Category Archives: Cruise Life

Celebrity Chefs go big on Cruise Ships

Celebrity Chefs_ACCLAFood is central to a vacation – whether it is simple rural grub or world-famous meals that require hours of waiting for a table. Cruise ships and celebrity chefs have noticed this, closing the chasm between consumer aspirations and logistics with restaurants on board.

The trend slowly started more than a decade ago, but has caught on in a big way. Now, almost every major cruise ship has a restaurant led by a celebrity chef or features a big name on some menu or other.

If successful, restaurants by celebrity chefs on cruise ships work wonders for all involved. Celebrity chefs are able to reach out to more customers through the cruise ship’s sheer size and capacity. They are also challenged by the list of fresh ingredients available and are able to showcase their talent through mind-blowing food despite this limitation.

Cruise ships, on the other hand, are able to leverage the fame of these celebrity chefs and attract food-loving guests who might otherwise not have a chance to visit their land-based restaurants. On board, the team working in the restaurant, such as cruise ship chefs and service staff, are required to meet exacting standards. It adds an excellent boost to their work experience, and provides them with knowledge they can use at any point of life.

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone explained the idea as being able to connect with people through food. Stone, who runs a very successful land-based restaurant called Maude in Beverly Hills (USA), leads concept restaurant Share on Princess Cruises which encourages pass-the-plate meal sharing and communal eating that is rustic yet at the same time different.

Other celebrity chefs who have restaurants on board cruise ships include Angelo Auriana (Princess Cruises), Guy Fieri (Carnival Cruise Line), Jose Garces (Norwegian Cruise Line), Thomas Keller (Seabourn Cruise Line), Marco Pierre White (P&O Cruises), Arnaud Lallement and Scott Hunell (Disney Cruise Line), Nobuyuki ‘Nobu’ Matsuhisa (Crystal Cruises), Jamie Oliver (Royal Caribbean International), Jacques Pepin (Oceania Cruises) and others.

India has representation in Atul Kochhar, who creates modern Indian cuisine with a British twist on board his P&O Cruise restaurants East (Ventura) and Sindh (Azura). His light twist on the otherwise vibrantly fragrant Indian cuisine allows it to open up to many more guests and passengers, some of whom might not have tasted this cuisine ever before.

From the guest’s point of view, celebrity chefs on cruise ships are an exquisite deal, particularly for those who love good food and fine dining. The celebrity chefs have their own restaurants around the world, where meals can cost hundreds of dollars and reservations can be hard to come by. Eating at their restaurants on board offers guests the chance to indulge in their food at a fraction of the price and waiting list.

A five-course dinner at Angelo Auriana’s Sabatini, for example, will set guests back just US$25 per person, with additional pasta or entrées costing just US$10 each. Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant charges just US$15 per person. Others like Guy Fieri’s offerings at Guy’s Burger Joint are actually included in the price of the cruise ticket. This is considered an absolute steal for passengers.

Celebrity chefs must ensure consistency and quality at their onboard restaurants as their name depends on it. While they may not be available on the cruise ship 24/7, they are known to visit at least once every six weeks to ensure that the head chefs are following recipes and procedures correctly. Additionally, they may hold training sessions with the galley staff, host an interactive meal with guests or even lead a masterclass or cooking demonstration.

If done right, successful partnerships with celebrity chefs can mean profits all around.

How do Cruise Ship Chefs create a Menu

How do Cruise Ship Chefs create a MenuOn board a cruise ship, it’s worth noting that even ‘Today’s Specials’ in the menu have probably been decided weeks earlier. Because cruise lines spend a few days out at sea and are constantly moving from port to port, cruise ship chefs must be prepared for a meal days in advance.

A lot goes into planning the menu for each day. In fact, each meal itself is a logistical behemoth. Cruise trends of emphasising quality and quantity continue, and cruise ship chefs in management must consider optimising the efficiency of production as well as prices of ingredients for it to be a cost-effective operation.

The history of each meal goes all the way back to reservations and sales, where management understands the type of clientele they are expecting each season. Studies have shown that people of different nationalities or cultural backgrounds prefer different types of food. British guests, for example, still prefer roasts dinners and puddings for dessert. Guests from continental Europe opt for more Mediterranean-style dishes that feature fresh seafood and desserts with fruit.

