Comparing Hygiene Norms: Cruise Ships vs Standard Food Outlet

Comparing Hygiene Norms: Cruise Ships vs Standard Food Outlet
The coronavirus pandemic has made everyone sit up and take more notice of hygiene and safety practices. Theoretically, there may not be a vast difference between standards on cruise ships and in restaurants across India, but the reality is often quite stark.

Restaurants and food service outlets in India come under the purview of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare established only in 2011. Since that time, it has been unable to crack down sufficiently on hygiene and safety lapses.

Cruise ship companies on the other hand are governed by strict maritime law. Many leave from US and European ports where hygiene and safety laws have been quite strict for decades.

A large part of the restaurant and food service industry in India is unorganised – around 65-70 per cent according to CARE Ratings. This sector consists of roadside vendors, food carts, street stalls, small-time restaurants and dhabas which often hire unskilled workers who are pre-dominantly unaware of the strict hygiene rules that ought to govern processing and serving food.

For cruise companies, at least basic educational qualifications are required, with additional experience, depending on the level at which a cruise ship chef is hired. Companies also include orientation sessions for new staff and frequent refresher courses to ensure everyone is aware of the most recent hygiene and safety regulations.

The industry in India is also riddled with discrepancies in the supply chain. According to a recent report in The Hindu, India has the world’s largest livestock population, is the largest producer of buffalo meat and produces about 100 billion eggs annually. But the conditions under which a significant domestic portion of these finally reach consumers – including many restaurants and food service outlets – are dubious at best.

A simple visit to the local wet markets will show the condition of the slaughterhouses and meat vendors. The butchers themselves rarely wear gloves or proper shoes, and it is not common to see a washbasin in every shop. The eggs one buys at a local store are often tainted with dirt and droppings. Goa itself was embroiled in a controversy last year over the alleged presence of formalin in fish, a toxic chemical used to delay decay.

It is possible that the way animals and poultry are reared for meat in many parts of India do not follow the welfare standards suggested by the FSSAI and are at risk of passing on infections due to poor immune systems.

Adulteration of food has also not been curtailed. Only last month, the Dairy Reporter suggested a five per cent increase in adulteration of milk in Maharashtra alone, with 85 per cent of the 413 samples collected found to be tainted, including 73 samples from branded companies.

This suggested that the regulatory bodies are not looking into the situations well enough, nor taking appropriate action against offenders.

Cruise ship companies, on the other hand, buy much of their stock from large vendors who are under threat of losing a significant chunk of business if it is discovered that they are supplying low quality, unhygienically processed or stored produce.

Celebrity Cruises, for example, was supplied by The Apollo Group that even ages beef in Miami under strict health and safety conditions before sending it to vessels around the world. In addition, surprise inspections are held regularly on every cruise vessel by organisations like the Center for Disease Control, checking everything from cleanliness and sanitation to dress codes, storage temperatures of dishes and fresh produce, labelling, and even how cleaning liquids are stocked. Cruise ship vessels that do not rack up scores good enough are not permitted from plying until they pass the follow-up inspection.

Additionally, payments at land-based restaurants and quick service enterprises in India are often done in cash, which itself can be a carrier of germs. Generally, only clients at high-end restaurants use cards for convenience.

On cruise ships, the norm is contactless payments through a cruise card which works as the guests’ key card, credit card and ID. A major chunk of payment for the cruise happens online, before the trip. Any additional expenses on board are added to the card when swiped and a final bill is cleared once at the end.

However, since the coronavirus outbreak, standards of hygiene are being scrutinised the world over, and only those food service outlets that meet regulations are allowed to operate. In such cases, cruise ship chefs are at a distinct advantage for their knowledge of hygiene and safety rules in food processing and service.

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Hope For Chefs during Lockdown

Hope For Chefs during Lockdown
This isn’t the most bullish of markets – many restaurants are shut, cruise ships are grounded, staff has been laid off and people are staying home. But it doesn’t mean that all is lost. The general public still needs food, and having the food service industry function at least partly can ensure some movement of money in the economy.

