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Cunard Team

Cunard’s Behind the Scenes Ship Tour

November 22, 2012


Posted in: Cunard Team, Life On Board

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in the day to day running of an Ocean Liner? With our new Behind the Scenes Tours, guests now have the chance to see the back of house operation and meet the Senior Officers on board all three Cunard Queens.

We recently joined the tour on board flagship Queen Mary 2, which took us to areas some crew members have yet to visit!

Our group met up in Connexions at the forward end of the ship, where our guide Declan from the Cruise Staff introduced himself and the two Security Staff who would accompany us. Declan explained that there are 222 steps on the tour (he counted them!), so comfy shoes are a must! Photography is not permitted in the working areas during the tour, however there was the opportunity for a complimentary group photo at the end of the tour, in arguably the most sought after place on the ship!

The first stop was the forward Mooring Deck, where we met Deputy Captain Hamish Sunter. He showed us around the anchor winches and windlasses, explaining how they work and giving us facts and figures about the machinery. This is the most forward part of the ship on deck, and the first insight we had into the operational working area. There are lots of steps, big pieces of machinery and you can almost feel the waves crashing against the side of the ship.  Just the other side of the bulkhead (wall) were the plush carpets, furnishings, live music and entertainment we are more used to experiencing!

We then met the Senior Doctor in the Medical Centre, he showed us around the facility, which is very much like a mini hospital, with wards and an x-ray room. There are 2 Doctors, 4 Nurses and 1 Medical Technician, who offer a surgery to both guests and crew. Most of the staff have an A&E background, they can deal with a wide range of conditions and traumas as well as plastering a broken leg!

Next on the tour was the so-called Burma Road, the main crew passageway which is the only one to run the entire length of the ship.  The Crew Housekeeper showed us the Crew Mess where the Crew spend their mealtimes and the Crew Bar and Officer’s Wardroom where Crew and Officers socialise after work.

The Environmental Officer met us next and explained how the ship recycles waste on board.  The waste handling room operates 24 hours a day and is manned by 6 people, sorting all crew and guest waste into separate streams:  hazardous, recyclable, suitable for incineration, food waste and suitable for donation. He gave us lots of statistics about how much is recycled on board – approximately 15,000 litres of used cooking oil is recycled into bio-diesel every year!

We then headed to the Engine Control Room where the Chief Engineer explained the technical side of the operation. He talked about the gas turbines, engines, stabilizers, Azimuthing pods, bow thrusters and the different types of fuel the ship uses throughout a voyage. He was able to answer all of our questions with ease…did you know that each pod propeller blade is made of special stainless steel and weighs 4500kg?!

The next part of the tour was what we could all relate too…food! The Food and Beverage Manager introduced us to his team, starting with the Provisions Manager in the Food Stores. The Provisions Manager is responsible for over 5000 lines of consumable products, from shower gel to beef joints! He works far in advance to ensure the ship is fully stocked for each voyage – four months ahead is not unusual. He explained the complex logistics of moving stock around the world in containers and picking it up in different ports mid-voyage. Whilst we walked through the Butchers Shop and Freezers, he explained how produce is kept fresh throughout a voyage. There are extraordinary amounts of food in the big fridges and freezers down in the stores at the beginning of a voyage, all very necessary as guests get through 11 tonnes of food each day!

The Executive Chef then took us on a tour of the Galley, which has 230 chefs working across 10 different kitchens spanning 11 decks of the ship – there are even escalators inside to help the crew move from kitchen to kitchen. We observed food preparation for that evening’s Britannia dining and heard about how meal orders are predicted each day – Steak and Ale Pie is a lunchtime favourite! The Public Rooms Manager explained the set-up of the different bars throughout QM2  and asked us to guess how many bottles of wine are on board at any one time. Here’s a clue…it’s more than 40,000 bottles!

The Royal Court Theatre was our next stop, where we met the Production Manager, Stage Manager and the Light and Sound Engineers. Standing up on the stage whilst the ship was moving made us realise just how challenging it must be for the dancers performing each night, especially in inclement weather. We were shown around the dressing rooms and costume store with over 3000 costumes and even got to try out the lighting from up in the lighting booth.

The final part of the tour was what everyone was looking forward to…The Bridge. The Captain and Navigational Officers greeted the group and showed us around, explaining all of the dials, buttons, radars and navigational charts. The Bridge is the widest part of the ship with amazing views out to sea and all the way aft of Queen Mary 2, which made a great way to finish the tour!

At the end of an insightful few hours we had a group photo with the Captain on the Bridge and a goody bag and keepsake pin, a great memento to show off proudly!

There is currently one Behind the Scenes tour available per voyage for a maximum of 16 guests.  The tour lasts 3 ½ hours and costs $120 per person. The tours are proving popular so do be sure to visit the Tours Office early in your voyage to secure your place.