With an understanding of their guest list, including such details as special dietary requirements as allergens or religious restrictions of certain passengers, the cruise ship can go ahead and finalise the menu for each day.

Care is taken to ensure that sufficient variety and distinctiveness is added to cater to both, guests looking for familiar comfort food as well as those who want to try something new. Understanding changing trends is key to creating menus that are enticing yet cost-effective. One cruise reviewer on P&O cruises, for example, discovered that guests were unlikely to touch unfamiliar brands of items such as milk, jam or butter. This means that breakfast menus on that cruise must feature a market survey backed list of spreads and products.

Data has revealed that the Queen Elizabeth II at one point had 1600 items on her inventory list. Compared to this, some full-service hotels barely feature 500 items. Granted the Queen Elizabeth II is a big cruise ship, but sailing with a large number of items is not unusual in this industry.

However, despite this, reports have suggested minimum food wastage. To do this, cruise ship chefs follow a complex maze of cyclical menus. A cyclical menu is a series of menus repeated over a specific period of time – often the length of each cruise trip.

This allows them to use one inventory item for more than one dish, such as lemon curd for a meringue as well as a Swiss roll, while also using leftover food for new dishes – such as leftover roast for beef bourguignonne.

Menus are sometimes changed based on stocks or leftovers so temporary adjustments to the cyclical menu can occur to avoid wastage. However, for the most part, thanks to in-depth insight into passenger trends over the years, the menus remain as planned.

For the main dining room buffet, many items are in high demand daily, including breads, pastas, burgers, pizzas, fresh fruit selections, ice creams, etc. Their presence on the menu is almost guaranteed each day on most cruise ships.

It is interesting to note that trends are moving towards themed buffets and meals. Disney Cruise Line, for example, has recently announced the launch of a Tangled-themed restaurant with themed menus, set to open doors next year. Holland America offers a MasterChef cruise, and there are tons of culinary river cruises in Europe.

For these, drafting the menu for the day will involve even more intricate planning from research to logistics, storage, preparation and service.

Food safety rules for Cruise Ship Crew

Food safety rules for Cruise Ship CrewApart from creativity and passion, cruise ship chefs jobs demand vigilance and a keen eye on food safety. Being attentive at every step of the food production and service process enables cruise ship companies to keep their guests safe from food related diseases and in turn secure their reputation in the market.

Companies in the US ensure that cruise ship chefs follow the HACCP system – Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point – which research has shown is a viable food safety operation system. By rigorously following the procedures, chefs on board can identify chemical, physical and biological threats at any step of the flow of food – from delivery and storage to cooking and service.
All across the board, including the galley, the HACCP system follows a seven step procedure.

  1. Analysing the hazard

Here, kitchen management and cruise ship chefs carefully observe how food is prepared, cooked and served. Notes are made about each step of the process from temperatures of food to the utensils used and the manner in which the dish is plated. It begins from analyzing the various dishes on the menu and noting which dishes are most susceptible to contamination. This effectively means that every restaurant on board a cruise ship will have its own HACCP system.

  1. Determining the points of risk

This involves observing how the food is made and noting at which points during the process risks can be prevented, removed or reduced to safe limits. These are called critical control points. They could be the minimum length of time or temperature – or critical limit – that a certain food item must be cooked for/at, or that a dirty dish must remain in cleaning solvent or hot water, or even the temperature at which a food must be defrosted at.

  1. Establishing critical limits

At this juncture, cruise ship chefs must determine the highest and lowest points for preventing or removing a hazard or reducing it to safe levels. Procedures may specify how to reach the temperature necessary for cooking a meat product safely, or how long a certain dish could remain in the holding pot.

  1. Formulating procedures for monitoring

With the fourth step, HACCP moves into the next phase of safety – controlling the hazard. This involves specifying ways in which cruise ship chefs or other staff assigned to the job can monitor whether safety measures are being consistently maintained. This can mean checking the internal temperature of each dish or even each individual steak or chicken breast.

  1. Corrective action

If the safety parameter, that is the critical limits, are not met, procedures are to be put in place to guide staff on what to do next. This could mean continuing to cook a dish until it reaches its internal temperature, or discarding a dish that is not considered safe to eat. All corrective action is logged for records.

  1. Checking the system

Through this step, cruise ship chefs are able to figure out if their safety method works. Through hazard analyses, logs, monitoring charts and other records, they are able to check where the weak points of the safety system are and implement remedial action. This remedial action will now form part of the new critical limits to be checked and logged.

