Cruise ships take one thousands of passengers, and crew members, every time it sets sail on a new voyage. Depending on where you’re cruising to you might not see, or touch, solid land for a few days. A cruise ship needs to store and prepare food for thousands of guests for multiple meals and snacks every day. Many have wondered how it is that cruise lines manage to feed all these people, prepare the food, store the food and be able to offer so many options so that there truly is something for everyone.

There’s A Lot of People Involved

On a cruise ship at any given time, there are over a hundred – sometimes over two hundred – people working in the numerous kitchens aboard. There are multiple restaurants with a large variety of food offered, every single day, to all passengers. It takes all of these people to take over two hundred pallets of food and turn them into the delicious food cruise ships are famous for.

Team Work is Vital

Normally ships will start the loading process around 6 or 7 in the morning on the day the cruise sails. Kitchen crews have to work together to make sure the food is moved onto the ship in good time and is put in the right place. Some cruise lines switch the food from the standard wooden pallets to metal trays mostly because the metal trays are easier to clean, which means cross contamination is easier to avoid. Each pallet is checked over before it’s loaded onto the ship: the crew doesn’t want to take on a whole shipment of rotten produce, so they have to make sure it is good and will remain ripe but not rotten for the duration of the trip. If something doesn’t look right, it will be sent back to the supplier before sailing.

It’s All About the Storage

Once it’s been loaded on the ship, it will be transported to the right storage compartment. The storage, preparation and cooking are done in separate areas so to avoid cross contamination where possible. For example, on many ships there are kitchens specifically for preparation – like chopping tomatoes or cubing fruit for a breakfast buffet. This way the areas where meat is prepared and cooked doesn’t come into contact with foods consumed raw.

It’s Also About the Patterns

Some cruise lines have cameras posted in eating areas that do head counts. The crew members will use the recorded information to determine peak times, what passengers are likely to eat when and times they need to be prepared for. This also helps the cruise line chefs to be able to ensure they prepare enough of the most popular foods so that guests aren’t waiting at the busiest times.

The Ship Docks . . . Eventually

Occasionally a ship will run out of an ingredient; usually one that isn’t too popular so the crew may not have stocked much of it. When this happens, the crew will go ashore the next time the ship docks and will search the markets on those locations to see what they can find in terms of the food they are out of.

Feeding thousands of guests for a week, or more, at a time is definitely a large undertaking. Which is why most cruise ships have teams of people dedicated to the loading, storing and preparation of food on the ship. Kitchens can be found on pretty much every level of the ship and each will be making something wonderful for guests to enjoy. It takes a lot of planning to figure out to satisfy the stomachs of that many people with different tastes in food, but cruises are famous for their food options so they must be doing something right.