Cruising 101: Here’s a Great Primer on Cruise Lingo

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Cruise lingo is important to know if you plan on cruising and mingling with experienced cruisers. It may sound like a completely different language! Well, as always, I’m here to help! Let’s learn some cruise lingo!

word lingo made of colorful letters on white background; cruise lingo
https://depositphotos.com/portfolio-3047297.html

Use the letters below to jump to a particular letter.

A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P R S T U V

CruiseDirect

AFT

Near, towards or in the rear (stern) of the ship

AIR/SEA

A package that includes airfare to and from the embarkation port as well as the cost of the cruise. (Also referred to as “Fly/Cruise”)

ALTERNATIVE DINING

A Dining option offered in addition to the ship’s main dining room, especially at dinner. The venue is usually a more intimate, specialty or themed restaurant. Reservations are often required and additional charges may apply.

ANYTIME DINING

A flexible evening dining option that allows passengers to dine when and with whom they wish, as opposed to a “Traditional Fixed Seating” program. Very much like a restaurant, you can go from the time the dining room opens until close with any size party you choose.

If using Anytime Dining, be sure to keep in mind the times of the theater entertainment. The theater schedule is based on traditional dining times.

YOUR CRUISE GIRL

ATRIUM

An interior, multi deck, open area of a ship. Typically, atriums are centrally located near elevators, shops, cafes and guest services. Shipboard atriums can extended anywhere from two to ten or more decks.

BACK-TO-BACK

Usually just two cruises planned one right after the other. On the day of debarkation from your first cruise, you are also embarking on another cruise. Most often they are on the same ship as the two cruises have different itineraries.

BALCONY CABIN (VERANDA CABIN)

Any cabin accommodation with a private, exterior balcony.

BOARDING PASS(CRUISE CARD)

Issued at time of check-in, this enables passengers not only to board the ship initially but to re-board throughout the cruise. Usually a plastic card that is also used for shipboard charge accounts.

Carnival Sign & Sail Card
Carnival Sign & Sail Card

BOW

Toward or in front (fore) of the ship

BRIDGE

The navigation and command center of the ship, usually found high up and forward.

CABIN

The passenger’s sleeping room, stateroom or personal accommodation.

CATEGORY

A group of cabins categorized by type or size (i.e. Inside, outside, balcony, min-suite, suite.) Usually the category will indicate the type of cabin as well as the location.

CRUISE CARD

See Boarding Pass. Credit card-size personal I.D document, given to each cruise passenger to charge shipboard purchases, use as their cabin key-card, and boarding pass to embark and debark the ship.

CRUISE DIRECTOR

The Cruises Director is in charge of all onboard entertainment and social events.

CRUISE DOCUMENTS

Set of documents provided by the cruise line to passengers prior to sailing. Typically includes the cruise ticket, and airline tickets (if air-sea), pre-cruise information booklet (“What to Know Before You Go”), luggage tags, and information on shore excursions.

DEBARKATION / DISEMBARKATION

Exiting the ship.

DECK PLAN

An overhead diagram illustrating cabin and public room locations in relation to each other.

Deck 16 on Carnival Mardi Gras courtesy of cruisedeckplans.com
Deck 16 on Carnival Mardi Gras courtesy of cruisedeckplans.com

DRY DOCK

(1) A sealed docking facility from which water is pumped in and out, enabling maintenance and repairs to be performed on a ship’s hull and keel. (2) Generic term for a vessel’s maintenance period when a ship actually enters a dry dock to maintain it’s underwater hull and to undergo onboard refurbishment and upgrades to hardware and soft furnishings.

EMBARKATION

Entering or boarding the ship.

FAMILY STATEROOM

Specific accommodations vary, but family staterooms usually provide for 4-6 passengers in lower bed configurations (i.e. no bunk beds).

FORWARD

Toward the fore or bow (front) of the ship.

FIRST SITTING

On ships with traditional or “fixed” seating, the earlier of the two evening meal times in the main dining room – usually around 6.30pm.

FREE-STYLE DINING

Norwegian Cruise Line’s term used to describe their flexible onboard program whereby passengers have freedom to choose where and when they dine.

