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What Does Tender Required Mean On A Cruise


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Wynnie Mota



When planning a cruise vacation, you may come across the term “Tender Required” in itinerary descriptions. But what does it actually mean? Well, don’t worry, we’re here to shed some light on this cruise industry jargon and help you understand what it entails.


Tender required refers to a situation where the cruise ship is too large to dock directly at a port of call, so it anchors offshore and passengers are transported to the shore using smaller vessels known as tenders. This means that guests must disembark the cruise ship and transfer to the tender boat to reach their destination.


Understanding what tender required means can greatly impact your cruise experience, as it influences your itinerary, the amount of time you have at each port, and the activities you can participate in. By familiarizing yourself with the concept of tendering, you can better prepare and make the most of your time ashore.


In this article, we will delve into the reasons for tender required, how tenders work, the advantages and disadvantages of tendering, and provide you with some useful tips for dealing with tender required situations. So let’s dive in and explore the fascinating world of tendering on cruises!


Understanding Tender Required

Tender required is a term used in the cruise industry to indicate that the ship you are traveling on will anchor offshore at certain ports of call, and passengers will need to be transported to the shore using tender boats. Tenders are smaller vessels that are used to ferry passengers from the ship to the port when the ship cannot dock directly at the port due to its size or other logistical reasons.


Why do cruise ships require tenders? The primary reason is that some ports simply do not have the infrastructure or depth to accommodate large cruise ships. These ports may have shallow waters or narrow channels that make it difficult for the ship to safely navigate and dock. In such cases, the ship will drop anchor at a distance from the port and use tender boats to transport passengers to and from shore.


Tendering is not limited to specific types of cruises or destinations. It can happen in various regions around the world, including popular cruise destinations like the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Alaska. The decision to use tenders is usually made by the cruise line and is based on factors such as the size of the ship, the availability of docking facilities at the port, and the overall logistical feasibility.


It’s important to note that tender required does not necessarily mean that every port you visit on a cruise will require tendering. Most larger cruise ports have the infrastructure to accommodate large ships, allowing for direct docking. However, smaller or more remote ports may require the use of tenders.


Understanding the concept of tender required will help you manage your expectations during your cruise vacation. It may impact factors such as the amount of time you have at each port, the activities you can participate in, and your overall sightseeing plans. Being prepared and informed about tendering will ensure a smoother and more enjoyable experience at the ports of call.


Reasons for Tender Required on a Cruise

There are several reasons why a cruise ship may require tendering at certain ports of call. Understanding these reasons will give you insight into why this process is necessary and help you appreciate the unique experiences it may offer.


1. Port Infrastructure: Some ports simply lack the necessary infrastructure to accommodate large cruise ships. They may have shallow waters, narrow channels, or inadequate docking facilities. In these cases, tendering becomes necessary as the ship cannot dock directly at the port.


2. Remote and Smaller Ports: Cruise itineraries often include ports that are away from major cities or tourist hubs. These remote or smaller ports may not have the capacity to handle large cruise ships, so tendering allows passengers to access these unique and off-the-beaten-path destinations.


3. Environmental Considerations: In certain eco-sensitive areas, there may be restrictions on direct docking to protect marine life, coral reefs, or delicate ecosystems. Tendering allows cruise lines to visit these areas while minimizing any potential negative impact on the environment.


4. Historic or Heritage Sites: Some ports are located near historically significant sites or UNESCO World Heritage sites, which may have preservation restrictions or limitations on large ships docking directly. Tendering allows passengers to visit these culturally important destinations and experience their rich heritage.


5. Port Congestion: Popular cruise ports can experience high congestion, especially during peak travel seasons. In such cases, using tenders can help alleviate the strain on the port’s resources and provide a smoother experience for passengers.


6. Weather Conditions: Adverse weather conditions, such as high winds, rough seas, or storms, can make it unsafe for a cruise ship to dock directly at a port. Tenders are more maneuverable and can navigate these conditions more effectively, allowing passengers to still disembark and explore the port safely.


These are just a few of the main reasons why tender required situations may arise during a cruise. While they may require some logistical adjustments, they often present unique opportunities to visit less-traveled destinations and experience the charm and authenticity of smaller ports.


How Tenders Work

Now that we’re familiar with the concept of tender required, let’s delve into how tenders actually work. Tenders are smaller vessels specifically designed for transporting passengers between the cruise ship and the port of call.


