I have not cruised with RCCL, but we tendered onto Belize on a NCL ship. Unfortunatley, first come first serve. They gave us a time and a place to pick up numbers and where ever your number fell (e.g. 15) is how you would get onto a tender. For instance, the ship would call numbers 1-50, then 51-100. I would double check with RCCL to see if they do it the same way. People who purchased execursions through the cruise line, did get numbers first--but verify that with RCCL before you book your excursion.
You don't have to sneak. Just get in line with everone else. Don't wait for an announcement. When you anchor, just go down and get in line. That's what we did and no one said anything to us.
Celebrity Century 1/09
Carnival Destiny 10/07
Carnival Destiny 9/06
Monarch of the Seas 3/06
Carnival Inspiration 8/05
Carnival Miracle 4/05
Carnival Inspiration 4/04
Sovereign of the Seas 4/03
Based on our experience on the Enchantment back in November, I can tell you that they allowed people who booked the ship's shore excursions on the first tenders and did ask to see peoples tickets. Those caught trying to sneak out were turned away. Of course I was one who was trying to sneak on to the early tenders and I just kept looking straight ahead avoidong eye contact and actually pretended not to hear them a couple of times when they were asking to see tickets. So right before we were getting ready to board, a persistant fellow asked to see my ticket and so I put on my best wild eyed "don't mess with me look" and took a couple of papers out of my bag and shook them in the air and said "hey this is all I've got" and he let me go. So I guess if you are not the daring adventurous type, you could go down and explain to guest services that you need to be off the ship by a certain time and see if they'll help you out. By the way are you doing shark ray alley, if so who did you book it through?
Thanks Beenie! If I was travelling with you, I might give the ol' tender sneak a try! But since there'll be seven of us (DH, 3 teen sons and my parents) - we'll just get on the first one that we can (and I'll try guest services). I've emailed the tour operator (cave tubing) and we'll have plenty of time as long as we get off within an hour of the first tender.