The food you eat while on a cruise is prepared by a number of chefs in the ship's galley. Each cruise line employs several different types of chefs, each with specific duties, from executive chef to line cook. The compensation of each galley employee depends on the cruise line and the person's own experience and skill.
Onboard vs. On Land
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, onboard chefs can make more than their counterparts working in restaurants. The BLS average for all chef salaries as of May 2012 was $42,480. However, those working in the "traveler accommodation" industry averaged $48, 210, and those in "other recreation" industries averaged $47, 490.
Executive Chef/Chef de Cuisine
The chef de cuisine is the head chef on the entire ship. Every other galley employee answers to him. Responsibilities include directing staff, planning meals, quality control, delegating responsibility throughout the vessel and directing culinary activities inside and outside the galley. The chef de cuisine must have eight to 10 years experience at 4- to 5-star hotels or restaurants to qualify for this top position. As of June 2014, the pay ranges from $4,500 to $7,800 per month depending on cruise line and experience.
Executive Sous Chef
The executive sous chef is the second-in-command of the ship's galley. This person assists the executive chef with food planning, preparation, quality control and reports galley activities on a daily basis. This position also reviews menus, estimates food preparation times and meets with the sous chef to discuss diner comments for possible improvements. Depending on experience and cruise line, this position pays between $3,800 and $6,500 per month as of June 2014.
A sous chef is responsible for the daily operation of galley staff and helps the executive sous chef in food planning and preparation. She is also responsible for quality control and for managing and coordinating galley activities at various work stations. The sous chef reviews food requisitions from work stations, assigns duties and observes and evaluates employee performance. As of June 2014, this job pays between $3,400 and $5,800 per month. Some cruise lines may combine the executive sous chef and the sous chef position.
Chef de Partie
A chef de partie is a senior chef and is normally in charge of a particular section of the galley. For example, a galley may have a pastry chef de partie or a buffet chef de partie. This person prepares food, sauces and manages the food displays in the buffets. As of June 2014, the monthly salary ranges from $3,200 to $4,600. A demi chef de partie assists the chef de partie in supervising the sections and maintaining order, and helps to prepare the food and provides oversight and quality control. As of June 2014, a demi chef de partie earns between $2,700 and $3,700 per month.
Cruise line pastry chefs must have the experience necessary to reflect the high quality that passengers expect. The pastry chef supervisor oversees all operations of the pastry staff and must have at least three years experience in working with pastries. The salary of a pastry chef supervisor, as of June 2014, ranges from $1,900 per month to $2,400 per month. Pastry chefs must have no fewer than two years of experience. According to Cruise Ship Jobs, a pastry chef can expect to earn between $1,100 and $1,500 per month.
Cooks on ships earn a range of salaries, depending on experience. A cruise ship commis is a cook under the direction of the chef de partie or demi chef de partie. All cooks are intimately involved in food preparation and cooking process, deboning meats, cutting vegetables, broiling, grilling, and preparing the sauteés. As of June 2014, cooks earn between $1,400 and $2,500 per month.