Cruise secrets: Holland America Master chef reveals best part of working on a cruise ship

Cruise ship holidays are well known for offering a vast variety of food to passengers. The floating hotels generally often a number of restaurants ranging from crowd-pleasing buffets to gourmet dining. So what’s it like to be behind the scenes?


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Rudi Sodamin is Holland America Line’s Master Chef of the seas.

He was born in Austria, trained in France and is now one of the most highly decorated chefs working on the world’s oceans. spoke to Sodamin about what he loves most about working as a chef on a cruise ship.

For Sodamin, it’s the challenge of catering for such a variety of guests that stands out.

“My love affair with food began at an early age,” he said.

“I was brought up cooking in a large family of 11 siblings, so I enjoy the challenge of catering for the many different tastes we have on board.”

So how do cruise ships cater for all the different needs onboard?

“At Holland America Line, my role as Executive Chef includes working with my fellow Culinary Council Chefs (there are eight of us in total) whose skills and knowledge we utilise to develop incredible menus to suit a range of tastes,” detailed Sodamin.

“Each chef has a different area of expertise, ranging from sushi master Andy Matsuda, to artisan chocolatier Jacques Torres.”

Of course, it’s not just the eating that’s the focus – the hospitality side of dining is also important.

This is also plus point of working aboard a cruise for Sodamin.

“A superb hospitality experience is certainly influenced by cuisine,” he explained.

“I relish the opportunity for Rudi’s Sel De Mer and the various dining venues onboard to be a memorably part of our guests’ journey.”  

One of the reasons many guests opt for cruises over land holidays is that they are taken to a number of different destinations rather than stuck in just the one.


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Travelling to such a plethora of ports is perfect when looking for foodie inspiration, pointed out Sodamin.

“Food has always played an important part in the cruising and travel experience,” he said.

“It’s wonderful to experience the countries you are sailing to through eating locally inspired dishes.”

The chef continued: “At Holland America, we offer menus inspired by destinations around the world from South East Asia, to Italy, to South America.

“We feature the best quality ingredients and our deep culinary expertise ensures an unparalleled food delivery.

“Offering top quality has always been our approach to food and the key to success – which starts with natural, fresh produce all prepared in a simple, but tasty fashion.”

Sodamin also loves the sense of pride he can take in his work.

“With Holland America Line, I established the first Culinary Arts Center’s, speciality restaurants, and guest Chefs programmes, which helped highlight the importance of the culinary aspect of cruising and is something I’m truly proud of,” he said.

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