  1. Keeping records

Maintaining records and logs are a very important part of the process. Cruise management are able to assess food safety conditions easily. Cruise ship chefs keep records of monitoring activities, remedial action, equipment to ensure they are in good working condition, supplier information including invoices, shelf-life, specifications, etc. This helps revise the HACCP plan often and keep it as watertight as possible.

Challenges of Cruise Ship Chefs Jobs

Challenges of cruise ship chefs jobsThe thing about challenges is that they are generally always looked at in a negative light. However, while they present difficulties, they always represent chances to learn something new or perfect an art.

Cruise ship chefs jobs are an exercise in perfection, maintaining standards and realising logistical targets. The biggest challenge of cooking on a cruise ship is the volume. Guests on the latest vessels can number in the thousands – the largest, Symphony of the Seas, scheduled to launch in 2018 will carry as many as 5500 passengers.

Feeding each of these can be a logistical nightmare for a regular chef. Cruise vacations offer guests an opportunity to taste different food types and indulge in all sorts of treats, so many will eat more than they normally do. Chefs expect that each passenger will eat all three main meals and at least one or two snacks during the day. After all, the guests are on vacation.

Limited space is available on a cruise ship, so galleys need to be functional and efficient within that area. Cruise ship chefs jobs entail quick learning in how to manage with such restrictions – passing each other and other kitchen staff in narrow alleyways, keeping cooking and prepping areas clean always – while still getting food out the door on time.

Another challenge is the volume of food that needs to be cooked. Even with smaller numbers of about 1300-1500, a cruise ship galley will go through nearly six tonnes of fresh veggies, four tons of meat, 18,000 eggs and 1600 bottles of wine a week. Compared to a land-based job, these numbers are astronomical. On the bottom rung, line cooks might spend a great deal of their time doing just one job – making stock, cleaning vegetables or prepping chicken.

The volume also presents another obstacle. Cruise lines do not stop in port every day, so access to fresh supplies is limited. Cruise ship chefs must be able to assess how much stock they will need well in advance. If there’s a mistake and they run low, chefs will need to be able to come up with an acceptable alternative on the go.

This situation often crops up with food items like lobster tails or beef medallions, for which requests can vary every day. Cruise ship chefs have the precarious task of ordering enough to last them the week, but also not over-order in which case the food can go bad over time.

Storage becomes important. Cruise ship chefs ensure they use items that were stocked on board earlier, so they don’t pass their use-by dates. They constantly make note of their stocks, and must follow stringent rules regarding old food.

Due to the volume, stocks like meat and fish are most often frozen. These need to be defrosted correctly, often changing temperature zones over a couple days before being brought to room temperature. This gives you an idea of the type of planning that goes into making a single meal. If a couple has requested a special beef carpaccio for their anniversary on board, planning and defrosting preparations begin a few days in advance.

Cruise ship chefs must also contend with limited opportunities to display their own creativity. For those who are not in the upper echelons of hierarchy that decide the menus on board, recipes must be followed to the ‘T’. Cruise line companies prefer to maintain standards on all their vessels. For this, they provide each liner with the recipes as well as images of what the dish should look like. The executive chef will taste every dish under his or her charge every day to ensure that the taste and look matches the company vision.

In addition, cruise ship chefs have stringent safety rules to follow and are not allowed the use of gas stoves and open flame barbeques. Everything is electric, and the challenge here is to recreate that taste. Carnival Cruises went to the extent of creating a custom-made smoker that adheres to international sea safety laws for its Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que by Guy Fieri on the Magic.

There are many challenges on board for cruise ship chefs, but that is usually never a reason to say ‘no’ to a guest’s request.

Cruise Ship Chefs on Show

Cruise ship chefs on showIf you thought that cruise ship chefs jobs meant slogging it behind closed doors for hours on end with guests having no clue who the creator of their delicious dish is, you’re partly mistaken. Yes, you will be slogging for long hours, but you knew that already. However, cruise ship chefs today are not entirely hidden from the public gaze.

Food is a quintessential part of the cruise experience, and today, has become a huge part of the travel industry. In fact, the Food Travel Monitor for 2016 by the World Food Travel Association stated that as much as 93 per cent of travellers can be considered ‘food travellers’, or travellers who participated in a food or beverage experience other than dining out. This means gourmet store visits, cooking schools, food tours, tastings, etc.

