What Happens to Your Cruise Ship Crew When a Ship Goes to Drydock? 

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a building under construction with ladders and a painting on the wall

Every so often, cruise ships must go through a drydock process in order to enhance maintenance and appearance, and to comply with maritime laws involving their upkeep. Sometimes it is not necessary to take the ship off the water in order to maintain it (commonly known as wet dock), but in most cases the ship will be taken off the water through a process a lot more ancient than most people realize. Basically the ship will be sailed onto a u-shaped platform which is hollow and full of water. After the cruise ship is secured, the water inside the platform is drained, allowing it to come afloat along with the ship on top. Of course, by that time, all guests have left, but what happens with the crew in such a process?

There are several different scenarios, depending on the position the crew hold and the particular needs of each operation.

Disembark – A good percentage of the crew will be either sent home or transferred to another ship, according to the length of their contract and the time remaining in it. The Cruise Line will typically keep the least amount of crew during a dry dock, due to the fact that salaries are still ongoing, there is no revenue during that process, and the logistics of keeping so many people fed while the ship is being fixed can be overwhelming. Due to this, most non-essential crew will be dispatched elsewhere. 

Stay and work – The fact that the ship will undergo maintenance is not limited to the outside of the ship. Many times offices, desks and public areas will be added, renovated or altered in different ways, which might require a re-implementation of equipment and paperwork. The crew needed to leave the area ready for operation the moment the drydock is over will stay on board. Also, the Guest Service Desk will continue to be manned at all times, since contractors are handled in a similar way as guests, having to check in, check out, be issued keycards, cabin changes and such. Also, the operator will continue to deal with the innumerable phone calls coming in from the main office.

a group of men standing in a room with metal tables

Stay, and “pretend” to work – Often times the work a crew member has to do doesn’t start until after changes have been made to their workplace, but they’re still getting a salary while they wait to actually perform duties. Since they are getting paid, on board management will either require them to be assigned side duties, like helping to set up dining venues, serving the crew, or gangway duties, or gently nudge them to keep busy, making themselves useful with training sessions for the remaining staff within their departments or helping out other departments.

Stay and chill – Yes, that’s another option for a few people. Some crew’s income depends exclusively on sales, with no salary to be seen, like Spa or Gift shop in many cases, so no guests on board means no income at all. While this may not seem like the perfect scenario, it’s simply the reality of their position. In some cases, sending people off and bringing them back to man their department within a few days or weeks is not logistically sound, after all, Cruise Lines are in charge of paying for their air fare both ways.

a room with many chairs and a large black bag

When a ship goes into drydock it’s typically for fairly massive renovations and maintenance, but the objective is to get everything completed in the shortest possible time so the ship can once again be sailing and generating revenue for the cruise line. Keeping some crew onboard to help complete all of the required work makes sense and now you know how that is organized! ThatGuy (onboard)

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Advertiser Disclosure: Frequent Floaters is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear on the site. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

That Guy
That Guyhttp://www.FrequentFloaters.com
That Guy works for one of the major cruise lines and has for most of his career. He shares his unique insights from an insiders perspective and gives you a view few cruisers ever see or even think about.

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