The Goa government has joined other state governments in making the food service industry more accessible during the coronavirus lockdown. Restaurants are working with minimal staff and must adhere to safety and health guidelines. Cruise ship chefs are well-versed with some of the toughest safety measures in practice. Their expertise and knowledge are a big asset during this time.

Restaurants typically have wholesale sources for produce. These contacts can help greatly to stay up to date with availability and delivery of essential ingredients. Cruise ship chefs, like restaurant chefs, are also adept at making the most of available ingredients – swapping where necessary or creating whole new dishes when required.

Working in tandem with food delivery operators such as Swiggy and Zomato, it is now possible to operate even during a lockdown. Cruise ship chefs will do well to follow all safety guidelines even if they decide to work from home while the economy is recovering.

Home delivery of delicious food offers a small respite to families struggling to cope with being stuck indoors. Eating one’s favourite food has a positive effect on the body’s natural pleasure chemical dopamine.

It is important to think of the kinds of food people might miss during the lockdown. Perhaps it is a particular exotic cuisine not easily replicated at home – say Thai or Mexican. Or dishes people normally eat at their ancestral homes or made by their grandmothers who they are unable to meet during this time – local Goan teatime specialties and desserts.

As the transport of essential goods gets smoother with necessary safety precautions, ingredients are expected to be more easily available. This will allow skilled chefs to widen their repertoire or use better quality ingredients.

Still, the idea typically has been to offer small, manageable menus that can be changed frequently based on the ingredients available. Using other media such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, chefs can garner a steady stream of orders.

Working is ingrained into a restaurant chef’s life and many are finding the urge to do something with their time during the lockdown rather than just sit around. They are uploading videos of cooking classes, posting recipes and generally helping their followers put together meals from what they have in their kitchen. This is a great way to increase your fan following too. If you are the inventive sort, this is also the perfect time to work on a cookbook of your own recipes.

Others can volunteer their time to cook meals for the needy, allowing them to feed their passion as well as a hungry stomach. Cooking thousands of meals a day comes naturally to cruise ship chefs and they thrive in the chaos, adapting to crisis situations as the need arises – from line cooks suddenly falling sick and ingredients running out to power blackouts.

Restaurants can also work to save themselves from an impending economic recession by selling vouchers and tables for the future. Those that are able to are working with minimum staff to cater to home deliveries. So chefs with the most skills will always make the cut.

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What Makes A Dish Delicious

As a consequence of the evolutionary process, our brains are trained to find food that looks good appetising. As a cruise ship chef, the idea is to make even the simplest dish taste and look good so guests keep coming back for more. These points are easy enough to practise even while you’re on leave from work.


Fresh Ingredients
One of the key ways to make sure a dish tastes good is to ensure fresh, high quality ingredients. Cruise ship companies have a network of vendors located along their ports of call to ensure their stocks are always fresh. Provisions managers and store keepers request fresh produce in various stages of ripeness so cruise ship chefs can use the most ripe first while leaving the others to ripen for use over the later part of the journey. Overripe produce can be used in soups or tarts, while items like dry bread are perfect for puddings or French toast.

Fresh spices
Pre-ground spices and spice mixes are a common household convenience. But in a chef’s kitchen, these can make the difference between decent and delicious. Freshly grinding whole spices can enhance their taste and calls for a lower quantity to be used, a luxury cruise ship chefs can use.

Salt & herbs
Seasoning well is often just a matter of using the right amount of salt and sometimes a dash of herbs. The latter can take the dish to another level altogether by adding hints of different flavours. Often salt is added in small quantities at the beginning and adjusted for taste at the end. The key is to remember that one can always add salt, but never remove it.

This is an important factor in a cruise ship kitchen. There is a constant pressure to get a large number of dishes served quickly. But it’s important to take a step back and ensure that each step of the cooking process is completed just right before moving on to the next stage. It can make the difference between a raw onion flavour and a well-blended one in a curry, chewy or crispy squid rings, medium rare or a medium well steak.

