10 Cruise Tender Port Mistakes You’ll Want To Avoid

tender port mistakes not to make on a cruise

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When you take a cruise vacation, you may need to use a tender boat to get from the ship to the cruise port, especially in ports of call where the cruise ship can’t dock directly. Taking a tender from ship to port is an experience unique to cruise travel.

Although the tender process is straightforward, there are things you’ll want to know and some mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

With that being said, here are 10 tender port mistakes all cruisers must avoid.

Tender Port Mistakes You’ll Want To Avoid

1. Not Lining Up for Your Tender Tickets Early

tender princess cays

While there are a couple exceptions, the tender process on a cruise ship is a first-come-first-serve system. This means that the earlier you line up, the sooner you’ll be able to get on a tender and head into port.

Given the large number of passengers disembarking at once, it’s crucial to plan ahead. The tender process can take between 30 minutes and an hour, and not having tender tickets in advance can lead to a significant inconvenience.

When you’re in a tender port, a shipwide announcement will be made notifying cruise passengers that tenders are available. If you want to get off the cruise ship right away, you will want to line up as soon as that announcement is made.

By preparing in advance, you can avoid this and ensure a smoother experience.

2. Missing the Last Tender

cruise ship last tender boat

Missing the last tender is a cruise port mistake that can ruin your vacation. Before disembarking the cruise ship, be sure to double check the time of the final tender.

As a cruiser who doesn’t like taking chances, I always head back to the cruise ship about an hour before the all aboard time. This way, I can feel at ease heading back to the cruise ship before it leaves, and I don’t have to worry about being stranded in a cruise port of call.

3. Ignoring Weather Conditions

The reality of tender ports is that bad weather and rough seas can cause them to be canceled. Cruise lines won’t risk going into port if the weather conditions are dangerous.

Furthermore, going on a tender in rough seas can be an unpleasant experience, especially if you’re prone to getting seasick. It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast and plan your day accordingly.

4. Forgetting Your Towels

cruise line towels

If you’re on a Caribbean cruise and planning a beach day in port, remember to pack your towels! Being prepared with towels provided by the cruise line can make your beach experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

Your stateroom attendant often leaves specific towels out for you in your cabin that you can bring into port. This way, you can enjoy a nice day at the beach with towels provided by the cruise line.

When you’re heading to the tender, it’s crucial to remember your towels. Forgetting them could mean a day at the beach without towels, or worse, a long wait for another tender to retrieve them.

So, always double-check your beach essentials before leaving your stateroom.

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5. Overpacking for the Cruise Port

cruise ship tender boat

When you’re going on a tender, only bring the essentials you really need. Overpacking your port day bag can make getting on and off the tender more challenging.

Keep in mind that you will need to get on and off the tender, and you may have to walk from the port to the beach. Packing light will make your day in port easier and more enjoyable.

6. Forgetting to Bring Water

Depending on your itinerary, the weather can be hotter than you’re used to. It’s crucial to stay hydrated when you’re in port, walking around and on the beach. It’s a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle to ensure you have an amazing day.

Don’t worry if you forget to bring water, you’ll find stores and bars in the port that sell water bottles. While they might be a bit pricier due to the tourist location, it’s a convenient option to keep in mind.

7. Not Wearing the Right Footwear

Port Canaveral Cruise Port

Embarking and disembarking on a tender requires stepping onto a boat and you’ll want to keep your balance. Going on a tender with the wrong footwear can make this process challenging.

You’ll want the right footwear on the lifeboat to avoid tripping or falling. To prevent any issues, wear shoes or flip-flops.

Related: What to Pack in Your Cruise Shore Excursion Day Bag

8. Not Accounting for Mobility Issues

If you have mobility issues, it’s important to ensure that the tender can accommodate you. In advance, head over to guest services to inquire about the tender.

Cruise lines often have dedicated crew members who can assist those with mobility issues. However, it’s best to ensure the tender can accommodate you in advance, as certain tender ports may not be accessible for those with mobility issues.

tender port mistakes not to make on a cruise
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9. Forgetting Your Cruise Card and Identification

In order to disembark the cruise ship, you will need to have your cruise card (ie. sea pass or Medallion). Furthermore, depending on the cruise port, you may have to show a piece of identification before returning to the ship.

Before getting on the tender, have your sea pass card and a piece of ID on you.

Related: 15 Simple Ways to Make Your Cruise Feel More Luxurious

10. Not Bringing Cash or a Credit Card

Even if you don’t plan on spending money in port, it’s important to always carry cash or a credit card. Having some money on hand can come in handy if there’s an emergency or you find something you’d like to purchase.

Before going out for the day, be prepared your credit card and some small bills just in case.

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Final Thoughts On Cruise Tender Port Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid

By being aware of these common tender port mistakes, you can ensure a more enjoyable experience in port. You’ll have an amazing day in port by preparing in advance, being aware of the tender schedule, and bringing your cruise port essentials.

What are some things you do or avoid doing in tender ports? Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!


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Author Bio: Ethan Schattauer has been cruising with his family since he was four years old and has been on more than 30 cruises. As a frequent traveler, Ethan shares his unique perspective on what cruising is like from a young person’s perspective. Ethan also writes about men’s fashion, travel and college advice on the website WhatToWearMen.com.


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