What does it take to prepare fantastic meals for hundreds or thousands of cruise ship guests, to stage a Broadway-quality show at sea, and to power and steer a mighty cruise ship? You can get a first-hand look at all this and more on a "behind the scenes” tour of your ship.
A growing number of cruise lines offer these tours for a fee, which is usually between $50 and $150. Often, sign-up is available only after you board the ship – look for a sign at the front desk that advertises the tours, which are booked on a first-come, first-served basis. Because all tours are supervised and the group is likely to pass through some small or narrow spaces, groups are usually limited in size to a maximum of 10 to 20 people. If there is high interest, some ships are able to add more tours.
Norwegian Cruise Line offers behind-the-scenes tours led by an officer of the ship. You’ll explore areas that are usually off-limits to guests, including food storage and preparation areas, the backstage area of the theater, the laundry and the bridge, where a senior officer explains how the movement of the ship is controlled. An extended version of the tour adds amenities such as a group photo on the bridge, specialty coffees, evening cocktails and dinner in the Cagney’s Steakhouse restaurant.
Princess Cruises offers the Ultimate Ship Tour, which allows passengers to explore the engine control room, medical center, print shop, laundry and photo lab. The tour concludes in the command center on the bridge, where guests meet the captain and take in the dramatic views from the wraparound windows.
Royal Caribbean introduced its "Behind the Royal Advantage All Access Tour” in 2011. Guests can "step inside the crew’s shoes” in areas such as the galley, laundry, engine control room and bridge.
Celebrity Cruises’ "See How it’s Done Tour” features a lunch with wine pairings for each course. After all, guests can work up an appetite touring the bridge, mooring deck, crew gym, engine control room, food preparation areas and the main galley. A shorter option for those who just want to see the bridge is the "Bridge Sail Away Experience,” which allows passengers to watch the navigational team at work as the ship sails away from port.
Keep in mind that a behind-the-scenes tour can be quite an active excursion, requiring extended periods of walking, standing, and climbing or descending stairs. For more information on any tours that may be offered on your next cruise, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
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