As we left Hamilton Island setting sail for Darwin, the ship’s captain married a young couple at sea. As pictures were being taken after the ceremony, the bride indicated that she would like some of the photos to show the gorgeous sunset in the background. At first this appeared to pose a bit of a dilemma since the sun was setting on the opposite side of the ship from where the pictures were being taken. Not a problem for the Crystal Serenity officers and crew, though. The Captain ordered the ship to circle around; the photos were taken and we then we proceeded on our way.
And speaking of photos, here are some taken in Darwin, in the Northern territories in the Australian Outback.
I was able to take a short tour of the main kitchen for the ship (tours of various places are offered to guests when time permits), and thought you might enjoy some of what I learned. The ship holds 1,000 passengers, and crew of 655. The staff of the galley for the main kitchen is 100 people, and they work hard. There is a large main dining room, and food is served at several other locations on the ship (including high tea each day).
A shopping list for each leg of the cruise is prepared on board, and emailed to the Crystal purchasing department in Los Angeles; the purchasing dept makes arrangements around the world for purchase, delivery to the pier, and quality/freshness checks. Food that is accepted is stored in various places (special meat lockers, produce coolers, etc.) until is needed for meals. Fish is always fresh, so it’s brought on board in most ports.
The breakfast team (10 chefs, cooks and assistant cooks) starts in the main dining room at 5 a.m., and the race is on to prepare and serve breakfast throughout the ship (staterooms, the main dining area, the buffet areas).
At 7:30 a.m. lunch and dinner preparations begin, and the work continues until everyone’s final meals are served (generally 11 p.m.), and the dishes, glasses, silverware, pots and pans are cleaned and put away. The night cleaners finish their work in the galley just before the 5 a.m. breakfast team starts all over.
There are 7 pastry chefs and 4 bakers on board, as well as 15 people who prepare cold dishes, and 6 people who deal with fresh vegetables, pasta and soup dishes. There’s a butcher shop, dedicated coffee pantry staff, sauciers and fish prep team. Ten dishwashers are joined by a team of 4 people who scrub and polish the pots, pans, skillets, etc.
Here’s some data for those of you who like numbers; the daily average service of various food items follows:
Ice cream * 170 quarts
Salads 200 lbs
Fruit 2,000 lbs
Cooked veg’s 2,000 lbs
Pasta 150 lbs
Beef 500 lbs
Poultry 850 lbs
Fish, seafood 750 lbs
Coffee 100 gallons
Milk 90 gallons
*Ice cream is top priority for those who live near Hoffman’s!
So I guess Joe and I will not be complaining when we get back to NJ and have to prepare our own little meals for 2! Hopefully our guests will benefit from what we have learned about good food while on this trip!
Just in case you wonder why there are no posts from Thursday Island, it’s because we couldn’t stop there on our way to Darwin. The sea was a bit rough, so the tender boats could not safely ferry people to the island.
And plans for Bali and Shanghai have changed; we will have less time in each place. In the case of Bali, some weather/tidal issues will have us land late. In Shanghai, new security restrictions after the explosion in Tianjian mean that we have to stop at a foreign port in between stops in Shanghai and Tianjian, so we’ll lose a day in Shanghai.
So I guess travel plans on a ship are just as variable as anywhere else…
Darwin, AUS Friday, Feb 26, 2016 (2 pm local time)
Yesterday we visited Darwin, at the “Top End” of Australia. Darwin’s proximity to Asia and its position at the top of the outback country give it a very different feel than Brisbane or Sydney; less British history and development, more Aboriginal and Chinese influence through today. The Top End (Northern Territory) has a wet season and a dry one, and they are characterized by extremes in weather, vegetation and animals – everything from monsoons to brush fires in dry season, crocodiles, watefalls, termite mounds and anthills that are as tall as people, rain forests, and feral animals of all types in the outback. The Northern Territory is not populous enough to be a State in Australia, so the Territory is self-governing (unless the federal government overrules it).
We learned a lot about Darwin’s history, which started when telegraph cables were extended underwater and overland throughout the English empire, connecting Australia with the rest of the world. This ability to communicate over the wires allowed Australians in the sparsely populated interior to stay in touch with the developing coastal cities, as well as providing a means for radio-delivered education of children in the interior. Darwin was named after Charles Darwin, by the way.
Darwin is the seat of government for the Northern Territory, and it’s a town with a history of recovering from disasters and starting all over. Darwin was a key base for US military in WWII, and WWII airstrikes from Japan destroyed most of the city, but it was rebuilt. Cyclone Tracy destroyed much of the city in 1974, and an historic airlift of citizens resulted, but the city was rebuilt. The city has a wide and deep harbor, and its location is great for commerce. There are many gardens and parks in the downtown, and the city has been described as “cosmopolitan but casual.”
We toured the Territory WildLife Park yesterday, and saw a very cool bird training session with owls, emu and eagles (Joe will post some pictures).
Darwin’s history includes a lot of activity related to the pearling industry. Interestingly, the pearls were not the first item sought as this industry evolved – the clam shells were (for use in buttons, table utensils and other decorative items). Giant clams were harvested until they nearly became extinct – the shells are 3 or more feet wide.
In recent years, Darwin is seeing an increased US military presence as the US commitment to NATO allies is reinforced. Oddly enough, the port of Darwin has recently been leased to the Chinese government, so that situation will require some careful management of US activity.
We are now in the Timor Sea on our way to Bali. The air and sea are both 88F/31C, and the humidity is very high. There are phenomenal lighting displays at night, and we expect some rain today.