Taste tests
To ensure they’re on the right track to a dish well done, cruise ship chefs are constantly testing for taste. After a while, you get pretty good at estimating quantities, but you must never let your guard down. The absolute basic of a good dish is to know what it tastes like before it is served.


Presentation is an important factor in making a dish taste good. Humans have a hormone called ghrelin that makes food look more appealing and influences memories of food. It’s what makes people hungry, sometimes even when they don’t actually need food.
This is what happens when people see photographs of chocolate oozing out of a donut or barbeque ribs slathered in sauce. It makes them feel hungry. If your dish does not look delicious, even though it tastes nice, it might not be appetising.

Ensure you have your mise en place before you begin plating. Having all your components in front of you will help you better envision how all of your flavours will come together, not just in the mouth, but also what they will look like on the plate.

Portion size
Most dishes, especially mains, are a well-balanced mix of the main food components – protein, carbohydrates and vegetables. Make sure you are serving a well-balanced meal without compromising taste for presentation. Do not overcrowd the plate and place moist ingredients such as sauces and purées first so they are less likely to slide around during service.

Colour & contrast
Think of your plate as a canvas and you as the artist. The first guideline is to choose the right serving dish – size, shape, colour. They need to highlight your dish. You should also look at placing the star of your dish either on the left or right of the plate, so it falls in line with the design rule of thirds.
With your mise en place, you will be able to see colours that pair well together or can be highlighted against a monotone plate. All of these can make your dish look that much more appetising.

Sauces & garnishes
These two are not just ingredients but can also add visual appeal. You can drizzle sauce over the main ingredients, use blobs as accents on the side or smear it across the base so your main rests on it. They add colour and breaths of fresh air to your plate.
Garnishes perform a similar role. Vertical food presentation is a trend in fine dining restaurants where the highlight is placed in the centre of the plate while the rest remains comparatively empty. Other trends include landscape, free form, futuristic (using metal or glass as your serving dish), organic materials like wood or stone, and even unconventional alternatives such as test tubes and jars.

Cruise ship chefs can practise these tips even with simple, everyday dishes while they are home on leave from work.

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Coronavirus:‌ ‌Cruise ‌Ships ‌Tackling Epidemics

Coronavirus:‌ ‌Cruise ‌Ships ‌Tackling Epidemics
The latest coronavirus scare has been causing concern across the world. Only recently 138 Indians including cruise ship crew on the Diamond Princess cruise ship were screened for the contagious virus, with more than a dozen testing positive. The rest were repatriated. Due to thousands living in close proximity on board cruise ships, contagious diseases such as coronavirus can spread easily, causing an epidemic outbreak. Cruise ships have safety standards in place to avoid such instances, which explains why the percentage of epidemics of highly contagious diseases such as norovirus is low compared to the number of vessels being run.

Coronavirus is in fact a group of viruses which cause illnesses from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), itself a global concern a few years ago. The new strain COVID-19 has not been previously identified in humans and is thought to have been transmitted from animals. The most common symptoms include fever, dry cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. The virus, which originated in Wuhan in China, has travelled to over 100 countries with more than 1,09,000 confirmed infections and over 3000 deaths so far (as on 09 March 2020) according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). There is currently no cure and vaccines are under investigation.

Many people hit by COVID-19 – around 80 per cent – are able to recover without special treatment. They may suffer from the common symptoms, and perhaps also from general body ache, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat and diarrhea. In very mild cases, some people infected with coronavirus may not even show any symptoms or feel unwell. In severe cases, it causes impaired organ function, severe cough and pneumonia, which many succumb to.

Coronavirus is spread through droplets from an infected person’s nose or mouth that often land on objects or surfaces around them. Like norovirus on cruise ships, COVID-19 is transmitted to other people when they touch these objects on surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. It’s also possible to breathe in these droplets if you stand within a metre of the infected person.

