Catering for a sailing vessel means always being self reliant
Steven Adamson, hotel manager on the SPV Star Clipper, gives Jo Austin the low down on feeding 170 demanding ship passengers
Star Clippers operates a fleet of tall ships, sailing year-round in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Cuban and Asian waters. As our vessels are always on the move we have to be totally self reliant.
When things are going smoothly our supplies, pre-ordered three weeks in advance, are flown in from Genoa each week and then loaded in Venice where everything is X-rayed to meet customs requirements. We can buy milk, cheese and butter locally if suppliers comply with WHO regulations. When cruising in Asia supplies are flown into Singapore or Penang and escorted to the vessel, where we receive a code to check or break the barcode for terrorism prevention. Food safety is paramount at all times.
Unlike large cruise vessels, we are a ship with no doors. I'm told it would spoil the look but it makes loading seven tonnes of provisions without getting in the way a challenge! We have a secret chute in the middle of the Tropical Bar through which we can lower everything through five decks using the ship's winch. At the bottom it is all hands on deck to unpack.
We're not allowed to take on any flowers or plants as part of our pest control and do not allow cardboard boxes below to avoid contamination. All our provisions are labelled by day so we can store them in our walk-in fridge and freezer in date order to match menus which are carefully planned three weeks in advance.
We produce our own water for cooking, showers, toilets and ice and do all laundry onboard. We even keep our sewage in the form of dehydrated pellets until it can be disposed of safely in port. All our rubbish is transferred to a barge once a week and gets disposed of as ‘international rubbish'.
Our six multi-national chefs and six waiters manage the entire catering operation, with food going up in one lift and dirties coming down in the other. We do not cater for halal or kosher but our bakery does produce gluten-free bread every day.
The crew works on a duty cycle with six to 10 months onboard and two months off. Life below deck is always entertaining with many nationalities and plenty of talent - and it always seems to be somebody's birthday. They all support Crystal Palace, which might just be down to my influence! starclippers.com