Cruise ship companies are not too far from cashing in on this exciting statistic. On the high seas, guests focus on the experiences on board, and food comes with a high social media-friendly factor. Think Facebook live feeds, Instagram pictures and Twitter updates.

Cruise ship chefs jobs call upon individuals to do more than just cook a meal. They often put on a show. One of the easiest ways cruises do this is to host live cooking demos on board. This involves the chef demonstrating his cooking skills in a particular cuisine style or theme.

Cruise ship chefs are required to have an interactive session with guests while doing so, explaining the ingredients being used, asking and answering questions, offering tips on techniques, etc. Guests then get a chance to enjoy the meal that was demonstrated before them. It offers them a chance to learn more about the food they love, and the people behind their meals. In turn, chefs get a chance in the spotlight and an opportunity to share their passion for food.

Disney Cruise Line offers complimentary on board cooking demonstrations, showing just how popular these experiences are. Many other cruise lines have hands-on cooking sessions, where guests who sign up cook alongside the staff. Chefs teach them how to make the perfect salsa or how to cook risotto just right, the ideal way to roll sushi. It often takes place in the galley, or kitchen, and chefs offer one-on-one technique tips before participants enjoy the meal together.

Another programme offered by companies that greatly involves cruise ship chefs is the Chef’s Table. This is usually an event with the executive chef who heads the entire food and beverage operation on board. It is often a special, formal affair, priced quite high. Guests get a private tour of the galley with the executive chef with Champagne and hors d’oeuvres, following which they share a meal cooked by him or her with a chance to spend some time with the top chef on board.

Cruise ships also offer cooking classes on board. Holland America, for example, has a state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Centre specially created by Food & Wine magazine for its cooking classes. The demonstration theatre features auditorium-style seating and plasma screens so minute observations can be made. Celebrity chefs make guest appearances and cruise ship chefs take over culinary events such as wine or chocolate tastings.

Luxe line Silversea holds its L’École des Chefs by Relais and Châteaux cruise, which is an entire voyage dedicated to cooking demonstrations, “lunch and learn” sessions, market tours and classes, knife skills workshops and more. Celebrity Cruises even hosted a Top Chef At Sea competition in 2015 and 2016 in which guests watched the reality TV show contestants battle it out on board, and also got a chance to take private cooking classes or dine with them.

Today, cruise ship chefs are more than makers of meals. They are a major part of the reason the industry keeps growing.

Prevent Contamination as a Cruise Chef

How to Prevent Contamination as a Cruise Ship ChefHealth and safety is paramount on a cruise ship. Chefs and other staff working in the galleys must ensure that high standards of cleanliness are maintained at all times to avoid contamination and the spread of disease.

Prevention of contamination begins from the source. Cruise line companies ensure that the vendors of various food items comply with safety and hygiene laws during preparation (if any), packaging, storage and transportation. Staff in charge of receiving goods have various procedures to follow to ensure that only produce that adheres to strict standards is accepted. The rest is simply rejected.

During storage on board, a number of guidelines are followed. The major ones include storage of meat and vegetables – raw meat must always be stored below vegetables to avoid any liquids from dripping into fresh produce. Recent deliveries are usually stored at the back so that those with earlier use-by dates leave the store first.

Food items are also stored in a different area from chemicals such as cleaning liquids and other sanitisers used in the galley.

The threat to food is greatest from the people handling them. In this regard, everyone from the storage staff to the cruise ship chef to the wait staff must follow strict personal hygiene procedures. All staff is required to wash their hands frequently and in the correct manner, particularly between tasks, after using the restroom and after an interruption such as answering a telephone call. It is even required to wash one’s hands after scratching an itch to ensure that no germs whatsoever can make their way into the food being prepared.

Galley staff must have short nails, tie long hair – even beards, wear clean uniforms and aprons, properly cover wounds and cuts, use properly fitted single-use gloves when handling ready-to-eat food, and remove all jewellery when working in the prep areas.

Importantly, cruise ship chefs are expected to report when they are feeling ill, particularly if they have experienced diarrhea, nausea and vomiting in the last few hours. These are the symptoms of food-borne diseases, such as norovirus, which are extremely contagious and can cause an epidemic if not contained properly.