One of the main ways to avoid contracting coronavirus is following correct handwashing techniques, a point taught to every cruise crew member. Cruise ships avoid epidemics by ensuring that all crew members on board wash their hands thoroughly and often. It is also recommended to guests.

To avoid getting coronavirus, especially on cruise ships, it is important to wash your hands as frequently as possible, particularly after being in public spaces. Keep an alcohol-based hand santiser on you for times when handwashing with soap and water is not possible.

When washing your hands, wet them with clean running water, turn off the tap and apply soap. Lather well and scrub your palms, the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. Remember particularly to scrub your nails and the backs of your hands as these are the spots we often miss and places easy for the virus to cling to. This process should take at least 20 seconds – the Centre for Disease Control suggests humming the Happy Birthday tune from beginning to end twice through for time. Rinse well with clean, running water, and then use a clean tissue or automatic hand dryer. It’s important to use a tissue to turn the tap off so you avoid the risk of re-contaminating your hands.

The WHO also recommends sneezing or coughing into the crook of your elbow or into a tissue, which should be disposed off immediately and properly. If you are feeling unwell, stay at home. If you are on board a cruise ship, inform your supervisor immediately and recuperate in your cabin or the medical room as recommended.
Cruise ships have long followed strategies to keep epidemics at bay, which can certainly help in the fight against the new coronavirus.

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River Cruising Destinations Around The World

One might imagine cruise lines as typically massive luxury vessels coasting along the seas. And while popular cruises generally stop by gorgeous seaside ports, there is unbeatable romance and beauty to be indulged in during the best river cruises in the world. Here are just a few:

Europe is one of the prettiest continents to take in from the river. Medieval architecture, small towns and beautiful mountains are best seen from a river cruise. As Europe’s second longest river, the Danube offers excellent opportunity for sightseeing. And since Central and Eastern Europe have many countries packed tightly together, this river runs through more countries than any other in the world.
From its starting point in Germany, it flows 2850kms to the Black Sea via Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Servia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine. There are also a number of islands in the Danube, and it is one of the most popular rivers for cruising. During peak season, there can be more than 70 cruise liners plying its waters.

Russia throws up worlds of mystery and distinct architecture. For many Americans, it’s a mixed bag of emotions leftover from Cold War perceptions to intrigue about its local culture and natural beauty.
River cruises in Russia run along a complex system of canals, lakes, rivers and inland seas which take River Volga leisurely towards the Baltic Sea. Along the waterways lie some of Russia’s most picturesque cities including Moscow and St Petersburg. This is the most famous stretch to cruise down with stops at smaller towns such as Volgograd, Yaroslavl, Nizhniy, Novgorod, Kazan, and even far off the beaten path to places like Uglich. Food and beverage is distinctly Russian including traditional dishes like borsch, chicken Kiev and kulebyaka.

Its 6,300km span offers a plethora of opportunities for river cruising, from the Tibetan Plateau to the East China Sea. The Yangtze has many endemic species of flora and fauna, and some sections are now classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the gorges of western Yunnan.
With more than 700 tributaries, the potential for river cruising on the Yangtze is immense. Cruises allow guests to take in the mountains of Tibet, the plains of Jiangsu and the coastal region near the East China Sea. Important sections include the Three Gorges with the world’s largest dam and the river cruise port of Chongqing, taking in Witches Gorge, the walled city of Wushan and the beautiful Twelve Peaks.
Guests typically visit ancient monuments along the way such as the 12-century Shibaozhai Pagoda, with excursions to the Great Wall, and stops at Guilin, Shanghai and Xian.

Cruising down the Nile is one of the most popular river cruises in the world. According to travel company Kuoni, the Nile topped the list for best-selling river cruises in its report for 2020. Options for river cruising down the Nile, include regular cruise vessels, yacht cruises, steamer cruises or dahabiyas, a traditional shallow-bottomed vessel with two or more sails that have been used to sail the world’s longest river for thousands of years.
Major points of interest along the 6,650km-long Nile include the majestic pyramids, the Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, Hatshepsut Temple, the Philae Temple and the famous rock-cut temples at Abu Simbel. Most cruises sail between Luxor and Aswan, with separate cruises on Lake Nasser nearby.

