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What is Carnival’s “Behind the Fun” Like?

Cruise ships are floating cities with so many moving parts: hotel operations, food, engine room, navigation, entertainment, and more. Most of the time, you only see what they want you to see; the operations are carefully hidden on the ship, only accessible by unmarked non-descript doors. In fact, there are whole levels of the ship dedicated to functions that passengers never see. Ever wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes on a cruise ship? Then you should check out Carnival’s “Behind the Fun” tour. It’s a peek behind the curtain and makes you realize how mammoth a cruise ship operation really is.

Update Jan 2024: Behind the Fun can be booked online

No more having to rush to the Shore Excursions desk to purchase the tour once you board. Sailings after Jan 1, 2024, can now book the Behind the Fun online using their cruise planner. See the listing on the Carnival site.

What do you do on the Behind the Fun tour?

The “Behind the Fun” tour takes you to various off-limit areas of the ship. The tour usually takes place in the morning on the last sea day of a cruise. For cruises that are 6 days or more, the tour is about 3.5 hours. For shorter cruises, it lasts about 2 hours.

The agenda will vary per ship, but on the tour you’ll typically visit:

  • Main Galley
  • Back Stage
  • Crew Lounge
  • Crew Gym & Laundry
  • Main Laundry
  • Crew Mess / Staff Mess
  • Learning Resources Center
  • Marshaling Area
  • Environmental Room
  • Storeroom
  • Engine Control Room
  • Bridge

My Behind the Fun tour experience

I did the Behind the Fun Tour on my last cruise on the Carnival Horizon (see the live cruise blog here). We booked the activity the minute we got on the ship, and the tickets were in our stateroom the night before. The tour started at 8 am on the last sea day of the cruise.

We met at the Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, where our guide explained what we’d be doing for the trip and the security precautions. We had a security guard with us the whole time, and they used a metal detector to make sure we didn’t have any phones or cameras with us (they held them until the end of the tour).

Fahrenheit 555

Carnival Horizon - Fahrenheit 555
We started in Fahrenheit 555, the Carnival Horizon’s Steakhouse

I didn’t eat at the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse on my cruise, so I was glad to get to go in and see it. The decor is beautiful, and I could see it being great for an intimate dinner or celebratory occasion.

The chef took us through how they prepare everything to order and how it’s different from the main dining room. He gave us a handy tip on how to figure out how well your steak is cooked based on your hand. 


How do you prepare dinner for thousands of guests each night? It seems like a chef’s worst nightmare, but they have it down to a science. We met several of the galley chefs and learned all the certifications and programs they go through to become a head chef on the ship. 

Carnival Pride Galley
Carnival Pride Galley

The galley itself is impressive. Sparkling, clean, stainless steel as far as the eye can see; neat freaks would be in heaven. Everything in the galley is huge, from the ovens to the gigantic mixers. The scale of the operation is so impressive. Just seeing the hundreds of plates laid out and getting ready for service blew my mind.

Massive Soup Vats in the Galley of the Carnival Pride
Massive Soup Vats in the Galley of the Carnival Pride

Staff Dining Room

After winding down some stairs, we ended up in an eating area. It was surreal because it felt like we were in the Lido Buffet, but that couldn’t be since we were many floors too low for that. It turns out we were in the staff’s dining hall, which has the same decor and furniture as the Lido Buffet. Most of the staff gets their food from here, and it’s different from what guests onboard get. While they have many staples like sandwiches and salads, they have a rotating selection of local cuisine because they have so many different nationalities. 

I-95 Corridor

I-95 Corridor on a Carnival Ship
I-95 Corridor is the heart of the ship.

I-95 is what everyone calls the main hallway on the crew deck of the ship. It’s the only place on the ship where you can see front to back with no interruptions (the hallways on the passenger decks curve and stagger, so it makes it feel cozier). Seeing this, you realize how massive the ship really is. All of the ship’s main crew activities occur along this corridor, and it’s always bustling with traffic. 


Each week, when it returns to homeport, the ship fills up with all it needs for the next cruise. While the ship’s storerooms always have some extra food and drink to be safe, for the most part, they’re bringing in all new supplies for the next sailing. 

How much do they go through? You’d be amazed. In one week, the Carnival Horizon goes through: 

  • 14,000 – 16,000 pounds of chicken
  • 54,000 eggs
  • 45,000 potatoes
  • 27,000 cans of soda
  • 12,000 boxes of cereal

No wonder your clothes don’t fit when you try to get off the ship. 

Trash Center

One thing that’s always annoyed me about Carnival Lido area is that there are no trash cans. You have to leave your mess on a table, and someone will come by to clean it up. It drives me insane. One of the reasons behind this method is that the staff carefully sorts the trash into different categories. The waste can either be recycled, returned to sea, burnt off, or disposed of in port. 

Staff Lounge

Crew Lounge on a Carnival Ship
Crew Lounge on a Carnival Ship

The crew’s bar, where they can hang out, is surprisingly small, considering that there are almost 1,500 crew members on this ship. The bar has a pool table, foosball, and cozy tables and chairs. I thought it’d be really packed in there, but the tour guide said that there were rarely too many people at once because of staggered schedules and long shifts. 

Laundry Room

Doing laundry for 4,000+ guests AND the crew is a monumental task. We saw the massive washers and dryers they use for the sheets and towels. The most impressive were the giant machines that can automatically fold sheets within seconds; I’d kill to have one of those at home.

