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Music – “Calypso Time (Steel Drums Soca)” from Island Cruise Steel Band Presents Steel Drums & Songs of Jamaica and Trinidad for Your Tropical Caribbean Cruise Party by Island Cruise Steel Band. Released: 2011
If you have ever had the good fortune to take a cruise, you will know just how spoiled you become. The entire world outside of your mega-cruise ship disappears. You are pampered, fed, fed again, feted, entertained, and fed yet again. On most of the larger ships, you can find something to eat 24 hours a day. If you are up for a midnight chocolate buffet, you can probably find it. Pizza stations, ice cream stations, numerous bars, multiple restaurants specializing in a variety of cuisines, snack bars, room service at any hour, the list is endless. My husband and I have been fortunate to have taken two cruises: the first on Holland America in the Western Caribbean (1 week) and the second with Princess Cruises, all around the Caribbean (2 weeks).
From the time you saunter down to the breakfast buffet, you eat, eat, eat. I don’t normally “do” breakfast and haven’t for years, yet on the Grand Princess cruise, I was mortified to find myself unable to turn down scads of smoked salmon with capers, rich scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, breakfast sausage, cheese Danish, roasted potatoes and a myriad of other delights. I morphed into someone else on that cruise (I found her a few months later after she had lost the 8 pounds she gained on the 2 week cruise!)
Although we were usually out on a tour many days, if we were shipboard, I would not usually eat at midday, although my spouse did not want to waste the money spent for the trip, so indulged. In the evening, we experienced truly fine dining in a different restaurant every night. The staff was awesome, the food was awesome, the amenities were awesome. Needless to say, I was impressed to the extent that upon our departure, leaving our two-week home away from home, I cried to think it was over. Alas, back to reality. Suffice it to say, if you don’t gain any weight on a cruise, you are seriously ill and need to check in with your PCP immediately upon your return!
I was fascinated at how, upon returning to port at the end of a cruise, the cruise ships, even the largest of them, have about 6 to 8 hours (yes, hours!), to completely refurbish the ship for the next wave of guests, due to arrive late afternoon on the same day. Thousands of pieces of luggage must be removed in an organized fashion, garbage must be removed, staterooms cleaned, laundry done, and kitchens sanitized and stocked for the next voyage, not to mention a hundred other myriad tasks, which the numerous crew are very adept at carrying out. The entire process is an intricate, extremely well-organized orchestration that is amazing to watch.
For example, the Royal Caribbean “Harmony of the Seas” can accommodate 5,479 guests! The “Allure of the Seas” can house 5,400 passengers and has 25 dining options including a Starbucks. “Oasis of the Seas” accommodates up to 6,296 passengers. It should be noted that none of these figures includes the number of crew (2,160 on Oasis of the Seas), which amounts to an average of 1 crew member for every 3 passenger! No wonder one gets so spoiled on a cruise!
When the “Oasis of the Seas” departs for a 7 day Caribbean voyage, the supplies needed are mind-boggling. Not including items such as toilet paper, tissues, light bulbs, replacement TVs (really!), hand sanitizers, and the more mundane every-day items, in just a few hours, they must load an enormous quantity of food, which varies according to the season, special events, etc. but here is an average bill of lading :
- 7,397 pounds of cheese
- 330 cases of pineapples,
- 1,899 pounds of coffee
- 5,400 lobster tails
- 21,000 ice cream cones
- 8,800 pounds of tomatoes
- 9,000 pounds of lettuce
- 14,800 pounds of potatoes
- 2,600 pounds of apples
- 5,400 pounds of bananas
- 46,800 eggs
- 2,622 gallons of milk
- 19,723 pounds of chicken
- 18,314 pounds of beef
- 7,070 pounds of fish
- 10,680 hot dogs
- 31,900 bottles of beer (and 900 cans)
- 16,900 cans of soda
- 820 bottles of vodka
- 179 bottles of whiskey
- 293 bottles of scotch
- 765 bottles of rum (well, it IS the Caribbean!)
- 3,360 bottles of white wine
- 2,776 bottles of red wine
In addition to the food storage, which comprises multiple areas, multiple freezers and rooms of varying temperature, there must be huge storage areas for dinnerware, cutlery, cooking utensils (lots of BIG ones), and the like. On the last day of our two-week cruise on the Grand Princess, we were given the Galley Tour, which is truly incredible. The bowels of the kitchen are like a vast, never-ending vista of stainless steel, all polished and gleaming, a maze of rooms and corridors and all looking like you could literally eat off the floor. If this isn’t organization to the nth degree, I don’t know what is!
In a cookbook I have in my collection, “Queen Elizabeth 2 Cookbook”, the author partially describes the comestibles necessary for their 90 day world cruise, including 180,000 pounds of prime beef from the USA, 36,000 pounds of lamb from Britain, 12,000 pounds of French veal, 11,000 pounds of salt, 80,000 eggs, 3 tons (yes, tons!)of smoked salmon (yum!), 10 tons of butter, 90,000 jars of preserves, 2,500 gallons of milk, 500,000 tea bags and 10,000 bottles of champagne.
The Queen Elizabeth 2 holds 1,850 passengers and 995 crew. Now, half a million tea bags may sound like a lot, but between 1,850 passengers and 995 crew, for 90 days, that only amounts to 1.95 tea bags per person per day. Hardly enough to satisfy the British love of tea, I’d say! The ship also has stainless steel tanks, which can hold 313,500 gallons of draught beer and multiple bottles of the 120 varieties of wine they carry. In addition, they also have large stores of Kosher food (including Kosher service dishes, utensils, etc.) and even have a supply of 50 pounds of dog biscuits (lucky dogs!) But, alas, it’s too late to book a cruise on the QE2. She was taken out of service in 2008.
Now, get ready for this: Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, currently under constructions in France, and due to be launched out of Miami in 2018 will be the largest cruise ship in the world. We’re talking capacity for 6,800 passengers, plus 2,800 crew for a total of 9,600 souls! If they could take on another 400 passengers, the entire city of Sedona, Arizona could just move in!
So, if you should, perchance be lucky enough to take a cruise, consider that it is a floating city for a time, and often, a pretty good-sized one at that. Imagine trying to take care of all of these people in this city, feed them, house them, entertain them, humour them, and take their minds off of their problems for a brief period. A tall order, yet the cruise ships do a pretty decent job!
Now, just for fun, take a look at this Youtube video! (Note: you must click on the “watch this video in youtube” to view it)
Note: if you are interested, most cruise ships publish their own cookbooks and I have several in my collection:
- The Buffets of Carnival
- The Carnival Experience
- Carnival Creations – Cruise Cuisine from Carnival Chefs
- The Crystal Cruises Cookbook
- Queen Elizabeth 2 Cookbook
- Courses – A Culinary Journey (Princess Cruises)
- Princess Cruises Cuisine
- A Taste of Excellence Cookbook (Holland America)
- Royal Caribbean Holiday & Entertainment Cookbook
- Royal Caribbean International Cookbook
- Carte du Jour – The Restaurants of Royal Caribbean International