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Cruise Ship Bacon Sparks Debate

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As a group, cruisers love to talk about food. We discuss the best meals that we’ve had on each particular trip, Instagram pictures of our meals, and study menus posted by fellow travelers. Go to any cruise-related Facebook page or message board, and you’ll find endless discussions of buffets, specialty restaurants and main dining rooms. And when breakfast is the topic up for debate, you’ll also find a whole lot of complaints about bacon.

More specifically, you’ll see a lot of people wondering why it is that so often, the bacon found on cruise ship buffets is downright inevitable.

The Bacon Police

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The topic once again reared its ugly head recently on the wildly popular Facebook page of Carnival Cruise Line’s senior cruise director, John Heald. Interestingly, the original topic concerned not the quality of the line’s bacon, but rather the quantity of it… and specifically, the rationing of it. “I saw there was another post about bacon and using the words ‘bacon police’ to describe the fact that we ration it,” Heald wrote. He went on to explain that the reason the breakfast buffets have someone doling out slices of the tasty treat two at a time was to cut down on food waste.

“For some reason,” he wrote, “it’s the bacon that most guests take huge shovelfuls of, yet only eat a small percentage.” And with that simple statement, the floodgates opened.

Waste Not, Want Not

The vast majority of commenters had no real issue with the rationing of bacon, but many pointed out that the reason people feel compelled to take so much boiled down to simple math: in order to get a few edible pieces, one had to sort through a whole lot of undercooked product. And lest anyone think this is a complaint aimed only at Carnival, a quick perusal of message boards and Facebook groups devoted to other lines proves that when the topic of bacon comes up, you’re more likely to see the words “soggy” and “undercooked” than you are “crispy” and “delicious.”

“I should probably thank them,” wrote a Norwegian Cruise Line passenger about the buffet bacon on their recent trip. “If the bacon was good, I’d probably use the fact that I’m on vacation to eat as much of it as humanly possible. But most days, it is so unappealing that it’s not worth the calories.”

Quantity Over Quality

So why is cruise bacon so notoriously awful? The most popular theory revolves around the amount of bacon served up on any given day. While it’s easy to do quality control in the comfort of your kitchen, where you fry up five or six slices and give each the individual attention it deserves, the same does not hold true on a cruise ship. And while pretty much every single item on a buffet must be mass-produced, it’s a lot easier to make mountains of salad or buckets of soup than it is massive amounts of bacon. As a result, it’s something of a good news/bad news scenario. Sure, you can eat as much bacon as you like (even the “bacon police” will give you more if asked), but it won’t necessarily be good.

photo: flickr/Geoffrey Gilmour-Taylor

What’s been your experience with bacon on board cruise ships, especially when it comes to the buffet? Are there other foods that suffer the same fate when it comes to serving it up in massive amounts?

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