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Cruise Diary: Food, Glorious Food At Sea

Days 16-17, At Sea

After two exciting days in Rio, two days at sea en route to Buenos Aires, were the ticket to relaxation and enjoyment. And talking of enjoyment, the first thing that pops to mind is the food, the glorious food on the Amsterdam. One of the reasons we selected Holland America for our 112-day voyage around the world was the great food we had enjoyed in previous cruises with the line and the tremendous amount of choices available at mealtime. For instance, each dinner menu has seven different entrees listed, plus always-available items like grilled salmon and roasted chicken breast. Several appetizers, soups and salads are on the menu each day (plus shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad are always available), and ten desserts to pick from.

Amsterdam's Captain Jonathan Mercer with Humberto, myself and Duffy.

Humberto, myself and Duffy with Amsterdam's Captain Jonathan Mercer.

With all this food, you may think that putting on weight on a cruise is inevitable, but not so! There are light choices each day including spa cuisine, vegetarian dishes, and salad entrees. One can order “smaller” portions of entrees if desired. When I boarded I weighed in at 116.6 pounds, and almost three weeks later I weighed myself again and the scale – while the ship was at port, a true reading — read a wonderful 116.4!!! The secret for me has been having a light breakfast (like I do at home of cereal, yogurt, juice and fresh blueberries), a normal lunch including dessert, but limiting bread to one roll and a four-course dinner including dessert but limiting bread to one roll. And I go for walks on the promenade deck and always take the stairs (except when going up more than three decks). So, I’ve enjoyed the chocolate avalanche, the brownie bars, the blueberry pie and many other delights!

Humberto weighs the same 144 pounds he did when he boarded – he has regular-size entrees, but works them off as he does at home with sessions at the gym and 2.5-mile walks on the wraparound promenade deck. And also great news: Duffy, our teddy bear that is going around the world, is the same weight as when he boarded! He is an active fellow: yesterday, on the formal night, he donned his tie and met up with the captain! But on the subject of food, today’s cruise passengers want not just gourmet cuisine but also to learn about all aspects of its preparation and to take home some recipes to enjoy some of the delectable dishes at home – that will remind them of their fabulous cruise.

To that end, Holland America offers backstage tours where we got welcomed “to your galley” to see chefs and other staff carving vegetables, preparing pastries and other dishes. We were told 102 persons work in the galley and that the “grocery list” for one week’s consumption includes 18,000 eggs, 8,500 lbs. of meat and meat products, 4,000 lbs. of poultry, 2,000 lbs. of fish, 12,000 lbs. of vegetables, 4,500 lbs. of potatoes, 2,100 lbs. of rice, 4,000 quarts of dairy, 1,800 lbs. of watermelon, 2,900 lbs. of flour, 200 gallons of ice cream, 700 lbs. of sugar and much more.

Imagine fitting all that in your weekly grocery cart at the store! Additionally, the Amsterdam has a state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Center where demonstrations presented by the line’s chefs, visiting chefs and the ship’s hostess show passengers how to prepare various dishes – many reflecting the itinerary like a mango gazpacho and beef skewers with chimichurri; others delectable creations like the Grand Marnier volcano chocolate cake – warm with a luscious melted chocolate center — served in the ship’s alternative restaurant, the Pinnacle Grill. Recipes are handed out so guests who wish to do so may try them at home … and best of all, samples of the culinary creations are passed out. The Grand Marnier volcano chocolate cake was simply sublime!

Amsterdam's Culinary Arts Center.

Amsterdam's Culinary Arts Center.

Freelance travel writer Georgina Cruz and her husband Humberto are currently sailing on Amsterdam’s 112-day Grand World Voyage and will be sending in cruise diaries throughout their time on board. She has logged 174 voyages to all seven continents and visited more than 100 countries.

  • Tom & Carol

    Hi, Georgina…
    We enjoyed your overview on the topic of food. Yes, very good food with HAL.
    Like you, Humberto, I enjoy daily gym sessions. Burning calories makes the desserts more enjoyable.
    Have fun!

  • Tom & Carol

    Hi, Georgina…..
    Curious how HAL evening menu entrees reflect the local world culture. If willing, describe a few local menu choices (non-American standards). Thanks. Enjoy!

  • Julie

    Hi Tim and Carol. Not sure if Georgina is checking the blog, so I will see if I can get her answer for you. Julie

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