Tina: They are not the life boats that you are picturing. These boats are motorized, enclosed vessels. Very safe!
Mary Lou Scanlon
NCL Pride of America April 24, 2010
NCL Epic February 12, 2011
RCCL Allure of the Seas - September 18, 2011
Celebrity Eclipse - February 11, 2012:
RCCL Navigator OTS - February 9, 2013
Tina, tendering is not a process exclusive to Celebrity and is quite common in many ports. The process is done either using tenders carried by the ship or in some ports public tenders. (sometimes both). You proceed to a lower deck where you will go down a set of stairs to a dock extended off the side of the ship. Several crew members will assist you into the tender which will hold about 100 people for a short , quite safe ride to a smaller pier in the port.
This procedure is done at as many as half of all cruise ports, not just west coast and not just Celebrity. It allows bigger ships to accesss smaller ports.
Tenders are enclosed vessels, quite seaworthy and sometimes a fun experience.
Only Jolly Roger cruise lines , run by Blackbeard the pirate uses life boats and makes you row ashore (but they reward you with rum for the effort ) JOKE.
Enjoy your cruise, tendering will not bother your experience at all.
I have only two cruises under my belt, but I've never seen lifeboats used for tendering.
However, I have seen them used for securing the waters around a ship while in port.
I think this use may double as an opportunity for mechanical maintenance checks of the craft. It's probably also good for keeping the crew's launching skills up to par.
I may dwell on the land, but I live at sea!
Sensation 2/03 I disembarked, but never really left the ship.
Sensation 04/05 The vessel made me do it!
Summit 03/06 to Hawaii, Where God left his fingerprints, in memory of Margaret.
Carnival Freedom (March 08)
\X\Mercury (January 09)
I just got off the Millennium yesterday. We did the Easter Caribbean. At one port we tendered in the life boats. They are large and very seaworthy. Easy to get on and off of. Capacity of 150 passengers. Relax & enjoy.