Most cruise ship passengers are aware that behind the scenes of their relaxing cruise vacation there’s a bustle of activity to deliver an excellent experience, but few have gotten an up-close look at these inner workings. This will change in November with the debut of Ruby Princess introduces an industry first, The Ultimate Ship Tour, an exclusive opportunity to experience an array of “back of house” areas that are key to a ship’s daily operations.
This pioneering concept will give passengers the unique opportunity to explore beyond the public areas with visits to the ship’s engine control room, medical center, print shop, laundry, photo lab, bridge and other spaces for a rare insider’s view of many areas typically seen only by the ship’s crew. Participants will also receive a variety of themed mementos at many of the stops along the route.
“This tour is really the ultimate opportunity for some of our passengers to get a very unique view of the new Ruby Princess, and meet some of the ship’s senior officers in their working environment,” said Jan Swartz, Princess senior vice president. “I’m sure people will be amazed at what goes into running a city at sea, particularly since our onboard staff makes it appear so easy.”
The Ultimate Ship Tour lasts approximately three hours, and will be offered once or twice per cruise on a sea day. Space is limited for the tour, which will be available for $150 per person, and can be reserved onboard at the Passenger Services Desk. Following its debut aboard Ruby Princess, the program will be introduced aboard all Princess ships.
The innovative tour will feature:
Back Stage Area – Passengers start the tour with a glimpse behind the glitz in the Princess Theater, home to Princess’ sparkling stage productions. They’ll meet the cast and production staff, who will show them all that goes into making sure the show goes on night after night – including costumes and dressing areas, scenery and technical operations such as lighting and sound.
Galley and Food Production Areas – In the galley, guests will meet the executive chef, learn about the process of providing thousands of passengers meals each day, and see the inner workings of the ship’s kitchen areas while enjoying a glass of French champagne, caviar and canapés. In addition, passengers will get a peek into some of Ruby Princess’ vast food storage and production areas, each specially equipped and temperature-controlled for a specific type of food. Each guest will also be presented with an official chef’s jacket.
Engine Control Room – At the center of the vessel’s mechanical and electrical systems, the engine control room is where the ship’s technical team monitors everything from the operation of the ship’s propellers to the water supply in each stateroom. Participants will meet the chief technical offer and his staff who will explain the numerous functions overseen by the control room, including the vast amount of power generated to operate Ruby Princess.
Print Shop – Passengers will see where their daily Princess Patter, among other things, is produced. The ship’s printer will meet the group and demonstrate the printing equipment and explain which materials passengers see each day are printed right onboard Ruby Princess. To mark their visit, each passenger will receive their own set of personalized stationery printed on board.
Photo Laboratory – Princess was the first cruise line to go completely digital, and each ship operates a full photo lab with the latest in digital printing equipment. The group will meet the Ruby Princess photo staff and learn how they manage the thousands of pictures taken and printed each day. Participants might even see their own smiling faces print out during their visit.
Medical Center – The ship’s doctor will meet the group to show them the state-of-the-art medical facilities, including treatment rooms, laboratory facilities, intensive care unit, and digital x-ray system. Participants will learn how the ship’s doctors and nurses – all full-time maritime medicine specialists – keep both passengers and crew healthy and handle medical emergencies. They’ll also learn about the most common reasons passengers visit the medical center.
Main Laundry – Ruby Princess’ onboard laundries operate 24 hours a day to wash tons of passenger and crew linens, towels, and clothing – including more than 20,000 towels a day alone. Here visitors will meet the laundry master and will see this impressive operation in action. Participants will also receive a luxurious bath robe usually reserved for suite passengers.
Funnel – The group will then travel to the upper most deck of the ship to join the staff captain for the opportunity to peek inside the ship’s funnel area high atop Ruby Princess, where they will be treated to spectacular views of the ship and the surrounding ocean.
Bridge – The tour concludes at the ship’s command center, where passengers will meet the captain and his bridge team and learn about the state-of-the-art navigational equipment and safety systems aboard Ruby Princess. Passengers will also take in the dramatic front-of-ship views from the bridge’s wraparound windows, while they enjoy special refreshments and pose with the captain at the ship’s wheel for a complimentary photo. The framed photo and a tour completion certificate signed by the captain will later be delivered to each participant’s stateroom.
Ruby Princess, a sister ship to Emerald Princess and Crown Princess, will debut on November 8. Ship features include a dramatic piazza-style atrium featuring small-bite eateries and an ever-changing array of performing street entertainers, Princess' signature adults-only retreat called The Sanctuary, an Italian restaurant, a seafood and steak house, and "Movies Under the Stars," a giant outdoor movie screen. The 113,000-ton vessel will feature an inaugural season of Western Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, followed by a program of Mediterranean voyages in summer 2009.