So, six weeks past very quickly I might add. I had a lovely time at home seeing family and friends but I was so excited to get back to Ventura to start the next chapter of my placement year and to catch up with all the friends I had made on board.
I flew back to Barbados on the 09/03/2012, staying overnight in a Hotel and joining Ventura the next morning at 9am ready for the crossing back to the UK. Going back to the ship, I was again a bit nervous, as I would be joining a new department, however I already knew people in the department so I was at ease. This contract I would be working in the Food and Beverage department, spending 3 weeks in each department. I started with a 2 week stint in back of house working in both the plate house and pot wash. This was extremely hard work and also long hours along with very hot working conditions. The crew were very friendly to me and I gained their respect through taking a hands on approach to the role. I then moved onto bars where I spent 3 weeks, working from a junior Bar Steward to a senior bartender. I also got the chance to help the Bar Manager develop the cocktail specifications for head office. I liked having in put into this and also being tested on how to make the cocktails.
The Galley was my next port of call. I was given my own chef’s whites and spent 3 weeks working hard in every galley on board. The work is very physically demanding and the heat is sometimes unbearable. The crew really work hard like all departments and in this time I managed to lose 1 stone. I absolutely loved the galley, I was working with someone new everyday and I learnt many new cooking tips. I then moved on to work in the restaurants. I started work up in the 24-hour buffet where I spent a whole week. I cleared tables, worked on the hot press refilling food, setting tables and helping passengers. After I had completed my week here I then worked in the select dining outlets as a waitress. Because I had already worked in the galley my knowledge of the menu was excellent and I knew ingredients for dishes if the passengers asked and could also make recommendations. I then moved to the main restaurant where I worked as a waitress and then moved to headwaiter and then to restaurant manager. I really enjoyed my time in restaurants and it gave me a better understanding of procedures and practices, which is great to know on the reception desk, as this is where passengers come to complain.
The last department in Food and Beverage that I covered was stores. Everything from food to uniform to office supplies is kept in stores and in order to collect anything from stores departments need to make an order using a programme called Netchef. In stores their job is to get the orders ready and to take stock take on a regular basis so we know what inventory is there. I worked in uniform stores first and then moved to food stores where I spent 3 days working in the freezer where I was moving crates of frozen chicken weighing 25kg. It was very physically demanding, but again the crew were very nice to me and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in stores. They work very hard in this department to ensure that everyone has the necessities for the ship to run effectively.
My last cruise on board was spent with Jenny Swift the Assistant Food and Beverage Manager. In this cruise we together organised and attended 10 weddings as sea, 4 renewals of vowels and 1 diamond wedding breakfast. I really enjoyed attending the wedding meetings with the bride and groom to clarify details and to also try and upsell products. It was a nice feeling to know that you were helping to create their special day. I also enjoyed the ceremonies, which the captain conducted and sometimes I was even asked by the bride and groom to sign the register and be the ring bearer. Apart from weddings the assistant Food and Beverage Manager has many other duties, for example on turn around day they are on the quayside waiting for the delivery of stock and they must sign the lorries in and out. They are also in charge of the crew and officers mess and need to check the food logs daily. They are also in charge of the foreign objects found in food and must complete letters that are sent to passenger cabins. I really enjoyed my time with working with Jenny and I learnt more about the Food and Beverage operation overall which will benefit me in the future.
Well, my time was up again. I was actually really sad at the thought of leaving Ventura. My whole experience was a fantastic journey. I learnt so much about the cruise industry and about the massive operation that comes with running a cruise ship and why communication is essential. I also felt I grew as a person, I became more confident and learnt a lot about myself, I feel like I matured more too. I was able to develop and adapt new skills and this I feel will help me in the future. The experience has left me more determined and motivated than ever before to do well at university and to go back to sea. When people ask me about my placement year I always tell them it was the best year of my life.