Airlie Beach tendering time

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#1
Tucson, Arizona USA
586 Posts
Joined May 2002
We will be on Radiance at Airlie Beach from 8AM to 6PM, tendering in. I have read that tendering can take a long time. How long does it generally take? I realize the GBR tours would get first priority and it will take a while to load and unload the tenders. How long should I allow?

I am looking for a snorkel trip in the Whitsundays and am having trouble finding one that could accommodate the tendering process comfortably. The ship offers a tour but it is almost $70 more per person and is 2.5 hours shorter so I would much rather book it outside the ship.

Any help is appreciated.
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The time between cruises is just one long shore excursion.
#2
midwest usa
151 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
We are arriving in Airlie Beach aboard Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas in February 2015. We are having the same difficulty you are. We want to book the Eco Rafting tour independently since it's $60 cheaper, includes lunch, and is for six and a half hours. It includes snorkeling as well as time at Whitehaven Beach. The shore excursion Royal Caribbean uses the same company but is offering a tour that costs more, doesn't include lunch, is only for four hours and only goes to the beach; no snorkeling time. We are scheduled to dock at Airlie Beach at 8:00 a.m. If I book the tour independently, they will pick us up right where we get off the tender at 9:30. Will there be enough time to disembark and reach the shore by 9:30. I realize the tender process takes longer and the passengers that book the ship's excursion get first priority. (I paid for my cruise just like everyone else.) I've also read that local catamarans are used to try to speed up the tendering process. If anyone has any experience with Royal Caribbean's process at Airlie Beach, I'd appreciate your insight. I'm feeling very frustrated with this cruise, since the docking times aren't working out with the trips we wanted to do. We've never encountered this problem before with all the other cruises we've taken. We've only taken one other Royal Caribbean cruise and wasn't at all impressed. We're hoping this one turns out better. Thanks everyone in advance.
#3
Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia
102 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
We did Airlie Beach on Radiance last October. The tender time is approximately 15-20 minutes. If you are up and ready to go at 8am (not many will be) I cannot see a problem with you getting the first tender in. Yes, they do use the local, large cats for the tender process as well as a couple of their own tender boats. If you are being picked up at the pier then you should have plenty of time.
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#4
midwest usa
151 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
Originally posted by BronteBlue
We did Airlie Beach on Radiance last October. The tender time is approximately 15-20 minutes. If you are up and ready to go at 8am (not many will be) I cannot see a problem with you getting the first tender in. Yes, they do use the local, large cats for the tender process as well as a couple of their own tender boats. If you are being picked up at the pier then you should have plenty of time.
Thank you so much for the information. We will definitely be ready to go. Glad to hear it is possible. Hope you had a great cruise.
#5
far south coast nsw
553 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Originally posted by mrschiefopd
Thank you so much for the information. We will definitely be ready to go. Glad to hear it is possible. Hope you had a great cruise.
We were there on the Solstice and also Rhapsody and if you got to the line at 8.00am expect to stand in a long queue ,for the sake of an extra $60 I would go on the ships excursion.
#7
Fort Lauderdale, FL
339 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by BronteBlue
We did Airlie Beach on Radiance last October. The tender time is approximately 15-20 minutes. If you are up and ready to go at 8am (not many will be) I cannot see a problem with you getting the first tender in.
Originally posted by chester32
We were there on the Solstice and also Rhapsody and if you got to the line at 8.00am expect to stand in a long queue ,for the sake of an extra $60 I would go on the ships excursion.
Hmmm...well these are vastly different answers.

Also, it's not just about the $60. In addition to costing more, the ship excursion is 2 hours shorter, does not include snorkeling (Oz is a long way from home so I'd like as many snorkeling opportunities as possible), and will undoubtedly be waaaay more crowded.

I share mrschiefopd's frustration with the docking times and the times all the independent tours start. Throughout 30 cruises elsewhere in the world, we've never run into this issue so often.
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#8
Sydney Australia
854 Posts
Joined May 2010
G'day, we stopped off at Airlee beach on Rhapsody in Nov 2011. We did a private shore excursion with Salty Dog Sea Kayaks - started at Shute Bay and paddled out to White Rock Reef for snacks and a snorkel. It was great if anyone is still deciding on what to do.

Anyway getting ashore on the local tenders was very quick. If you are docking at 8 you will be off by 8:30 easily.

The biggest risk with private tours is if the ship docks late. I always take the contact details for my private shore excursions and let them know if we are going to be delayed.

Have fun.
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#9
Fort Lauderdale, FL
339 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by ozbrian
G'day, we stopped off at Airlee beach on Rhapsody in Nov 2011. We did a private shore excursion with Salty Dog Sea Kayaks - started at Shute Bay and paddled out to White Rock Reef for snacks and a snorkel. It was great if anyone is still deciding on what to do.

Anyway getting ashore on the local tenders was very quick. If you are docking at 8 you will be off by 8:30 easily.

The biggest risk with private tours is if the ship docks late. I always take the contact details for my private shore excursions and let them know if we are going to be delayed.

Have fun.
Thanks
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#11
Fort Lauderdale, FL
339 Posts
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Originally posted by ozbrian
Wow! Your photo's are brilliant. Well done and thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the kind words. Looking forward to (hopefully) getting some good shots in Australia next year!
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#12
Canberra Australia
2,893 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
I was also on radiance last October.

If they arrive at 8am the first tender will take photographers etc across. If you are ready and waiting at that time they will announce an "early bird special' where you don't need a tender ticket. They will take a load or two of these people over.
Then they do the ticket system. That's when you wait in line for a long time for your number to be taken. Plus you must queue up to get a number.

Are you diamond Plus or in a suite? If yes, JD (the concierge) will escort you to the front of the line a the time you want to go.

If you really want good snorkelling go with the private operator. The ship tour is a huge catamaran with a huge group on board.

Have a brilliant day!

Raina
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#13
Fort Lauderdale, FL
339 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by AussieVisi2r
I was also on radiance last October.

If they arrive at 8am the first tender will take photographers etc across. If you are ready and waiting at that time they will announce an "early bird special' where you don't need a tender ticket. They will take a load or two of these people over.
Then they do the ticket system. That's when you wait in line for a long time for your number to be taken. Plus you must queue up to get a number.

Are you diamond Plus or in a suite? If yes, JD (the concierge) will escort you to the front of the line a the time you want to go.

If you really want good snorkelling go with the private operator. The ship tour is a huge catamaran with a huge group on board.

Have a brilliant day!

Raina
Thanks for the info. We are both D+, and may end up in "real" Suite by sailing (right now we are in Junior Suite).
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