Before we had even boarded the ship, we had already decided to do the behind the scene tour on Carnival Spirit because there aren’t many times that you get an opportunity to see how the big ships are operated and cater for 3000+ guests and staffs.
The carnival website describes it as Behind the Fun tour, which costs $95-per-person and lasts around three-and-a-half hours and which includes a visit with key shipboard officers such as the the chief engineer, chef de cuisine and also a visit with the captain on the bridge. It also includes stops backstage in the main show lounge, the ship’s laundry room, crew galley and dining room, crew gym, crew training centre, the main passenger galley, the ship’s bridge and engine control room.
Behind the Fun participants receive a number of commemorative gifts, including a Behind the Fun baseball cap and photos with the captain on the bridge. The capacity is limited to 16 passengers per tour, and passengers must be 13 or older to participate.
We booked this tour on our first day on board and luckily got two tickets. I was a bit disappointed to know that cameras, or anything with an audio or video recording function, are not allowed as it would have been fun to take a few photos for the memory.
We were asked to wear flat comfortable shoes and not to wear skirt or dress for women. Therefore, I was wearing my running shoes and short. We meet others at the meeting point , the Shanghai bar, at 8:30 am. We met our guide who checked our tickets and gave us a lanyard with a tour pass. We were asked to make a single file and we followed the guide to the theatre, our first stop.
The lead dancer who was taking us around took us behind the stage where we could see hundreds of costumes, wigs, jeweleries and props. It was brightly lit and had several mirrors. He gave us an overview and then we moved on to our next stop.
We exited the theater and made our way to our next stop, the photography lab. The lab was smaller than expected but I learned a few new stuffs from the manager in charge. They only have a few computers and two huge printers. She told us that thousands of photos are taken every day around the cruise. For those of you who haven’t cruised, every photo taken of you by a ship’s photographer is displayed in the gallery for the duration of the cruise. One can go and buy the photo if you like. Since photos cost between $10 and $20 each, many photos end up not being purchased. She told us that even if just 10% of the photos are sold they are happy while on this particular ship, the sale has been around 20%. Rest of the photos will be recycled. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t give digital copies of the photos instead but they have a plan to do that in future.
From there our next stop was the galley where the chefs prepare our delicious meals every day. We met the head chef who explained how much food is consumed every day in the ship. Here are some fun facts that they told us during this trip.
They were making chocolate covered strawberries so all of us were allowed to taste them along with some freshly baked pastries. Before we moved on to the next stop, Carnival’s photographer did take a few photos of us with the chef.
From the galley, we descended one level to our first visit to a crew deck, to the storerooms. They had big cool rooms bigger than our cabin rooms to stores everything from beer and wines to fruits and veggies for the whole tour. The guy who managed the tour told us that on their first Australian trip, they had run out of coco cola and beer the last few days and it was very disappointing. So they stock 30% more alcohol in case Aussies decided to go on a drinking spree. I always find it weird to hear that we, Aussies, are so much into drinking when I can see that the same thing happening everywhere in the world.
From there we walked further in the corridor unofficially named I-95 (after the main highway on the East Coast of the United States). We saw crew/staff rooms, staff dining room, bar, staff computer room, staff library and other areas.
The tour guide told us that all staffs must speak English in guest areas and there is language training and other education programs on board making sure crews/staffs are trained in every aspect of their job.
From there we went to went to the environmental control/garbage room. The Waste Management Plant consists of two dry garbage shredders for the burnable and un-burnable waste (i.e. cartons, wood, plastic, glass and tins), which is collected from passenger/crew areas and transported to the Garbage Room at Deck A level. The unsorted waste is fed into two heavy duty high capacity shredders. One waste compactor is suitable for compacting cardboard, paper and plastic. Glass (three colours) is collected in bags or containers and stored on board for later delivery to shore side reception facilities. One tin identifier, capable of compacting 70kg of tin cans per hour is also on board as are two garbage incinerators which are automatic, multi-chamber, semi-pyrolitic marine type with an incineration capacity of 1,400kW each.
I was really happy to see that they take care of the environment and recycle everything possible.
The next stop was engine control room. There we met two officers, both from Italy. They explained to us about the engine room and how they controlled that from the engine control room but seriously now I have no memories about it 🙂
After we exited the engine control room’s little corridor, we took elevators down the deck below the waterline and to the laundry room.
First, we walked through the area where they cleaned and iron the passengers’ personal items. Nearby were racks of crew uniforms and everywhere were people keeping busy. The rooms were very noisy. After a few turns we gathered around the man in charge and the machines, and there were machines: the towel and sheet folders.
They did a demo and asked if anyone wanted to try it. I gave it a go and it was fun :). The laundry in charge told us that the stewards keep two backups for each stateroom’s linen in their cupboards at all times.
From there we were taken to HR office/training room where we rested for a while looking at photos of different areas we couldn’t go to especially the crew’s rooms as it was their only personal space. Everyone who had questions was allowed to ask and the tour guide was nice enough to answer all those questions.
We left the office, backtracked a bit, and came to the crew bar where there were cookies as well as soda, juice, and coffee. I had a glass of orange juice and some cookies. After everyone was done with their food, we took the elevator and stairs to the Bridge. This part was the most exciting for me as it is the place where everything is controlled from and is the headquarter for the entire ship.
We met the captain, the head of the ship. He was an Italian man who I saw smiling a lot. His name is Adriano Binacchi and he was nice and friendly. He explained the different equipments and how the ship works. The view from the bridge was amazing and I could see the crew’s deck at the front of the ship, where they have their own hot tub. Potted plants lined the big bridge. There was also a glass on one side of the floor and the view was great as you could see all the way down to the water and standing on it felt like you are standing on thin air.
After this, we queued to have our photos taken with the captain and also had a group shot with him. That was the end of the tour and we were back to the Shanghai bar where we met in the morning. The tour was over 3 hours and all of us were tired. It was really thoughtful that coffee, juice, and pastries were available at the Shanghai bar when we got back.
We got a goodie bag each with swans made out of soap, a bag, a lanyard and bracelet with Behind The Fun inscribed, and a baseball cap inside. It also had a leaflet with ship statistics and a recipe for the famous chocolate melting cake. This was lovely as I didn’t know we were getting all that.
Later that afternoon we also got the print of the photos we had taken with the captain and the master chef as well as a treat, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and some freshly baked pastry.
We both loved the tour as we would have not known so much about the ship for sure if we haven’t gone on the tour.
Take care everyone ,
M from nepaliaustralian
Wow! This sounds like a wonderful experience and you showed some great parts of the pre-cruise trip tour photos, too! I would have enjoyed the shows and the food! So much fun! Smiles, Robin
It was really great and was a great opportunity to look behind the places which we could not have got change to see otherwise 🙂
It’s hard to imagine just how huge those ships are…
There were many levels and places in the ship which we would have never seen if we didn’t join this tour. It was amazing experience.