Time was when an invitation from the captain to join him on the bridge was the highlight of a cruise, usually reserved for passengers in the most expensive suites, and those who had clocked up the most loyalty points or frequent-cruiser miles.
Then, under the umbrella of security precautions, most shipping lines put a stop to the practice, and passengers could no longer stand by the wheel – or on today’s high-tech ships, joystick – and pretend to be in charge.
Now bridge tours are coming back, as one stop on a behind-the-scenes tour of parts of a ship which are usually off-limits to the paying public.
Princess were first, offering tours of their newest ship, the Ruby Princess, including visits to the galley, laundry, backstage in the theatre, the engine control room, funnel and bridge. Bizarrely, the $150 tours also include the print shop and photo lab – hold me back!
Norwegian Cruise Lines have now jumped on the bandwagon, offering tours of the galley, laundry, theatre and bridge for $55, and a premium package for $150 which includes cocktails, a sushi tasting, and dinner in the on-board steakhouse restaurant.
Who will be next to cash in on this opportunity to squeeze more money from passengers?