Monday, February 16, 2015

Last Sea Day – Ultimate Ship’s Tour – February 16, 2015

We set our alarm for 7 am!  Yup we are up early.  In training I guess for work.  But actually the vacation is not over yet!  Today is our last day of vacation.  Our last day on board this magnificent ship. 

We intend to make it a great day too.  We are excited cause today is our Ultimate Ship’s Tour too.

On the first day of this leg we went to the Purser’s Desk and signed up right away.  A few days ago we got letters saying we were getting to go.  

The letter stated that we were to meet at 8:20 on the Starboard side of deck 6 in front of the Princess Theater.  Tour would start at 8:30.  We were told to wear closed toed shoes for your safety.  Also we had to sign a waiver form before heading out too.

Melissa from the Cruise Staff along with someone from Security, and a photographer, accompanied us on the tour. 

the stage is set for the Culinary demo

First we went into the Princess Theater and led up on the stage where we were introduced to the gentleman in charge of the production side of the ship.  Sorry I am trying to recall all the names but I can’t remember them all and would hate to remember some and not others.

Okay back to the tour.  We are told all about this amazing theater that can hold just over 900 passengers.  The lighting in the theater and the stage is all LED lighting and the colors can change, they are more energy efficient, they don’t produce a lot of heat (so it is cooler for the dancers)  and they last a lot longer.  He shows us how the scenery comes in and out, how the stage can change and all the areas he and his staff take care of.  They take a picture of all of us on the stage with some of the dancers.

I asked about the stage and the problem they had with it at the end of the last cruise.  It seems that the stage lowered but did not lower completely and was stuck about a foot from “home” and this caused the stage to stay in that position.  This caused a lot of havoc, but I know I was amazed at how they worked around it.  Princess had technicians that came on, in Fort Lauderdale for two days and fixed it. 

I wanted to add that the stage goes from deck 4 to 10 – so be aware if you are on deck 11 right above the stage you could hear noise as we experienced this on the Star.

We then are led backstage to the dancers/singers dressing room.  Their costumes and props are all there.  Each person has their own area where their costumes are put out and they take care of their items.  She describes how they are trained, and how they deal with unforeseen circumstances like illnesses, equipment issues, and length of contracts. 

Now we head to the Galley on deck 5 where were are introduced to two chefs who explain the operation of the Galley.  We have done Galley tours, we have been in the Galley for the Chef’s Table but this is much more in depth. 

They show us and talk about the cold plate section, the bar area, how the food should look, how they ensure the food tastes right.  They show us the Crew’s Mess and discuss how they accommodate so many various palates from different countries. 

We are served a nice fruit punch and served some pastries while the chef discusses the pastry area and what they do.  There two pastry chef’s rolling chocolate on a form to make a beautiful cylinder.

Next is the soup section and these huge vessels that they make all their broths from scratch with all natural ingredients.  No packages here!  The soups are cooked here and we all comment on how amazing the soups are on board.

We head further back into the Galley to the bread section.  Princess makes all their own breads (oh and ice creams too).  Bread is baked all day long and often it is so fresh it is still warm when you get it served to you.  One of my favorite machines is shown  here.  It is a machine that punches a large disc of dough into roll sizes then it shakes and forms each roll into a perfect roll shape.  WOW.

From here we are lead out and down a flight to the fourth deck where we start in the Stores area.  Right now they are prepping everything for taking on new supplies tomorrow in Fort Lauderdale.  The Officer explains the process for ordering, what they do when they receive stock, what happens when they run out, how they figure out how much to order and so much more.

We are led to the refrigeration room where all the fruits/vegetables are kept.  It is rather empty now considering we are at the end of the voyage.  It is easier on this itinerary because they are able to determine what is needed for this ten day itinerary.  Also there is a warehouse in Fort Lauderdale that will replenish their supplies every ten days. 

We are cold so we all head out and then he shows us the freezer room – heck I have to see it.  There are blocks of ice stored here for the ice carving, lots of meats and other items.  Of course everything is separated and food safety is ensured.  Next is the defrosting room where food items are stored when needed soon.  Items take various lengths of time to thaw and are kept here in this safe environment.

