What really does happen down there?
Day 35/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. Day 1 of 5 sea days.
I think I’m addicted? How about you?
So last night I got a bit more sleep. I only woke up coughing twice and I was able to get back to sleep. Right now I sound like a frog croaking away with my horrible voice. Oh my goodness! I think the cold is working through its normal progression though and I’m on the upside of it. Thank goodness because we had a very busy day planned out for us today!
At 9am this morning we were on the ‘Back of the House’ tour with the Hotel General Manager Ronald, who we had dinner with the other evening. We needed to be up, have breakfast and down at Guest Services to join the rest of the people going on the tour this morning.
Promptly at 9am we were whisked through The Chef’s Table Restaurant into the main kitchen on Deck 1. The first station we visited was the Room Service prep area.
The room service prep area. Notice the salts/peppers and jams neatly stacked in behind on shelves.
Breakfast room service trays being prepared for delivery. On average the Room Service area serves between 120-180 room service trays for breakfast every day. On the Neptune if we put our room service order outside on the door to our cabin by 11pm, we have our room service within a pre chosen 15 minute window the next morning. And everything is always piping hot and perfect! Considering there are 900 (mostly couples) guests onboard I figure that is between 25-39% of people who order room service every day for breakfast. And room service is no extra charge on Viking! Isn’t that amazing?
Immediately to the left of the Room Service prep area we encountered Executive Chef Willy Moon’s office.
Chef Willy Moon, who boarded the Neptune in Honolulu, in his office. Chef Willy came out to tell us he was really excited about the ‘Moon’ fish that he was able to pick up in Tahiti yesterday. He said that the Moon fish would be displayed on the Polynesian buffet this evening, and then served in some form tomorrow. I wonder if the doodle on Chef Willy’s white board is a self portrait? It does have some resemblance doesn’t it?
Everyone was really interested in the next station because it looked so appealing!
Specialty homemade desserts! It looks like someone is getting a special birthday or anniversary treat delivered to their cabin today!
What a beautiful presentation of desserts!
Anyone on the Neptune, and on other Viking ships knows just how good the breads are in Manfredi’s the Italian restaurant onboard. This is where the magic happens. The bakers in the top left of the photo are rolling out the dough for the very special breads that are featured every evening at Manfredi’s. The bread is so good, I could just eat the bread and skip the rest of the meal….but the meal is so good at Manfredi’s, its hard to limit the amount of bread we eat there! A tip for you though…last night we ordered spaghetti bolognese from the room service menu and we asked for some garlic bread, so the Room Service team sent us up some of the beautiful cheese, garlic rolls from Manfredi’s to go along with our pasta. So even if it is not on the room service menu per se, the Amazing, accommodating Room Service team figures it out to make us happy!
There are 14 crew whose job is ‘dishwasher’ and they not only clean all of the dishes overnight, but they completely clean the kitchen each night to CDC standards.
Dishwashing station. Viking is regularly inspected in the U.S. ports of call, but this time the Neptune was not inspected in L.A. as there was a larger Carnival ship in port in L.A. and it was a Sunday, so the Carnival ship had the pleasure of the inspection. Viking must score 86/100 on the inspection or they are fined. There are also on board crew which inspect daily too, to Viking’s standards.
We learned that all of the meat served onboard the ship arrives frozen and stay frozen except for New Zealand and Australia. Viking has machines which defrost the meat and fish which take 12 hours to defrost. Since Covid, Viking has been having supply issues with getting what they ordered vs what actually gets delivered. On their alcohol order, they did not get what they wanted. On this 5 month World Cruise we will go through ~60,000 bottles of wine, and ~60,000 bottles of beer, Alcohol is ordered 3-4 months in advance to try to alleviate supply issues.
The supply room. It definitely looks like we have a lot of rice, alcohol, and mix. I don’t think we will be going without anything, anytime soon. I am hoping they were able to restock with Clamato juice in Tahiti, because apparently we ran out, so the Bloody Caesar’s we enjoy so much in Canada had turned into Bloody Mary’s, because we had no Clamato juice!
We walked down the long corridor on Deck A which is called the ‘I95’ which leads from one section of the ship to another. Staff cabins are interspersed along the I95 on Deck A and also on Deck B below
Staff cabins behind a porthole door off the I95. Staff rooms are 2 to a room, they have a washroom as well as a tv, and writing desk in each cabin, and staff also get free wifi. Staff hours are 10 hours a day, 7 days a week and the staff are all members of the Norwegian Seafarers Union. Two stripes on the sleeve and above each have a single cabin. The Maximum hours per week that staff can work is 77 hours per week and if they work more than 77 hours, they are given time in lieu or are paid overtime.