The Amazon region is considered one of the most exotic and far-flung locations to cruise, owing to the thick rainforest cover along the 6400-km long river. It’s the perfect place for guests to immerse themselves in the lush environment, mystical shamans and natural wonders.
There are cruises through Peru, Brazil and Ecuador that touch on various themes from wildlife and adventure to food and culture. Guests have the opportunity to visit Iquitos in Peru, the world’s largest city unreachable by road – just by air or river, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, as well as local villages and wildlife that live in the Amazon Basin.

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Cruise Ship Jobs: Diverse Crew

Cruise Ship Jobs: Diverse Crew
Cruise ships are probably some of the most culturally diverse workplaces on the planet. Often cruise vessels can have more than a thousand people working as crew itself. Symphony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, carries a 2200-person crew of people from the far corners of the world.

Diversity in nationality
According to the Royal Caribbean cruise line, there are more than a hundred different nationalities working across their fleet. Some of these might be part of their shore teams, but a large majority of nationalities comprise their cruise ship crew.

A diverse crew allows companies to cater to a wider range of cruising guests. For example, the number of Indians holidaying on cruise ships is steadily increasing. In 2017, we recorded a 27 per cent increase in passengers in Singapore alone, according to Cruise Lines International Association. Meeting crew from your own country adds a feeling of extra warmth and comfort to the guest cruising experience.

Typically, cruise ship crew in catering, service and housekeeping tend to be drawn from south east Asian markets where conversion rates to the dollar allow them to earn salaries higher than standard shore jobs. India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, etc are popular nationalities in this sector.
But as part of the crew, you will likely meet people working in all other sectors as well, from entertainment and sales to human resources and youth services. It’s possible to meet people from as far as Peru, Israel, Jamaica and Guatemala to even lesser known countries such as Guyana, Dominica, Zambia and Moldova.

Cruise ship companies ensure that a wide array of crew activities are organised to help break the ice among personnel on board. From theme nights to regional festival celebrations such as Diwali or Holi, to regular crew parties, companies ensure that everyone feels welcomed and has the opportunity to interact with people from diverse backgrounds.

Diversity in gender
Diversity is required not just culturally but also in gender. A 2017 consensus by the Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs estimated that just two per cent (or 24,000) of the 1.2 million seafarers around the world (IMO figures) are women. Of the 24,000, just 20 per cent are women, and most have cruise ship jobs.
The cruise industry is working hard to improve gender diversity on board. Celebrity Cruises boosted the number of women working across their fleet from three per cent to 22 per cent in just four years.

In 2007, the cruise industry saw the first woman appointed captain – Sweden’s Karin Stahre-Janson took over the helm of Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas. Since then, many other lines have had female cruise captains, including Cunard, P&O Cruises, Windstar – whose Belinda Bennett became the first black female captain, Sea Cloud Cruises, AIDA, Silversea and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Women have proved themselves in positions of authority and are now being recognised for it too. The IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea in 2016 went to Captain Radhika Menon, of Indian descent no less and the first woman to receive this honour. She was recognised for her role in rescuing seven fishermen from a sinking fishing boat.
There are still many barriers that prevent women from working at sea, especially in high-ranking positions and technical roles, but organisations such as the International Labour Organization are working to improve gender diversity on board.

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How To Progress In Your Cruise Ship Career

Important Qualities To Succeed In Cruise Ship Jobs
There’s a lot to look forward to in your first cruise ship job. The work environment is quite unlike the shore-based hospitality industry in many aspects. So many prospective cruise line employees wonder what their career graph will look like in the future.

With cruise ship jobs, you can get on board in one department and then switch within the company after a few contracts and find something else you might like. Or you can stick with the same department and climb the hierarchy within.

