"Good evening. My name is Ray, I am your waiter for this evening and it will be my pleasure to serve you!"
Yes, this is my introduction speech, and if you plan to be a waiter on-board a cruise ship you will say this a million times over – but of course using your own name!
I have just been promoted to the position of Waiter and I am loving it. My first contract was as a Busboy, also called Assistant Waiter. Now I am getting to use my excellent skills in service, and of course I will earn more money.
We are a team of 35 waiters in the Main Dining Room, and of course we serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition we have a chocolate buffet during the cruise, and that means extra hours to work during the night.
Luckily all waiters are only needed for dinner, and so we rotate in who is working during breakfast times and lunch hours. The reason for this is that many guests will rather go to the buffet style restaurant for breakfast and dinner. Only during sea days will we have more of a 'full house' during these times.
I have a station with 25 seats assigned to me, for which I am responsible. Together with my Assistant we make sure the tables are set, and that we have enough cutlery, napkins and condiments at the station.
Before dinner service starts we have the menu briefing with the Chef and the Maitre D', so we know exactly what the seasonable vegetables for the day are, how the dishes are cooked and what the recommended meal for the day is.
Today I had the day off, and only need to work for Dinner. We line up, next to the Head Waiter at the entrance of the door and escort our guests to their table in our station. We have an open seating policy on-board, so there are no fixed and assigned tables for the guests. While my assistant serves bread, butter and water, I hand out the menus to the guests, ask them how their day was and give recommendations on today's menu.
If the guests like wine or drinks from the bar with their dinner, I will call the wine steward and the bar waiter to take their orders. In the meantime I greet other guests, and then take the orders. I work well as team with my assistant, who will bring the orders to the galley and will also pick up the dishes when needed. Whilst this is happening I take the orders from the other guests, make sure all dishes are served in a timely manner and to the correct person.
After dinner service we will prepare the station for breakfast service. This means we change the table cloths, fold and prepare the napkins, polish the cutlery and set the tables.
My day ends around 11pm at night, and I am looking forward to hanging out in the crew bar for a little while.
The next time, I'll tell you about the chocolate buffet.
Ray Sharma, India