When on a cruise ship, you may wonder whether it is possible to visit the bridge and see what goes on. In this article, we look at when and how this is possible.
What is the Ships Bridge?
The Bridge is a room at the front of the ship from which the ship is commanded. The term “Bridge” originated from a narrow, raised platform “bridging” the two sides of a large vessel. This allowed the Captain access to both sides while commanding the crew.
On modern cruise ships the Bridge is a large structure, high up at the front of the ship.
It has many windows and spans the entire width of the ship. Often the bridge extends out over the side of the ships too, allowing the crew to see right down the sides of the ship and see to the very back.
The ship’s crew will have access to paper nautical charts as well as modern computer equipment. This equipment controls the ship’s many systems – mechanical, electronic and communication.
Steering of the ship can be controlled in several places, including from where the bridge actually extends out over the sides of the ship.
Can You Visit The Bridge on a Cruise Ship?
On many cruise ships, you may be able to sign up for a “behind-the-scenes tour” which can include a tour of the ship’s bridge.
On many small expedition ships, they have an open bridge policy. Passengers are able to drop by and speak the crew – unless of course, the crew are in a situation where full concentration is required! (Docking, bad weather etc)
Cruise Ship Bridge Tours
Many Cruise lines offer “Behind the Scenes” tours, which include a trip to the bridge. Due to the recent Covid pandemic, some that did provide tours no longer do so.
Behind-the-scenes tours may be offered onboard, and you will be able to find details and costs in your daily schedule or cruise ship App.
Examples of costs are listed below:
|Cruise Line||Available?||Approximate Cost|
|Royal Caribbean||Yes||$120 per guest.|
|Celebrity||Yes||$139 per guest|
|Carnival||Yes||$55 USD to $95 Depending on the tour offered|
|P & O||Yes||£75 (approx $93)|
How Have Things Changed In Recent Years?
Things have changed in recent years, due to the Covid pandemic and heightened Health and Safety concerns.
Loyalty Status Tours
Norwegian Cruise Line used to offer free “Behind the Scenes” tours to their “latitudes” loyalty club members. I was very lucky to have been able to take advantage of this perk visit the ships bridge. I have Platinum loyalty status with Norwegian Cruise Line.
Unfortunately, since the Covid pandemic, these tours are no longer available. Norwegian say:
When – or if – they will re-instate these tours is anybody’s guess!
Bridge Viewing Rooms
One of my favourite cruise ships, The Norwegian Spirit, used to have a Bridge Viewing Room where you could see the crew at work. Unfortunately, this was lost in its most recent million-dollar refit.
Other ships, like Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 also had a bridge viewing room, but it no longer appears to be shown on the newest deck plans.
Older cruise ships seem to have done away with Bridge Viewing Rooms altogether.
Although Bridge Viewing Rooms are an interesting feature, popular with guests, newly built cruise ships no longer include them. This is because of heightened Health and Safety concerns.
Other Ways to Visit the Bridge on a Cruise Ship
The only other way to get to visit the Bridge onboard a cruise ship is to be invited by the Cruise Line itself – or a member of the crew.
I have been lucky enough to have been invited on Press Trips, which often include a full, behind-the-scenes ship tour.
Other passengers report having been personally invited by the Captain, whilst attending a dinner at “The Captains Table”
The “Captain’s Table” on a cruise ship is where the captain of the ship is dining.
On some ships, there is a designated table in the centre of the main dining room reserved exclusively for the captain, senior officers and their invited guests.
The process for being invited is fairly random, with invitees ranging from first-time cruisers to VIPs.
Some cruise ship bridges are open on the sides such as the below. This is an older design.
Can you visit the Wheelhouse on a River Cruise Ship?
On River Cruise ships you will find a Wheelhouse, rather than a Bridge.
Wheelhouses are ingenious box-like structures found on the top deck. From here the Captain or the crew controls the ship.
The Wheelhouse can sink down into the superstructure of the ship at the press of a button! This enables the river ship to fit under some very low bridges.
On River Cruise ships it is often possible to just pop by and speak to the crew in the wheelhouse, as long as they are not too busy. When I took my cruise on the Tui Skyla, this was the case.
Emerald River Cruises also welcome guests to visit the wheelhouse during their cruise. They say:
Ask onboard at the reception desk, and they will let you know if it is possible to visit the wheelhouse on your ship. They will also let you know if there is any charge for doing so – usually, it is free on River Cruise Ships.
Find out all about that wonderful river cruise down the Danube on the Tui Skyla here:
Are There Bridge Tours on Luxury on Expedition Ships?
Luxury cruise lines such as Viking offer a free tour of the Bridge. Other luxury cruise lines such as Silversea, Oceana, Seabourn, Regent etc do not advertise such tours on their websites.
However, luxury cruise lines do pride themselves on having concierge services that can customise your voyage and attend to your every need – so doubtless, a tour of the bridge is something they would be happy to offer!
Expedition ships like Hurtigruten also offer guests a free bridge tour. Look out for details whilst onboard.
Would I Recommend a Bridge Tour?
A trip to the Bridge onboard a cruise ship is a very interesting thing to do, if you are able.
Do bear in mind that on some cruise ships, this is just not available.
Keep an eye out in the daily schedule or cruise ship App, if this tour would be of interest to you.
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