The Magic Of Cruising

My family and I just returned from our summer vacation, a trip aboard the Disney Magic. I’ve written before about the Disney Magic, an eleven-deck, eighty-four-thousand-ton cruise ship.

It’s a good way for the kids to get their Disney fix without the madness of waiting in theme park lines. My youngest, Chloe, loved the Kid’s Club (which is open until midnight!), and my eldest made it her personal goal to slide the new pool slide 100 times before the end of the cruise. (She made it to 97, but missed the last three when the slide was closed due to rough seas. Emily took this as a sign that we need to cruise again soon.)  As for me, I have to admit: while the baked Alaska is served and Disney characters are dancing – my mind wanders to logistics.

Looking at a perfectly-oiled-machine like the Disney Magic, I always ponder the logistics. Cruise ships aren’t just about getting from point A to point B. The ship itself is a luxury experience, treating guests to dinners, dancing, entertainment, and activities. These floating hotels can host thousands of guests for a week or more at a time, providing them each night with endless linens, cocktails, room service and buffets. How do they do it?

Let’s start with the numbers. According to CN Traveler, for a week-long voyage, “the Disney Magic loads up 3,125 gallons of soda, 10,000 pounds of chicken, and 71,500 eggs.” And, they don’t have days to do it.

When a cruise ship sails into its turnaround port early in the morning, a ballet of logistics ensues. ‘Turnaround day’ is actually just the few short hours between one voyage’s ending and another’s beginning. During this time, the ship must disembark thousands of passengers, tens of thousands of bags, and see that each stateroom is cleaned. The ship must be fueled, the kitchens cleaned and packed with fresh food, and the linens washed. cruiseAs the staterooms are prepared, 93,000 pounds of laundry are put through the washing machine, and 29,000 towels are folded by hand. (A figure I intend to remind my daughters of the next time they complain about folding their own laundry!)

Several hours later, another few thousand passengers arrive and the ship sets sail once more, ready to entertain, feed, and sleep thousands of guests and crew members once again. Lest we forget, a ship of 2,700 passengers like the Disney Magic requires a sizable crew – nearly 1,000 in our case, who work aboard the ship for months at a time. A second city exists below deck, one where crew members have their own cafeterias manned by chefs who match their rank or nationality. (For example, there is a mess hall for high ranking officers, a mess hall for crew members from Western countries, and a mess hall for Asian crew members, as getting to eat their native cuisine is a written condition of their contracts!)

Even on vacation, I couldn’t help but pause, occasionally, to marvel at the very impressive logistics of these floating cities. One isn’t supposed to think about work while on vacation, but nothing relaxes me like great logistics.  It’s good to be back.

Fuel for Thought,