Inside the Cruise Ship Tours: Why you Shouldn’t Miss it (if you can go)!

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a man pointing at a board

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One of the many (as in MANY) activities several cruise lines offer their guests these days is an exciting tour of the areas of the ship you’d normally not get to see. We’ll call it the Behind The Scenes Tour.

This incredible experience was, logically, suspended when ships returned to service, since the Tour generally included visits to the main galley and even provisions area, which would cause chaos should a sick person participate. Having averted that crisis, most cruise lines are now offering them again, and I simply don’t recommend missing them.

a group of chefs in a commercial kitchen

Whether it piques your interest because you’re fascinated by the technical side of a humongous floating hotel, or you’re curious about the operational needs of feeding up to 10,000 people 3 meals a day, or you’ve just got nothing else to do on a sea day, the Behind The Scenes Tour is sure to impress you and teach you one or more things you never knew about the life behind the glamour of the guest areas. 

a group of people standing in a room with stacks of white sheets

In most cases, you will have the option to purchase the tour, as you would with any Excursion in port. It would be arranged and conducted by the cruise ship’s shore excursion team, and each area visited will be “hosted” by the crew member in charge of it. For instance, the Theater visit will most likely be hosted by the Production Manager and/or Wardrobe Manager, and so on.

It’s important to inquire, when booking, what areas will in fact be visited, to avoid disappointment due to unrealistic expectations. I can already tell you the engine room is COMPLETELY off limits, even to crew members, as it’s considered to be a highly sensitive and even dangerous environment, so you can go ahead and kill that dream already.

a room with a pool table and a chair

However, the places you could count on visiting include, as said before, behind the scenes at the theater (backstage and wardrobe), the laundry facilities, the main galley, provisions area, and even the Bridge! Now, this will be completely up to the discretion of the Captain/Staff Captain, and will largely depend on what’s going on in the world at the time, but it has actually been added to these tours in the past. Another probability would be the Engine… Control Room. While not as exciting as the Engine Room itself, you can be certain you’ll find it highly interesting, especially when it’s presented by an engineer dedicated to keep things moving.

a close up of a control panel

These tours can be offered, as described, as an onboard Excursion, or it may even be an amenity you have access to when you reach a certain tier in the cruise line’s loyalty program. In either case, keep in mind 2 very important things: 1, inclusions of the visited areas may differ whether you’re paying for it or you have access to it as a benefit, since the tours would generally be conducted by different people. And 2, in both cases spaces might run out! So, if you know this is something you’d definitely like to do (and, again, you should!), make sure you sign up for it as soon as you get on board. And no, in most cases, it won’t conflict with any other plans or shore excursion, as they are generally scheduled during sea days. Another thing to keep in mind is you will most likely be required to wear closed shoes on this tour as open toed sandals are considered unsafe.

One more tip: You can’t imagine how massively different the operation of one ship can be from another, so make sure you take the tour each time you’re aboard a different size ship! – ThatGuy (onboard)

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