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Royal Caribbean All Access Ship Tour Review

Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas is a massive cruise ship, spanning 18 decks and capable of carrying over 5,622 crew and passengers. Do you know the ship has a continuous walkway called the interstate-95 running the whole length of the ship? The Royal Caribbean All Access Ship Tour allows you to access spots otherwise out of bounds to guests.

The bridge
Onboard the bridge, a highlight visit onboard the Royal Caribbean All Access Ship Tour.

You have the opportunity to explore the inner workings of the ship, from the laundry room to the bridge. The tour is an excellent way to gain insight into the daily operations of a modern cruise ship and the hard work of its crew. Let’s see what on in the tour onboard the Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-ultra class Spectrum of the Seas ship.

Royal Caribbean Spectrum of the seas All Access Tour

The All-Access Ship Tour is available to guests who are 13 years or older and costs an additional fee. The tour lasts approximately 2 to 2.5 hours. It includes a dedicated guide, who will provide detailed information about each area you visit. The tour is also limited to a small group of guests, ensuring that you get an intimate and personalized experience. It is also pretty expensive, costing about S$191.29/pax (About US$140). Also I found the highlight of the tour being the ship bridge and the kitchen operations.

Ship Bridge Tour

The bridge part of the tour is one of the most eye opening, but also a disappointing part of the tour, more on that later. The Bridge Tour is undoubtedly the highlight of the All-Access Ship Tour for it’s advertised exclusiveness. Here, you can enter the head of the ship, where you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how the ship is operated.

Control panel
The ship bridge control panel at the Royal Caribbean Spectrum of the seas All Access Ship Tour review.

Also, the bridge is a very digital, minimal and an automated one, with almost all the ship functions being automated with minimal crewing. On our way to the bridge, we pass a couple of “VIP” rooms, the captain’s room and bridge crew quarters.

Moreover, the Spectrum of the Seas is more German than it is American, despite Royal Caribbean being a Miami based company. It was built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany and was delivered in April 2019 to serve the Asian regions. If you are sharp, you can catch a glance of the various ports of call the ship has made to on a section of the bridge wall.

Port of call
The ship’s various commemorative pieces on her various Ports of call.

The bridge is also an excellent vantage point for taking in the spectacular views of the ocean and coastline. The bridge balcony also has a clear plexiglass floor which aids in ship mooring too.

Sailing front
Sailing front from the ship’s bridge.
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On glass!
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Navigation
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Control room quotes

360 degree electric thrusters

During the Spectrum of the Seas bridge tour, you can have an insight into the ship’s various controls that are used to operate the ship. They can observe the navigation consoles using radar and GPS to chart the ship’s course, and see how the ship’s engines are controlled from the bridge.

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Side controls
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Close up
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360 thrusters control

Furthermore, you be introduced to the bridge controls on the bridge wing. The modern ship uses electric thrusters which can spin 360 degrees in any direction, powered by its diesel engines. This allows the ship to be maneuvered slowly in all directions without the need of a conventional rudder to steer.

View from the balcony Royal Caribbean All Access Ship Tour
Ship’s rearward view from the bridge balcony, what you see when the ship berthing at port.

Also, you can get up close and personal to the ship controls, observe the sophisticated navigation systems and try to decipher what you see on the screens. This includes the radar, GPS, and other navigation tools. You’ll learn about how the ship is steered and how the crew communicates with each other.

Boring Bridge crew and mystery of the missing Captain

However, on my tour, it felt that the bridge crew does not seem to give you their full attention on the tour. They are not as friendly as the crews in other parts of the tour. This is unlike other bridge tours I know off where guests were also briefed about navigation, safety protocols, alarms and communication protocols on the bridge. The bridge staff on my tour didn’t cover any of these. They were reserved on sharing anything extra other than what you can see or recognise.

The tour, led by a 2nd officer and crew were more or less waiting for us to run out of questions so they could whisk and handover the group off to the next tour station. You neither even have the chance to sit on the captain’s seat, nor even the Captain of the ship was not even present to greet us on the tour. This is despite the tour being a per-arranged event.

