What nationality eats the most on a cruise? It seemed like a trick question and I felt quite confident that the answer would be Americans. But no. As I discovered on my galley tour on HAL Cruises’ MS Oosterdam, the answer is Australians.
Thinking there must be some kind of misunderstanding I asked our guide if he was sure. Turns out he was so sure he could tell us that they have to factor extra money into the food budget when they know there’s going to be lots of Aussies on board.
While I’m not sure just how much extra they load onto a ship when they know we’ll be there, the average consumption on a seven day cruise on Oosterdam includes 5,366 kilos of meat, 1,730 kilos of poultry, 1,360 kilos of fish and another 1,168 kilos of other seafood. Then there’s the 6,236 kilos of fresh vegetables, not counting 3,515 kilos of potatoes.
Around 90% of that food is prepared in the Oosterdam’s galley, which seems like a rather large kitchen until you think that it’s pumping out meals for almost 3000 people a day, at which point it becomes a thing of wonder.
Every day food for up to 1950 guests and almost 800 crew comes through this space, and every guest has the chance to go behind the scenes on one of the Holland America Line’s free galley tours to see it for themselves.
Not only am I impressed by what the chefs and their assistants achieve, but take my hat off to those who wash around 3000 dinner plates, 7000 dessert plates (second desserts are so tempting on a cruise) 2000 side plates and 5000 glasses every time the passengers enjoy a meal.
Walking through the galley we get to see the Hot Kitchen where, as the name suggests, the hot dishes are prepared in small batches so as not to compromise the taste and texture before they’re served.
Then it’s into the bakery. I’ve smelt fresh bread cooking when I’ve been at a certain point on the ship but I didn’t realise just how much of it was rising.
While part of the bakery is found down on B deck, this relatively small space helps create 20 different kinds of bread daily, including 4000 dinner rolls, 800 croissants, 120 loaves of bread and 100 loaves of French Bread. Then it’s into the Pastry shop section, where I see so many of the delicious treats I’ve sampled at dinners and at high teas being created.
Finally it’s a visit to the Pinnacle Grill’s special section. Not only does the ship’s premium restaurant have their own space to cook, they also have their own dishwashing area, which considering the Bvlgari plates and Riedel stemware they use is not surprising.
As the tour comes to an end, we find ourselves standing in Pinnacle Grill, knowing that no matter where we sit down to dinner that night, we’ll be looking at our meals with a newfound appreciation.
Hats off to the chef, and to all who work with them.
The galley tour is offered to all guests free of charge. There is no need to book, just keep an eye out in the daily program for when and where and make sure you show up on time.
To find out more about the food on board HAL Cruises, check out my guide to the restaurants on board MS Oosterdam.
Amanda Woods cruised the South Pacific on MS Oosterdam as a guest of Holland America Line Cruises As usual all opinions are her own.
Like cruising? Check out some of my other cruise stories, including Uniworld’s River Countess in Venice, seeing the Northern Lights in Norway on Hurtigruten, the farewell to Celebrity Century, and cruising down the Mekong with Pandaw.