My All-Access Cruise Ship Tour

By Jen Crivelli, Senior Cruise Consultant, The Cruise Web.

CaptainsHave you ever wondered how a cruise ship works?  Where do they store all the food?  How do the chefs prepare that much food?  How does all the laundry get done?  How do you navigate a ship that large?

While on a cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel, I had the opportunity to participate in a backstage tour of the vessel.  After a warm welcome from the Hotel Director, we were escorted to a crew elevator, which took us down to the lowest deck of the ship.  Our first stop was the garbage facility.  Wow, I thought sorting recycling at home was bad, on the cruise ship every single piece of trash is sorted.  Organic waste, paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass – all sorted into color-coded bins.  Some of the trash is incinerated, other compressed for off load.

Dryer Iron CombinationThen, onto the laundry facility.  We walked by washing machines that were bigger than the bathroom at my house.  And, whoever invented the machine that dries a towel and then uses puffs of air to fold it needs to invent one for home use.  Needless to say, I was impressed.

Our next stop was a tour of the food storage area.  An entire hallway of walk in refrigerators housed every type of food you can imagine.  One for eggs, one for vegetables, one for fish, one for beef, etc.  I was interested to discover that every carton of eggs, gallon of milk, etc is logged into the refrigeratorsButcher Shop and logged out, this tracks the inventory and maintains that food gets used in the order it was loaded.  Some of the refrigerators double as work stations for members of the crew.  In the beef refrigerator, butchers cut the meat into portions and in the fish refrigerator, fishmongers clean and fillet the fish.  We stopped by the ship’s bakery on our way to the galley, where the smell of thousands of warm cookies greeted us – fresh from some of the largest ovens I have ever seen.

MenusEntering the galley, we met the ship’s Executive Chef.  He explained how each section of the galley is responsible for different food items.  All the salads are prepared in one section, appetizers in another, and so on.  Along the wall are the pictures of every dish served in the main dining room, illustrating the presentation by menu number.  We passed by crewmembers preparing spinach torts by the hundreds for dinner that evening and still others were preparing soup in 50-gallon pots.

Our last stop on the tour was the Navigation Bridge, where we were given the rare opportunity to witness how a ship this large is navigated.  As we stood by, two navigation officers redirected the ship’s path to sail by another cruise ship passing to our Navigation Equipmentport side.  The Captain explained that they like to stay a minimum of 1 nautical mile from any other vessel passing the ship.  He showed us the radar and the equipment / gears that are used to dock the large ship.  Gone are the days when the ship is steered by a large wheel, now they are steered with auto-pilots, a rolling ball that looks like the bottom of a computer mouse, or a joy stick that looks like it belongs on my X-Box controller.  We thanked the crew for an outstanding tour and returned to our cabins with a newfound appreciation for the hard work that creates our smooth sailing.

This was truly an inside look at the inner workings of a cruise ship.  Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of crewmembers working in unison to execute everything needed to create the perfect cruise ship vacation, while sailing the high seas.

Jen CrivelliJen Crivelli
Senior Cruise Consultant
The Cruise Web, Inc.
1-800-377-9383 ext. 234


1 Carolyn Griffin { 09.22.10 at 4:22 pm }

How do we get to see behind the scenes on our next cruise?

2 Ron Papula - The Cruise Web { 09.24.10 at 8:01 am }

Hi Carolyn,

Thank you for your comment. I will contact you shortly and we will see what we can come up with.

3 tanya agius { 07.20.11 at 3:29 pm }

hi Jen, … reading about your blog has made an ‘inside visit’ sound truly exciting… can you help us to do this on one of our days at sea on the norwegian sun to the baltic capitals disembarking from copenhagen this august 6th, 2011. we will be 8 althogether in our family party! . thanks tanya

4 Jen Crivelli - The Cruise Web { 07.20.11 at 4:17 pm }


This behind the seas tour was exciting. It’s amazing how these ships work!


5 Arthur BAlin { 07.22.11 at 11:11 am }

Your trip is almost here – hope everyone is super excited! Taking “behind the scenes” tour is a unique and fun experience – I certainly recommend it. The tour can be arranged once you are on board. Please, consult your Freestyle Daily newsletter for days and times.

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