What Does it Mean to Tender on a Cruise?

So you’re reading the website description for your cruise, and it says you need to “tender” to shore.

Unless you’ve taken a cruise before, you’re probably wondering what the heck that means. In a nutshell, a tender is a smaller boat that carries people from the ship to the shore.

What Are Tenders?

Many times, tenders are owned and operated by local companies. They are small ferry boats that hold anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred people. If there are not enough local ferry operators to service the cruise ship’s needs, the ship may even drop a few of its own lifeboats into the water to use as tender boats.

Side note: My mom thinks this is about the coolest thing ever and insisted I mention it in this post. The reason this is cool? Because you get to see what lifeboats are like and how effective they are. Wash the thought of rubber dinghies floating in a vast ocean out of your head. Lifeboats are fully operational boats that hold hundreds of people.

Why Do Cruise Ships Need Them?

Sometimes, ships aren’t able to dock in port. The water may be too shallow, or there may be a coral reef nearby. In some cases, the port city may not have a dock large enough for a cruise ship, or it may already have other ships using the dock. For whatever reason, your ship needs to park in the open water, and you need a more practical way to get to shore than swimming.

tender

How Do They Work?

Your ship’s cruise director team will let you know in advance of reaching a port if you’ll need to tender. They will also explain how the process is going to work for your ship. In some cases, it’s a free for all. Simply head to the gangway, and walk onto the next tender. In many cases, people who have purchased tickets to ship-sanctioned shore excursions will be given exclusive access to the first few tenders. Once they are all on their way, the ship will open up the tenders on a first-come first-served basis. Typically, the ship will tell you in advance an approximate timeline for when this will happen so you can be prepared.

Some ships require people planning to board early morning tenders to acquire a tender ticket when they are ready to get off the ship. There tends to be a bit of rush-hour traffic until about noon, so the ship tries to manage the chaos. You will likely need to go to a lounge or theater area to obtain a ticket. That said,  you will only be able to get a ticket if your entire party is ready to go. If you’re still waiting on someone to finish breakfast or apply sunscreen, hang tight, and let someone who is ready to go get on board instead. If you’re a late riser, by mid-day, the traffic tends to die down and tickets will likely no longer be required.

Tenders run all day while you’re in port. They are a continuous service so you never have to wait long for the next boat. In most cases, as soon as one is full, the next one pulls up and starts loading.

Have questions? Let us know.

6 Places to Find Peace and Quiet on a Cruise Ship

There area plenty of places where you can find peace a quiet on a cruise ship.

 

If you’re like me, as much as you love the live entertainment and activities on a cruise, you also want a little time to yourself. I love to kick back with a good book, and just relax. It may be hard to imagine anyplace on a cruise ship where you can get away from the hustle and bustle, but if you know where to look, you can carve out a little space that’s all your own.

peace and quiet on a cruise ship

Check out these six places where you can find peace and quiet on a cruise ship.

1. The Library

Every cruise ship has a special place set aside for people to read, play, cards, and do a little work. It’s usually tucked away in a rarely used corner of the ship. Typically, talking in anything louder than a hushed tone is taboo in the library.

2. The Spa

It’s no surprise that you can find peace and quiet in a spa, but what many people don’t know is that for a small, daily fee, you can buy access to an exclusive part of the spa that is off limits to other guests. Typically, these rooms feature a few hot tubs, heated lounge chairs, floor-to-ceiling windows, snacks, and other amenities that make it the perfect, peaceful retreat. Ask at the spa reception desk for more details.

3. The Upper Deck

Look up. Look way up…above the Lido Deck where all the outdoor action takes place, you’re bound to find at least one or two more decks. On these upper decks, you’re far enough from the noise of the pool and other activities yet still near enough to the buffet that it’s the ideal place to kick back. And, you can still get a great tan since you’ll be outside in the sun.

4. The Cafe

In addition to the tea and coffee service at mealtime, most cruise ships have an onboard cafe where you can buy a latte or cappuccino for a nominal fee. It’s often located someplace mid-ship in a quiet corridor. Not a lot of people hang out at the cafe, which makes it a great place to grab a cup of joe and enjoy the silence.

5. The Spaces in Between

Take a walk around your ship. Chances are that you’ll find a cozy space in a quiet corner that you can call your own. Plenty of ships have window seats lining the aisles, lounges that are unused during the day, or even lesser-known hideaways just waiting to be discovered (check out the hanging chairs between the family and adult pools on the Norwegian Epic, for example).

6. Your Stateroom Balcony

Now this might seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Your stateroom balcony is the perfect place to watch the world go by in complete silence. I love to wake up early and watch the sun come up, or at night, bring a hot cup of tea back to my cabin and stare at the stars while reading a good—AKA cheesy—romance.