Many companies offer training programmes that enable you to upgrade your skills and apply for higher posts. You could start off as a line cook in the galley and move up to being the head chef of a particular restaurant, simply by honing skills and applying for vacant positions when they open up.

For higher posts, cruise companies require previous experience on a vessel, so sticking with cruise ship jobs can help build on that time needed. A junior assistant food and beverage manager on Princess Cruises, for example, requires two years of experience in a management position, while an assistant manager requires three years.

To oversee operations as the food and beverage manager, the applicant will need at least five years of experience in a senior management position with thorough knowledge of all the processes involved. If you have entered the cruise industry in an entry-level position, you will have to work your way up from there to a senior management position where you will be for five years before getting a shot at the position of food and beverage manager.

Most often, applicants with experience in the cruise industry will be considered first because they have an in-depth understanding of working on a cruise ship, from the long hours and seven-day work week, to the connections between various departments and hierarchy involved, to first-hand training in emergency drills and possibly even crowd management.

Remember that for dozens of entry-level staff on cruise ships, jobs are an interim feature, particularly if they are European or North American. Many see these jobs as a means of making quick money to pay for further education, or to travel the world more cost-effectively for a short period of time. In such cases, the competition for promotions decreases and only those who are committed to cruise ship jobs long-term remain in the bid for higher positions.

Understand that management is looking for not just experience and skills, but also personality and passion for the job. So when vacancies open up, you should showcase these in the interviews. Sometimes, additional skills can make a big difference. Service staff such as bartenders, maitre d’s and waiters who speak more than one international language will probably have an edge over others. Particularly if the language is common among their guest demographic – say Mandarin, German, Italian, French, Spanish and even Portuguese, which are among the top 10 cruise-loving nations in the world.

Other skills such as crowd management, designated security duties, emergency training in first aid, fire fighting or related sectors can also give you an edge over others. Some cruise companies have skills enhancement training on board, but it can be tough to find the time.

However, it’s possible to do these courses during your months off too. Typically, cruise ship crew can get between two to four months off between contracts. It can work to your advantage to use some of this time to broaden your skill set. Most emergency training courses last a week or so, while intensive language courses can be completed within a couple of months.

Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and open up your horizons with cruise ship jobs.

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Cruise Ship Jobs: Why Training is Important

Cruise Ship Jobs: Why Training is Important
Cruise ship jobs entail skills quite different from those required for similar shore-based jobs. With thousands of people in a relatively small space so far away from emergency services on shore, understanding passenger behaviour and knowing how to react during crises is extremely important.

Most cruise ships have their own on-board training programmes to ensure you are familiar with their in-house practices. However, some basic training is required before you take on cruise ship jobs.

One of the fundamental training programmes required is STCW – Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping. This certification offers training in coping with emergencies on board, including fire fighting and preventing fires, personal survival techniques, elementary first aid, and the various personal and social responsibilities you must adhere to while living and working on board.

An STCW certificate is a prerequisite to joining the cruise line, and there are refresher courses to keep your certificates updated with the latest requirements every five years.

On board, each cruise line will have training programmes that orient crew with the specific workings of that particular vessel. You will need to know your way around the ship as soon as possible. Some courses give you information and tips on how to deal with guests in varied situations and what the hierarchy is when escalating a matter.
Emergency drills and safety training on board are the most important programmes cruise ship jobs put you through. These tips stay with you for life and can even assist you in situations back home as well.

Paying attention to on-board cruise ship safety training helps avert disasters, particularly since guests can quickly switch to panic mode. Young children and old people need to be given special attention.

Strictly following the protocol of your cruise line can keep everyone out of harm’s way, with the best chance of survival in case of disasters. Each department ensures that all its personnel are given refresher courses, and are allotted responsibilities that need to be fulfilled in various situations. Training is also provided in handling emergency equipment such as life jackets, fire extinguishers, life boats, hydrants and breathing apparatus if any.
All crew members will need to know the locations of various emergency equipment, where to locate life jackets during emergencies and how to help passengers with putting them on.

