It's documented that during the 1800s the food was on many whaling voyages wasn't great, just as it wasn't perfect for many landlubbers either. Ironically, at times some of those crews may have eaten better than their fellow Americans on shore. While New Englanders suffered through winter, eating only what they had put away for the season, many whale ships cruised the Pacific with access to tropical fruits, fresh fish and meat!
As the 19th century was coming to an end, so was the era of whaling. Oil had been discovered and new technologies that provided improvements like refrigeration were developing. The railroad system now connected west coast to east, enabling the transportation of food to places where it could not be grown. As a result, America's diet in general was becoming diversified. Fruits, grains, vegetables and meats were now available beyond the region in which people lived.
Moving into the 1900s, eating choices were beginning to improve for most Americans. The difference between the landlubbers and whalers, was that the food came to those on land, while whalers got to travel to the food source. Maybe not all of those whale ships had it so bad after all!
Library of Congress Currier & Ives