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Organization Of A Cruise Liner

Sergey Dolya • 9 minutes read • October 7th, 2016
Our cruise ship was being under construction during 18 months and it cost the

Holland-America Line Company

445 million dollars. To be honest, I thought that the liner of this size and with such a rich trim would be much more expensive. But in fact its price turned out to be equal to the price of just two Boeing 777.

This was my 6th cruise, but I've managed to get behind the door marked "Staff only" for the first time. 13 lucky people took part in a four-hour tour of the vessel's backstage. We visited the engine room, galley, dressing room, laundry, plumber's shop, warehouses, and almost all service areas. We saw rooms of sailors. We finished the tour on the captain's bridge.
I'll show you places that passengers usually do not see...
Our ship was built in Venice in shipyards of Finkanteri. This is the fourth ship of Holland America Line named


. When the ship gets old, and usually it occurs in 25-30 years after construction, it is sold to some poorer cruise company, and its former owner builds a new ship with the same name.

We started our tour around the ship with dressing rooms. 2 performances took place every night on the big stage of the ship. They are organized by professional actors constantly living on the ship:
All the artists are hired in Los Angeles, and the casting is held with the same rigidity as for the Broadway musicals:
None of performances is repeated during the cruise, respectively, props and costumes for each of them are stored behind the stage:
Lower decks of the ship are divided into 5 parts by massive bulkheads:
In the case of an extraordinary situation, they are closed, and passing along the vessel becomes impossible. Between the bulkheads, you can move only up or down. They are closed slowly and controlled from the bridge, that is, if you lingered on and got under this door, it will not stop and will close crushing you.
According to safety rules, this door is always closed in the port, when the ship is being moored or moving away from the dock:
Uniform for the whole crew, including the captain, is sewed directly on the vessel:
Every day tons of linen and things of guests are laundered on board. For this purpose, there are several large aggregates on lower decks. They were installed here during construction of the liner:
If they are fatally broken, you can throw them away only after making a hole in the board:
Here are professional machines for "wet cleaning". I do not quite understand the difference between their washing process and the usual dry-cleaning, but our guide said that they are much more environmentally friendly and do not cause harm to the environment:
Our ship's crew consisted of 798 sailors and officers. And there were 1869 passengers on board, ie there is one ship officer for every two passengers.
There was a physician, traumatic surgeon, and a nursing officer on board.
Crew has its own galley, bar, its own games room, where they play Playstation, etc.
All the sailors on Holland America Line live in a two man cabins with all conveniences:
Officers have separate cabins:
All waste gets in a special room, where it is sorted by hand and sold for recycling. Money is divided among the sailors (officers earn nothing from waste). They try to sort and to sell for recycling as much garbage as possible, but not to bury it on a waste deposit:
Old discarded clothes and books are donated to the homeless. As soon as some disaster occurs in the world - this company is among the first to send clothes and shoes there.
The best stewards, who help to sort garbage from cabins, are presented with additional off days or with bus tours in ports.
As I understood it, the attitude to the environment is very serious here. One of 4 senior officers on board is Environmental officer:
This is the Еngine Сontrol Room (ECR) - heart of the ship:
Control of engines and other units happens from here. Do you remember how the captain in Titanic pulled a special handle with a ring, and workers in fire-rooms threw coal into the furnace? Now everything is controlled by computers:
And only one person monitors that:
Pay attention to the switch in the middle. Now it set to Bridge mode, that is, the responsibility lies on the bridge, and engines control happens there:

Our liner

doesn't have a back draught. Instead, it has 2 screws on azimuth thrusters (azipods) set abaft. They can make a 360 degrees rotation. So if it is necessary to make sternway, azipods are simply turned backwards:
From the ECR, you can check any sensor on the ship. For example, we checked the temperature in my cabin:
And here are ship's air conditioners. They definitely won't fit into my balcony:
Our vessel is equipped with 4 sixteen-cylinder and 2 eight-cylinder engines. They all have a V-shape, which can be seen in the picture. Can you imagine its size?
Tanks with diesel fuel are under the engine room. The ship is refueled not in every port but every couple of weeks. One liter of fuel for our ship is enough just for 22 meters:
Whistling noise of engines makes the ears tingle:
Under the blue cover, there's a reserve engine piston:
Such devices can be found throughout the engine room - to wash eyes in the event of an extraordinary situation:
Here's the plumber's shop:
Fresh products are loaded on board every 12 days. Something is bought at local ports, but most of the products are delivered from the United States:
Bread is baked on board. 6 bakers work in bakery around the clock. In total, there are 798 employees on board, 334 of them, including waiters, work in the food unit:
During dinner, these shelves are full of plates of various dishes. Waiters take orders, run to the kitchen, take already cooked meals, and carry them to passengers:
Variants of all dishes hang on the wall. The most expensive one is Surf and Turf - a piece of juicy beef and lobster on a plate. To feed passengers with this dish, the cruise company have to pay $ 7.000:
Shortly before dinner, on the basis of statistics of previous cruises, a certain number of servings of each dish is cooked. After the waiter takes the order, the information is immediately displayed on the central monitor and serves as a signal for cooks that it is necessary to complete the number of these dishes:
Captain's cabin is located right next to the bridge:
The bridge is very spacious, empty, and quiet. In addition to navigators, there are sharp-eyed sailors constantly looking ahead and seeking out small vessels and wooden boats that are not visible on the radar:
Here's our guide - a tall Dutchman (why the Dutch are all so tall?):
The vessel can be handled in several ways duplicating one another. Most often it's controlled by this joystick. With its help, you can execute any maneuvers of the vessel. It's even hard to believe that such a large ship can be controlled by such a small lever:
As I've already mentioned, our ship doesn't have a back draught, the control happens thanks to the 360 degrees rotation of azipods. Each of these "cans" controls its screw:
Сaptain is always on the bridge at the port while docking and departing. He is assisted by a pilot who gets aboard at each port. Pilot only gives guidance and captain commands the ship:
And here you can clearly see 5 bulkheads we've already talked about at the beginning of the story. The round thing on the glass - it's the windscreen wiper of the special form. If there's a downpour or huge waves pouring the windshield (and it is at the level of the 8th floor), you can always see what's going on ahead through this window (when usual windscreen wipers aren't able to cope with problems):
All systems are duplicated many times, and the vessel can be operated from any location on the bridge:
Despite the fact that we live in the age of computers, international shipping practice still requires to keep a logbook and to lay a route on a paper map. This is done to facilitate the analysis of accidents.
Author: Sergey Dolya
Translated by: Olesya Zhukova

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