What Does a Galley Steward Do?

K. Testa

A galley steward, also sometimes referred to as a kitchen steward, works in the galley area of a ship. As part of the ship's crew, his main responsibilities usually include food preparation and ensuring overall galley cleanliness. Galley stewards typically work on military vessels and commercial cruise ships, and depending on the size of the ship, may work independently or under the supervision of a chief steward.

On a cruise ship, a galley steward may supervise dishwashers, maintanance workers, and other kitchen personnel.
On a cruise ship, a galley steward may supervise dishwashers, maintanance workers, and other kitchen personnel.

On a ship, the galley steward is normally expected to help with meal planning and food preparation. His duties can vary, but he is frequently in charge of overseeing the food inventory and the storage facilities, such as pantries and freezers. He usually arranges for periodic maintenance and deep cleaning of these areas as well. The steward also might assist the chef by baking or otherwise preparing food when requested, and in some cases, he may actually serve and clean up the meals.

A galley steward may be responsible for proper garbage disposal.
A galley steward may be responsible for proper garbage disposal.

Another main responsibility of a galley steward is cleaning the galley and maintaining the work areas. He usually takes care of the dishes, utensils, and any other cooking accessories, for instance. He might also sweep and wash the floors and walls, along with performing other necessary cleaning tasks. The steward usually handles waste removal, for example, by separating the trash from recyclables and properly disposing of the items.

A galley steward's additional tasks might include maintaining all of the kitchen equipment and cleaning supplies. In some cases, he might have to operate industrial-sized machinery, often requiring specialized skills or expertise. He is also usually expected to adhere to applicable health and safety regulations, along with meeting environmental standards and following workplace safety policies. He might have to attend certain meetings or training sessions as well, which could include life saving procedures and safety drills.

Working as a steward in the galley is physically demanding and normally entails long hours. On a larger ship, a steward might share his responsibilities with other crew members, including dish washers, garbage personnel, and additional cleaners or maintenance workers. To do his job effectively, he typically needs to have good communication skills, have physical strength and generally be in good health. The job often requires previous experience in the hospitality industry, such as in a hotel or restaurant, with a focus on cleaning and food preparation. Prior to starting a job as a galley steward, one might also have to obtain credentials, such as a Merchant Mariner's Document, to work on military vessels in certain countries.

Galley stewards may oversee operations at the onboard bar.
Galley stewards may oversee operations at the onboard bar.

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Discussion Comments


@sunshined - I agree that working as a galley steward, or any similar cruise line hospitality job would be very tough, and probably not a lot of fun.

If its simply a way to get hands on experience and some cash then it may be okay. I really doubt these workers get much off shore time though.

The best jobs on an international cruise line for that would be excursion organiser or any post which didn't require you to be on board when the passengers are off enjoying the port area.


After I graduated from college I wanted to do some traveling before I settled down to a career. I applied for a couple of Royal Caribbean jobs, but was never hired.

I know that jobs on cruise ships require long hours, but I think it would still be a great experience. You would have the chance to travel and meet a lot of people.

I think some of the hardest jobs on the cruise ship are those who work in the galley. There is so much food to prepare and meals to clean up from that I can see how demanding of a job this would be.


When I was younger I thought the idea of working on a cruise ship was exciting. Since I can't sing very well, one cruise ship job that I could have qualified for was a galley steward.

Not until I went on my first cruise, did I realize how hard these galley stewards work. They work extremely long hours with little time off. Many of them are on the ship for long periods of time and send a lot of their money back home to their families.

This type of job no longer sounds appealing to me, but I love to travel on cruises, and am glad that there are people who are willing to do this kind of work.


@hyrax53- I had a friend whose older sister sang on a cruise ship for awhile. I think she liked the travel for awhile, but I guess part of the problem she had was that while she'd hoped it would transition into something else, like a performance career in a big city when she got home, that didn't happen. So while it sounds great, don't expect cruise line jobs to lead to stardom overnight, even if you're working somewhere like one of the Disney cruise lines' performing jobs, or something else that sounds really big.


I have a friend who worked for awhile in the galley of a cruise ship. The pay was pretty good, but what he really liked was traveling and meeting different people, which I think is the main appeal for cruise ship jobs, whether you work in the kitchen or are a performer.

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