One of the new trends in cruising is the “Behind The Scenes Tour” for a fee. Passengers on most cruise lines now have opportunity to book an excursion that never leaves the ship, but instead gives them an insiders view of many areas that are off limits to the ship’s guests.
In the “golden age of pleasure cruising”, back in the 70’s, some cruise lines experimented with these types of tours. One ship my parents cruised offered both an engine room tour and kitchen tour as an on board activity. As ships got larger and started to carry more and more passengers, liability and larger numbers made offering such tours to the general populous of the ship impractical. However, In order to attract and reward repeat customers, cruise lines started offering loyal customers a limited number of tours to areas like the galley and the back stage. However, these tours are now available to any guest for a charge. The tours include behind the scenes looks at the bridge, the galley, back stage, and other crew areas. Most likely the cruise lines have has enough requests for these kinds of tours that they realized they could easily offer limit number of spaces and produce revenue by charging a fee.
Cruise Talk Opinion
While I have participated in these types of tours as part of my loyal customer benefits, I don’t think I would ever pay a fee. On one cruise I enjoyed the galley tour immensely because I found it fascinating to see the how and where of creating a memorable dining experience for so many customers on a daily basis. Other cruises included tours of the backstage area, bridgeand a helipad sail away. All interesting, but not something I feel like I need to do again even for free, much less for a fee. On the other hand, if you are on your first cruise and want to explore and learn more about the ship, and the fee seems reasonable, go for it! Most people report that they really enjoy the experience.
What the Cruise Lines Offer:
Behind the Fun Tour
$95 per person
Introduce in 2009
3 1/2 hours
Includes: Captain, chief engineer, chef de cuisine and other department heads, share their vast knowledge in their particular area of expertise. Q&A sessions with the captain and chief engineer, respectively.
Includes:* main show lounge * laundry room * crew galley * crew dining room * crew gym * crew training center.
Perks: Behind the Fun baseball cap and lanyard
Team Carnival Picture Perfect book with stunning photographs of Carnival ships and destinations taken by the line’s employees
Complimentary photos with the captain on the bridge.
Restrictions: Capacity is limited to 16 guests per tour. Guests must be 13 or older to participate. No Cameras
Two offerings under Inside Access Banner:
See How it’s Done Tour
$150 per person
3 hours• Bridge • Mooring deck • Theater
• Crew Gym
• Crew Mess
• Crew Non-Smoking Bar
• Engine Control Room
• Officer Office Spaces (not included on Millennium class tours)
• Crew Internet Room (not include on Solstice class tours)
• Store rooms/prep rooms
• Main Dining Room Galley
Perks: Wine Pared Lunch
Restrictions: No more than 15 guests per tour. There will be least one tour per cruise if 7 nights or less and at least two tours per cruise if 8 nights or longer. Guests must be at least 6 years old to participate in the tour.
Bridge Sail Away Experience
$75 per person
1 hour – 30 minutes prior to sailing and remain there up to 30 minutes after the ship sails.Tour and overview of the Bridge conducted by one of the Bridge officers.
Perks: Meet and take photos with the Captain.
Restrictions: This tour can take place on any port day (except for embarkation day). Scheduling is at the discretion of each Captain. Guests must be at least 6 years old to participate in the tour.
All Access Tour
$150 per person
3 1/2 hours
Includes:* the bridge * galley * backstage of the main theater * engine control room.
Perks: Guided Tour
Restrictions: At least one All Access Tour will be offered on every Royal Caribbean sailing shorter than seven nights. Two tours will be offered aboard seven-night or longer voyages with additional tours added, based on demand. 15 people per tour.
Princess Cruises Ultimate Ship Tour®
Duration: Not specifiedIncludes: * engine control room * medical center * print shop * laundry * photo lab * bridge * other areas typically seen only by the ship’s crew.
Perks: Meet the Captain, Special Refreshment. Participants will also receive a variety of themed mementos along the way.
Restrictions: The tour is offered once or twice per cruise on a sea day. Available on all ships except for Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess.
Two Hour Basic
$55 per person
Tour Includes:* chefs at work preparing meals * the food storage areas * The theater’s backstage with a stop in the wardrobe room * The laundry areas * The bridge, for a meet-and-greet with the ship’s captain
Perks: Meet and Greet with Captain and other officers
7 Hour Extravaganza
Includes all of the above plus extra perks
Extra Perks: Sushi Making, Saki Tasting, Group Photo taken on the bridge, One cup of speciality coffee, Pre-dinner cocktails, Dinner with a glass of wine in Cagney’s Steakhouse
Restrictions: NCL will do the tours once per cruise on a sea day.