One of the main ways to prevent contamination of food on cruise ships is controlling the temperature at which a food item is stored at and the length of time it remains at that temperature.

It is virtually impossible and quite impractical to ensure that every last spoon of a particular dish is consumed in one sitting. Unfortunately, bacteria and germs tend to proliferate easily at warm temperatures – not too hot, not too cold. Guidelines are available to show chefs the proper temperature to store different food types at to slow the growth of harmful bacteria.

This is extremely important on a cruise ship as the population includes many individuals who could be at a higher risk of contracting diseases, such as old people, toddlers, or people with compromised immune systems such as those with HIV.

Dishes and utensils are expected to be kept cleaned and sanitised at all times. There are particular procedures to follow when washing, cleaning and sanitising, and specific food-grade solutions to use during these processes.

Each cruise ship has its own set of guidelines, but overall, most remain the same. Guests are key to the survival of the cruise ship industry, and to maintain high standards, companies have spot checks as do government authorities. Failing health and hygiene checks can cause the ship to be put out of service causing the company huge losses in revenue.

The first and primary responsibility of a cruise ship chef is always to ensure his or her food is safe for consumption.

Career Prospects: Cruise Ship jobs and land-based hospitality jobs

Career prospects in cruise ship jobs and land-based hospitality jobsOn many fronts, cruise ship jobs and land-based hospitality jobs are rather alike since they deal with the same premise – hospitality and service – but in other ways they are vastly different.

One must first understand the hierarchy of working in a galley or a kitchen to strategise a path towards progress within the industry. In both, cruise ship jobs and land-based hospitality jobs, you will mostly begin at the bottom of the pyramid. Depending on the kitchen you choose, you will be a line cook in any one of the various departments – pastry, buffet, sushi, etc.

On board a cruise ship, you will be required to have educational qualifications in food and beverage, or hospitality, and perhaps some experience too. For land-based jobs, experience is not compulsory, and smaller restaurants may not require you to have an educational qualification in the culinary arts. Larger establishments, such as five-star hotels particularly in big cities or tourist destinations, will expect previous experience but you might be able to win them over with a great interview even if you do not have a certificate to match. This would not happen for cruise ship jobs.

Once you have a foot in the door, things change. On board a cruise ship, there are hundreds of line cooks owing to the vast volumes of food required. As you go higher in the hierarchy, the number of vacant positions dwindle and you can spend quite a bit of time in a single position before moving up. At the lower end, people quitting owing to the jobs being a financial stop-gap option or moving back home to their families helps open up vacancies.

Cruise companies are far more likely to promote a chef from their own ships than one with similar experience from elsewhere as they will have better feedback on work ethic and personality. This is not so important in land-based hospitality jobs where moving up between different companies  is frequent.

Theoretically, cruise ship chef jobs offer excellent variety in terms of experience. With so many restaurants of diverse cuisines on board, you could be a sushi chef one contract, work the teppanyaki bar on another, whip up Continental dishes on a third and put your fingers in the Asian pot the following time. Even the open buffets serve such a huge variety of food that within a few years you will have quite a repertoire on your hands.

This would be an impossible scenario in land-based hospitality jobs, where you would work in one type of kitchen or cuisine for a significant portion of time. Still, this offers the opportunity to get an in-depth understanding of that particular type of cuisine, and work with superiors on changing menus. On cruise ships, unless you are in a position of management, you will have to follow recipes created by others with no chance of personal tweaks.

It is generally much easier to get top jobs on land compared with cruise ships. Indian food is taking the world by storm, but not many chefs find their way to the top spot on board. Things are changing, however, slowly but surely. The Q Experiences has recently launched an exclusive luxury cruise to Antarctica with Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar on board.

In the meanwhile, cruise ship jobs are creating more and more great chefs from India who go on to make a name for themselves in land-based jobs. Vicky Ratnani, for example, worked on board for 14 years, including on the Queen Elizabeth 2 training with Todd English as his executive sous chef. With the skills and experience they receive on board, others become trainers and fulfill high-level positions in leading hospitality firms and hotels around the world.

Weighing the benefits and disadvantages of cruise ship chef jobs and land-based hospitality jobs, and combining this with a target for the future will help you chart out your trajectory for success in the industry.

How Cruise Ship Chefs deal with Dietary Restrictions

How cruise ship chefs deal with dietary restrictionsToday, cruising is becoming increasingly inclusive, with people across ages and dietary needs coming on board to have a good time. This makes cruise ship chef jobs that much more skilled as many dietary restrictions, such as allergies, can be harmful to the guest.

