have endless very wide staircases which could mean me teetering up the middle with no handrail teetering backwards and taking the group with me. Remembering my promises to the boys (be careful and no dancing) I exchanged it for the ballet which in the event had the same type of staircases but it was only going down that was discombobulating and one of the pretty dancers (one of ours - not the ballet) gave me her arm and all was well.
Maurice was a lovely bachelor with a delightful giggle and Ian was a widower and an ex fire chief.
Some of the girls found him a bit grumpy because he always found fault with the food - quite unfairly. Each night we would find on our pillow the next day's events and reminders about if we had to adjust our watches for instance- and a chocolate. I grumbled that as I had 2 beds I should get two chocolates. Ian said he had his in one long row as he never ate them and a couple of nights later brought then to dinner for me and I finished them off at bedtime. So I forgave him his grumps.
I have spent most of the morning trying to down load the relevant photos - with no success but life is hectic just now with phone calls, two workers to be looked after and all the ground floor in utter chaos, the groceries delivered and nowhere to put them, Sawdust up my nose and every where.
I'll try again later.