Q1 2021: Meals Are So Important

6.73 up from 6.61

The issue of food onboard, the standard of catering, cooking and ingredients have often been a major sticking point for seafarers. We often receive far longer and more detailed written descriptions about this than any other point.

It is pleasing to see that once again this is on the rise, having been a consistent faller across 2020. Now, it seems, in keeping with other areas of relatively easy improvement that companies have been investing more in better food. Food is a very emotive issue, and the responses we receive often stress the importance of diet and also the social importance of mealtimes.

Responses towards the end of last years started to indicate a new trend of companies being rather more generous than usual when it came to food. With crews unable to get ashore, or not even certain when they would go home, there have seemingly been better meals to look forward to. This has made a big difference for those whose employers have dug a little deeper.

In the past, there has been much criticism of low feeding rates, and with discussions of USD7.5 per crew a day, it is perhaps understandable that a small increase can deliver positive results. While we noted criticism of catering companies who run contracts for ships, and growing frustration where the standards are not felt to be adequate.

A ship with good and plentiful food is a far happier ship. That is as true today as it has always been. Though of course even good ingredients ultimately depend on the skill or otherwise of the cook. We get very few middle ground responses when it comes to the standard of cooks. They are seemingly either brilliant or awful, with little in between. We have heard criticisms of not only the standard of cooking but also surrounding standards of safety, food handling and preparation.

We have noted a growing trend of vegetarian complaints and concerns, with seafarers stating that not eating meat often leaves them either very few options or having to go hungry. “Being a vegetarian is a big problem onboard”.

Sometimes though, through the many responses, we get a small insight into the real impact of life at sea. This time around, it came as one seafarer told us, “Sometimes I lie in my bunk dreaming about a wild boar sandwich with chilli chutney sauce. . . come on cook!” We hope this particular seafarer’s dreams do come true.

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