These are just a few of the places where you’ll find peace and quiet on a cruise ship. Go others? Share them with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

7 Ways to Make Your Cruise Even More Special

For a few extra bucks, you can make your cruise even more special.

 

Everything you need to have a good time is already included in the price of your cruise. You don’t need to spend one extra cent if you don’t want to. But you may want to budget for a few extras once you’re on board. Here are some of the main ways you can upgrade your experience as you sail the seven seas that will make your cruise even more special.

1. Specialty Dining

Every cruise ship has places you can dine for free. There is usually at least one dining room and a buffet. But most ships also offer alternative dining options. For a small fee, you can eat at a sushi bar, steakhouse, teppanyaki house, or pizzeria, for example. Prices usually range between $10 and $30, depending on the restaurant. Many ships also have a full-service cafe, where you can buy specialty coffees and pastries for a few bucks.

make your cruise even more special

2. Beverage Packages

Water, coffee, and tea are always available on typical cruises. Most also offer free juice at breakfast and some sort of water-based beverage, like iced tea or lemonade, throughout the day. But if you’re thirsty for a pop, bottle water, or anything with alcohol, you will need to open your wallet. But there’s a loophole. You can buy a beverage card that lets you drink as much as you desire, and it usually costs much less than you would spend overall buying one drink at a time. You can get either alcoholic or nonalcoholic versions of the card so the entire family can take advantage.

make your cruise even more special

3. Spa Treatments

Ships of all shapes and sizes have an on-site spa. But beware, the prices are typically well above anything your would spend on land. A massage typically costs at least $120 but can be close the $300 if you’re in the mood for a something more specialized, like a seaweed wrap. If you’re really looking to treat yourself, you can even get acupuncture, Botox, and cellulite treatments on many ships. But relax, there are a few affordable ways to pamper yourself on a cruise, such as a scalp massage, haircut, or manicure.

make your cruise even more special

4. Shore Excursions

If you’re not sure what you want to do when your ship docks at each cruise port, fear not. There are plenty of tour options available through the cruise line. They would with the best local tour companies and guides to make sure you have the best experiences on land. Whether you’re into adventure, culture, shopping, or history, they’ll have something for every taste. Parasailing over the open ocean, horseback riding on the beach, a cooking class at a local restaurant, a visit to the outlet malls—you’ll find it all and more at every scheduled stop.

make your cruise even more special

5. Celebrations and Gifts

Are you celebrating a special event during your cruise? For a small fee, you can arrange to have your room decorated with flowers, balloons, special signs, desserts, wine, and more. You can choose from a variety of themes, including birthdays, anniversaries, and bon voyage. Even if you’re not sailing, you can surprise a friend or loved one by contacting the ship in advance. You can also purchase cruise merchandise and other gifts in advance of sailing so that they’re waiting in your room when you get on board. I’ve secretly hoped someone would surprise with a celebration or gift, but alas…maybe they’ll read this post and get the hint.

Pro Tip: If your travel agent lets the ship know about your special day when you book the cruise, you may get a little something special for free. That’s right…I said free. On my last sailing, I got a gift card for a bottle of wine and a free photo of my choice from the photo studio. It was lovely.

make your cruise even more special

6. Photo Packages

Wouldn’t it be great if life were like the movies and every minute of your special getaway was captured on film (or digital thingamabobs)? Well, every cruise ship has a photo studio to do just that. Every time you get on or off the ship, a team of photographers will be on standby, ready to snap a shot of you at each port. At night after you’ve dressed for dinner, they’ll have impromptu portrait studios set up in strategic locations around the ship. You can even hire a photographer to follow you around for the day.

make your cruise even more special

7. Shopping and Sales

If you love to shop, you don’t even need to step off the boat to do it. Designer handbags, fine diamonds, and couture cosmetics are just some of the upscale items you can purchase in the ship’s boutiques. You’ll also find duty-free tobacco and alcohol, candies and chocolates, costume jewelry, cruise merchandise, cheap tees, and knick knacks. You want it, they got it. And they have special sales every evening. One night you might get a deal on scarves and sunglasses, while the next night there may be a special offer on earrings or t-shirts. The deals are often amazing.

make your cruise even more special

Pro Tip: You can purchase just about everything on this list in advance of your sailing by contacting your travel agent or accessing your online itinerary. You can even buy gift cards to make purchases in the ship’s shops. This way, you still don’t have to spend any extra money once you set sail.

These are some of the main ways you can make your cruise even more special. What other ways can you think of? Share them on the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

Cruise Inspiration: 5 Facts that Will Make You Want to Set Sail

More people are taking cruises than ever before.

 

In fact, the cruise industry is booming. It’s estimated 100 million people will take a cruise in the next four years. How’s that for cruise inspiration? But, if you’re anything like I was 10 years ago, you’re still a bit leery about the whole concept of cruising.

