What Happens in a Cruise Ship Dry Dock?

What Happens in a Cruise Ship Dry Dock - Lucy Williams Global

This article is very different from all my ports guides and cruise tips as it is about a cruise ship dry dock.

This is an area that most cruise ship passengers do not know what really happens onboard.

As I was onboard the Emerald Princess for the dry dock, I can tell you all about what happens in a cruise ship dry dock.

If you didn’t get the chance to read why I was there you can recap here.

What is a Cruise Ship Dry Dock?

First of all, what is a cruise ship dry dock and why do cruise ships have them?

A dry dock is when the dock is emptied of all the water and the ship is completely exposed.

Every two years cruise ships normally go into dry dock, so maintenance and repairs can be carried out. 

When the ship is out of the water, maintenance can be done under the ship and the ship can be completely repainted. As this can be not be done when in service.

Do the Crew Stay Onboard in the Dry Dock?

Most of the crew stay onboard to help with the work being carried out and passengers are replaced with contractors that do the manual labour.

The ship is still running with 3 meals a day, coffee breaks and cabins being slept in.

The food and beverage team are still working just without the fancy food!

The housekeeping team are working as normal to, as cabins still need to be cleaned and sheets to be changed.

The laundry is washing, drying and pressing linen and uniforms/boiler suits.

The main difference between being in service and in dry dock is everything is covered in plastic to protect the fixtures, fittings and new carpets being laid.

You can smell welding throughout the ship and everywhere you turn there is a contractor doing something and the ship is out of the water.

What Happens Onboard in a Cruise Ship Dry Dock?

Before the ship enters the dock all the lifeboats are lowered into the water and taken off the ship.

When this is complete the cruise ship will enter the dock that will become the dry dock.

Once the ship is in position the dock wall will close behind the ship and the water will be drained out of the dock. This takes hours and hours.

The work inside the ship starts as soon as they can, the work under the ship starts when all the water is drained out of the dock.

When the dry dock comes to an end the dock is filled back up with water.

The ship moves out the dock, all the lifeboats are put back on the ship and the ship sails to the next embarkation port to start cruising again.

What Were The Main Changes on this Cruise Ship?

In this dry dock there where a lot of changes being made in all the food outlets on deck 15.

This included the buffet, burger bar, pizza bar, ice cream bar and drinks bar.

A new wiring system was being put in for the new internet system.

New TV screens were put in on the decks to show you where you are on the ship and ship advertisements.

The ship was repainted, and the Sea witch Princess Logo was painted on the front of the ship with the big Princess Cruises branding on each side of the ship.

New carpets were laid, chairs were recovered and wood fittings touched up.

The most important maintenance is on the engines and under the ship.

Of course lots of more maintenance that I do not know about as there is so much going on in a dry dock behind the scenes.   

Before & After Photos from the Dry Dock

The interesting part of a cruise ship dry dock are the before and after pictures, especially when there have been a lot of changes.

Buffet and New Speciality Restaurants

The buffet was completely ripped out and transformed into a bright, airy, modern, beautiful place to sit and eat.

I couldn’t believe we were on the same ship the transformation was so different to the previous buffet.

The end part of the buffet was changed into two fabulous speciality restaurants – Planks BBQ and Steamers Seafood.

The décor is a modern nautical theme, with red through Planks and blue through Steamers.

Pizza & Ice Cream Bar

The Pizza bar had been updated with modern wallpaper and a new menu and now is called Slices.

The ice cream bar is attached to the pizza bar and it is has changed into Coffee and Cones.

It now sells premium coffee and ice cream desserts. But don’t worry the free soft serve is still there! There is a larger menu and wallpaper is very modern.

Burger Bar

The burger bar has changed the name to the Salty Dog Grill and has a new menu. It has all your normal favourites with a few new options added to the menu.

Drinks Bar 

This was the poolside bar and has changed its name to Mix and it looks very contemporary with black and white tiles and silver look.

Under the Ship

At the end of the dry dock I was lucky enough go down into the dock and walk under the ship from bow to stern.

This was a surreal experience as when can you do this normally? Never!

Walking under the ship you realise how small you really are and how big a cruise ship is.

The anchors are so much bigger than you think and the propellers are huge!

Seeing up close how the ship sits nicely on the blocks whilst in dry dock is fascinating.

It is amazing how a ship of this size is held in place by these blocks, without falling over.

What made my day was getting a photo in my hard hat and reflective vest with the anchor and propellers!

My Dry Dock Experience

This was not my first dry dock, but my first not working in one – which is much easier!

The dry dock is not such a pleasant place to be living in as it is like living on a building site.

There were blackouts, water off, sometimes just hot, sometimes cold or completely off.

The air conditioning was switched off at times. It might of been cool in Victoria, BC, Canada, but when you switch off the AC on a ship it soon gets warm.

The best part of a dry dock is when everything is finished and the results are amazing.

I was lucky I could get off the ship all day and explore Victoria, but this will hopefully be my last dry dock experience!

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Happy cruising!

What Happens in a Cruise Ship Dry Dock - Lucy Williams Global

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