UNLV Epicurean Society
For the last summer break internship spotlight, we have Meghan Schoener, and her experiences working on board an American Cruise Liner ship:
Over the summer, I have had the distinct pleasure of working for the American Cruise Lines, a company providing river cruises. Starting in mid-May I participated in a week-long training class where I learned the proper methods for food and beverage service, as well as housekeeping. After I travelled to New Orleans, I went to meet up with the America, the biggest vessel in the American Cruise Lines’ fleet. It has a capacity of 185 passengers, with a putting green, exercise equipment, lounge areas and numerous other amenities. Nervous, but not dissuaded, I quickly picked up the specifics of my job as a Ship’s Stewardess with the aid of my “Boat Family” members’ help.
The company’s motto, “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work,” was driven home constantly through the fluid and cooperative efforts the entire crew developed with each other. As I got to know my “Boat Family,” and how to participate and work as a member of that team, I quickly realized how that deep level of commitment to working together enhances the experience of each passenger’s stay.
Our “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work” motto is demonstrated in the pre-meals process. The kitchen leadership team of three chefs and one pastry chef would gather the stewards servicing meals to taste and walk through the preparation process. Because the passengers often come to us with questions, it was required that we know the process from produce to plate as well as the final taste of each dish. This meant we tasted every dish before meal service, which was a great way for me to sample a range of new dishes.
Some of the most memorable were a pan-seared skirt steak; pork rubbed with chocolate and espresso and baked; red snapper broiled and plated on top of a bed of brown rice; and my favorite, butternut squash penne pasta. Also included in each meal were decadent desserts and during the pre-meal process we also tasted many of the pastry chef’s desserts that ranged from cherry chocolate cake to key lime pie. These eye-opening tastings illustrated how understanding the ins and outs of the entire meal allowed me to quickly and accurately respond to passenger inquiries.
I knew which dishes were spicy, which had garlic and what contained gluten. The ship also hosted specialty meals. Each Friday, the ship had a surf and turf specialty dinner that included lobster and clarified butter paired with tenderloin cutlets topped with gravy. In addition to the Friday meal, the ship hosted a weekly barbeque buffet that boasted pulled pork, dry rubbed ribs, grilled chicken, macaroni salad and a range of other dishes.
Over the three months I worked on the America, I visited Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Missouri. During the length of my trip I connected with fellow crewmen and passengers alike. One of the most memorable interactions was during my shift as a Dining Assistant. My manager approached me during prep and informed me that I needed to help set up and service a wedding dinner party. I happily set up for the dinner amused by the day’s surprise because I wasn’t aware that we had a wedding party aboard.
The guest party consisted of a wonderful elderly couple who had just got married. It was such a pleasure and it warmed my heart as I interacted with them. By the end of the service a number of the guests thanked me for looking after them and making the dinner a wonderful experience.
Each day on my trip I had a new wonderful surprise and something new to learn. I certainly will never forget this incredible summer cruising the Mississippi.
This will be the last internship spotlight before a return to our usual pieces about our events and outings as a club. As I write this my belongings are packed into boxes ready for the drive back to Vegas. Ariel Larson and I are busy connecting with local businesses and planning events for the UNLV Epicurean Society to take part in over the next semester.