Marco Cargnello headshot

In this article, renowned Galley Design Expert at Almaco, Marco Cargnello, explains the importance of thorough pre-development in achieving optimal functionality and excellence in cruise ship galley operations.


Marco Cargnello: Cruise ship galleys are behind some of the most exclusive and largest dining experiences in the world. Some of the biggest vessels serve up to 10 thousand people multiple times a day. With that many portions to prepare, galley operations must be built to run like clockwork. This leaves little room for errors or delays.

“Well planned is half done” is one of my favorite sayings. I believe one of the biggest success factors of cruise ship galley projects lies in putting extra focus and effort into the first phase of the project, the “pre-development phase”. In this article, I will explore why pre-development should be done thoroughly. I will also share the boxes we need to tick during this phase.

What does pre-development of galleys mean and why is it important?

There are many aspects involved when planning food preparation, serving, and disposal on board. As a result, it is vital to dedicate proper time and resources to the pre-development of the galley areas as well as the whole food flow.

Whether we are talking about “Extended turnkey” (steel to steel) projects or, the slightly lighter, “Visual turnkey” (panel to panel) projects, all cruise ship galley projects usually consist of the following phases: Pre-development, Contract, Design & Engineering, Construction, and finally, Delivery.

By doing a thorough pre-development, we ensure that we have the correct area surfaces, the right flow of people and goods, ergonomics for the crew, the right equipment, and a realistic budget and timetable. Ultimately, putting more effort and thought into pre-development makes the whole project less costly for the owner and shipyard. It also reduces the risk of mistakes and miscalculations.

cruise ship galley
The pre-development phase is key in creating an optimal cruise ship galley

What boxes do we need to tick during the pre-development of galleys?

Understanding the needs and usage

The first step of the pre-development phase is making sure we understand the needs and usage of the galley. During this stage, the ship owner provides fleet standards, restaurant menus, preferred brands, and other basic information.

We also speak with the head chef, exploring different restaurant concepts, menu options, number of seats, amount of crew members working in the area, and where and when the vessel will stop to replenish.

A tailor-made design that suits the surroundings

When designing a show galley that is visible to guests, such as a bar or buffet, the architect’s concepts and styles must be considered. The catering equipment needs to seamlessly blend into the dining atmosphere whilst having a positive impact on the quality of the food and service that guests receive.

Mapping of food and passenger flow, work areas, interfaces, and obstacles   

Even when galleys are hidden from the guests, we need to make sure that the food service design blends in with the architectural, engineering, and interior design plans. It takes a lot of experience and knowledge to get it right, but when the target is met, the result is exemplary food preparation and service spaces with optimal flow and functionality.

Galleys also have various work areas that need to be integrated with one another throughout the entire ship. Food must flow from the galley to the guest’s table smoothly and efficiently.

At this point of the pre-development phase, we start creating conceptual designs as well as 2D and 3D layout drawings of the galleys, bars, pantries, restaurants, and provision stores. Here we consider structural challenges such as fire bulkheads, watertight doors, and pillars. Due to all the equipment and heavy materials, galleys hold significant weight. This also needs to be thought out in the design and layout.

Galleys are one of the biggest energy consumers on a vessel. They are connected to almost all onboard systems. These systems are sometimes “invisible” to the naked eye, but crucial when planning the layout and design of cruise ship galleys. For example, the dimensions of a counter will vary depending on whether the refrigeration system is autonomous or remote.

Choosing the right equipment and solutions

We then create and share conceptual designs and drawings of the layout suggestions, along with detailed specifications and equipment lists including technical data and prices. We also present the owner with capacity calculations that ensure the right equipment and solutions are chosen for catering areas.

At this point in the pre-development phase, we present new and innovative catering solutions to the owner. These may include high-speed cookers and ovens, dishwashers with lower water consumption, or smart hoods that switch on automatically when the cooking starts.

Compliance with rules and regulations (USPHS, NORSOK)

When designing galleys, regulations need to be followed. We recommend complying with the guidelines in the U.S. Public Health (USPH) standards or the Norwegian shelf’s competitive position (NORSOK) standards depending on where the ship will operate and the needs of the owner. Crew health and ergonomics guidelines should also be followed.

Creating a detailed budget

The pre-development phase is the basis for creating the budget for the galley project. It’s important to create a precise and accurate budget that takes the owner’s real needs and wants into account. Cost comparisons between different alternatives should be presented and discussed in detail. If the budget is too abstract at this point, there are bound to be unwanted surprises later in the project.

Lifecycle optimization and sustainability

For a design plan to be future proof, it must consider lifecycle services and sustainability. When the galleys are installed and the equipment is in operation, spaces must be arranged so that technicians and maintenance personnel can access technical spaces.

Lowering energy consumption has become the standard in cruise ship galley design. It’s important to select energy-saving equipment and plan for proper technical spaces that fit energy-saving devices. I also recommend using energy consumption controlling and monitoring systems, like ALMACO’s Galley Energy Management (GEM) system. This avoids unnecessary energy consumption and optimizes when equipment is turned on and off. I recommend cruise lines should keep an eye on emerging technologies and advanced solutions to ensure catering areas have the most state-of-the-art equipment.

The perfect compromise

With so many aspects to consider, fine-tuning a cruise ship galley can be a challenging and multifaceted task. It takes experience and deep knowledge of catering areas and solutions. It is also key to have a thorough understanding of the needs of the ship owner. This leads to a good and detailed plan, which is the best indicator for a successful project.


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