Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tender on the Island Princess at Panama

On our recent Panama Canal cruise aboard the Island Princess one of the ports of call was Fuerte Amador, Panama. The itinerary showed this was a tender port, meaning a tender would take us ashore in Fuerte Amador, also called Fort Amador or Port Amador in English. I tried to find more information about this tender and what to expect, but no luck.

What happens is that everyone who wants to go ashore in Panama is told to meet in the Bordeaux Dining Room when they (and everyone in their group) is ready to disembark. Don't go there earlier and "make a reservation" to disembark, because there is no such thing. This is printed in the Princess Patter and mentioned in the cruise TV. However while we waited in the dining room several people did show up to announce they wanted to go ashore at 10am, or whatever time. They were told to return to the dining room when they were ready to go.

We waited in the dining room for a short period of time until the next tender (boat) was available to take us to the marina. But what exactly is the tender? Is this a fleet of boats that belong to the marina that shuttle cruise passengers back and forth? No. The tender is an Island Princess lifeboat. Actually more than one lifeboat is used.

When a boat is ready for passengers we are led from the dining room down to the ramp to board the tender. Out a door and onto a ramp/dock where the tender is tied. Due to the waves the makeshift dock goes up and down and the crew is very safety conscious and waits until the tender is more or less even before allowing the passenger to step aboard. Once on the tender the passenger goes down a short flight of stairs where there are several benches to sit down. More or less packed in like sardines because they hold over 100 people. There is also an opportunity to ride outside in a small seating area on top of the tender.

At the marina at Fuerte Amador there is a duty free shop. There are several taxi drivers and tour operators who would like you to hire them for a city tour. Panama City is about a ten minute drive from the marina. Not within walking distance and with that heat, who'd want to walk?

Here is a photo I took of the Island Princess while we were touring Colonial Panama.

And here is a shot of the Island Princess from the marina at Fuerte Amador.
A shot of the Island Princess tender (lifeboat) docked at the marina at Fuerte Amador with Panama City in the background.
For some reason Island Princess employees were taking mattresses off the ship in Panama.
Passengers preparing to board the tender to return to the Island Princess.

And here is a shot inside the Island Princess tender. It holds lots of passengers.

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