Celebrity Constellation

Eve De Nies has always been close to water. Born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, her father was Dutch and her mother hailed from Australia. For the past 15 years she has lived in England at Henley-on-Thames, famous for its annual Royal Regatta.

Her affinity with water doesn't end there, though. She has parlayed her love of things nautical into a career at sea and, currently, she oversees the largest department onboard Celebrity Constellation in the position of Food & Beverage Manager.

Together, each day, she and her staff of 450 are responsible for the smooth operation of all restaurants, lounges, bars and the galleys that provision, prepare and serve more than 10,000 meals to the more than 2,000 passengers on the Millenium Class ship. There are 125 people, from cooks to chefs, in the galley operation who answer to the Executive Chef. The Restaurant Manager has a dining room staff of 220 and there are another 60 beverage people under the auspices of the Bar Manager. To complete the count, another 45 people look after the cleanliness of the ship's galleys.

Simply put, the main function of the Food & Beverage Manager is to make sure that everyone in the department has everything available to them. From avocados to zucchini, if it is on the menu, and many times even when it is not, Eve and her teams work hard to meet the requests and expectations of the holidaying clientele.

There is a lot of pressure in the job and after a long day (and evening) you will probably find Eve working off steam by using the ship's jogging track located on Deck 11.

Although Eve De Nies has been at sea for more than a decade, this is her first placement on a Celebrity ship.

"I was with another cruise line but wanted a change." she says. "I now work with so many different nationalities which to me is very intriguing. Not only am I dealing with individuals, I also deal with cultures. It amazes me how so many people from such diverse backgrounds can meld together and carry out their jobs while still retaining their own uniqueness."

It has been a long and interesting journey that has brought Eve to her present position.

Eve De Nies
Eve De Nies
"I started by studying animal husbandry but then dropped out.. I lost my interest in it. My parents are involved in the hospitality industry (her mother is a chef) so it was a natural progression. I started by taking management training and working in hotels mostly in London and the U.K. I then went to sea with Renaissance and Holland America and, back on land, I ran a private members club in Indonesia. Even today I am continuing my education by taking a course though Cornell University. I have been doing this type of work for almost 20 years now and I love it... every day!"

While running the club in Indonesia Eve was impressed by the country's attitude toward hospitality. "It is unbelievable how hospitable they are. It's very natural. It is not put on. It's real. I never experienced that before I went there. "

A relatively new addition to the cruise scene was the introduction of Specialty Dining. While slow to catch on in some markets, cruise passengers are now realizing that they are now able to celebrate special events or even just treat themselves to a gourmet experience at a cost that, when compared to shoreside dining of the same quality, is much cheaper in the long run. You go out on the town from your hotel and spend $200 for dinner in a nice restaurant or your leave your stateroom and dine in a specialty dining room onboard for about $80 per couple.

On Celebrity Constellation there are two such venues.

"Ocean Liners features French cuisine and everything is prepared tableside. It adds something special to the ambience. In Ocean Liners it is all about the waiter, how he brings his personality to the meal and how he makes the whole evening special. The Tuscan Grill is more Italian/Spanish, more of a bistro steakhouse concept. You take your time, enjoy your meal, sip your wine and take in the beautiful scenery."

Ocean Liners
Ocean Liners
Tuscan Grill
Tuscan Grill

There are 11 bars and lounges on "Connie". While all seem popular, two are most unique. The Martini Bar is where passengers gather to watch the show put on by the bartenders. Bottle and shakers fly through the air and the acrobatic purveyors of all things martini may end up pouring twelve drinks simultaneously or perch themselves on the ice-covered bar to dispense a special concoction into a waiting glass.

Cellar Masters attracts a different crowd. Here you can sample wines from around the world in plush comfort. The state-of-the-art Enomatic wine-by-the-glass dispensing system allows the guest to choose their own and automatically pours the amount requested.

Have you ever wondered how all the food and supplies get to the ship?

"A lot of the items will come onboard in containers. The goods were pre-ordered two or three months ago and tomorrow, for example, we will take on a large load in Athens that was shipped over from the States. We also get milk, dairy, fruits, vegetables and such from Holland and Germany and they are sent to the port by truck."

And.. what happens if they run short, say, in the middle of the Atlantic?

"The chefs are very inventive. If, for example, a shipment of a vegetable arrives and it is not up to our standards, the chef will refuse it and will try to substitute a similar item and adjust the menus around it. It doesn't happen often but that is what we do."

When Eve returns to her Henley home while on break she doesn't leave her culinary dedication on the ship.

"First of all I want to sleep. Then I recharge myself. I cook a lot. I love sushi. I stay home some of the time but I also love to travel. On my next break I am going to South Africa and then back home. I try to go to Indonesia at least once every year. I've also been to China. I like experiencing the world. When you are on the ships you don't really get a chance to enjoy the ports. Last year, a friend and I actually took a Mediterranean cruise. We relaxed, got sunburned.. did all the things the others do. It was most relaxing. What a holiday should be."

Bob Rice
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