The invitation often comes in a gold envelope and is slipped discreetly under your door, or propped up on your pillow.

“Captain Smith would be delighted if you could join him for cocktails, followed by dinner in the Grand Ballroom. Dress: Formal.”

The anticipation of an evening spent rubbing shoulders with the ship’s royalty is palpable. What will you wear? And are there any appointments left at the salon?

Dinner at the Captain’s Table is a highly sought-after experience. But just how does one get on the guest list?

Rule #1: Present your best self

On some ships, the crew scour the dining room for well-presented guests. Those who can hold an educated conversation. If you wake up with a hangover every morning, chances are you didn’t make the best impression the night before. And those thongs and T-shirts wouldn’t cut it either. Slacks and a shirt are the order of the day.

Rule #2: Join the club

You’d be hard-pressed to find a cruise line that doesn’t offer memberships. Generally, you’re given one point for every sea day. The more you cruise, the faster you’ll soar through the different membership levels. Once you hit the top tier, chances are you would have been able to meet and become friendly with the captain on your travels – just remember not to ask for an invitation straight away; these things have to be earned, you know…

Rule #3: Get your travel agent to put in a good word

Cruise lines get so many requests like this from agents, but it would be remiss of us to leave it out. There’s no harm in letting them know you’re interested in dining at the Captain’s Table.

Rule #4: Celebrate a special occasion

What better way to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, wedding or honeymoon than with a cruise? A celebration is something else you can mention to your travel agent – anything positive that will set you apart from other passengers is a good thing.

Rule #5: Be a VIP

In the cruising world, this means repeat cruisers to the cruise line and those staying in a high-end suite. After all’s said and done, if you do get invited, don’t leave before the captain – he’ll usually excuse himself straight after dessert, anyway. Oh, and in regards to outfits, pack a nice suit or dress just in case.