Cruise ship companies also hold leadership training to find crew with aptitude to control crowds. This programme teaches employees the right kind of communication to use while helping large numbers of people to safety while maintaining order and keeping them calm.

Such training programmes help cruise ship crew learn how to first stay calm themselves, and then guide others with clear, coherent instructions. Crisis situations can cause tempers to fray and conflicts to arise between passengers. With training, crew members learn how to recognise situations before they escalate and diffuse stressful scenarios to aid the smooth flow of crisis management plans.

Other equally important training programmes on cruise lines include tutorials on using crew devices for communication and information, getting staff oriented with processes and standard operating procedures specific to your line of work, awareness of HESS policies (Health, Environmental, Safety and Security), etc. Some of these, particularly orientation and policies, are often made available to employees before they come on-board for their cruise ship jobs.

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Embarkation and Disembarkation – The Busiest Days On Cruise Ships

Embarkation and Disembarkation - The Busiest Days On Cruise Ships
Cruise ship jobs are known to be some of the most demanding out there. But things get even busier during embarkation and disembarkation. These are the days when passengers – often averaging around 3000 on ocean liners – come on board and depart respectively.

Embarkation is the process by which passengers are boarded and given their rooms, while disembarkation is when they are seen off the ship. On cruise ships, both happen on the same day when passengers from one trip leave, the crew make a quick turnaround, and a new set of passengers arrives on board.

It’s a tumultuous time, as guests are typically in a holiday mood and many are relaxed about instructions. All departments must work in harmony, and at full steam, to ensure that everything goes smoothly. The housekeeping department is especially busy.

Typically, guests are expected to have their luggage packed and ready for pick up the night before disembarkation. Many either forget or feel they can manage it by themselves. This can often lead to problems. Luggage picked up the previous night needs to be tagged and sent to appropriate holding areas before being unloaded and separated by zone number in the baggage claim at the terminal.
Many guests will wait until the last minute to leave their cabins, or will delay, causing housekeeping to back up and then work doubly hard to meet cleanliness standards before the new guests embark.

Staff have about four hours or so between disembarkation and embarkation. Within this time, each housekeeper will need to disassemble and assemble their entire section of about 15-21 double-bed cabins, including changing all the bedding, taking out the trash, dusting and vacuuming, washing the bathroom, filling ice trays and buckets and replenishing the mini bar.

They must also ensure that the stationery includes a directory folder with all the ship information, logbook, letters addressed to each passenger, emergency cards and cruise pass cards for each passenger, ID cards for children, and age-appropriate life jackets. In addition, the staff needs to bring the luggage of the new embarking passengers to the correct rooms.

To make it easier to handle the thousands of guests embarking on each ship, cruise companies offer online check-ins and staggered arrivals. This helps with crowd control and also allows the guests to experience shorter wait times.
Cruise ship jobs require staff to be polite, courteous and extremely patient, especially during embarkation and disembarkation. Guests can forget IDs, misplace documents or enter wrong information, despite receiving detailed instructions. Delayed waits can cause many to get upset, which increases the stress on cruise ship staff.

Cruise ship chefs are also under pressure to feed thousands their last meal before disembarkation and the same number of new guests arriving on board. Many who are embarking spend their time eating or enjoying a drink or two before they get settled in. Chefs try and take the opportunity to impress with high quality presentation, and waiters make their presence felt from the get-go so they can earn decent gratuities at the end of the cruise.

Guests requiring wheelchair assistance need to be attended to, while those who have pre-registered for early departures need to be given priority clearance. In addition, staff needs to be on hand at the photo gallery shop for last-minute purchases, as well as at the reception to ensure that all bills are cleared, any irregularities that can be settled immediately are looked after, and gift shop purchases held for safekeeping – such as liquor – are handed back to the guests.

Over time, cruise ship crew learn how to efficiently manage their time, but these crucial days remain the busiest and often the most stressful days on board.

