The back of house tour is something everyone should take part in. It lasts roughly 3 hours and costs £75 per person but don’t let the cost deter you because I assure you, you will not be disappointed!
The tour started in Footlights Theatre where we learned more about the production side of the onboard shows and how everything is put together with regards to sound and lighting. From here we went back stage to dressing areas, a props area (which included a full size Mini Cooper) and then through what they refer to as the rat run, don’t worry it has nothing to do with actual rats it’s just a quick way of getting from one side of the stage to the other. It was interesting but not the area I was most eager to see.
From here we moved to the mooring station which was an area I was really looking forward to seeing. On Oceana you can walk round the Promenade deck and see through the caged area which houses the ropes, anchor chains and so forth but nothing beats actually getting through the door and in there to see everything properly. We were met by our Deputy Captain, Steve Howarth, who I have known now for just over a year. He is a great man, very witty and will always stop for a chat or to answer any questions you may have. He began by telling us more about the anchor chains, how it actually works when dropping the ships anchor, it’s not just a simple case of releasing it and hoping it does its job. Apparently they release the anchor then drag it slightly to ensure it is firmly embedded in the ocean floor, once happy they also then release more anchor chain which obviously adds more weight ensuring the ship remains as still as possible. It really was very interesting.
From here we made our way down into the ship’s hull and into an area referred to as “the M1”. This seemed to be the main central walkway on the ship. I think some of the American Cruise Lines refer to this as Route 66. It felt like everything veered off from this one corridor. There were crew cabins, a little further and we entered into the printing room, the photograph processing room, garbage room, fire locker and engine control room. Again all were very interesting especially the fire locker and engine control room. The other above areas were nice to see but I like to find out about the actual ship and how that works so it offered a little insight into more than enough areas to keep everyone happy.
Next were the HUGE refrigeration areas. I have never seen anything else like it in my life. First we popped our heads into the meat room, which was quite literally full to the door! We then moved on to where they had cheese stored and then to where the fruit and vegetables were housed. This particular room was out of this world. I have never seen so many mushrooms, tomatoes or heads of lettuce in one place. The room was full to the brim and it actually smelled quite nice too!
The Galley was next which again was an eye opener! How the Chef’s onboard do it really is beyond me but everything was gleaming! By now our Executive Purser had joined the group and picked up a few bits and pieces to show us including a dough hook which looked like an ancient battle tool and a whisk and bowl which would have been sufficient for the BFG himself.
After our galley visit we took 15minutes for refreshments in the Ligurian restaurant then it was off to the bridge where we were met by our Captain and some of the other officers. We had a look around, various controls were explained then we each in turn had our photograph taken with the Captain. Because of the hand over at noon we had to leave just before the clock hit 12 so we ended the tour in the Captain’s lounge where we could choose from various canapés and drinks.
I could write so much more about this tour but I want you to see it all for yourself. The maximum amount of people allowed on any one tour is 16 so the group too is a nice size. You get to see so many areas other passengers never get to see. It wasn’t a case of pop your head in the door and move on. In each area we were met by the crew member in charge and they took great time in explaining how things worked, answering questions and just giving a true insight into how much work actually goes on behind the scenes.
If it is offered on your next cruise then please consider it. After the tour we also received a small pin badge, apron and letter stamped and signed by the Captain, we are also waiting for a signed picture. It really is great value for money and will see you leave your cruise with a little more to talk about than usual.