You may think it will make you less of a traveler because you aren’t planning every minute of your own itinerary or because you only spend a few hours in each port. But I’ve learned it’s just the opposite.

When you’re on a cruise, the entire world opens up to you in a whole new, luxurious, affordable way. Places that were once off-limits due to price, location, or other factors are now at your fingertips thanks to the cruise industry.

cruise inspiration

Still need more cruise inspiration? Check out these five cruise facts that will inspire even the biggest skeptic to hop on board a cruise ship.

  1. You get the same experience whether you pay top dollar or sail in the cheap seats.

    People in low-priced inside cabins eat at the same restaurants, swim in the same pools, and have access to the same entertainment as people who stay in high-end suites. Yes, there are some extra perks if you spend the big bucks, but you can still have an utterly amazing experience in an inside cabin. Cruising is all about affordable luxury.

  2. You can see a lot of places in a short time for a low cost.

    On a cruise, you get to sample a variety of destinations the same way you sample different foods at Costco. A little taste tells you if you want more so you can plan a longer vacation to a particular destination in the future. If you don’t have a lot of time or money and you want to be pampered, you simply can’t beat a cruise.

  3. It’s safe.

    There are cameras everywhere on a cruise ship, and you’re almost never entirely alone. People walk the halls at all hours of the day, and crew members are never more than a stone’s throw away. Cruising is ideal for solo travelers or women who want to enjoy their vacation without worrying about their safety. You’re more likely to be attacked by a bear than you are to fall overboard, sink, or be assaulted.

  4. There are so many ships to choose from.

    Over the next four years, there will be 65 new cruise ships sailing on rivers and oceans around the world. Big or small, there’s bound to be at least one that suits your personal style. River cruises will take you to ports larger ships simply can’t access. And ocean cruises will bring you unparalleled activities and entertainment. Which will you choose? I hope to see them all.

  5. You will have a good time.

    Nine out of ten cruisers say they will sail again. This means there is a 90 percent chance that you will thoroughly enjoy yourself on a cruise. Those are some pretty good odds.

Have I missed anything? What inspires you to cruise? Sign up for the members-only Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group to share your ideas about cruise inspiration with like-minded travelers around the world.

Cruise Wear Tips for Getting on the Ship

Cruise wear is a fashion phenomenon all its own.

 

The cruise wear you choose for embarkation day depends on several factors. Here are four things you need to consider when putting together the perfect outfit to get on board the ship.

  1. Say Cheese

cruise wear

After checking in at the cruise terminal, you’ll begin your trek on board the ship. But before you get too far, photographers from the cruise line will be waiting to take your picture. You can skip the photo queue, but they won’t make it easy. If you plan to document every moment of your travels, you may want to choose cruise wear that is photo ready.

2. Cruise Line

cruise wear

Depending on the cruise line, you’ll want to dress up…or down. I try to look nice when I first get on the ship. I like to make a good first impression, but on a recent Carnival sailing out of California, even a striped jersey dress was a bit too upscale for embarkation day. Jeans or leggings and a t-shirt would suffice for a Carnival cruise ship. NCL, MSC, and Royal Caribbean are also quite casual, but most people put in a little more effort. That same striped jersey dress would be the perfect choice. Jeans or leggings with a flowy blouse and a scarf or necklace to give it a bit of pizzazz are also good options. For higher-end cruise lines, proper slacks or a pretty sundress are definitely in order.

3. Points A and B

cruise wear

If you’re setting sail from a climate that is quite different from the one you’re sailing to, there’s fine line to walk when choosing your cruise wear. You want to wear something that speaks to your destination, but you also want to look appropriate for the current climate. For example, if you’re headed to the Caribbean in January, shorts and a tank might seem like a great idea. But if your sailing out of New Orleans, it might be a bit chilly. A t-shirt dress and a kimono wrap will give you a lightweight look with the extra warmth you need for the cool chill at your starting point.

4. Activities

cruise wear

Sometimes, you’re luggage doesn’t arrive at your room until after you’ve set sail. This means you’ll be wearing the same thing all day—possibly even to dinner. When choosing your embarkation cruise wear, consider the activities you’ll be doing throughout the day. If you arrive on board early, you may want to spend some time sunning yourself on the Lido deck. Wearing a swimsuit under your outfit may be a good idea. Or, perhaps you’ve booked a dinner in one of the more refined restaurants. While most cruise lines are more lenient about dress codes on the first day, typically you would try to look a bit nicer for your special meal.

Selecting the perfect cruise wear for getting on the ship can be stressful. But follow these helpful tips, and you’ll look just right when you set sail. Have other tips for what to wear when you get on board the ship? Tag your Instagram photos with #wanderlustwayfarer to share your ideas.