What a disappointment.

I-95 mega passageway

Thankfully, not all onboard the tour is bad. The All Access Ship Tour carries on into the depths of the ship. Here, you can walk the famous I-95 corridor, named after the US interstate highway which cuts across the country. The highlight on the ships operations at lower deck 2 is the i-95 passage way. It is a continuous service walkway running front to the back of the ship, providing crew members with access to the various areas of the vessel.

i-95 walkway
i-95 long walkway, named after the American interstate highway connecting from the front to rear.

It is used by crew to quickly travel to anywhere in the ship quickly and unseen by guests. Notably, this long passage way connects the various kitchen elevators, storage, engineering rooms, crew rest areas. Notably, the crew have their own rest, dining, relaxation and gym too. Along the corridor, guests can see the vast storage areas where everything from food supplies to maintenance equipment is kept.

Ship control engineering room

If the bridge is the eyes and head of the ship, the control room is the nerve center of the ship. It is run by engineers mostly behind the scenes. Moreover, the deck 2 engine control room is a small, seemingly minor room, but there is a lot going down here. The control room is one with walls filled with screens. It displays and reporting all the status and metrics of various elements and computer controlled workings on the ship. This includes engine power, thruster power, power for utilities and waste management to name afew. Here, a duty engineer works on shifts and keeps all the ship’s functions optimal. No photos are allowed inside the room.

The engineers even joke that the real control of the ship happens down here and not on the bridge. There are also live feeds of various CCTV cameras all over the ship, including those in elevators. Interestingly, CCTV footage of the casino is separate from the ship. This spot is another area besides the bridge which has a security presence during the tour.

Waste collection and sorting
Waste collection and sorting in the service section of the ship.

The visit moves on to the ship’s central waste processing room. Here, all waste is sorted for recycling. With non-recyclables incinerated or packed to be off-loaded offshore. This part of the tour ends with a walk-in into a logistics and chiller room which was used to store food and mostly dairy products during my visit. Next on we went to meet up with the head chef who will take us for the next part of the tour.

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Waste processing
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Chiller room
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Head chef

Dining areas and Chef Kitchens

The kitchens is a very enjoyable part of the tour. The tour moves to the restaurants and kitchens. Here, the ship’s cheery head chef meet you and take you on a tour of the dining areas. This is done in-between mealtimes where the restaurants are empty. Our head chef hails from Indonesia who has over 20 years of cooking out in the seas.

Also, it takes a lot to serve a ship of guests. Many of the crew onboard are service staff. Almost 800 of the 1,400 total crew on board are either waitering or kitchen staff.

Freshly prepared desserts on the tour!
Freshly prepared desserts on the tour!

In addition to the sights and experiences of the tour, each station guides themselves are a highlight of the All Access Ship Tour. They are knowledgeable and friendly, offering insights and answering questions about the ship’s operation and history. They are happy to share their expertise and passion for the ship.

This adds a personal touch and an extra layer of enjoyment to the experience.

Major culinary operation

Also, remarkably, all bread, cookies and desserts are all prepared on-board. Over 20,000 meals are prepared daily with over 1,000 eggs used per day across the board. In the kitchens, you can observe the culinary team in action, as they chop, stir, and cook up a storm. The kitchen is a bustling hub of activity, with a team of over 100 chefs working hard from ingredient prep, dish washing, cooking and quality control to ensure that every guest’s culinary needs are met.

Exploring the kitchens
Exploring the kitchens with our head chef guide, greeting the various cooks along the way.

Interestingly, too all food orders and food wastage from all eateries on the ship are tracked. The data by dining group type in all eating areas are tabulated by a computerised system. This allows the head chef to optimise food distribution to popular areas and reduce wastage.