FRENCH BALCONY

A large window with a sliding door that opens to a shallow balcony and railing, allowing passengers to breath the salt air but not deep enough to stand or sit outside. Usually found on river boats or added to ships post-construction.

GALLEY

The ships kitchen.

GANGWAY

A ramp or steps by which passengers enter or leave the ship.

GODMOTHER

The individual chosen to christen or name a ship, usually a member of royalty, government official or celebrity.

GRATUITIES

The passenger’s personal expression of thanks (tips) for the service received on board, usually automatically added to their account.

INSIDE CABIN

A cabin with no windows or portholes offering a view the sea or river.

HOMEPORT

The port in which a ship is based and most often sails from.

ITINERARY

The route the ship will travel, detailing arrival and departure times and ports visited.

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KNOT

A unit of speed equal to one nautical mile

LIFEBOAT

Small boats carried on the ship and used in case of emergency.

LOWER BED

A single bed placed at the standard height from the floor.

MAIDEN VOYAGE

The first sailing of a ship with passengers on board.

MIDSHIP

In or toward the middle of the ship.

MINI SUITE

A larger passenger cabin that offers separate sleeping and sitting areas, but smaller than a suite.

MUSTER DRILL

All passengers must participate in this departure day drill. Passengers and selected crew must go to their assigned area of the ship or “muster” station on the sounding of the general emergency alarm where they are given instructions concerning emergency procedures.

MUSTER STATION

The location where groups of passengers are asked to report in the event of an emergency at sea (or, as during a muster drill). Usually, muster stations are either interior public rooms, open deck or promenade spaces familiar to passengers. Every passenger is assigned a muster station.

NAUTICAL MILE

6,080.2 feet, versus a land mile of 5,280.

ONBOARD ACCOUNT / SHIPBOARD ACCOUNT

Account that is opened for you at the beginning of a cruise. You will normally register a credit card (you may put cash on your account instead) so your account can be settled at the end of your cruise. All purchases on board, shore excursions, gratuities, etc. are added to your onboard/shipboard account. Most ships operate with this ‘cashless’ system.

OPEN SEATING

Free access to unoccupied tables in the ship’s dining room, as opposed to specific table assignments. An alternative to the traditional fixed dining style.

OUTSIDE/OCEANVIEW CABINS

A cabin having a window or porthole offering an exterior view of the sea or river.

PASSENGER CONTRACT

Detailed terms of responsibility and accountability found in the cruise ticket.

PORT CHARGE

An assessment which also includes port taxes, collected by the line and paid to a local government authority.

PORTHOLES

Circular “windows” in the side of the ship.

CRUISE LINGO - a picture of a cruise ship porthole

PORTSIDE

The left or port side of the ship as you face forward. This is the side of the ship where the dock usually is.

PROMENADE

Usually the open walkway that runs almost the entire length of each side of the cruise ship. Some promenade decks encircle the ship.

PURSER

Officer in charge of onboard accounts & guest relations.

REPOSITIONING CRUISES

Cruises operated to move a ship between cruise areas or change the ship’s homeport. Many of these are operated in the spring and fall as seasons change.

SECOND SITTING

In ships with traditional or “fixed” seating, the later of the two evening meal times in the main dining room – usually around 8.30pm.

SHORE EXCURSIONS

Off-the-ship tours at ports of call for which extra charges usually apply.

SINGLE OCCUPANCY

Sole occupancy of a cabin which is designed to accommodate two or more passengers, in which instance a premium is charged – generally between 150 – 200% of the per person cruise fare based on double occupancy.

STARBOARD

The right side of the ship as you face forward.

TENDER

A small vessel used to move passengers between the ship and shore when the ship is at anchor.

TRANSFERS

Usually a coach transfer from the Airport to ship, and vice versa.

UPPER BED

A single size bed higher from the floor than usual (similar to a bunk bed) often recessed into the ceiling or wall during the day.

UPPER AND LOWER BERTHS

Bunk Beds.

VERANDA CABIN (BALCONY CABIN)

Any cabin accommodation with a private, exterior balcony.

Cruise to the Bahamas! Click Here

Is there any cruise lingo I’ve left out? Is there a word you heard you want the definition to? Let me know in the comments!

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