Voluntary restrictions include diets such as vegetarianism, lacto-ovo vegetarianism, veganism, pescetarianism and others, in which people do not eat certain food items or meats. This is mostly prompted by personal or religious philosophy and many can be quite strict about it. This means that any mistakes on the chef’s part can lead to complaints to the cruise line, so staff in the galleys must be careful.

Here is what the most popular diets include:

Vegetarianism: A diet that excludes meat, including products that result from animal slaughter, such as gelatin and rennet. Hindus, Buddhists and Jains often follow this diet, although some may be lacto-vegetarian. Jains additionally do not consume root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, etc, as well as mushrooms, fungi and yeasts. Strict Jains may not consume fermented foods either such as beer, wines and other alcohols.

Fruitarianism: A diet that consists mostly of raw fruits

Lacto-vegetarianism: A vegetarian diet that includes eggs, but excludes dairy.

Ovo-vegetarianism: A vegetarian diet that includes dairy, but excludes eggs. Many Indians follow this diet, and as such, a lot of north Indian cuisine adheres to it

Lacto-ovo vegetarianism: A vegetarian diet that includes dairy and eggs

Veganism: Vegans extend the vegetarian diet to exclude any items produced by animals, including bee honey, dairy and eggs

Pescetarianism: A diet that includes fish but not meat

Flexitarianism: A diet that is mostly vegetarian but occasionally includes meat

Halal food: Many Muslims strictly adhere to diets that consist of halal food or food allowed to be eaten under Islamic law. Those not permitted are called haraam, and include alcohol, pork, and meat from any animal not slaughtered according to Islamic ritual methods

Kosher diet: Cruise ship chefs catering for Jews on board must learn more about their Kashrut laws which requires food to be prepared a certain way for it to be considered Kosher. It prohibits alcohol, caffeinated beverages and certain shellfish.

In some diets, such as the variants of vegetarianism, chefs use substitutes, such as vegetable oil instead of butter, soy or almond milk instead of cow’s milk, or a mixture of baking powder, oil and water instead of egg.

Cruise ship chefs must also consider diets for guests with food allergies. Any food can cause an allergy, but the most common ones are cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, fish, shellfish, tree nuts like cashew or walnut, wheat and soy. Peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and gluten from wheat can cause severe reactions including anaphylaxis characterised by swelling and breathing problems, which must be treated using epinephrine.

Typically, guests fill out a form ahead of the cruise, or on the first day, noting their dietary restrictions and allergies. Main dining rooms and specialty restaurants often point out the main allergens on the menu card itself, and kitchens ensure they are equipped to handle such cases. For example, dishes made for people with tree nut or peanut allergies will in no way come in contact with those containing the allergen.

Many other diets exist, such as Paleo diets, macrobiotic diets, organic food diets and Mediterranean diet. Because any hospitality venture, including cruises, are rated mainly on service, cruise ship chefs and other kitchen staff must go out of their way to ensure standards are met, particularly when the health of a guest is concerned.

Cruise ship chefs should constantly read about the various diets and allergies, what to include and what to exclude, so they are better able to help guests with specific culinary requirements.

How Cruise Ship Jobs put Hygiene on top priority

How cruise ship jobs put hygiene on top priority

Thousands of people need to be fed on a regular basis each day on a typical cruise line, and with the volume of food being prepared, cooked and served, the number of dirty dishes also piles up. The danger of dirty dishes and raw food stems from the buildup of dangerous bacteria and viruses which can make people very sick.

One of the most contagious illnesses that strike cruise ships in particular is from the Norovirus bug, which causes symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. It is easily transmitted through person-to-person contact, through food, water and sometimes even via air-borne particles of vomit. With so many people on a cruise ship in close proximity to each other – both guests and staff – this virus can travel extremely fast and cause an epidemic. The main method of prevention of food-borne illnesses on cruise ships is cleanliness and hygiene.

All cruise ship kitchens maintain a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness to prevent food-borne illnesses from being spread. All staff working in the galley, including cruise ship chefs, must wash their hands thoroughly as often as required, particularly before and after working with different types of foods, and after using the toilet. They are also expected to use single-use gloves when handling items like raw meat, poultry and seafood.

