I am doing the Inspiration in Feb. Lots of questions. When the scheduled port quotes, 8 A.M., does that mean it anchors at 8, or the first tender leaves at 8 ? How many tenders do they have, and how often do they run ? What is this about tender tickets and waiting in line for them ( first tender )? When the schedule says the ship departs at 4, does that mean anchors away or the last tender leaves the dock at 4 ? If the ship arrives at 8, and I have a private tour scheduled for 9:30, do I have a chance of making it ? How many passengers per tender ?
Usually the ships try to be in port so that you can start leaving the ship by 8 or the time the schedule says, however this can change if the ship left the port late the day before or had some kind of delay getting into port. If they say the ship leaves at 4 or whatever time you usually have to be on board the ship a half hour before the ship leaves port. The daily newsletters in your room will tell you what time you must be back on the ship.
When they used tenders when I was on Carnival they were all good size tenders and held a lot of passengers. How often they run can depend on how full they get or what port they are in. In Grand Caymen there were so many ships tendering in and out that we sat out in the water for quite awhile just to get into the dock. They do seem to try to run every 15 minutes to every half hour at least on the ships I have been on.
Tender tickets would be on the first couple tenders. People with tours from the ship or priority tender tickets such as for suites would have the first crack at getting off the ship. Those on their own could be a little farther back in the pack. Once the initial bulk of people are off the ship no tender tickets are needed.
If the ship is set to release passengers by 8 you should have no problem getting to a 9:30 tour.
I am a travel consultant and those times are when the ships are scheduled to be docked and probably cleared through customs. The customs process can go quickly or be delayed, but if you are on a ship's shore excursion, they will hold the shore excursions for you if you are delayed by customs. Also, the schedule will say that the ship will leave at 5 p.m., but passengers are generally required to be back on ship by 30 minutes PRIOR to the ship's departure. Then, they have a chance to see if anyone is missing or a shore excursion is delayed, etc. Again, if you are on a shore excursion through the cruise line, they will hold the ship for you if you are delayed. If you go into the port on your own, you are responsible for being back on the ship at the specified time.