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Arctic Cruise Tourism Unraveled

Arctic Cruise Tourism Unraveled
The real distinction today is no longer in opulence but in novelty. For the high rollers, a luxury cruise in gorgeous tropical ports no longer holds much water. Here’s where the uncharted oceans of the Arctic and Antarctic come in.

Climate change is real, and according to experts, the ice-covered landmasses and chilly floes of the polar regions are on borrowed time. The spellbinding views offer what is increasingly known as ‘experiential’ tourism, and cruises to the earth’s wintry edges may be the travellers’ last chance to catch a glimpse of the landscape before it sadly melts away.

International territorial regulations are confusing in these regions and the cost of tickets, though high, are not a deterrent for this sort of cruise-goer. This means that cruise ship jobs on polar routes will probably be increasingly in demand over the next couple of years.

But, this does not mean that polar cruises are basic, expedition-like skeletons with rudimentary upgrades. Cruise-goers can expect Champagne on ice, king-sized beds, indoor pools and other amenities. Crystal Cruises’ Endeavor even features a casino – the only one currently on an expedition ship – with blackjack, slots and roulette.

This isn’t all, Scenic Eclipse and Quark Expeditions’ Ultramarine cruises feature helicopters and submarines, which guests can use to scour the gorgeous landscape from the air and underwater. The Arctic Ocean is home to the rare narwhal, the angelic Beluga whale, polar bears, furry harp seals and gigantic humpback and sperm whales.

In the Antarctic Ocean, you can find emperor penguins, Weddell seals and Arctic Terns which migrate each year to their breeding grounds near the North Pole – 40,000kms in just four months. The Arctic land masses are also home to a wide variety of birds, and animals such as the Arctic fox, Arctic hare, Arctic wolf and snowshoe rabbit not found anywhere else in the world. Combined with the stunning and unforgiving landscape, these regions are mesmerising and jaw-dropping. The magical lights of the aurora borealis and aurora australis are also visible clearly in these regions.

Just a month ago, SeaDream announced a cruise that would let passengers get the best of both worlds. Its 88-day trip, that will kick off in 2022, will take them from Ushuaia in Argentina to a tour of the islands of Antarctica before creeping up South America’s eastern coastline. Then it breaks away to cross the Atlantic, headed for stops in Europe including London, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Finally, it heads to the Arctic circle to check out the Lofoten islands and the ice-fjords of Svalbard before ending in Longyearbyen.

According to InsideHook, the world can expect polar-class vessels from cruise operators including Seabourn, Abercrombie and Kent, Lindblad Expeditions, Hurtigruten, Crystal Cruises and Quark Expeditions over the next two years. Compared to the US$2000 Caribbean trips, prices here are around US$12000 a pop – the SeaDream cruise ranges anywhere between US$56,536 and US$160,838 per person.

Cruise Industry News suggests 13 expedition ships to launch in 2021, including the ultra-luxury Seabourn Venture which promises kayaks, mountain bikes, Zodiacs for up-close exploration, two six-person submarines, as well as free-flowing Champagne and caviar available round-the-clock.

Cruise Planners admits that passengers look for top-notch service, despite the unpredictability of the harsh environment. They might brave extreme weather to go ice-fishing, glacier hiking and polar diving, but at the end of the day luxury and custom services are expected on the cruise – butler service, gourmet food tastings, spa treatments and saunas.

To offset its contribution to climate change – which is part of the reason why cruise ships of this size are now able to traverse these regions, the Norwegian Coastal Express announced the MS Roald Amundsen which is propelled by environmentally sustainable hybrid technology that allows it to reduce fuel consumption. It features private balconies and outdoor hot tubs with spectacular views, a beautiful observation deck, infinity pool, gym, three restaurants and a science centre at which guests can mingle with the expedition team. Its sister ship MS Fridtjof Nansen should be ready to set sail in 2020.

The latest technologies are helping to diversify the cruise industry, and offering stakeholders including cruise ship chefs with more opportunities.

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