Last week, my wife and I had the opportunity to take our first cruise.  The cruise was 5 days and had 3,000 passengers and approximately 1,000 crew members.

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The cruise got me thinking about what it takes to feed everyone on board among other things.  Usually, we think of shipping vessels in procurement and supply chain as opposed to an actual cruise ship itself and what it takes to keep it motoring so to speak.

In researching the topic, I found some very interesting facts and statistics.

Obviously, as far as food goes, just-in-time (JIT) deliveries from suppliers are absolutely crucial.  This requires advanced planning with respect to:

  • Itineraries
  • Occupation forecasts
  • Consumption records

According to Eduardo Lopez Puertas, VP of Land Operations with Pullmantur Group, the average consumption of food products on a cruise ship per week is as follows:

  • Eggs – 18,600 (or 1,550 dozen)
  • Flour – 1,550 pounds
  • Beef – 4,200 pounds
  • Bananas – 1,550 pounds
  • Water – 1,320 gallons
  • Beer – 1,320 gallons
  • Milk – 1,060 gallons
  • Whiskey – 210 gallons


Perhaps it was the cruise ship that I was on, but I was surprised at how much milk is typically consumed compared to water in a week.

In addition, a cruise ship also averages 12,000 drinking straws per month and 4,000 rolls of toilet paper!

A great deal of planning goes into the procurement process for a cruise ship including vendor selection and bidding, transportation and the delivery time of goods.

For provisions, price and quality obviously play a huge role.  According to Puertas, “big suppliers with a vast range of products are often chosen to deliver more than 90% of the total provisions”.  Small suppliers are then used for local products and urgent deliveries.

Other items needed to keep a cruise ship running such as spare parts are typically purchased in terms of reliability of the parts, response time of the supplier(s) in case of emergency and price.

While in my first experience it seemed the cruise ship transitioned flawlessly from breakfast to lunch to dinner, there was a great deal of moving parts continuously churning to keep the boat afloat so to speak.  In this case, the ratio of guests to employees was approximately 3 to 1.  Between janitorial workers, cooks, waiters and other crew members, it is extremely impressive to keep so many people satisfied on one massive ship.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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