I am often asked about what goes into the menu choices for a cruise, and what are some of the factors for a ship (or company) in deciding the ship’s menus. The answer is of course divided, but here are some experiences from a hospitality management side:
- Season on the sites
- Season of year
- Logistical challenges on the sites
- Storage challenges on board
- And of course the most important factor, Guests’ demands and requests, based on historical data.
While these are some of the factors, the companies (cruise lines) also have their own reasons and systems on the menu making.
Food cost on a cruise ship is essential for the business itself. Big buffets, for instance, may very well support the fine dining (or Gourmet) when it comes to cost. Then these can upgrade their menus, use more expensive basics, and take a cover charge (like the specialty restaurants on ships) for balancing it all.
A la carte, where you choose from a set menu, is always the tricky one. Concept, seasons, prices of season, and guest segment is then the set factor. The buffet can have everything, and it will often use all the kitchen and store room “left-overs.” The buffets will often vary from day to day.
The menu in the a la carte is essential. Having something for everybody is impossible! And, having something for most of us is difficult, so the menu must be taken seriously. Some of the cruise companies today make new menus everyday. That gives a surprise factor, it reaches more guests, and it is something the guests talk about. Most cruise companies also have a season-based menu, to be changed four times a year, and with ingredients to mirror the season itself. Meat lovers, fish eaters, chicken fans, religions, allergies, vegetarians, vegans, children, nation segments… all of these and more are to be considered. Then it’s the job of the Chef, the suppliers, the restaurant manager, and the logistic manager on board to set it.
Going on a cruise? Not happy with the menu on Your last cruise? Special needs? Special demands? Contact Your cruise company. Also remember to fill in Your wishes and menu tips on Your final evaluation cards on Your next cruise. It is the guests who are the strongest and best consultant!
“A good waiter can save a bad meal, but a good meal can’t save a bad waiter…”
Ship greetings from: Tore Berger. Maitre`d.