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Unsung heroes: A cruise ship pastry chef on his love for gelato, working 12-hour days and long stretches away from family

July 10, 2021
5 min read
Unsung heroes: A cruise ship pastry chef on his love for gelato, working 12-hour days and long stretches away from family
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Think about the best dessert you've ever eaten on vacation. Perhaps it's easy for you to recall the restaurant's ambiance, the dish's brilliant presentation or the first mouthwatering bite you took.

But do you know who actually prepared that masterpiece? Someone had to source the ingredients and combine them in such a way that you were left in awe during the experience.

This edition of Unsung Heroes profiles a cruise ship pastry chef who works behind the scenes to bring passengers everything from unforgettable gelato to specialty birthday cakes.

(Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

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Unsung hero: Samuel Dcruz, pastry chef on Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Millennium

TPG: How did you get into being a pastry chef?

Samuel Dcruz: This is from my school days. My first choice was to be a pastry cook. That's how I started my career, and I'm enjoying it.

Right now, I'm assigned to gelatos and ice creams for the entire ship. I was in [specialty restaurants] for plenty of other ships, but this contract I felt like going back to gelato and ice cream.

I've been doing this since 2014. I've had five contracts, so I've been on [Celebrity] Solstice, Reflection, Equinox, Silhouette and Millennium.

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(Photo by Laurie Chamberlain/Getty Images)

TPG: What does a typical work week look like?

SD: I have the same routine, usually. I get up at like 7 am, take my breakfast, come back to work at 8 am. Then I have to do my pickups for gelatos and Oceanview [Café, the ship's buffet], and then I go for a short break and come back.

If there are sea days, it's a large preparation. Then I have to take care of the dinner for Oceanview, the specialties and the main dining room. I finish by 10:30 p.m. and go back to sleep.

(Photo by Holger Leue/Getty Images)

TPG: What is your favorite part of the job?

SD: My favorite part is that I'm always passionate about pastries. I'm always into the pastries. It's like little details, and everything is homemade, including the breads. Firstly, I'm a baker and then a pastry chef.

TPG: What is your least favorite part of the job?

SD: My least favorite part would be staying far away from my family. Seven months we have to stay here, and then we get a short vacation. I get like two and a half months, so that's not bad.

TPG: What's the one thing you wish more people understood about your job?

SD: If they could understand how much passion we put into the details for them for their special occasions -- their birthdays, their anniversaries -- not to see their smiles because I'm not the person who's serving, but to understand they have a smile on their face. At the end of the day, that's the best thing I can do.

TPG: What's something anyone can do to be a better traveler in 2021 and beyond?

SD: Right now, take better precautions. Be safe, stay focused on what you want to do, and understand the value. In the past year, I've learned we want to travel, but we have to take care of our health. Understand the value of your health, and live every day.

TPG: Are there any VIP-type treatments a guest could score from you for good behavior?

SD: Put in an order. We just get all these orders that they want to celebrate something -- anniversaries. They get excited because they came for vacation, and it's our duty to make their vacations the best ever. That's the priority.

When I was working in specialties, at that time I had quite a lot of interaction with the guests. Right now I'm in the galley, so I don't have that interaction. I try to be kind and generous, and [the guests] do the same for us.

New Zealand, North Island, Auckland (Photo by Scott E Barbour/Getty Images)

TPG: How does working in the hospitality industry change your idea of travel or going on vacation?

SD: It has changed my vision in a different way because you get to meet so many new people, so many perspectives. You can learn art, heritage and get a very nice view. You gain new knowledge, recipes, values.

[Before] I was trying to travel everywhere to get to bite-sized everything [instead of immersing myself].

TPG: If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be and why?

SD: I have two places. Firstly, my favorite place is Auckland, New Zealand. And my wife's favorite place is Norway. New Zealand is always going to be quite special to me because I have been there and stayed there, and I miss it. I've been to Norway but through the cruise ship. I quite like the cold weather [and] morning hiking.

Village Hamnoy Lofoten Islands Norway. (Photo by ProPIC/Getty Images)

TPG: Tell us about the best vacation you've ever taken or the best place you've ever traveled.

SD: The best vacation I would have to say is when my wife and I went to London. She wanted to go there, and we stayed there, so that was good for me.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.