Cruising Behind The Scenes: Before The Dining Room Opens

Dinner is a major event on pretty much any cruise ship and one that commands a great amount of attention, for everyone.  As passengers we plan the evening around dinner, choosing a preferred time to dine and often lining up before the doors open, cameras ready to document the experience. It’s just that good. The ship’s culinary team knows this and wants everything to be picture-perfect, fully aware that ‘people eat with their eyes’ as the old restaurant saying goes.  But the highly-skilled chefs on board also know their creations have to taste good too or they can bounce right back to the kitchen faster,  than they were presented tableside.  On the Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise, ChrisCruises was granted unprecedented access to the culinary workings of Seabourn Sojourn, allowed to see what happens before the dining room opens.

Messina - 120

Photo ©Chris Owen

As one might anticipate, preparation for dinner begins far ahead of serving.  Supplies are loaded on ships during turnaround day, as one batch of passengers leaves the ship and the next one boards.  We watch as semi-trucks of supplies line up to unload before the ship sails away to amazing destinations.  That’s on any ocean cruise.


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Photo ©Chris Owen

Content of the Seabourn Food and Wine Cruise added an additional layer of intricacy with a number of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and events fueled by sourcing additional ingredients locally, at the ports visited along the way.

Still, the daily routine for opening the dining room is set in stone, beginning 15 minutes before the dining room opens.


Chef Neil Breen - 30

Photo ©Chris Owen

On board Seabourn Sojourn, Executive Chef Neal Breen personally tests every menu item, every night.


As the culinary team who will cook them that night stands by, Chef Breen provides clear direction as we see in this short video.


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At the same time, a presentation table is set up in the dining room, gathering dishes specific to the menu of the evening.  Ten minutes before the dining room opens, waiters will have completed setting the dining room for the evening and will gather to be briefed on the menu.


Chef Neil Breen - 40

Photo ©Chris Owen

Waiters pay close attention to Chef Breen as he describes each item on that evening’s menu, providing the wait staff with the knowledge they need to answer questions from guests and make appropriate suggestions.


Mescaline Salad With Tangerine Dressing

Photo ©Chris Owen

The end result is an award-winning onboard experience, difficult if not impossible to emulate on land.  Voted Best Luxury Cruise Line by the readers of Travel Weekly magazine,  the culinary teams of each Seabourn ship go through similar paces each night, before the dining room opens.



Photo ©Chris Owen


Guiding fleet wide efforts, Manager of Restaurants And Bars Luca Dimatteo fuels the passion that runs throughout culinary operations and was on hand for the Seabourn Food and Wine Cruise.  Dimatteo insists on attention to detail, a steadfast requirement of quality foodservice operations, before the dining room opens.

Join us this year as we go behind the scenes on a variety of cruise lines, taking a good hard look at the side of cruising not normally seen by passengers.  Going deeper inside cruise vacations, it should be an interesting ride.