Behind the scenes on the Viking Sun – ship’s tours

In addition to all of the included and optional shore excursions we’ve taken during the past few weeks, we recently stumbled onto some other tours of operating areas within the ship.  These weren’t published anywhere, and we only found out through word of mouth from another passenger.  So, if you take a cruise you may want to keep that in mind and ask the Guest Services folks what tours of the ship are offered periodically.  These were all free and definitely worth doing!

The ship’s bridge –

We were excited to hear about this one and signed up immediately.  After entering the modern and spacious bridge, our small group listened as the second officer explained the ship’s propulsion, controls, radar, route planning and communications equipment.  After answering questions, he allowed us to walk around and take pictures, and even sit in the captain’s chairs.  I’ve been in some pretty fancy airplane cockpits, but sitting at the controls of a $430 million dollar cruise ship was over the top!

Our introduction to the technology – the Sun is only 3 years old and has all the latest and greatest

The captain files a trip segment plan with the main office, and once approved it’s activated here
Gone are the days of the huge round wheel, this one is used only for a few manual operations
We were instructed to not push any buttons – especially the red ones
Flags for all of the countries this cruise will visit are stored here
This is the actual documentation that will be submitted to Guinness World Records, certifying this as the longest world cruise ever
Mona Liza was very excited to learn the 2nd Officer is Filipino

This was a great tour, I only wish they would offer one of the engine room.  But apparently that’s not going to happen due to security issues 😦

The ship’s laundry facility –

We told some people about this upcoming tour, and a couple of them thought it would be boring and they wouldn’t bother going.  Too bad for them!  The short excursion through the workings of a big ship’s laundry operation was anything but boring.  Seeing the massive custom washers, dryers, sheet dryer/folder and dry cleaning equipment was only the beginning.  We were shown how laundry is accepted into the facility – from workers, from passengers and from the restaurants and several other on-board operations.

Each piece of laundry sent by passengers is labeled by stateroom number and sorted according to how it needs to be cleaned before being sent to the appropriate area.  Crew member’s uniforms have a whole section to themselves, as do their bedding, towels and other linens.  We were shown the huge linen storage room, which holds a massive inventory of high-quality bedding and towels of all shapes and sizes.

We learned that the 24-hour operation employs a staff of 8 workers during the day and only 2 at night.  There’s one person assigned to shirts, one to trousers, and one who does nothing but iron clothes all day long.  OK, that might get a bit boring!

This man knows how to iron clothes – fast!

I loved looking at all of the machinery and was told they have a technician on the ship who can repair any piece of equipment here.  And believe me, this is some very specialized stuff!

Four huge washing machines, green bins for dirty items and blue for clean.  I forgot to ask about the red one 🙂
They even gave us a picture of our tour group with the workers!

We really enjoyed this tour, and now when we send our dress clothes out for cleaning we know how it will be handled and by whom!

The ship’s galley –

We were bummed out that Mona Liza couldn’t make it to this tour because her shore excursion ran late (she’ll go on the next one).  Just be forewarned that the photos won’t be up to her quality standards because I took them 🙂

Because of the small spaces we had to walk through I think they allowed too many people on this tour, but it was still an interesting look at the amazing job these folks do 24×7 to create the excellent meals that us passengers enjoy day after day.  The bakery, room service and initial food preparation areas run around the clock.  Now I know why we smell fresh-baked bread when we go out to exercise every morning!

This is the “initial intake area” where all food items arrive for preparation and distribution

Some stats: the cooking team consists of 103 people, including an executive chef and 3 restaurant chefs to run the 2 specialty restaurants and 2 main restaurants.  The remaining folks include many other specialists; trained butchers, sushi chefs, pastry chefs, dietary experts and many others work here as well.

Over 500 meals are prepared for the sit-down restaurant and buffet style locations, plus about 80 meals for reserved dinners at the two high-end specialty restaurants.  Another small restaurant and the Pool Grille help keep the 900+ hungry passengers fed.

And this tour didn’t even include the separate facilities and staff that feed the 450 crew members!

These folks are just getting started on meals for the 2 main restaurants

It’s an amazing operation, and while walking through I realized that I’ve never seen so much stainless steel in one place in my life.  We didn’t get to see the storage areas or refrigerators/freezers on another deck, but we were told that the fresh ingredients and meats, dairy, fish, fruits, and vegetables are sent from all over the world to a central location in Europe.

All of these fresh items then are flown to ports that each ship is destined for, where they re-supply about every 7 days.  This is done to keep quality consistent among all of their ships.  Wow, the logistics involved are mind-blowing!

The dessert/bakery area – simmer down Mona Liza!  Note the cakes to the right, my visit was just before the Super Bowl started
Here’s the area where all room service orders are handled, 24 hours a day
This is the escalator to even more kitchen facilities not included on the tour
The classroom where the cooking classes are conducted.  It doubles as a reservable room for special parties

These were all informative and impressive tours, and we didn’t even have to leave the ship to experience them!




  1. Totally agree, the inner-workings of a cruise ship are mind-boggling! I also took a tour of the many kitchens, the navigational equipment, the engine equipment, plus many shows in the theater area for cooking lectures from the chef, and I learned SO MUCH! To this day, I still follow one cruise chef’s suggestion to use parchment paper while frying (to cut down on oil-soaked chicken or fish). And the logistics for a world cruise! Totally fascinating.

  2. Hi there!
    We just finished a cruise on Royal Caribbean and they offered a behind the scenes tour as well. Same areas you visited as well as crews quarters, engine room and what they affectionately call I-95, the main thoroughfare for crew. What an amazing peek into how they keep the cruise operating efficiently and seamlessly! Hubby is a chef so that part really intrigued him.

  3. Pretty massive support system going on there! I was thinking that with that many crew members, even they wouldn’t all know each other. I like ironing, but not that much LOL!!

  4. Very interesting and different post Steve. I loved seeing all the “behind the scenes” scenes. Fascinating to think about all the work going on while the passengers are blissfully unaware!

  5. Fascinating insight into the behind the scenes workings of your cruise ship. That sheet drying and folding machine is brilliant. I don’t mind ironing, but I’d balk at having it as my full time job. 😳

  6. I’m always blown away by stuff like this. Just the logistics of it all… completely astounding. I’m glad they provide these kinds of tours and allow photographs. It’s just fascinating stuff!

  7. I would love to go ‘behind the scenes’ on a cruise ship…especially in the kitchen. It’s just mind-boggling to think of how they obtain and prepare gourmet food for so many people on a world cruise. The laundry tour is interesting, too. And I’m glad you didn’t push the red buttons on the bridge tour, haha!

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