1. Tender Boats: Tender boats are typically smaller ships or boats that are specifically designed and equipped for the purpose of ferrying passengers. They are usually operated by the cruise line and are stationed on the ship for easy accessibility when tendering is required.


2. Tender Stations: The ship will have designated tender stations where passengers can disembark and board the tender boats. These stations are usually located on the ship’s lower level, close to the waterline, to allow for efficient transfer of passengers.


3. Tendering Process: Tendering usually begins with an announcement or information provided in the ship’s daily newsletter or through the ship’s PA system. Passengers who wish to go ashore must gather at the designated meeting point on the ship at the specified time.


4. Tender Tickets or Systems: Depending on the cruise line, there may be a ticketing system or a numbered group system to manage the tendering process. Passengers may need to collect a tender ticket or wait for their designated group number to be called before they can board the tender boat.


5. Disembarking and Boarding: Once your group is called, you will proceed to the tender station and follow the instructions of the crew members. You will be guided to board the tender boat safely, either directly from the ship or using a gangway. The crew will ensure that everyone boards securely.


6. Shore Excursions and Independent Exploring: Once you reach the shore via the tender boat, you can either join a pre-booked shore excursion organized by the cruise line or explore independently. Your options will depend on the available time and activities offered at the specific port of call.


7. Returning to the Ship: When it’s time to return to the ship, you will follow the same process in reverse. You will board the tender boat, return to the tender station, and then reboard the cruise ship. The ship’s crew will guide you every step of the way to ensure a smooth transition.


It’s important to follow the instructions provided by the ship’s crew during the tendering process to ensure everyone’s safety and timeliness. Being prepared and organized will help you make the most of your time ashore and ensure a hassle-free experience when using tenders.


Advantages of Tendering

While tendering may require some extra logistics and planning, it also offers several advantages and unique experiences that can enhance your cruise vacation. Here are some of the advantages of tendering:


1. Access to Remote Destinations: Tendering allows cruise ships to visit smaller ports and remote destinations that are inaccessible to larger ships. These off-the-beaten-path locations often offer a more intimate and authentic experience, giving you the opportunity to explore hidden gems and immerse yourself in local culture.


2. Scenic Views: As you transfer from the cruise ship to the tender boat, you’ll have the chance to enjoy stunning views of the ship and the surrounding area. This can provide a unique perspective and photo opportunities that you wouldn’t get if the ship were to dock directly at the port.


3. Flexibility in Itinerary: Tendering provides flexibility in the cruise itinerary. If weather conditions or port congestion prevent the ship from docking at a specific port, the cruise line may choose to use tenders as an alternative to ensure that passengers can still explore the destination. This flexibility allows for adjustments to be made, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience for guests.


4. Intimate Shore Experiences: Since tenders transport a limited number of passengers at a time, you can expect a more intimate and less crowded experience when exploring the port of call. You’ll have more space to roam, shorter lines for attractions, and a chance to connect with the local environment in a more personal way.


5. Quicker Disembarkation: In some cases, tendering can lead to quicker disembarkation compared to docking at a busy port where multiple large cruise ships are present. As tender boats shuttle passengers back and forth, the process can be more efficient and faster, allowing you to maximize your time ashore.


6. Unique Photo Opportunities: As you approach the port or depart from it on the tender boat, you may capture stunning photos of the ship against the backdrop of the coastline or prominent landmarks. These picturesque moments can make for memorable keepsakes of your cruise experience.


Overall, tendering offers a chance to explore a diverse range of destinations, enjoy more intimate experiences, and capture breathtaking views. Embracing the advantages of tendering can add a touch of adventure and discovery to your cruise vacation.


Disadvantages of Tendering

While tendering on a cruise can provide unique experiences and access to remote destinations, it may also come with a few disadvantages to be aware of. Here are some potential drawbacks of tendering:


1. Time Constraints: Tender boats can transport a limited number of passengers at a time, which means there may be some waiting involved before you can disembark or return to the ship. This can eat into your overall time at the port, especially if you have a tight schedule or want to participate in specific activities or shore excursions.


2. Weather Impact: Tendering is dependent on favorable weather conditions. If the sea is rough, high winds prevail, or there are other adverse weather conditions, tendering may be delayed or even canceled. This can result in changes to your itinerary or missed opportunities to explore the port of call.


3. Accessibility Challenges: Tender boats involve a transfer from the cruise ship to the smaller tender vessel, which may require navigating narrow walkways or stairs. This can pose challenges for individuals with mobility restrictions or those who rely on assistive devices. It’s important to consider accessibility limitations before participating in tender required activities.


