Pandemic-related news continues to be bleak but the cruise tourism industry is optimistic about its return. Only earlier this month, reports suggested that Cordelia Cruises is looking at restarting domestic and international operations from May. Since November, Singapore – which attracts many cruise passengers from India – has had around 90 safe cruises for more than 120,000 Singaporeans.
Demand for skilled cruise ship chefs is expected to rise as more cruise companies begin operations. So what should you look forward to?
More guests might opt to eat away from dining rooms and restaurants to reduce their contact with other passengers. Cruise companies could consider more in-room dining options such as butler service, more comprehensive menu options, etc.
Cruise entertainment managers are expected to look into more outdoor activities. Restaurant managers and chefs will also consider food that pairs well with these ideas. We could be looking at poolside sundowners or wine and whiskey tastings, more barbeques and garden-style parties, alfresco seating for more formal events. The majority of outdoor events will lean towards finger foods including crudités, roll-ups, pinwheels, mini savoury or sweet pies, muffins, crostinis, kebabs, skewers, antipasti and maybe even mini pizzas.
Given that the pandemic has had a significant financial impact on the cruise industry, companies will be looking at cutting costs every way they can. In the kitchen, cruise ship chefs can expect to see a bigger push towards zero-waste cooking. This involves using all parts of the produce, including peels for stock and colour, fat for flavour, etc. There could be a greater inclusion of specials over an extensive à la carte menu to ensure ingredients are used before their use-by date. Cruise ship chefs might also be encouraged to include fresh ingredients available in local ports to save on logistics costs.
A chef’s table is a private and special meal that guests share with the executive chef on a cruise ship. These are intimate experiences involving just a few guests at a time and includes a special menu. Guests are likely to request for chef’s tables more often as the number of diners is limited and the experience is considered one-of-a-kind and exclusive.
Already, touchless dining is becoming more common as restaurants attempt to improve safety in the wake of the pandemic. We’re talking about touchscreen kiosks, menus on tablets or available via an app, touchless dispensers for condiments such as sauces, cocktail kits for your room, and perhaps even walk-up windows for quick treats such as pizzas and doughnuts.
Hygiene and sanitation were always important in cruise ship restaurants. Efforts are expected to be ramped up following the pandemic, particularly personal hygiene. Both staff and guests will have their temperatures recorded and be required to sanitize their hands regularly. Staff might have additional temperature checks throughout the day, while the restaurants themselves will see more frequent cleaning and sanitation.
Cruise ship chefs will need to be more creative with presentation, food pairings, and themes. A surprising new twist on room service plating or presentation, meal kits without the need for cooking, or classic desserts with new flavor profiles can improve the guest experience greatly.