They also have high-standard personal hygiene rules, including having short, neatly cut nails at all times, hair tied away from the face and beards trimmed, and clean uniforms. Staffs involved in preparation and cooking of food are even prohibited from wearing jewellery, including wrist-watches.

Shipments of food go through a thorough check on delivery for standards of cleanliness before being stored in areas that are sanitised on a regular basis. Before preparation, raw food, particularly salad leaves and fruit, are washed thoroughly. Some cruise ships have their own industrial-size salad washing machines that allow them to efficiently wash large quantities of leaves in a shorter period of time without compromising on cleanliness.

Restaurants, cafés and other food service areas are constantly kept clean by staff specially assigned to the job. Self-serve stalls, such as beverage or ice cream machines, pasta or dessert counters and sandwich bars, are areas that need constant attention and regular cleaning.

Cruise ship galleys have strict guidelines for dealing with dirty dishes and utensils. Most follow the process of rinse, clean and sanitise, in which remaining dried bits of food are first scraped off the dish or utensil, which is then rinsed in potable water, then cleaned with a food-grade detergent and finally sanitised with a food-grade chemical solution or hot water before being left to air-dry.

Regulatory authorities, such as the United States Public Health department and Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, require that galleys are in order before closing for the day, so staff are often working late into the night to ensure every last fork is cleaned, every piece of equipment and service area is wiped down with sanitising solution, the store rooms are in order and food is labelled appropriately.

Even though the lowest level of kitchen staff – the utility assistants and cleaners – may not require prior training to land cruise ship jobs, they receive thorough training on board and are constantly supervised to ensure they follow the correct procedures. Spot checks by management are common as are frequent unannounced inspections by health authorities.

Cruise companies can be fined heavily or lose licences if they fail government health checks. This means that all levels of kitchen staff must comply with high-quality strict health and safety standards at all times.

Safety in Cruise Ship Chef Jobs

Safety in cruise ship chef jobs

While most people view the physical safety of passengers as a priority, what happens deep in the belly of the cruise ship can also gravely affect them. Cruise ship chef jobs lay as much focus on cooking as they do on safety in the galley to ensure the smooth functioning of the food service operation.

The two main kinds of safety in the galley are food safety and personal safety

Food safety

With thousands of people within such close proximity to each other, it is easy for germs to spread, even bacteria from food. Food-related illnesses such as norovirus or E.coli have spread to epidemic proportions on ships as cross-contamination occurs easily from one passenger to the next. So it is ideal to reduce risks at the source itself.

All food on board ships are required to meet certain safety standards. Your culinary institute will teach you the best practices to keep edible items fresh and germ-free. Temperatures in the galley and more importantly storage areas are vital, as ships go into port once every few days. Food must be stored at temperatures that kill, or at least discourage, the growth of germs that can cause illnesses.

Cruise ship chefs learn how to prevent cross-contamination through good cooking and hygiene practices. Consistently keeping the work space clean ensures food that’s ready to be served is safe from germs that may be on raw produce.

Safety measures also need to be taken when handling food during service, and also when cleaning and sanitising dishes, equipment, storage containers and food preparation areas.

Personal safety

Staying safe while at work allows for better efficiency. A cruise ship chef’s job requires full attention when using knives and choppers so there is less chance of serious injury. It’s also important to ensure that your hands are dry when using electrical equipment such as blenders while dangerous parts such as blades are secure before switching the device on.

On ships, chefs have a few more safety measures compared to their land-based counterparts. Pots should never be filled to the brim so hot liquid does not splash around. Chefs are also advised to never heat grease in an oven in case it overheats and catches fire.

It’s important for chefs to wear their uniform so they are protected from accidentally spilled hot liquids or burns. Proper footwear is also important to keep feet and toes safe from hot gravies or heavy vessels. Any spills are cleaned up immediately to avoid people slipping and falling.

Cruise ships add an additional layer of safety by avoiding any open flames in the galley. All stoves, ovens and even grills are electric as fire is one of the biggest hazards on board. In addition, fire extinguishers are within easy reach in all galleys and food preparation areas, and all staff are trained how to use them.

There are many measures that cruise companies insist on regarding safety on board, particularly in the galleys. Staffs receive regular training to keep them up-to-date with new regulations and also to refresh their memory when joining on new contracts. This ensures fewer injuries and better work efficiency.