Friday, May 29, 2015

What Goes On Behind The Scenes Of A Cruise Ship?

Although I'm not usually one to complain about having extra cash to spend, that was almost the case on this cruise. Between the cruise line and the website that we booked through we had slightly under $400 of on board credit to use up. That could have gone fast had we chose to drink it away with prices ranging from $10 to $12 per drink on board. And while we did splurge on a few adult beverages along with paying for some sushi one night for dinner we still had plenty leftover.  And since Clyde prepaid the gratuities and the shore excursions it wasn't needed for that either.

Clyde found a "Behind The Scenes" tour that the cruise line offered at a cost, and since we thought it might be fun we booked it.  It was to be held on our last day at sea and we met our small group of about six people at 10am.  After sitting down in a board room we watched a movie about the history of Norwegian Cruise Lines which gave us some interesting facts.

 Our ship currently called NCL's Spirit used to be owned by an Asian company and went by the name "Super Star Leo."  It was named after a lion since they actually had live lions on board which were part of the nightly shows. Norwegian was the first cruise line to try freestyle dining, which meant we could just show up in any dining room anytime we felt like eating.  No reservations were necessary and neither was any special dress code since the whole ship was casual. The idea of freestyle dining came about by gamblers who didn't want to stop in the middle of a game to go eat. A new idea was needed and thus freestyle dining was born.

That's One BIG Spatula!
What A Nice Surprise When Presented With This Photo Framed

Our group was first taken behind the scenes of the theater department.  First we went backstage into the women's dressing room.  Once inside the door the first thing I noticed was a scale with a sign above it that said, "daily weigh in."  To the right were a row of costumes sorted out by each performers name.  Above the clothing on a shelf were hats, headpieces and wigs also sorted by name. On the other side was a vanity with chairs where the performers put on their makeup.  On the wall were diagrams and photos with specific instructions of how each performers face was to look for a particular show.

Production Manager Show Us Around A Dressing Room

Costumes And More

Crew Rehearsing For Tonight's Big Show

 Telling Us About The Costumes

The production cast is hired and trained in the Miami office and signs a contract for six months. Once the contract is done the performers are basically on their own and need to apply for their next gig. Couples can request that they be placed together on the same ship if and when it's possible. All performers train in Miami with choreographers where dance routines are learned prior to boarding the ship. Special performers like magicians, comedians and such are cycled through and don't stay on board for long durations. We watched performers stretch as they began to practice for that nights production number.  Before heading out of the back stage area we also saw inside the men's dressing room.

Next we toured the kitchen and were told that there is a "clean" side and "dirty" side.  All food going out to the passenger comes from the clean side.  When finished the staff member takes the food to the dirty side for cleaning.  Compared to other cruises we'd been on we found NCL to be rather slow getting the food out to us. But our tour guide explained that food on this ship is NOT prepared in advance but instead it's actually made to order, which is why it takes longer.

Windows Is One Of The Main Dining Rooms And Our Guide

Inside The Kitchen

Plate Covers, Dishes, Glasses Etc.....

Next we went down into the bowels of the ship to understand the disposal process on board.
All trash is separated and recycled except for kitchen scraps.  They are ground up in the blue machines and are allowed to be dumped overboard for fish food.  Some paper is incinerated, but the bigger pieces are recycled as well as all plastics, metals and oils.

Manager Of Disposal Department Tells All

Blue Machine For Grinding Up Food Scraps


Next On To Food Storage and Prep
Inside The Freezer We Went......Brrrrrr!

All Breads Are Baked On Board Daily

This Mans Only Job Is To Cut Up Fish
His Job Stinks....Literally!

Produce Storage.....Also A Chilly Area


In the laundry area we saw how staff uniforms are sorted out with numbered tags attached to each.  Every staff member is given a number which corresponds to their uniforms.  If the staff member moves to another ship his uniforms go with him. Each staff member is given five or six sets of uniforms I believe we were told.

Laundry Room And Bins

The Red Washing Machine Is Used For Items Soiled With Body Fluids.......
Urine, Blood, Feces, Vomit Etc.....

Huge Washing Machines

Machine That Irons Sheets....Sheets Are Put Into This Damp And Come Out Smooth

Ironed Sheets Come Out This End Folded

Officers Uniforms Being Steamed

Passenger Laundry Service.....Fill A Small Bag To Be Laundered For $25
Visiting The Bridge.....The Captain Making Daily Announcements At Noon
Our tour included a visit to the Bridge which appeared to be the quietest, most tranquil place on the whole ship. How nice to look out the massive windows at the calm waters ahead. Impressed to be greeted by a female office who gave us some insight as to the life of an officer.

Female Office Told Us All About The Bridge And Answered Questions We Had
There Are Two Female Officer On This Ship

The Main Controls.....We Had To Stand Back And NOT Touch!


This Is Where The Officer Or Pilot In Charge Of Steering Sits

Navigational Screen

The Path Our Ship Was Travelling

 This Shows The Zones Of Smoke Alarms And Video Cameras Onboard
We Learned That Video Camera Are Everywhere, Even In The Elevators When My Husband Is Molesting Me.....They See All!

 This Is Where They Steer The Ship For Docking......They Can Easily Look Out The Window To See The Dock

 Window For Docking
I always wanted to know IF ships travel faster overnight while passengers sleep, so I asked the female officer.  She said, "no, it stays the same speed most of the time." So I asked, "then why does it feel faster when I get up in the middle of the night?"  Her answer was that when they're maneuvering around islands the ships rocks more and that's probably what I'm feeling.  Top speed for this ship was around 25 knots and during the tour we were cruising at 21 knots.
We also learned that ALL injuries get reported to the bridge. During our tour there was an accident in Raffles, the buffet that we heard about, but it was nothing major. The bridge area is huge and very impressive.  There was probably room for twenty or more people to be in there if it was ever necessary.  Clyde asked if we were going to see the engine room but we were not allowed. Apparently only the engine room staff along with the Captain are allowed in the engine room.
During our tour we went down below Deck 4 to see the areas designated for the staff and crew.  Although we didn't get to see any of the crews quarters we did see the main "highway" as they call it through their area. The doors leading out of the crew area to passenger areas was clearly marked with warning signs, "passengers beyond this point, please prepare accordingly." Staff members share rooms with two or more in each cabin.  There are separate dining facilities for the crew along with a gym and social area.  And this ship, the NCL Spirit was trying something new and even had a small swimming pool that could be seen from the Bridge for staff members only to use on their off times.
Our Behind The Scenes Tour was fun and informative and used up a bit of our on board credit.  Tomorrow we dock in Venice, Italy where we booked an extra shore excursion using up our credit too. After being onboard for 12 days we'll miss being pampered and having our every need taken care of.  But what we won't miss is the thousands of other passengers that we had to deal with everyday, everywhere we went on the ship. Even my friendly, outgoing husband Clyde at one point said, "I'm tied of dealing with people." So next we'll be back on dry land although that land will be sitting in water as we explore the city of Venice, Italy......along the gringo trail.



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