Being a Norwegian Cruise Line Latitudes member at the Platinum Level, one of the perks was a free behind the scenes tour. We were recently on a 12 Night Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Norwegian Spirit, and looked forward checking out the ship's crew area. Information and a reminder for the tour were already distributed upon entering our stateroom for the first time, and I was to contact the cruise consultant (CS) on deck 7 to book it. The tour was going to be the morning of Kusadasi port (Day 9, ship does not arrive there until 2 PM).
Fernando, a friendly and affable fellow from Mexico, was the CS, and he was also the one to lead the tour. We were a group of 11 people, and the gathering point was in front of the Cruise Consultant Office at 9 AM. It was a tad too early for my taste, especially after several days in a row having to wake up by 6 or 7 AM for port excursions, but I figured that this was an opportunity not to be missed.
Our first stop was the bridge. The entrance was, a bit surprisingly, through the stairs located at the Galaxy of the Stars lounge. There, through a crew-only door, we were quickly at the control & command center the cruise ship.
The captain, Lars Bengtsson, was not present. First Officer Aguilar was the one who gave us a tour of the area and provided explanation of various instruments and navigational monitors. It was interesting to find out, for example, that via the bridge you are able to shut any fire door. Also they can get an alert if there is any notable temperature increase from cabins, and the nearest security camera would switch into view on the monitoring station.
The neat part was that you can put on a Captain's Hat, and stand next to the actual steering wheel and get a photo taken of you. So if you happen to go on one of these tours, remember to bring your camera!
Next, it was down to deck 3, the crew-only area. Fernando explained that the typical moniker for the main "highway" of this section of the boat is I-95. The staff would move all sorts of material or food on carts on this long, carpet-less lane that spans nearly the length of the ship.
We made a turn into a large room, where the trash of the ship ended up. There, an officer explains that most food waste are incinerated and then processed before being released into the ocean as food for marine life. Cans and other metal parts are crushed, compacted into pellets and sold at ports for money (recycling).
The ship's laundry area was next. There the Laundry Master showed off the various industrial strength washing machines and dryers, as well as a cool automatic linen folding apparatus. Normally it would even feed the linen itself, but due to some issues, 2 crew members had to manually guide the clean sheets through.
Another interesting gizmo was the "instant clothes press" where you could put on a shirt that needed ironing on a manikin body, press a button, and it would be steamed wrinkle-less in a matter of seconds.
After leaving the laundry area, we passed by the engine room, but unfortunately it was off limits. Fernando explained that special permission was needed to visit, and even he could not go inside without authorization.
Finally, it was time to visit the galley, when all the wonderful dishes were cooked up aboard the ship. Just for fun, they distributed paper chef hats for everyone on the tour. One of the head chefs gave us an overview of the various sections of the kitchen, including glimpses of huge vats where soups were concocted. We got to see cooks make salad and also carve up a watermelon for decoration. The day's menu with pictures was posted on the galley walls so no chef gets confused as to what they were supposed to be putting together.
Finally, it was back out into the Garden Dining Room and end the tour, where the ship's head chef greeted us. A big thanks to Fernando the cruise consultant for overseeing to the tour, as well as the rest of the Norwegian Spirit staff who were genuinely glad to give us this rare opportunity to get a special behind-the-scenes look at the goings on of the ship.
You can see more photos of the terrific behind-the-scenes tour here: