Provisioning a ship operates like clockwork. The process is planned around specific ports of call (often the home port of a ship where passengers embark and disembark) that have the ability to supply large quantities all at once. You may see them loading goods on board in large crates, which eventually turn into tasty meals later. The limited shelf life of fresh ingredients and demands on particular storage temperatures mean the loading process and the schedule for onboard use must be managed meticulously.
When it comes to drinks, Americans are huge consumers of Bud Light, which might mean stocking more on routes popular with U.S. travelers, whereas British guests prefer Guinness. Recent supply chain issues have complicated things, too. Gallagher notes that some of the craft and specialty beer for its newest bar has been delayed, but is on the way.
Each of the ship’s specialty restaurants has its own kitchen, but things like bread may come from a central kitchen, according to Gallagher. Using one main kitchen or having individual galleys varies by the size of the ship and the space available.
Carrying all of that food uses a lot of energy, but Celebrity’s new-build ships are each more energy efficient than the last. Beyond actually releases bubbles beneath the ship’s hull that helps to reduce the friction as it moves through the water to reduce energy use. Celebrity Beyond is 20 percent more efficient than the line’s other ships. It has also reduced its single-use plastic consumption by 90 percent and is working with its shore excursion partners to continue that trend on land.
Beyond is the first ship in the fleet to be commissioned for shore power, which allows it to be more eco-friendly while in port. When it comes to sourcing food, Celebrity is working with sustainable sourcing providers where possible. With fewer buffets overall and switching to staff-served portions, food waste is significantly reduced.
The next time you tuck into a cheesy slice of pizza, carve that tender bite of filet, or twirl that freshly made pasta, consider the logistics that assured the right amount got there at the right time to meet the preferences of passengers on that sailing. The evolution of cruise dining has brought new styles of cuisine and choice, making it a vacation for the senses from start to finish.
More great dining experiences at sea
Other cruise lines are not floating idly by when it comes to their food and beverage concepts—in fact, there’s a number of innovative new offerings. Virgin Voyages made its own splash when Scarlet Lady set sail with the first Korean barbecue venue at sea with staff-led drinking games and tableside cooking. It also has a dedicated vegetarian restaurant swapping plant-based alternatives for popular American dishes. Its food hall concept includes ramen and sushi bars, a taco shack, and 24-hour made-to-order breakfast options. The ship has takeaway bento boxes that guests can bring back to their cabin or enjoy by the pool. There’s even a feature on the line’s app that allows you to shake your phone for a glass of champagne to be delivered wherever you are.
Celebrity’s sibling company Royal Caribbean has the Mad Hatter-themed Wonderland, a restaurant that uses costumes and character portrayal to enliven the experience, aboard many of its ships. There’s also a barbecue restaurant complete with a resident country music singer and guitarist as well as a southern cuisine-themed restaurant aboard its largest ship, Wonder of the Seas. There, passengers can choose from regional dishes as well as a collection of 19 American whiskeys while a country music trio performs.
Norwegian Prima, which will make her maiden voyage under the guidance of Godmother Lady Gaga this fall, is overhauling its culinary concept. A new food hall will have a Texas-style barbecue smokehouse, tapas food truck, noodle bar, seaside rotisserie and even a Starbucks. The brand is known for firsts when it comes to dining: In 2000, it launched freestyle dining, eliminating the need to choose specific dinner reservation times, thus allowing guests to show up when they prefer. It was also the first company to open specialty dining venues. Other lines have since followed.