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If you’ve cruised before, it’s very likely you have experienced a tendering port, unless you’ve been EXTRA lucky, or if that port was canceled altogether. And, if you’re like most people, you weren’t too fond of the whole process involved in reaching the shore through tenders or even on your cruise ship’s lifeboats.
Luckily, most ports in the world can accommodate ships docking at the pier, and, as the trend for bigger and bigger ships keeps on going, there are adjustments added to the piers to continue welcoming these humongous floating resorts. For instance, the pier in Costa Maya, Mexico, was lengthened for this purpose
However, certain ports, while VERY MUCH worth visiting, don’t have, for one reason or another, a dock for ships to be tied to, and the cruise lines resort to tenders to get you ashore. Whether it’s because the depth of the ocean doesn’t nearly allow for these ships to get close to the shore, due to environmental reasons, or even the lack of proper funds to invest in a port, tendering ports exist, and they’re not going anywhere. That doesn’t make the port itself any less fascinating, as is the case with places like Santorini, Greece.
From time to time, you may even visit a place that HAS a dock, but you still have to tender anyway and yes I know guests really get mad when this happens. This is generally determined by who “booked” the pier first (not you personally, but your cruise ship company). In other words the port is “full” and now your only choice to get ashore is on a tender while your ship either anchors or uses maneuvering thrusters to remain in place offshore. One such port is Roatan, Honduras.
Even more bizarre, you may at times experience the best of both worlds! Meaning, docking upon arrival, and later in the day have to take a tender to return to the ship. While less frequent, this could happen when the pier will be occupied by another ship with a later arrival, generally from the same company, and this allows for a speedy disembarkation process when you first get into port, and a smooth return of the passengers due to staggered return times.
But not everything about tenders is as bleak as it seems. We have to look at the glass half-full and avoid underappreciating certain cases when, as opposed to docking, tendering can actually be a benefit. I’m talking about the cases, like in St. Thomas, USVI, or Dubrovnik, Croatia, where ships either dock a bit far from the city center and take you there by buses (meaning, 40 people at a time, at most), or tender you (generally at least 70 people at a time, generally more) right into the center of the town. So, while the process to get off the ship might take longer, it sure saves some valuable time in port otherwise! – ThatGuy (onboard)
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