Norwegian Cruise Line has informed guests embarking Norwegian Dawn on Sunday, July 2, 2023 that port information has been miscommunicated, with far more tender ports on the itinerary than noted in the online reservation system. While one of the cruise’s eight planned ports of call was shown as a tender port, in reality, there are five tender ports for the sailing.
While no itinerary changes are being made, the number of tender ports could cause complications for guests with limited mobility or other challenges that make tendering more difficult.
Tender Ports Clarified
Norwegian Dawn set sail on July 2 on a 10-night “British Isles: England & Ireland” sailing from Copenhagen, Denmark. Eight ports of call are part of the itinerary – Edinburgh, Invergordon, and Kirkwall in Scotland; Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis; Dublin, Ireland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Falmouth and Portland in England before the ship arrives in Southampton for debarkation on Wednesday, July 12.
On the reservation system for this sailing, only Edinburgh was noted as a tender port, but guests were informed at embarkation that there will actually be five tender ports during the sailing.
“It has come to our attention, that the reservation system did not accurately portray a number of ports on this itinerary are tender ports,” the letter read. “As such, please note that we will be visiting a total of five tender ports during the voyage.” The tender ports are Edinburgh, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Dublin, and Falmouth.
“Rest assured our dedicated onboard team will be readily available to assist you with the tendering process,” the letter continued. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”
It must be noted that the ports indicated were always planned to be tender ports, but it was an error in the reservation system that failed to list them accurately. There are no port of call changes, time alterations, or other adjustments made for this cruise.
Nevertheless, this can be a shock to guests who may have booked the itinerary specifically because so few ports seemed to be using tenders, which can be more challenging for travelers with mobility challenges or those who may be susceptible to motion sickness in small boats.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Tender Ports list does include Edinburgh (Newhaven); Kirkwall, Stornoway, and Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) as tender ports, though Kirkwall is listed as either docking or tendering depending on the call, and Falmouth is not noted as a tender port.
Why Is Tendering a Big Deal?
Tendering – using small boats to move from an anchored cruise ship to the dock rather than just walking off the ship – can be challenging for guests with mobility issues, particularly since the small, narrow gangways used for tendering are often moving and may involve steep ramps or steps.
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Guests who use scooters or wheelchairs may have difficulty tendering, as well as guests with small children who require strollers. Similarly, guests with crutches or canes can find boarding tender boats more difficult.
Even some travelers who greatly enjoy large cruise ships but have seasickness on small boats may have difficulty with tender boats.
Furthermore, tendering can be a lengthy process, and while Norwegian Dawn is one of the smaller vessels in Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet, the 92,250-gross-ton cruise ship can welcome more than 2,300 guests.
When every guest needs to board a small boat to move to and from the dock, it can be a much longer process than just walking off the ship via a larger gangway and pier. Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Accessibility Assistance” information includes the following details on tendering:
“Certain vessel transfers, such as tendering and gangways, may not be fully accessible to wheelchairs or scooters at the time that they desire or that they cannot go ashore at all. When a ship is unable to dock, guests are taken ashore on smaller boats called tenders. Guests may need to utilize steps or a stair case to access the tender and to re-board the ship. Some guests with limited mobility may find it difficult to embark or disembark the ship at certain times while at dock or while tendering.”
Because of the possible lack of accessibility and the potential for delays in debarking the ship during the tendering process, guests may not have as much time as anticipated to enjoy each port of call.
Guests booked on any cruise should always investigate whether or not ports of call are tender ports if they have any concerns about accessibility or are planning independent shore excursions, just to be sure they can plan their day ashore accordingly.