4. Limited Amenities and Services: Unlike the cruise ship, tender boats are typically smaller and offer limited facilities. You may not find the same range of amenities, such as restaurants, bars, or entertainment options, on these vessels. While it’s usually a short journey to the port, it’s important to be prepared for a more basic experience during the tender ride.


5. Potential Delays: Tendering involves coordination between the cruise ship and the tender boats, as well as controlling the flow of passengers. There is a chance that operational issues, logistical challenges, or unforeseen circumstances could lead to delays in the tendering process. This may impact your planned activities or excursion schedules at the port of call.


6. Seasickness Concerns: If you are prone to seasickness, the transfer on the tender boat may cause discomfort. The smaller vessels can experience more motion, especially in choppy waters, which may affect sensitive individuals. Consider taking necessary precautions, such as medications or wristbands, to alleviate seasickness symptoms.


It’s important to weigh these potential disadvantages against the advantages of tendering when considering your cruise itinerary. While there may be some challenges, tendering can still provide unique opportunities for exploration and enhance your overall cruise experience.


Tips for Dealing with Tender Required Situations

Tender required situations can require some additional planning and preparation to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to help you navigate tendering on your cruise:


1. Be Prepared: Familiarize yourself with the tendering process by listening to announcements or reading information provided by the cruise line. Understand the requirements, procedures, and any specific instructions related to the tendering process at each port of call.


2. Arrive Early: To avoid any last-minute rush or potential delays, arrive at the designated meeting point or tender station early. This will give you ample time to collect any necessary tender tickets or ensure that you are in the appropriate group for boarding.


3. Pack Essentials: As you disembark the cruise ship and travel on the tender boat, be sure to pack any essentials you may need during your time ashore. This can include essentials like sunscreen, a hat, a reusable water bottle, and any necessary medications.


4. Be Patient: Understand that tendering involves coordinating the transfer of a large number of passengers from the ship to the shore. It may take time for everyone to disembark and return to the ship. Exercise patience and follow the instructions of the ship’s crew to ensure a smooth and organized process.


5. Plan Flexibly: Given the potential for weather-related delays or other unforeseen circumstances, it’s important to plan your time at the port of call with some flexibility. Prioritize your must-see attractions or activities and have backup options in case of any unforeseen changes in the itinerary.


6. Consider Shore Excursions: Booking a shore excursion offered by the cruise line can simplify the tendering process, as the cruise line will manage the logistics of transferring you to and from the port. Additionally, shore excursions often have priority access to tenders, allowing you to maximize your time and experience at the port of call.


7. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on the ship’s daily newsletter or listen to announcements for any updates or changes to the tendering process. Stay informed about any potential delays, alterations to the itinerary, or specific instructions provided by the cruise line.


8. Be Mindful of Time: Keep track of the time and be mindful of when you need to return to the ship. Allow for ample cushioning to account for any unexpected delays in the tendering process or traffic congestion at the port.


9. Mobility Considerations: If you have any mobility restrictions or require assistance, inform the cruise line in advance. They can provide guidance and support to ensure a smooth transfer from the ship to the tender boat and back.


10. Enjoy the Journey: Embrace the unique experience of tendering as part of your cruise adventure. Take in the scenic views and enjoy the excitement of approaching the shore on a smaller vessel. It’s an opportunity to create memorable moments and embrace the spirit of exploration.


By following these tips and being prepared, you can make the most of tender required situations on your cruise and create lasting memories at each port of call.



Tender required situations are a unique aspect of cruising that adds both excitement and logistical considerations to your itinerary. Understanding what tendering entails and being prepared can enhance your overall cruise experience. From accessing remote destinations to enjoying intimate shore experiences, tendering offers opportunities to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and capture scenic views.


While there may be some potential disadvantages, such as time constraints and weather impacts, these challenges can be mitigated with proper planning and flexibility. Following the tips provided, such as arriving early, packing essentials, and planning flexibly, will help you navigate the tendering process smoothly.


Whether you choose to join a shore excursion or explore independently, tendering allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and heritage of each port of call. From unique photo opportunities to the excitement of transferring from the cruise ship to the tender boat, tender required situations provide a sense of adventure and discovery.


So, embrace the experience of tendering and make the most of every port of call on your cruise vacation. Enjoy the scenic views, the chance to visit remote destinations, and the intimate experiences that come along with tendering. With proper planning and a positive mindset, tendering can become an exciting part of your overall cruising adventure.