This question was answered on our Q & A Wednesday show on August 9, 2017.
Tendering is the process of moving guests from the cruise ship to a port of call using small boats called tenders. This process is required whenever there is not enough clearance for the ship to dock in port. Sometimes ships use their own lifeboats to tender guests ashore. The tendering procedure may vary between cruise lines, but generally cruise lines use a similar process. Guests with shore excursions booked with the cruise lines and sometimes those with higher status levels in the loyalty recognition program are given priority tendering access. Other guests are required to pick up a tender ticket that is assigned to a specific group of tender departure times. When the tender groups are called systematically, guests head down to the tender area and board the boats to the port area ashore. Since tendering requires the small tender boats to pull up next to the ship’s hull for loading and unloading guests, if the weather stirs up significant waves the tendering process can be suspended or cancelled altogether.