  1. charlie veneros says:


  2. Jay says:

    Are these running on all voyages or just the ones of 7 days or more I don’t want to get my hopes up for my next voyage only to find out I going to miss out on the majority of my Diamond member privileges as well as this

  3. Alan Bruce Smith says:

    We took one of these tours on the Crown Princess last year. It was well worth the $150 per person. I’m glad to see that Cunard’s tour is a little less expensive.

  4. A truly beautiful ship……have watched in awe, the two occasions it has visited Durban, South Africa. Can shore to ship tours be arranged? I know it is calling again here early next year as part of it’s round the world cruise.

  5. Patricia Todd says:

    I would love to do this tour the next time I’m on the Queen Mary 2. Who would I book it?

  6. Kenneth Thundow says:

    Thanks for the memories,I spent many years at sea, Quite a few on Cunard. Caronia QM1,QE1 and QE2 Now retired in Canada The article tool me back to those great days.

  7. carolyn says:

    Great to see Cunard offering these tours. I did one on the Eurodam last year and well worth the money so will try to book in on one on my next Cunard cruise.

  8. Sheila Hick says:

    We’ll be joining Queen Mary 2 in Dubai in January 2013. Will there be a tour on this voyage and can I book it in advance as I’d like to give it to my husband as a Birthday present ?

  9. Sheila Hick says:

    We’ll be joining Queen Mary 2 in Dubai in January 2013. Will there be a tour on this voyage and how can I book it in advance as I’d like to give it to my husband as a Birthday present ?

  10. judith says:

    Will this type of tour be available on the other Queens? Have not done it on Queen Mary 2 yet, have talked to those who have and will have to do it next trip.

  11. Tom Potter says:

    My wife and I just returned from the 12 day “Europe – Canary Islands” Voyage on Queen Mary 2 where this tour was offered. Having great interest in the behind the scenes activity on board, I quickly registered myself for the tour so I would not miss out. As noted in the Blog, it is held to 16 people, no more, and they only offered one of these tours on this particular trip. I am not aware of how and when these are scheduled, so be sure to monitor your program for a posting. I was not sure exactly what to expect since the notice in the daily program did not go into great detail. Well, what a great surprise I had when it was all said and done! The Blog piece did an excellent job of detailing all the stops but did not mention how wonderful the department heads were that we met with. It was clear that they each put a lot of time into the preparation of their presentation. They were each incredibly passionate about their respective positions and it was obvious through their words and actions how proud they are to be a part of the Cunard family. They also made a point to highlight the people in their departments and the value they bring to making everything come together and look so seamless to us, the passengers. The other thing that impressed me is that when we were in all the crew areas, which is in fact their space to relax as they are on their own time, is that each time we walked past someone, they all made a point to make eye contact and said “Hello”, “Welcome”, or another kind word. The tour is advertised to take 3.5 hours. Ours went closer to 4 which was fine with me! In closing, the tour, in my opinion, is much more than advertised and is an incredible value. If you are thinking this may be one of those free Galley Tours with a few extras, it is not, and in fact, is far from it. This not only met, but well exceeded my expectations. If anyone has any interest, do not hesitate to get signed up, as soon as you can, as I think these tours will soon become one of the most coveted tickets on board!

  12. QE2forever says:

    I did this Tour a month ago, during QM2′s eastbound transatlantic crossing. Didn’t know what to expect, but it went far beyond my expectations.

    I agree with Tom Potter, the presentations by the people involved were excellent, very well prepared with care and passion and pride. Identically, lots of kindness and welcoming smiles and “hellos” from all the crew people we met or crossed path with.

    Well worth the price. It was just fantastic and hugely interesting.

  13. Nick Thorne says:

    I will be joining QM2 in Sydney on 7th March to Perth and I am wondering if I will be able to book the behind the Scenes tour during my stay.

  14. As a former ship staff (my husband was also the 1st CSO on board) I INSIST that my booked guests take this tour. Please don’t hesitate, they book quickly.

  15. Joyce says:

    My husband and I and two friends are joining QM2 in Sydney on March 7th 2013 trip to NZ. We would dearly like to book the behind the scenes tour. Where do we do the booking?

  16. Tom says:

    You can sign up at the Tour Desk in the Main Lobby. Enjoy!

  17. Tom says:

    You can buy your tickets at the Tour Office in the Main Lobby – Enjoy!

  18. judith says:

    Have now done the tour on Queen Victoria, a real treat, took us all afternoon, was very interesting. Everyone so skilled at explaining everything, and made us aware of how hard everyone works behind the scenes. Thankyou everyone.

  19. Doug says:

    Yes Jay, these “Behind The Scenes” Ship Tours are only for voyages of 7 nights or more. I just double-checked on the Cunard website.

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