The Dry Docking is an extremely complex operation, not to forget expensive, so the planning has already started by the time the ship left last dry dock. The ship’s itinerary needs to be adjusted so the ship is off-hire (out of service) in that period, so a cruise will normally end, and start again somewhere nearby the location of the yard where they have the dry docks. The various sub-contractors who will do different type of work needs to be contacted in order for them to bid for the jobs. The the contract with the particular yard needs to be signed soonest. This so all their work scopes and logistics can be planned accordingly as well.
When the ship arrives the yard and the Dry Docking area, some specialists from the yard will come onboard to assist us with pulling the ship (by several tugboats) in to the Dry Dock. This needs to be done perfectly and without any engine power (or propellers moving) because the yard people have already placed “blocks” in the Dock bottom based upon the ship’s design (shape, length, draft, etc), which the ship will finally sit on when all the water has been pumped out of the Dry Dock. This operation takes several hours and is painstaking slow. No room for any mistakes when this is done. So when the ship is in position, and a diver is under the ship inside the Dock, the Dock door will be closed and the water pumped out. The ship has a couple of mooring lines connected to the sides of the dock, which we use to adjust the ship based upon the diver and the Dock Master (the one in charge of that particular operation).
As soon as the gangways have been connected to the ship and it is safe to use them, a swarm with contractors and yard people come onboard. They all have their assigned work places already, and they move to their locations around the ship to setup the workshops and their on site Offices. All the contractors as well as the yard workers are under the same time pressure (deadlineds) as the ship itself, since next cruise has already been sold and no delays are acceptable. It is like the ship suddenly has become a human ant farm, with people moving everywhere, with a noise level in some of the areas you only find in construction sites.
Sometimes when in a Dry Dock, the Crew will temporarily be moved to a Hotel nearby the yard. This normally when a ship is without any services or if it is a small ship and a lot of (noisy) work will be done day and night. Buses will then bring the crew to and from the yard.