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'Tender' ride a treat on ocean cruise

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ABOARD THE ODYSSEY - It is almost like two boat rides in one. Here I am cruising on the spectacular Seabourn Odyssey and in several ports I also get to ride a “tender” to shore.

Must admit, some folks don’t like it when a ship has to anchor offshore and ferry passengers ashore on a smaller boat. But I find it enjoyable. It gives me a different view of the cruise ship and a chance to take photos of the ship from a water angle.

Of course, I have been on some larger cruise ships where the tender situation is a pain in the neck. Those ships hire local tenders to transport passengers back and forth. Often those local boats are not comfortable or reliable. It’s scary to stand on shore, know that your ship is going to depart in a couple of hours and the tender is nowhere in sight.

The Seabourn Odyssey carries its own tenders – lifeboats that are larger and better equipped, attached to davits on the ship. They look like little pea pods when they are lowered and launched next to the bigger mother ship.

The bright orange Odyssey tenders are fully enclosed although the weather is so balmy that the entry hatch and windows are kept open to enjoy the sunshine and breeze. The tenders have comfy seats on two levels.

And there is very little waiting time. The Odyssey is carrying only 440 guests of a 450 maximum for the ship and it has two tenders running at the same time. I’ve had to wait only a few minutes for a tender to arrive. Several times, I’ve been taking photos and the tender arrived so quickly that I decided to wait for the next one so I could finish what I was doing.

Seabourn also makes it comfortable to wait on shore by erecting a small tent with a few chairs, cooler of iced water, magazines to peruse , cold cloths for refreshing faces and hands, and a basket with complimentary items such as sunscreen and wipes to clean glasses. A crew member is stationed at the tent to answer questions.

Boarding the tender from ship or shore is easy. Someone is always there to lend a helping hand when stepping on or off the tender. Arriving at the ship, a crew member keeps a close eye on passengers going through security. If the line ever slows down – a passenger might take more time than expected to remove a bag and pass it through security or to find a shipboard I.D. card - the crewmember will make sure that passengers remain on the tender until the security line speeds up.

Seabourn crew members seem to go out of their way to be helpful. On my first tender trip in Triluke Bay, I was trying to take a video of the Odyssey as we motored to shore. Seeing that the angle wasn’t the best for my camera from where I was sitting by the door, a crew member motioned to the tender pilot to turn the little boat a bit to the right for a much better view.

Very aware crewman and very courteous. Much appreciated by me.

For more information: Contact www.seabourn.com

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