CruisesDisney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line in a Jiffy: What is a Tender?

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At most locations Disney Cruise Line visits, the ship will dock at a pier that is part of a land mass. You can walk directly off the ship onto solid ground. DCL also visits a few ports which have shallow harbors – too shallow to allow a major vessel to dock directly at the shore. When this happens, you’ll take a tender to get to land.

A tender, a term used throughout cruising, is a boat used to transfer passengers from a larger ship to land, and vice versa. The tender boat “tends” the ships. Tenders pull alongside the ship and you board via a small gangway. While this is generally stable, there may be some movement of the tender while you embark and debark. Guests with mobility issues will want to take this into consideration when selecting a sailing that uses tender ports.

Most tender trips are quick, usually under about 20 minutes, but you do need to be aware of this travel time when making your way back to the ship at the end of the day. You don’t want to miss the ship’s departure while waiting for a tender boat.

“Disney Cruise Line in a Jiffy” is an offshoot of our “Disney in a Minute” series. Both are bite-sized nuggets of information that can better help you understand a Disney term or planning topic. Have a question about a DCL term that is unfamiliar to you? Suggest it here for an upcoming segment.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

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