James Complains About The Etiquette Of Waving When On A Boat

I often go on river cruises when I’m on holiday. I’ve been on river cruises in Paris (I technically lived in Paris at the time but so many years have passed that now it feels like it was just a really long holiday…) Amsterdam, Vienna, Boston (as in Boston – Massachusetts rather than Boston – Lincolnshire, although I do have the rare privilege of having been to both Bostons) and probably other places that escape my recollection for the moment.

Mrs Proclaims (we decided that my other half needs a ‘blog name’ and we’re trying out Mrs Proclaims – let me know what you think) and I enjoy a good river cruise.

We also enjoy an open-top bus tour but I digress.

The other day I went on a river cruise much closer to home than my previous excursions. I live within walking distance of the Thames and such things are possible, but I don’t really tend to participate in touristy stuff in Reading. This is less because I live here and more because Reading isn’t really a touristy town.

But I saw there was a Groupon voucher for a local river tour and obviously Groupon vouchers change everything…

So I booked Mrs Proclaims and I onto the cruise and when the day arrived we went along, with genuine anticipation, to the excitingly named ‘Thameside Promenade’, from where our boat was due to leave.

Upon boarding the boat, I received praise from the ‘captain’ (obviously he didn’t hold a military rank but he did seem to be in charge of the boat which presumably did make him a ‘captain’ of sorts. Certainly he did at one point refer to the only other person working on the boat that day as being his ‘crew’ which is the kind of arrogance I would associate with a ‘captain’). The praise was for having remembered to book in advance, as per my Groupon voucher instructions, because apparently not everyone who buys a Groupon voucher manages to do that.

I beamed with pride and took my seat. Mrs Proclaims asked me what I was so happy about and upon explaining to her that I had received praise for being able to follow a simple instruction written on a voucher, I then felt a bit silly. Because, and I don’t want to appear like I’m bragging here, but I have achieved more noteworthy things than that in my life to date.

Like getting Mrs Proclaims to marry me.

Anyway, the river cruise was eminently pleasant. It wasn’t the most interesting or insightful of cruises, but the Berkshire countryside is certainly lovely at this time of year and there is something relaxing about being on a boat.

But something did keep occurring. Whenever we were passed by another boat, all of the passengers waved at us. And I noticed that people walking along the banks were waving at us too.

I remember as a child, being encouraged to wave at boats. I enjoyed it, and people often waved back.

Equally, as an adult, if a child waves at me, be they on the boat and me on the land, or vice versa, than I’m more than happy to give a little wave back

But on this particular day there were no children on our boat and from what I could see, there were no children on the other boats, or indeed on the banks.

It was exclusively adults waving at adults.

Now this is all very pleasant but is ‘adults waving at adults’ a thing? Because if is a thing, I didn’t get the memo.

I have no idea what the etiquette is in this situation!

I feel hugely under-prepared for future boat rides.

I’m not an inexperienced river cruiser but I honestly think this is the first time this has happened to me. My understanding was that ‘waving protocol’ applies exclusively when children are involved. It can be ‘adult to child’ or ‘child to child’ but never ‘adult to adult’.

Was I wrong about that?

I’m not against waving to adults if it is an internationally accepted practice, but if it’s just a Berkshire thing then I need to know.

I’m not even sure where to begin looking for the answers.

This swan certainly couldn’t help…


  34 comments for “James Complains About The Etiquette Of Waving When On A Boat

  1. August 17, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    ‘Mrs. Proclaims’ sounds like an adorable pseudonym. Supposedly the waving thing is merely a friendly well-wishing sort of gesture, though I’d expect it more on my side of the pond than yours. Personally I don’t really ‘get’ the whole friendly bit so I’d be more inclined to return children’s waves and call it a day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • August 17, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      Yeah, I thought everyone thought like that. But apparently not where I live. Stupid friendly people…

      Liked by 1 person

      • August 17, 2015 at 4:50 pm

        They’re the worst, right? =P You never know where you’ll find them so you never know what to expect from people.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. August 17, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    First of all, I think “Mrs. Proclaims” is a great moniker. Why–I refer to my French better half as “Bonaparte”–even though he’s tall, there are other reasons–namely, he sometimes thinks he’s Parisian royalty. So yeah, I think Mrs. Proclaims is a great choice! Secondly. I’ll be honest. Adults waving at other adults that that do not know is very odd. When we are in Paris and hanging along the Seine, the tourist boats will pass by and tons of people will start waving at each other. In situations like that, my “naughty” side overtakes my “nice girl” side and instead of waving *shhhhhh* *whispers* I’ll sometimes flip the bird! Other than that, I just keep my waving to friends and family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 17, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      That is a very naughty side you have there – but having lived in Paris I fully approve!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. August 17, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Personally, I think the adult to adult waving thing is silly.

    Also, I like the name Mrs. Proclaims. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 17, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      Thanks for your support on both counts 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. August 17, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Loved this! Reminds me of the time I was on the Caversham Princess (I believe I paid full price…) and after what felt like about 3 hours, we passed Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee cruising along in a little boat – apparently they live beside the river. Clearly this was the most exciting thing to have happened all day (with the possibly exception of discovering that there was a fully-stocked bar below deck) and everyone proceeded to wave enthusiastically in their direction. Much to the indignance of all those aboard, the Daniels’ didn’t wave back! There was no way that they couldn’t see the waving (or, for that matter, hear the accompanying shouted greetings), so I can only conclude that they are members of the ‘adults shouldn’t wave at boats’ school of thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 17, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      Apparently we didn’t merit the Caversham Princess, even though the Groupon voucher clearly had a picture of that very boat on it. We had a much inferior vessel. Wish I’d seen Paul Daniels! I didn’t know they were local. I now have new mission in life…


  5. August 17, 2015 at 5:37 pm


    Waving… let’s talk about waving for a few more minutes here. I am really having a hard time trying to figure out why it is for children. I am also really finding it hard that more than one adult finds it silly to be friendly.
    Like smiles, waves are free, and very easy to give.
    And, is it bad to be silly? I never thought it was.
    If there is an easier way to make people smile besides being silly?
    Why do you feel the need to be so serious on holiday?
    I wave at people weather I am in face or not, because it is a way to be social without trying very hard. Plus, sometimes, I actually get to talk to the person and catch a glimpse into their life and how wonderful it is.

