Royal Caribbean has brought back its behind-the-scenes tours that provide a look at areas of its cruise ships passengers aren't allowed to see most times.
The All Access Tour is one of the last activities to return to service since cruises restarted last year due to the close proximity of guests and crew members. In the last few weeks, the tour is operational again and I decided to try it out while sailing on Mariner of the Seas.
The All Access Tour is a 2-hour walking tour of many areas of the ship, and costs extra. The goal is to provide a glimpse of what goes on while guests are enjoying their vacation to make the cruise ship function.
It's as much educational as it is eye opening to how much work goes on to keep the ship functional and optimal.
The tour was conducted on a sea day, and all guests are required to sign a waiver as well as wear a KN-95 mask, which Royal Caribbean provides.
Guests also have to wear pants and closed-toed shoes. Unlike the masks, this requirement was in place pre-2020 as well.
The tour visits 6 key areas along the way
- Engine control room
- Waste management
- Laundry room
- Food provisions
- Royal Theater
Guests are given an ear piece to wear during the tour, which makes hearing what is being said much easier. In the past I've done this tour without the ear piece and it makes things much simpler.
At each location, the tour leader usually hands off the narration to another crew member that works in the area you are visiting to explain in greater detail what goes on.
Prior to visiting the engine control room and bridge, the ship's security will pat down each guest since these are sensitive areas of the ship.
Photos are allowed in almost every area of the tour, minus the main I-95 crew corridor on deck 1 because there are posters on the wall with security information posted.
In the galley, you get to visit two galleys, which provides a look at a working galley that was serving breakfast at the time and another galley preparing for meals later in the day.
You get to see how they plan meals for guests and crew, which include seeing pastries, produce, and various cooking stations.
It's a round-the-clock operation to have the right logistics of getting food prepared and moved around the ship.
We also got to see where the food provisions are stored.
The engine control room is the heart beat of the ship, and we got to see all the controls for the systems that keep the ship moving and comfortable.
The trash area shows how waste is separated and disposed of properly. Royal Caribbean not only follows international maritime regulations, but actually goes above what's required as it relates to disposal.
To get to the laundry room, we had to go below the ship's water line and two decks below deck 1. I don't think I've ever been to this deck before.
There are machines for cleaning towels, sheets, table cloths and more.
This is also where laundry gets done for both guests and crew.
The highlight of the tour is going up to the bridge, where you can see the command center for Mariner of the Seas.
We got to not only see the primary bridge area, but also the bridge wings that allow for control during port operations.
The final stop was the Royal Theater, where we walked on stage and then headed backstage.
They explained both the technical operation of the show with rigging, lights, and scenery, as well as the cast prep for the performances.
In all, the All Access tour delivers on showing pretty much all the backstage areas you would want to see in order to fully appreciate how a cruise ship operates.
The tour doesn't include crew member quarters, restaurants, or bars. I think Royal Caribbean wants to limit the behind-the-scenes views to operational needs and let crew relax in those other areas.
It's insightful to see how a ship works, and if you've ever been curious about a cruise ship functions, then this is the tour for you.
I paid $86.99 per person for the All Access Ship tour when I purchased it prior to my cruise.