Many ships have very large drafts (depth below the ship). The buoyancy of the volume of the part of the ship that’s underwater, actually allows the water to push up and keep the ship from sinking. But massive ships with 30+ foot drafts can be a problem for shallow landings.
Also, some ports just do not have the facilities to host cruise ships at the dock. The ships must anchor away and bring passengers ashore via small boats called tenders. In reality they are the ship’s lifeboats. Those sturdy craft can handle high seas and are virtually unsinkable.
Since you’ll need to ride one to get to the dock, here are some tips on the use of tenders.
Often there can be a small gap between the gangway and the tender. This might cause a careless person to fall. Do NOT attempt to enter until directed and assisted by a crew member. They have life preservers on for a reason!
If you are taking a backpack…put it on – both straps. Keep your hands free to grab something if you lose your balance. Let the crew assist – take their hand. I prefer to grip their mid-arm. If you are carrying a bag, hand it over to a crew member who will place it on the boat. Keep both hands free. There is no need to push to get on. The tenders can hold well over a hundred. The trip can take only 10-15 minutes; what’s the rush?
When you get on…sit where they tell you. They use a FILO program. First in-last off. Don’t bumble around to find the “best seat.” If crew members, (such as wait-staff or housekeepers) are going to get some time off, they will be riding with you and are directed to be the last ones off. They give the paying customers deference.
Don’t stand up to get photos. Don’t move around. Sorry, but that is risky and prohibited. Sorry again, but the windows are usually filthy with sea spray. A good shot is of your ship as the tender gets closer. If you are near an open door, take it. Or ask one of the staff to take it using your camera.
I usually bring my laptop on ashore. I’m always working and can usually find a bargain on wifi. Most bars and common restaurants have free wifi. Just buy a soda or have lunch. A good idea is to ask the crew where to find wifi. They may stop at the same ports several times per month and know where to go. A few Cruise Terminal buildings have wifi for free. Many cruise terminals are offering free connections. I am starting to see “Internet Café’s” disappear. Those would charge $3.00 for an hour. But I guess the free wifi at eateries has made them unattractive.
Here’s a rather slimy thing to do. Often two or more cruises ships are in port. They usually have pop-up tents for guests to wait unit the next tender comes in. If you are on Ship A and Ship B has an area right next to yours…check if they have drinks or cookies. They won’t know the better. Yummy.
Finally, did you know that when Elvis was alive, he used to cruise a lot…and he got to really got to like the tender rides. In fact he wrote a song about one: “Love me Tender!”
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