Next room is the butcher where they have a large table for just meat and another large table for chicken.  There are 8 butchers here trimming large cuts of meats, and whole chickens.  Nothing is wasted, bones go for broth, some of the fat get used to make ground meats. 

Then across the hall is the vegetable/fruit preparation room.  It is rather sterile (easy to clean) and at one large table are four guys trimming potatoes.  There is a machine that peels them but these guys are all trimming the potatoes and making them all the same.  I will never look at my potatoes the same.

After we are taken into the photo department.  The manager discusses how the department works, how many pictures they produce and what they do with the chemicals.  It is quite impressive how they can produce the pictures so quickly. 

We cross the hall to the print shop and into a small but well organized room.  Wow is hard to believe how much gets produced here.  They have stacks of paper for everything:  menus, patters, notepads, port guides, shopping guides, spa flyers, future cruise flyers, cabin notes… and so much more.  They give us an example of how they produce the Patter.  They tell us that we will all be getting a note pad with our name on it. 

Down the hall we are now in the large room that is the Engineering Room.  The real heart of the ship I feel.  The Officer explains things so well and on so many screens.  This is quite impressive!  I am really not into so much of this techie stuff but it is cool to see how and where things are and how the ship sends warnings and alarms to this room if something is not right.  Including if a battery on one of the lifeboats is low and they get a warning here.  We spend quite a bit of time here and we get a picture taken here too.

We are now in the bowels of the ship, deck 2, the laundry.  A large area that is quite warm.  Lots of large pieces of equipment here and it seems like a science how everything gets moved around and done. 

The manager here informs us that we will be getting a free gift from the laundry and brings out a staff member to model it. Out comes a crew member in the robe with a shower cap on and slippers.  Funny.

We check out the large shoot for the drop of clothes.  Here someone divides the dirty lines/towels into like items. 

Next it is put into a large washing machine where the temperature gets to 60o Celsius.  Next comes the dryers and then these massive folding machines.  In front of us is a machine that folds sheets, duvet covers, table cloths.  There is another machine that fold towels and this ship goes thru a lot of beach towels.  They have to fold the smaller towels like facecloths and hand towels by hand.

We walk over to the area where the uniforms and passenger clothing gets washed and numbered (those little tags) and pressed.  Now that press for the shirts is a great tool that I am sure many of us would like in our home.

We are led out to the very front of the ship where the anchor and lines that they throw down to the docks to hold the ship in place.  Brian is here to talk about the area.  We had dinner with Brian a few nights ago so he welcomes us by name.  This area is huge and it really puts things into perspective when you hear how things are done and how dangerous it can be.  We all are happy when the ship docks safety but knowing what it takes makes you appreciate it even more.

Back inside and up to deck 14 to the Bridge where Captain Bob Oliver is there to greet us.  This is our second visit to the bridge this voyage (first was for our milestone cruise) so we just stay back and let the others get a closer look.  Although this tour was much more in depth.

One funny thing is we are standing over the wings on the Bridge.  We can easily see down to the passenger cabin balconies.  Two decks down there is an older woman who looks up and sees us and keeps glancing.  We glance back down and OMG she is in her bra and granny panties!  Really!  I don’t think she thinks we can see her.  So she sits in the chair there and proceeds to play cards. Occasionally she looks up and finally she clues in that we can see her when someone waves back.  She gets up and hides behind the divider and peaks over every few minutes, we wave back when she peaks out.  Finally she goes into the cabin and gets a towel and wraps it around herself and sits in it.  But oh no I will never burn that image out of my head.  Just hope I don’t run into her tonight around the ship. 

In all the tour takes about 3.5 hours and we will get our items delivered to the cabin later tonight.  Thankfully we have made room in our suitcases for the gifts.


  1. Very good.
    Thanks for taking us along.

  2. Do they have this tour on all the ships? It sounds very interesting.

    1. i believe so, check the Patter the first day as soon as you get on, it is very popular and space is limited