    I don’t think that you all are giving this waving thing a fair shake.

    As for Mrs. Proclaims…. what else does she have to say?

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 17, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Don’t worry, in real life I am a genuinely friendly person. 🙂


  6. August 17, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    I actually laughed out loud reading this James! This waving nonsense happened a lot when we moved into our neighborhood of newly constructed houses. It was like everyone felt some sort of kinship, as if we were pioneers heading west across the prairie in our wagons. It thankfully died down after a few years to a half-hearted raising of the hand, and then merely what my husband calls “giving someone the chin” to basically ignoring one another.

    Speaking of spouses, I like “Mrs. Proclaims” and think it should stay as long as she approves. I should come up with a name for my husband as well. Perhaps Mr. Maid…? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 17, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      I think Mr Maid is a great name but he may not…
      Mrs Proclaims loves her new name though 🙂


  7. August 17, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Tradition is a wonderful thing. When people set sail on a cruise ship they wave and throw ticker tape and confetti. In my small town Ontario port we always wave to one another from boats and shore. I think it is a bit of a reminder of the fragility of life on water. We wave in case in we do not return. We wave from shore to assure the travelers someone knows they are gone. My Dad used wave from his little sail boat just to let us know he was OK. It is just courtesy, Something we do express caring for one anther. A thing experienced all too infrequently in this day. .

    Liked by 2 people

  8. August 17, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Hey this is funny as for Mrs Proclaims seems like a nice name is she ok with it? As for the waving thing, why not we need a bit more light heartedness in life and if waving at people on boats trains buses is it, then why not?

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 17, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      Why not indeed!
      And she is fine with it, in fact she loves it !


      • August 17, 2015 at 7:17 pm

        That is so good as it seems a popular name here.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. August 17, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    This is why I love the blogging community. I didn’t know any of this. I mean obviously I didn’t know about your Dad (but that is really sweet!), but all the rest of it is stuff I didn’t know. thanks for sharing 🙂


  10. August 18, 2015 at 12:42 am

    Come to think of it, I live by a (tourist trap) river and everyone waves to everyone. I think it’s that childish excitement for boats when you’re not used to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Vibrant
    August 18, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    As other visitors have said, Mrs. Proclaims is a beautiful blog name. I love the image of swan and I feel waving hand is not indecent if it’s polite and loving.

    Have a nice day ahead,


  12. August 18, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Go ahead and wave adult-to-adult. I mean, why not! Do draw the line at flashing though.
    Second, I love Mrs Proclaims pseudo name. Most excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 18, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      No flashing is not the done thing on daytime river cruises.I think there are other boats that cater for that kind of thing…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. August 18, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I too like the Mrs Proclaims name! And my reaction to wave or not — what not add some positivity into the world? I sometimes sit on my front porch in the evening (with a glass of wine) and will nod or wave hello to those walking past (usually with their dogs). It creates a feeling of community, even if I do not know their names. Wave away!

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 18, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      You certainly make an articulate and compelling case for waving. I always find dog walkers to be incredibly friendly people. When I was a younger and actually owned a dog, it was always customary to greet fellow dog walkers with a smile, a nod or a greeting of some sort. I do miss that. The closest I get now is going for a run, and fellow runners do try and say hello but we’re always too out of breath…


  14. weebluebirdie
    August 19, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Deary me, you must be having too much de-mob happiness in your school holidays. Otherwise you wouldn’t be scraping the barrel to be grumpy about people being friendly and courteous!!! I think it’s just a bit of excited ‘Look at us, we’re doing the same thing!’ That’s why dog walkers say hello to each other – though they only ever know the dog’s name, not the human’s. I go hill walking, and it’s good courtesy to at least to nod another walker coming towards you. It’s quite rude not to make eye contact when you’re in the back of beyond! Mind you, on the hard uphill bits, I tend to stop for a breather when I see someone coming – with my back to the path, while I take in the view. I knew Paul Daniels lived by the river; they let him on telly to talk about the floods.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 19, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      To be fair, the last one was about soup, the one before that comfortable shorts, and previous ‘complaints’ have been about swimming lessons for toddlers and afternoon naps. I’m always scraping the barrel…

      Liked by 1 person

      • weebluebirdie
        August 19, 2015 at 1:57 pm

        I think soup and shorts are worthy causes for debate. I missed the other two – will head there to chuck my oar in (did you like how I slipped in a boating reference??!)


      • weebluebirdie
        August 19, 2015 at 2:12 pm

        Can’t find the one about swimming lessons for toddlers – but if you’re saying it’s a daft idea, I agree. Paddling is for toddlers. Swimming is for children whose feet can touch the bottom of the pool without their head being submerged.

        Liked by 1 person

      • August 19, 2015 at 4:27 pm

        It’s the one called ‘Monkey Monkey Monkey’ cos that’s what they were chanting. In the pool…


  15. August 24, 2015 at 4:59 am

    You are funny James. I wave back at adults that wave at me. I got the memo!
    I wanted to let you know that at my August 8 Meet and Greet I had many humor bloggers there, if you are looking for like minded bloggers to follow. Thanks for coming to Inspire Me Monday Linky party.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 24, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks Janice – I’ll have a look 🙂


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