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Food wastage monitor
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Cooks at work
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Baking bread

Housekeeping and laundry

Moreover, the All Access Ship Tour follows on to the lower decks to the housekeeping area. Here, the ship’s stateroom attendants work tirelessly to ensure that every guest’s room is kept clean and tidy. You can see how the attendants organize their supplies and hear about the daily challenges they face while keeping the ship spotless.

Housekeeping staff at work
Housekeeping staff at work folding various sheets and linen.

Furthermore, the tour takes a behind-the-scenes look at the ship’s laundry facilities. This is where the ship’s 2,000-plus sets of sheets, towels, and linens are washed and pressed every day. You can see the high-tech machines in action, and learn about the ship’s environmentally-friendly laundry practices. Here, housekeeping, uses very automated machines to load and wash laundry, such as table cloth and guest towels in vast giant washing machines as large and tall as a person.

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Accident free
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Large industrial machines
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Automated process

Here, you can meet laundry staff hard at work on the laundry level 1 deck. During my visit, they were pressing, folding towels, bed linen and dining tablecloth for rooms and restaurants. The staff happily shared they are from regional Indonesia and Philippines.

Washing and laundry area in deck 1 under the waterline
Washing and laundry area in deck 1, located under the ship’s waterline.

Also, I was introduced to a cleaning counter where staff can deposit and collect their uniform for washing. The laundry here accepts all types of clothing including dry cleaning jackets. Notably, stage performance crews maintain their customers do not send them for washing here, though it is open for all crew laundry needs.

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Laundry sorting
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Folding
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Press

Friendly service crews

Throughout the tour, staff we chanced upon on our walkabout were very friendly, despite being in a non-service setting, greeting you with a smile. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet some of the crew out of the tour and learn about their roles and responsibilities.

Lower deck service areas
Lower deck service areas with pretty narrow stairs and tiled floors instead of carpeting.

Notably, typically crew on-board the ship seldom have multiple roles and are tasked for their main purpose on the ship, such as F&B, entertainment or engineering support. This is unlike cruises I been in China, such as the Yangtze cruise. There, crews have large multiple roles, such as waitering, stage performer on top of general crew work.

Also, an interesting section on the service floors is the elevator day plates. You will notice the day of the week at the floor of every elevator. These are changed everyday at midnight by hand.

Elevator day plates
Elevator day plates, changed by hand by service crews on all elevators every sailing day at midnight.

My tour brings me through many tight working corridors and steep stairs, which could be a challenge for guests with mobility issues or those who have difficulty climbing stairs. Still, the tour is actually wheelchair accessible. The tour is happy to accommodate guests with special needs.

Warehousing and storage
The warehousing and storage sections in the lower decks in the ship.

Notably, the tour did not cover a visit to the ship’s Theaters, crew and backstage areas. Bummer.

Wrapping up

All in all, the Royal Caribbean All Access Ship Tour on the Spectrum of the Seas is a mixed bag, but at least enjoyable. It was quite an eye-opener, both fascinating and educational. It offers an opportunity to get an up-close look and gain a deeper understanding of the behind-the-scenes operations and inner workings of a modern cruise ship to keep the ship running smoothly. Also if ships are your thing.

I enjoyed the kitchen, laundry facilities, housekeeping parts of the tour, and staff have a genuine desire to share their work. Though the same can’t be said for the less-impressive Bridge section of the tour.

Still I won’t recommend the Royal Caribbean All access ship tour. Also, the tour itself was also shorter than the advertised duration which starts at 9am. The 2 hour tour itself costs about S$240/pax, though you can snag a discounted rate (about S$191.29/pax) towards your cruise date. Also, considering the very steep price for what you get. It is like a $100 an hour simple walkabout. For what you are getting, I feel S$50/pax be a more indicative fair tour price.

It is something you might just do once to satisfy your curiosity, but probably not again.

 

The review is based on experiences as a full-paying guest and is not sponsored. Royal Caribbean also have neither editorial inputs to reviews, nor seen this review before it is released to you, my readers. Thanks for reading!

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