Turnaround day, the day when one set of passengers leaves and another embarks, is quite an undertaking. While you are getting ready to board, the crew is hard at work. The impressive thing is that all of it is done without you noticing, a smooth operation carried out in less than 12 hours. Take a look at the list of mind-boggling things happening under the radar on turnaround day.

A Full-On Cleaning Operation

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Protocol dictates that specific cleaning and maintenance processes must take place on turnaround day. Dispensers need to be emptied, surfaces need to be sanitized, and everything needs to be double checked in case anything was missed during routine cleaning. If you think you have a lot of laundry to do after your vacation, just imagine how much there is on board. Every single sheet, towel and piece of bedding needs to be washed, all in one day. On top of that, we’re talking about up to 18 decks to be scrubbed, almost 3,000 rooms to be cleaned on the largest ships and salt water to be washed off of all of those windows so they sparkle.

The Management of Moving People

The flow of passengers needs prudent management. One set of passengers will be finishing their cruise on the same day as the next starts, and they need to pass each other without noticing. Each passenger, as well as the crew, needs to be cleared by customs and immigration officials. Paperwork needs to be checked and inspections carried out. There is very little time without passengers onboard and no time without crew and staff flying around. On top of all that, new crew members need to be oriented so they can hit the ground running.

The Logistics of Luggage and Special Requests

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The biggest cruise ships can carry almost 7,000 people and with them comes plenty of luggage. On average there will be three pieces of luggage per room. For the passengers who are leaving, luggage needs to be sorted on board, stored and then unloaded so it's ready and waiting at the cruise terminal. For those embarking on their cruise, luggage needs to magically appear in the correct cabins. First, it needs to be screened and checked in the cruise terminal and then often packed into crates and moved by machine to the ship. Color coding is used to help organize the monumental mountain of bags. Meanwhile, special requests need to be catered to. Gifts that have been ordered need to be placed in the correct rooms, and each room needs to be stocked with all the necessary perks according to the passenger’s package.

A Non-Stop Day for the Crew

Many of the crew won’t disembark the boat on turnaround day, there quite simply isn’t the time. There will be a rotation for those who are due the day off, and some crew will be ending or starting contracts. For those who stay on board, it really is all hands on deck. Mandatory safety drills required by SOLAS have to be factored in. Meanwhile, the new passengers will be expecting spa tours, meals and help with orientation. The crew also need to try to upsell drinks packages and excursions, all while keeping a smile on their faces.

Replenishing the Ship with Supplies

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If you think getting people and their belongings on and off the ship is a mammoth task, imagine all the supplies that are needed. Cruise ships can only hold a certain amount of supplies, so each time its turnaround day, food and beverages need to be restocked. It’s a vast amount of fresh produce and packaged goods. We’re talking 35,000 eggs, 2,500 gallons of milk and 6,000 bottles of wine. It’s not only food that needs to be restocked either; the ship needs toilet paper, light bulbs, hand sanitizer and many other things, all in huge volumes. The boat also has to be refueled; large cruise ships can use up to 250 tons of fuel per day. Turnaround day is time to fill up.