Serving the Masses: My Behind-the-Scenes Galley Tour

By August 21, 2019 Uncategorized

To celebrate my in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary, sixteen Vances (8 adults and 8 kids!) boarded Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas for a 5 night adventure on the high seas with an overnight stop at the beautiful island of Bermuda.  We had a fabulous time trying delicious food, splashing in the pools, trying our hand at the iFly skydiving simulator, and enjoying the beautiful ocean.  For me, a highlight was on the last day of our cruise–a behind-the-scenes galley tour.  I have cruised multiple times and have always wanted to take a peek at the massive food service operation and now was my chance!  I know my fellow FCS Professionals love a good kitchen tour so I will do my best to recreate the magic through photos.

The first stop was the dishwashing area.  Chef Spence, our tour guide, explained to the group how careful they are to separate the dirty from the clean dishes.  Throughout the tour, food safety and sanitation was stressed.

It was 10:15 a.m. and workers were busy preparing cold food items like fruit and cheese plates for dinner.  Items were plated, covered, and refrigerated.  They do as much prep work as possible but items such as the Caesar Salad are plated on demand during the dinner service.

The main kitchen prep area was full of combi ovens.  Chef Spence explained to our group how valuable the combi ovens are for preparing the large quantities of food prepared and the flexibility in using steam, convection, or traditional oven.

Please forgive my reflection in the photo.  I tried very hard to stay out of it!  This screen monitors every piece of equipment in the kitchen.  If there is a malfunction it will show up on the monitor.  This makes it easier to catch problems right away and makes it much simpler for maintenance to fix any issues.

This is Chef Spence of Jamaica.  Here he is showing us the monitor that shows the forecasted amount of each type of entrée as well as the actual “sold”.  My husband and I joked that they were -10 in lobster tails because of our table the night before.  Several kids took multiple lobster tails instead of chicken fingers!

This is the pot washing area.  The silver trap door in the photo is where all the food waste goes.  It gets sucked through a tunnel to an incinerator on the ship.  Chef Spence also explained that all liquid waste gets treated onboard the ship. Once the liquid is treated, you could place a glass of tap water and this treated water side-by-side and not be able to tell which was the treated water.  When the ship is 10 miles from port, the treated water is put into the ocean.

These lamb shanks were prepped.  Later that night my husband ordered the lamb shank and I meant to take a photo of the plated version!

This was the soup and sauce prep zone.  When you are making soup for several thousand people it takes a lot of boxed wine!

The busiest part of the galley—-the bakery!  The bakery is staffed 24 hours a day to make enough breads, rolls, and desserts for the masses.  The fresh bread baking smelled amazing! Click on this link to watch a video of my favorite piece of food service equipment on the tour! You need this machine if you are going to bake 1,000 rolls at a time!

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The finished product!  This gentleman was so sweet.  He did the demonstration again for us because we were so impressed.  At dinner I was showing the video to the kids and our waiter looked at my phone and said “Hey that is my friend!”  I told him he was the star of the tour!

Our last stop on the tour was the decorating area of the bakery.  This giant cake was 30 minutes away from being delivered to the buffet for the “farewell lunch”.  When my niece stopped by the cake table at the buffet she asked for a small piece.  The man said “We don’t do small pieces” and handed her a gigantic slice.  All of the other cousins were really impressed when she arrived at our table!  My son was so impressed that he made a plan of how he was going to say he wanted a “small” piece too.  I accompanied him to the cake table and Andrew, with a sparkle in his eye, said “I’d like a small piece please!” and the man put the tiniest crumb on his plate!  Andrew’s eyes got big and said, “Wellllll maybe a little bigger than that!” and proceeded to get a giant piece himself.

Overall it was a very fun and informative tour of the galley.  For this particular ship, the galley we toured only served the two main dining rooms (other than the bakery that provides baked goods for the entire ship).  There were several specialty restaurants on the ship and each of them had their own kitchen.  There is a hallway that runs the length of the ship that is hidden from guests that the staff jokingly refers to as “I-65”.  This is how they transport food throughout the ship without guests noticing (or bumping into the crowds!).  “I-65” also is the route for getting items from the food storage areas. There were a few times on the ship I wished I could take I-65 and avoid the crowds!

I will close with a few fun non-galley photos of our trip!

 

Ready to hit the pink sand “Horseshoe Beach”

All dressed up for formal night

One night Grandma and Grandpa had all the kids at their table so us parents could actually talk to each other! What a wonderful way to celebrate 50 years of marriage!

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