Behind the Fun

Note: I wrote this blogpost prior to the Coronavirus stopping cruise line operations worldwide, following a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Cruise Line International no sail orders. Since Carnival suspended all cruises until early summer 2021, Imagination (the ship featured in this blogpost) has been taken out of the Fantasy Class fleet and is being dismantled in Turkey. Furthermore, the status of behind the scenes tours aboard Carnival ships are unknown at this time. Should Behind the Fun resume on future cruises, I highly recommend this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience “back of the house areas vital to a ship’s daily operations.”

. . .

Limited to sixteen guests, Carnival’s Behind the Fun Tour is a rare glimpse into the inner-workings of a cruise ship.

Once onboard, cruisers interested in the tour will immediately begin inquiring at the excursions desk, resulting in a quick sell out. The tour cannot be pre-booked.

I was fortunate to participate in Behind the Fun aboard Carnival Imagination, during a sea day while on a cruise to Ensenada, Mexico.

After a security screening, the group was led by a member of management, and escorted by an officer (at all times), through various parts of the ship. No cellphones, cameras, or recording devices were allowed. You’re not permitted on the tour with any of these items.

Flip-flops and sandals are also not allowed to be worn, as the tour includes areas accessible only by climbing (and descending) narrow steep stairs (at times more like ladders). According to Carnival, Behind the Fun lasts about three hours and involves “continual physical movement.”

It was fascinating to learn about the ship, and what it takes to feed and entertain almost three-thousand guests.

The amount of food and beverage consumed is startling. The galley (i.e. kitchen) is huge. I’d never seen so many identical desserts! We also watched a man carve intricate designs into watermelons (which later decorated the buffet).

During a weeklong cruise, guests aboard Carnival Imagination consume 45,000 eggs; 35,000 slices of bacon; 560 pounds of sausage links; 7,000 boxes of cereal; 10,500 pastries; and 5,000 bananas. And that’s just breakfast!

Served during a five-day cruise: 4,200 steaks; 7,000 pounds of chicken; 5,200 burgers; 12,500 cans of soda; 11,950 beers; 260 bottles of champagne; and 1,210 bottles of wine.

Before leaving the galley, we stepped into gigantic refrigerated rooms where alcohol and produce were stored, including 12,600 tomatoes, 13,600 potatoes, and 5,800 heads of lettuce.

Next, we visited the laundry room, with its enormous washers and dryers, plus intricate machines for mechanically folding freshly-laundered bedsheets.

We viewed the employee dining and training areas, before a quick stop at the medical center, which reminded me of an urgent care clinic/hospital emergency room.

Winding down narrow hallways and steep steps, we were led to the engineering room, where I realized how special this tour is. Being able to visit the heart of the ship was a privilege.

Engineers check propulsion, stability, electricity, and all vital systems (including water and air-conditioning) from this room; which contains a massive real-time schematic monitoring the entire vessel.

When I thought it couldn’t get any better, we were taken to the bridge and introduced to the ship’s captain, Antonio Durante.

Captain Antonio Durante and Rob Peters, on the bridge aboard Carnival Imagination.

Moments before asking to have my photo taken, a woman made the mistake of sitting in the captain’s chair, which he immediately informed her was a no-no.

From the bridge we visited the bow, next, an employee recreation room with pool tables, dartboard, and a bar.

Our last stop on Behind the Fun included the dressing room and backstage of the ship’s Dynasty Showroom. A giant closet was packed floor-to-ceiling with sequined costumes (and feathers) from the ship’s productions: Epic Rock and Divas.

We also met a few of the performers, including a male dancer who demonstrated a kick worthy of a Radio City Rockette!

At the end of the tour we were given souvenirs, including a Behind the Fun t-shirt, ballcap, and rubber bracelet.

. . .

I first starting cruising with my husband, in 2014 aboard Carnival Miracle, on a two-week voyage with guests of the D Casino & Hotel, Las Vegas.

Since that time, we’ve cruised aboard Inspiration, Imagination, and Valor; to the Mexican Riviera (Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Ensenada) and Western Caribbean (Cozumel, Yucatan Peninsula).

Outside the Carnival brand, we also sailed on Fathom’s Adonia, as part of a seven-day social impact cruise to Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, and Havana.

My bucket list dream destinations include cruising the California coastline, Alaska, and a cross-Atlantic sail.

To view other highlights (including clips of the Dynasty Showroom Divas production) from a four-day cruise, Long Beach to Catalina Island, California to Ensenada, Mexico, go here.

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