Ship Tours

Cruising Behind the Scenes

For cruisers fascinated by how ships function as small cities traveling across the oceans, behind-the-scenes tours can be a fascinating look into either the large scale of a mega ship (Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, for example, goes through 60,000 eggs per week! Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 serves 11 tons of food per day!) or the feats that are accomplished with very little (Scenic Cruises’ Scenic Spirit serves four-course dinners for 68 passengers out of a galley the size of a small broom closet).

Here are a few of the most in-depth tours of large ships, which tend to be organized with the most extensive areas to show. Some grant you a broad look behind the scenes, and others focus just on the culinary operations, but whichever you choose, be sure to wear comfortable shoes — while you’ll never leave the ship, you’ll still cover a lot of ground.

Princess Cruises Ship Tours

Unlike some lines, Princess hasn’t removed the bridge from their “backstage” peek. They call theirs “The Ultimate Ship Tour.” It costs $150 per person and is offered once or twice per sailing fleet-wide on sea days. This tour includes the engine room, the funnel, the print and photo shops, the incinerator room, the galley (where each passenger receives a chef’s jacket), and the theater, where cast and production staff members show off the dressing rooms and discuss lighting, sound, and scenery. The last site visited is the bridge, where visitors get to meet with the captain and learn about the navigational systems. Best of all, the tour includes a photo op with the captain at the wheel and a framed photo signed by the captain himself.

RELATED: Princess Cruises Offers More to Younger Cruisers

Holland America Line Ship Tours

This sister line offers a similar hour-and-a-half tour for $150 per person, but just on the Vista-, Signature-, and Pinnacle-class ships and only for 15 passengers. The Holland America version often included the engine room, the bridge (where you can…

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By Sherri Eisenberg

Photo: Mark Katzman/Princess Cruises

Now in its 25th year, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine is published bi-monthly and available worldwide through digital subscription. It offers the latest news in cruise and travel, with in-depth features on voyages, new ships, the best destinations, readers' picks, onboard cuisine, entertainment, and more!