Viking has a full time HR Manager onboard who is available to hear any staff grievances. Viking follows a ‘servant leadership‘ model and if they are having issues with a staff member they first look at their approach with the individual to see if there is something leadership is doing that needs to change, to help the employee. On other cruise lines that GM Ronald has worked on if an employee was a problem, it was ‘My way or the Gangway’ as he likes to say. He said that before they terminate an employee they follow a strict 6week- 2 month Performance Improvement Process and he has not had to terminate anyone yet using this approach.
Staff have a fun night every 3 days it seems. Whether it is a Wine and Cheese, or Karaoke, or Nachos and Beer night, (the crew bar is on Deck 9 - which happens to be the Sports Deck for guests) or a Spa night where the staff get to use the guest Nordic Spa area after hours (closes at 8pm to guests). The alcohol policy allows the staff to have a maximum of 2 small beers as they are only allowed to have 0.05 alcohol in their bloodstream. All staff must complete courses to work on a ship and depending on the level of the individual, the more courses and certificates they must have. For example Ronald has 7 courses including his: fire brigade course, first aid course, crowd management course etc., so that if anything should arise, he is able to help out in each area having an issue. There are trained fire fighters onboard, but until they arrive, staff who are trained, are expected to know what to do in a given situation. Crew also are allowed to borrow bicycles when in port from the ship, so they can have some fun on land when they have free time.
I definitely can tell that the Viking employees are well trained and the STAR process is engrained in their every day life on board.
We were lucky to visit the Engine Control Room today, but unfortunately no pictures were allowed in the room. The Chief Engineer was being kept busy today because our retractable roof over the pool deck was ‘stuck’ and would not retract, so he was busy with solving that problem, on his white board today.
Very detailed schematics of the ship lined the corridor of the I95.
After visiting the I95 corridor, we went to see the laundry facility down on Deck B. The laundry area operates 24/7 to launder not only the sheets and towels for all guests, but the staff uniforms as well as guest laundry too!
Four giant washing machines!
Four giant dryers.
A giant pressing machine which is programmed to know exactly how long to press each item fed through the machine. I wondered why our duvets and sheets never had any wrinkles! Now I know!
Stacks of freshly pressed towels waiting to be sent out to the cabins with the room stewards. The towel on the right even has a hand print on it!
Next up around the corner from the laundry was the Dry Cleaning area.
I’ve seen those types of pressing machines in dry cleaners before!
Guest laundry being dry cleaned and pressed. Higher categories of cabins on Viking have laundry included or pressing depending on the cabin category.
Dry cleaning ready to be delivered back to the cabins.
We finished up our tour today by walking through the purser’s office on Deck 1, outside of Guest Services.
Chantal the Guest Excursions Manager waving at us from the Purser’s Office.
After our tour today, I certainly feel a lot more enlightened on what 469 staff do, to keep the Viking Neptune humming along, like a well oiled machine in all departments! It certainly takes a village to keep the ship and all of its operations functioning, especially when 900 guests onboard are trying to have a great time!
We had a very busy day today besides this tour, but since its late, I’m tired and coughing, I think its time to close for the night. Now we know what does go on down under in the ship and I’m really glad Viking opened up these tours to us, not only to entertain us on long sea days, but to help us appreciate how much Viking and the staff want to make our experience onboard, one that will exceed our expectations, fulfill our dreams and make us want to come back as repeat customers and tell all our friends about the fabulous time we had on our Viking cruise. Absolutely a fabulous experience being able to see the ‘Back of the House’ today.
And this is the Moon fish that Chef Willy mentioned to us this morning, that weighs 24 kilos and was on display for the Polynesian buffet on the Aquavit Terrace outside the World Cafe on Deck 7 this evening for dinner.
And while I was out on the pool deck taking photos of the Moon Fish, I couldn’t leave without taking a photo of a beautiful sunset on the South Pacific.
Notice the deck railing is in the photo. I did this on purpose to draw your eye to the sunset. Its called ‘leading lines’.
I’ve got more to share tomorrow on our fabulous behind the scenes adventures which kept us busy today, so check back tomorrow for some more ‘scoop’ on what we did today!