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Things You Should Know About Being a Cook

You’ve been cooking up a storm in restaurants and hotels for years. But lately, you’ve felt the itch to take your culinary talents out to sea. If the thought of being a cook in the Merchant Navy has crossed your mind, it’s time to start turning up the heat on making that dream a reality.

As an aspiring seafaring chef, you probably have a lot of questions about life in the galley of a merchant ship. What will your duties be? What qualifications do you need? Is the job as glamorous as you imagine? Before you dive in, get the full scoop on what it takes to become a cook at sea.

From managing provisions on a budget to preparing multi-cultural cuisine, it takes skill and adaptability to feed hungry crews day after day. Safety and cleanliness are non-negotiable in the compact galley of a ship. So you’ll need to be comfortable following strict protocols. And don’t forget the physical demands—like standing for hours and working in hot conditions.

Ready to bring your passion for food to the high seas? Then keep reading to learn about the training, certifications, and experience you’ll need. This guide will walk you through each step, from getting licensed as a ships’ cook to searching for your first maritime job. So get ready to embark on an unforgettable culinary adventure!

Qualifications Needed to Become a Cook in the Merchant Navy

To become a cook in the Merchant Navy, you’ll need both the proper training and experience. At a minimum, you’ll need a high school diploma and be 18 years of age, but additional qualifications are typically required.

Culinary Training

Most shipping companies prefer candidates with a culinary school diploma or certificate in maritime catering. These programs provide training in international cuisine, food safety protocols, and cooking techniques suited to a ship’s galley. The Certificate Course in Maritime Catering (CCMC) teaches essential skills tailored to the maritime industry.


To work as a cook on merchant ships, you’ll need a Ships Cook Certificate or equivalent license for your country. Obtaining this typically requires completing an approved training program, accruing sea time, and passing an exam. The certification demonstrates your competence to handle the responsibilities of a cook on board.


While not always mandatory, experience in commercial kitchens or as a trainee cook on ships is highly valued. Previous experience shows you can adapt to difficult working conditions and varied resources. Some companies may offer entry-level cook positions to help you gain the necessary experience.

Additional Requirements

You’ll also need a valid Seafarer’s Medical Certificate to show you’re fit for a career at sea. Ongoing requirements include staying up-to-date with regulations, maintaining physical fitness, and continuously honing your skills. Strong adaptability and resourcefulness are essential traits for any cook on the high seas.

With the right qualifications, training, experience, and mindset, you can launch an exciting career fueling crews as they transport goods around the globe. The life of a cook in the Merchant Navy certainly isn’t easy, but for the right person, it can be a rewarding challenge.

Day-to-Day Duties and Responsibilities of a Merchant Navy Cook

As a cook on a merchant ship, your main duty is to prepare and serve meals for the crew. But your responsibilities go far beyond just cooking food. You play an integral role in maintaining high morale and the well-being of everyone onboard.

Menu Planning

You’ll need to plan diverse menus ahead of time, taking into account different dietary needs and cultural preferences. You’ll work within tight budgets, limited storage space, and varying access to ingredients. Adaptability and creativity are key.

Provisioning and Food Storage

You’re in charge of purchasing, receiving, and properly storing all food provisions to avoid spoilage in hot galleys and across long sea voyages. This requires careful planning, organization, and a meticulous eye for quality.

Maintaining Hygiene Standards

Strict hygiene and safety standards must be followed to avoid foodborne illness. You’ll conduct regular deep cleans of galleys and equipment, monitor food temperatures, properly handle and store leftovers, and ensure good personal hygiene.

Meal Preparation

You’ll spend most of your time preparing, cooking, and plating meals for crews of 15 to 30 or more. This includes making everything from snacks and sides to full multi-course meals. It’s demanding, physical work with long hours in hot, cramped galleys. But for the right cook, it can also be extremely rewarding.

The life of a Merchant Navy cook is challenging yet exciting. You get to travel the world, experience different cultures, gain valuable skills, and play an important role in feeding and sustaining hardworking crews out at sea. If you have a passion for cooking, desire adventure, and can thrive in difficult conditions, it may just be the p

How to Get Hired as a Cook in the Merchant Navy: Job Search Tips and Requirements

Qualification & Training

To become a cook in the Merchant Navy, you’ll need the proper training and certifications. This typically includes:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Culinary school training, preferably focused on international cuisine and maritime catering. A Certificate Course in Maritime Catering (CCMC) provides specialized knowledge for working in a ship’s galley.
  • A valid Seafarer’s Medical Certificate to demonstrate you’re fit for duty.


While not always required, experience in commercial kitchens, restaurants or hotels is valuable. Some companies offer trainee cook roles to gain experience while working towards qualifications. Prior experience on ships is ideal.


A Ships Cook Certificate, issued by your country’s maritime administration, is necessary to work as a cook on merchant vessels. Obtaining it requires meeting training and experience requirements, passing exams, and demonstrating sea time.

Job Search

Search for openings on company websites, through maritime recruitment agencies, and by networking. Some tips:

  • Stay up-to-date with regulations and best practices.
  • Maintain physical fitness for demanding work.
  • Be adaptable and resourceful with limited resources.
  • Build connections to find opportunities.

With the right qualifications, experience, and persistence, you can launch your career as a cook in the Merchant Navy. While the job requires hard work and long hours, you’ll get to travel the world and play an important role in keeping crews happy and ships operating. For the right person, it can be a rewarding career path.

You now have a good understanding of the varied responsibilities and requirements involved in becoming a cook on merchant ships. It’s an exciting career path for those seeking adventure and new experiences while fueling crews far from home. Though the job comes with physical demands and constraints, your skills and training will allow you to rise to the challenges. If you have the motivation and qualifications, why not take the plunge? With hard work and dedication, you could find yourself sailing the high seas, keeping your bellies full and morale high. Who knows where you’ll end up,  your ship’s next port of call could be the start of an unforgettable voyage.

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