The first two ports of call in the Azores Islands were fantastic. First a visit to Horta and the following day Ponta Delgada. However, there was still another 700 miles (1,100 km) for the Ms Nieuw Amsterdam to travel to the next port call Lisbon, Portugal. It would take around one and half days to cover this distance with the schedule arrival time in Lisbon of around 2 pm tomorrow.
Nieuw Amsterdam Ship Tour
On past cruises, I had heard talk of some ships offering a complete ship tour, kind of like a behind the scenes tour of the ship. Of course, I asked about this once onboard, and even though it cost a little money, it sounded like a great idea.
The tour takes you to some places that passengers do not get to see when onboard. Areas like Backstage in the theatre, laundry, engine control room, store rooms, bakery, marshalling area, kitchen, and the navigation bridge.
On my first cruise, there was a very short backstage tour, so it was nice to compare the two ships. The first cruise, of course, was onboard Ms Statendam and it was a much smaller ship. The backstage area on that ship was small and seemed rather awkward. In comparison, the backstage area onboard Ms Nieuw Amsterdam seems rather spacious. Albeit there is still not a lot of space with the number of costumes and props kept here.
The next stop was a rather important area on the ship, the laundry. By now I should probably be used to the idea of everything on a cruise ship being compact. However, I found the laundry to be much smaller than I thought. Especially considering just how much linen and towels they need to wash every day.
Everything from sheets to face washers, pool towels to napkins need to be clean and fresh each day. It is hard to imagine keeping all of these items clean, but that is what they do in this room every day.
Corridors & Hallways
Passing through the corridors and hallways below the passenger decks is very different as well. Everything is very minimal with little to no decoration. Most of the walls are painted plain white with no adornments. Which to be honest makes sense, these corridors are here for a purpose, to allow passage. They are very much work areas.
Engine Control Room
The engine control room is an area that very few passengers ever get to visit. It is an interesting place to visit and see just what happens to keep the ship moving forward. But it is the numbers that were shared with us that were even more astounding.
A ship the size of the MS Nieuw Amsterdam takes a considerable amount of fuel to operate. The fuel economy leaves a lot to be desired, moving just 5 metres for every litre of fuel (62 feet per gallon). Which converts to around 200 litres per kilometre, or about 3.3 tanks of fuel for my car at home.
The marshalling area is somewhere that does not get much use while at sea. However, when MS Nieuw Amsterdam is in port that is a whole other story. The marshalling area is where all of the goods coming on board or offloaded pass through.
Again like other areas on the ship considering the quantity of goods that pass through here it is much smaller than I thought. Particularly with the luggage of over 2,000 passengers on embarkation/disembarkation days and the volume of food and beverage supplies. All I can imagine is that the process is very fine tuned and it would be all hands on deck, so to say.
While many types of food can easily be stored in transit, one that must be produced every day is fresh bread. Which is the job of the onboard bakery, which operates 24 hours a day. A rather small room that does create a lot of varieties of fresh bread to keep everyone happy.
There are some different storage rooms on board for all the different types of food and beverage. The image below is off one of the beverage store rooms, with space to store everything from water to wine, spirits and soda. The next store room is a dry goods store where many of the basic ingredients such as flour, rice and condiments are stored.
From where the food is stored, the next stop is the kitchen. It makes sense that they are located reasonably close together to try and avoid physically moving things too far, too often. At the time we visited the kitchen, they were in the early stages of preparing for dinner. It looks like the favourite entree tonight might just be shrimp cocktail; there were easily a couple of hundred lining this bench.
The final stop on the tour is the Navigation Bridge, which is a rather important part of the ship. It is here that the decisions, of course, speed and consideration of the conditions are all taken into account. On this day they were also keeping a close watch obstacles including whales that may come into the path of the ship. I also found the view from here to be one of the best on the ship, of course, what you might expect from this important area.
A Great Tour
It is hard to say, but this could be one of the best tours I have taken with a cruise ship, even including the ones onshore. It was well worth the time and money to see just how the Ms Nieuw Amsterdam is operated. While also getting a little better appreciation for what goes into operating a cruise ship in general.
Looking forward to the rest of the cruise, it is going to start getting much more intensive. In fact, after today there will be only three more sea days in almost three weeks. Although I am not complaining one bit as that means seeing a lot of fascinating places, it does not leave much time to relax.