I’m usually not a sucker for most cruise ship activities, but I couldn’t help but find myself at a behind-the-scenes tour of the various kitchens and galleys of the Celebrity Summit. The ship produced primarily high-quality meals in a very organized fashion, despite the fact that there were thousands of hungry and impatient cruise guests always looking for something to potentially complain about. The turnover time at dinners were very fast, with course after course brought to you in an appropriate period of time. All of this efficiency couldn’t help but make me wonder how they have built such a seemingly perfect machine, and how this could permeate into other systems in society.
As expected, there is a hierarchy of chefs and managers on the Summit that are all in control of their own specific quadrants of the ship. The executive Chef, “Chef Wayne,” is the overseeing master of the operation, but he has a large number of chefs specializing in dinners, buffets, desserts, and the like. There is a general food service manager, and the hierarchy is further divided into small managers, assistants, hostesses, waiters, busboys, etc. There is a division of the operation solely dedicated to beverage consumption — especially alcohol — since everyone knows that there is no cruise ship without a ton of alcohol.
There are multiple kitchens and galleys for their respective division of the ship. Primarily, there is one large galley for the dining room, and one large galley for the buffet. Within the galley, there is further division of labor into the creation of desserts, salads, ice creams, bread, pastries, etc. Everything is heavily divided. Upon entry to the galley, there is a section solely dedicated to dishwashing and the collection of empty dishes. The galley is stainless steel and seemingly spotless for the most part, so it was good to see that there weren’t cruise rats and cockroaches inhabiting the food dungeons of the ship.
There was a separate kitchen for the ship’s specialty restaurants, where they hand-make pasta and their other specialty dishes. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that all of their bread and ice cream are actually homemade on the ship, though I expected that it was much easier for them to simply pack on a load of frozen goods. There are cellars of alcohol and fridges that are each at different temperatures to best suit the type of food that the fridge holds. Waiters run up and down from the galley carefully bringing dishes upon dishes of food, which I also have to give credit for, since most of the waiters would manage to carry up to eleven dishes at once aboard the rocking and hectic ship.
Overall, it was apparent to me what the ship’s dining efficiency relied on — division of labor and statistical understanding of ship passengers. Initially within the process, I’m sure there was a great deal of trial-and-error, but humans are creatures of habit, and ultimately, the statistics of a cruise ship are always very similar when it comes to how much food to pack aboard. When it’s summer and there are more children, the statistics alter to fit the demographic. It’s all understanding of the past to move forward of the future.
The heavy division of labor allows for everyone to specialize in his or her own job and do it right. Even in the morning, at breakfast, there are people specifically for bringing you coffee, orange juice, a pastry, take your order, bring you water, etc. Everything is divided, but ultimately, the ship comes together in perfect harmony. There is also the fact that the creation of food on the ship is a constant effort — food is always being prepared. As soon as breakfast is finished, lunch is already underway. Menus are carefully planned out and everything is prepared readily. Managers and chefs are highly receptive in their respective fields, and ultimately, the entirety of the ship works. It’s a wonderful sight, and a fascinating one indeed, and one could wonder how such a systematic approach of efficiency could be applied to other sectors of society.