To keep cruise ships in top condition, they go into “dry dock” now and then. Going to dry dock means the ship will be out of service for a while, and there are a few things to know if you’re planning to cruise on a ship just before or just after it visits dry dock.
First, we’ll explain a little about dry docks, which are located in shipyards around the world. A dry dock starts out filled with water so that a ship can float in. Then, the water drains away, which allows the maintenance crew to clean, inspect and make repairs and adjustments to the hull and propulsion systems.
Cruise lines often use dry dock time to do tasks like reupholster furniture, repaint walls, or replace floors. Sometimes a dry-docked ship goes through major renovations, emerging with some exciting new features. A few ships even grow while in dry dock; “stretching” inserts a new section in the middle of a ship, adding to its passenger capacity.
While unexpected damage may require a ship to head to dry dock on short notice, most visits are scheduled well in advance. If you notice a break of a few weeks or months in a ship’s schedule, it may be for the purpose of going to dry dock; your professional travel advisor can check with the cruise line to find out for sure.
Some cruise travelers prefer to avoid cruising on a ship just before or just after a scheduled visit to the dry dock. A pre-dry dock cruise really shouldn’t be affected by the upcoming pause in service, but it’s possible that some sections of the ship will be closed off so they can be prepared for maintenance or remodeling.
As with a pre-dry dock cruise, the first cruise after the dry dock really shouldn’t be different than any other. But if the work done in the dry dock isn’t quite finished when the ship floats out again, passengers might hear some work-related noise, and some venues may be closed until the work is finished. If the time in dry dock included a major remodel, the crew may still be learning some new layouts and routines. On the positive side, cruising just after the dry dock can mean you’ll enjoy a freshly updated ship.
To help you decide how comfortable you are with cruising on a ship just before or after dry dock, talk it over with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
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