How Royal Caribbean prepares all that food

In:
12Oct2012

Many of us have pondered just how Royal Caribbean manages to prepare all the food over the course of a cruise to feed its passengers and The Daily Traveler took a look behind the scenes at Royal Caribbean's food preparation to see how it's done.

Royal Caribbean vice president for food and beverage operations Frank Weber says time is importing, "We start loading around 7 a.m. in the morning, so we have until 3:30 p.m. to send something back to our produce supplier, like a pallet of tomatoes, and to get a replacement a little later in the afternoon."

Longshoremen then load supplies onto the ship. Royal Caribbean transfers the food from wooden pallets to metal trays, which can be more easily cleaned, to prevent ship contamination by anything that might have been on the wood. For similar reasons, other packaging, such as cardboard, is incinerated.

Technology assures smooth sailing by alerting crewmembers to how many passengers are grabbing a bite. Royal Caribbean, for instance, has head-counting cameras in the ceilings of its main dining areas that count when and where passengers are gravitating to and subsequently provide data that can be used to anticipate peak serving times.

The cruise ships offer simple menus so their cooks can prepare food to order and serve it at the perfect temperature (i.e. offering a single main version each of meat, poultry, and seafood).  The exception is the specialty restaurants onboard that serve a small, subset of passengers.

Simplified menus allow chefs to synchronize meal creation with the needs of diners. "We don't pre-cook the steaks and keep them in a warmer as you would in a typical hotel banquet operation," says Weber, describing a method that's common to better cruise lines. "And we don't plate food until the waiter is on the path to deliver it."