Guests aboard Carnival Breeze carry custom-made hamburgers and fries prepared at Guy’s Burger Joint, a free burger venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines

Cruise Adviser: The buffet by the numbers

Have you ever looked at all the food on the cruise ship buffet and thought, “I wonder who shops for all of that?”

The answer is probably the ship’s provision or inventory master. This person is in charge of stocking the food and beverages for the entire cruise, from the eggs at breakfast to the olive in your martini. Large ships rarely pick up any provisions en route, so the pantry has to be stocked with everything passengers are going to eat for the entire cruise.

Cruise lines also need to be aware of the nationality of their passengers and the cruise destination when putting together their mammoth shopping list. A Royal Caribbean executive chef told The New Yorker in 2014 that the Spanish eat a lot more fruit, a lot more bread and a lot more cheeses. Brits like heavy, cold-weather foods. Americans like chewy cookies, but Europeans want crunchy, dunkable ones. Fruit consumption rises on warmer cruises. And what about the Australians? We’re known to drink the most.

So what does this mean in numbers? Take the world’s largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas. For a seven-day Caribbean cruise with 6,000 passengers onboard the ship will be stocked with 24,000 bottles of beer, 1,400 bottles of champagne and 9,000 cans of soft drink. Passengers will consume more than 4,000 kilograms of tomatoes, almost 7,000 kilograms of potatoes and 11,500 kilograms of meat over the course of the voyage.

Closer to home, the 2,680 passengers onboard Carnival Spirit consume more than 9,074 kilograms of meat, 4,535 kilograms of chicken and poultry, and 11,339 kilograms of grocery and produce items. That includes 28,860 eggs, 2,200 kilograms of tomatoes, 1,100 kilograms of lettuce, 4,900 kilograms of melons and 980 kilograms of bananas.

On an average P&O cruise 80 tonnes of food and drink are consumed, with more than 10,000 meals prepared each day by almost 100 chefs. Passengers getting into tropical mode during the average Pacific Islands cruise will eat 1,500 kilos of pineapple.

In just one day onboard Diamond Princess the 3,800 passengers and crew will consume 2,600 kilograms of fresh fruit, 2,400 kilograms of fresh vegetables, 542 kilograms of potatoes, 152 litres of ice cream, 1,200 slices of pizza, 6,000 pastries, 8,300 eggs, 162 kilograms of bacon, 268 kilograms of cheese, 1,230 canapés, 30 kilograms of smoked salmon, 622 kilograms of seafood, 146 kilograms of shrimp and 83 kilograms of lobster.

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