Engine Room

Big LCD TV’s and displays covered all the walls of this stark white room, with constant beeping and flashing. It resembled something you’d see in a sci-fi movie. One interesting thing I learned is that the ship’s engines are actually electric, not diesel. The diesel is just used to make electricity. The whole ship could run on a nuclear reactor if they wanted to (not that it’s safe, just that gas really isn’t needed). 

HR Office

Here, we learned about how people’s contracts work and how they live on board. So we wouldn’t intrude on anyone’s privacy, we saw video footage of their cabins instead of seeing them in person. 


Carnival Vista Bridge
Carnival Vista Bridge

The bridge was probably the most underwhelming part for me. The bridge itself is vast, spanning the whole width of the ship with beautiful panoramic views of the ocean. The room itself, though, felt so empty. Besides a few chairs and a console or two, it was a ton of empty space. At all times, a crew member is in the center of the windows, visually inspecting the ship’s path and looking for obstacles. 

At this point, we got to ask the Captain a few questions. He was gracious, but you could tell he felt like it was an obligation. He was probably also exhausted as this was one of the last cruises before the COVID shutdown, and he had to personally change what ports we were going to, aggravating some passengers. 

Liquid Lounge Theater Tour

The Liquid Lounge set up for the Celestial Strings show on the Carnival Horizon
The Liquid Lounge set up for the Celestial Strings show on the Carnival Horizon

We got to meet with one of the dancers backstage of the Liquid Lounge theater. It turned out it was her last night on board; she’d be retiring from being a cruise performer after 14 years the next day. She explained how the dancers and singers perform as entire companies and usually switch off all at once at the end of a contract. They train in Carnival’s Miami headquarters and then come on board to practice with the old staff for a week before trading off. That night, we saw the new performers try their first show onboard (spoiler alert: it did not go well).

Guy’s Pig & Anchor Brewhouse

For our last stop, we visited Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse / Brewhouse. The brewmaster on board took us through making the beer and the specific brews they have on board. It was an impressive operation. This brewmaster used to work for a major brewery in Florida, the company who produces the Carnival line of beers that you can buy at stores and on ships without a brewery. He jumped at the opportunity to work on board when the old brewmaster went to launch the Carnival Panorama.

Guys Pig and Anchor on the Carnival Horizon
Guys Pig and Anchor Brewery on the Carnival Horizon

Unfortunately, we did the Brewery Tour on the first day of the cruise (read more here), so this was pretty much a repeat of what we saw then, just fewer details. The guy loves beer and brewing, though, and it’s fun to hear him talk about it. We got to sample a few of the brews he made onboard as well. 

Who can go on the tour?

Any guest over age 8 can go on the Behind the Fun tour. You have to wear closed-toed shoes and need to be able to walk up several flights of stairs as you use the staff stairwells at some point. You cannot bring any cell phones, cameras, or recording devices with you. They have a security guard with you the entire time, and they’ll use a hand-held metal detector to check you before the tour begins. They’ll hold any cell phone or camera you have and give it back to you at the end.

While the age limit is officially 8 and up, because of the pace and type of information, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than 16; it’s just not as action-packed as they may want. 

How to sign up for the Behind the Fun tour?

You can book the Behind the Fun tour by purchasing it through your Carnival cruise planner. These tours are small, with only around 16 people per group and they only run one or two on a cruise. They fill up fast so book early. The Behind the Fun Tour will be listed under “excursions” for the first day/home port. Go to book an excursion, pick the first day (ie. Miami, Port Canaveral, etc), and look for the tour. It’ll be listed along with with other city activities and airport transfers. Even though, it’s listed as the first day, the Behind the Fun tour itself will happen the last sea day of the cruise.

How much does the Behind the Fun tour cost?

The cost can vary depending on the ship and sailing but it’s typically $130 – $150 per person. The newer ships are typically more expensive than the older ships.

What did the tour include?

Carnival Behind The Fun Tour Giveaways
This is what you get when you go on a Behind the Fun Tour on a Carnival ship.
  • Access to off-limit areas of the ship
  • A Carnival Tote Bag
  • A Carnival Hat
  • Carnival lanyard
  • Drinks/Samples at Guy’s Pig and Anchor Brewery (other ships may have a drink at the Red Frog Pub or other venue). 
  • Complimentary group commemorative photo

Is the Behind the Fun tour worth it?

The Behind the Fun tour gives you a unique perspective on many operations of a cruise ship. If you love learning the inner workings of a cruise ship and how everything works, it’s a really interesting experience. It’s a small intimate tour where you’re encouraged to ask questions and make it interactive, so each tour can be different. That being said, it’s not entirely action-packed, so as I mentioned before, although children 8 and up can attend, they might not find it as interesting as a teen or an adult. 

One thing that made it seem less special is that many aspects of this tour, like the galley tour and behind the scenes at the theater, used to be free and part of the daily schedule. Since then, Carnival has stopped the free tours and now only lets you access those areas with this excursion. 

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Randy Young

Randy Young is the founder and editor-in-chief at Cruise Spotlight. He has been in marketing for 19 years and has been cruising for just as long. Over the years, he's worked with products like TVs, copiers, light bulbs, and EV chargers, but cruising has always been his passion. There's nothing Randy likes more than the first couple of hours on a ship, exploring every nook and cranny and seeing how it's different from everything else out there. He's known for providing detailed and analytical coverage of cruising to help cruisers get a comprehensive picture of a ship's offerings.