I just returned from a week of vacation—my first cruise. The Caribbean warmth gave me a welcome break from winter. Of course, I had to get out the snow blower as soon as I got home, and the temperature today is just a bit above zero. But I had fun and soaked up the sun while I could.

The ship I was on got me thinking about how these things are built. The Allure of the Seas ranks as the world’s largest cruise ship (a full 2 inches longer than its sister ship, Oasis of the Seas). Surely, she couldn’t have been built on dry land. This morning I did some digging and found that cruise ships are built in dry docks not unlike the “bathtub” foundations of some large skyscrapers.

There are different types of dry docks. But, broadly speaking, the walls are tremied concrete and steel piles anchor the bottom to a solid substratum. Then, either gates or a caisson complete the shape and a series of pumps drains the water. Construction or maintenance proceed from there.

The dry dock in which construction crews built Allure of the Seas is in Turku, Finland. (It just might be the coldest weather that ship will ever see; its home is Port Everglades and it splits its time between the eastern and western Caribbean.) STX Europe began construction in February 2008, and the ship launched in November 2009. Occasional maintenance requires dry docks, too, and allure will find a warmer dry dock next month in Nassau, Bahamas, for a fix to its propulsion system. I hope the fix goes well. One of my big criticisms of this trip: Our port of call in Nassau was cut short due to the ship’s speed limitations.

If you get a chance, Allure is worth the price of admission. It hosts thousands of passengers, but it never felt overwhelming to sail with all those people. For the record, that dry dock was big enough to build a ship that displaces 100,000 metric tons, just a hair less than a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

I see drilling everywhere now. In this case, it’s foundation drilling. But joining National Driller has opened my eyes to a host of drilling applications. I see horizontal rigs installing utility lines on my way to work. I see stories all over the Internet on this application or that project. This is just another fascinating example of how pervasive the drilling and construction trades are.