Forget the midnight buffets and trays of pre-mixed poolside cocktails melting in the sun. Today’s cruise ships have evolved into floating foodie havens with celebrity restaurants, food halls, more sustainably sourced ingredients, and craft cocktail bars.
With the debut last month of Celebrity Beyond, the newest Edge-class ship for Celebrity Cruises, the cruise line is taking on board food and drink one step further with the launch of Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud, the celebrity chef’s first restaurant at sea. Boulud’s dining room, which features menus inspired from his personal travels around the world, is a game changer: It’s the first Michelin-starred chef partnership for the cruise line.
Guests pay $75 (or $125 with wine pairing) to indulge in his tasting menu prepared by chefs who studied under his tutelage. It’s not just the food, but the space that is unique. It was designed by the same team responsible for the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. Boulud and his team were on board to make every decision, from the staff uniforms to the table settings, to simulate his on-land dining venues.
But it's just one of 32 food and beverage options on Celebrity Beyond, which are tailored for different preferences and palates, from sushi bars serving up rare delicacies like fugu, the Japanese blowfish that is poisonous if not prepared properly, to craft cocktails at Mediterranean-inspired beach clubs, to the Magic Carpet restaurant that ascends the side of the ship. They, like many other mega ships, manage to serve a wide variety, and volume, of food, while at sea.
It all begs the question: How do mega cruise ships pull off premium dining experiences at such scale—on a moving vessel? On board the Beyond, we got an idea.
The logistics of pulling it off
On a cruise ship, space is at a premium, and it is a logistical feat that so many dining concepts can be executed flawlessly. How does a line actually get all that food to so many people, with flawless execution at every step of the process? Does everything come from a central kitchen? How do they know how much of each ingredient or food item to order for each sailing? Does it all get loaded from the same port?
It’s a science cruise staffers have mastered following years of experience, according to Cornelius Gallagher, vice president of food and beverage and a Michelin-starred chef himself who once worked under Boulud. Computer systems help monitor the consumption of each item, right down to the lemons squeezed into your drink, to know how much to order for each sailing. Based on the location of the ship, the quantity of certain items may vary from sailing to sailing. For example, Alaska sailings always see a higher demand for salmon, Gallagher says.