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Cruising Earth - Information, Guides & Tips

Cruise Terminology

Knowing some cruise terminology will help make everything from pre-cruise planning to disembarkation a little less confusing.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

aboard
onboard, or on the ship; the opposite of ashore. Used when referring to being or doing something on the ship.
about
To turn the ship around
abreast
Alongside something, usually another ship or a dock
add-on
An additional charge to the cruise fare this can refer to airfare, transfers, land tours, or any additional item not included is the base cruise fare.
aft
The back of the ship.
air/sea package
A package deal that includes the cruise price, airfare, and typically the transfers between the airport and the ship.
all hands
All the crewmembers working aboard the ship.
alternative restaurant
A smaller onboard restaurant where guests can choose to eat, often for a small fee.
amidships
The middle section of the ship
ashore
On land; the opposite of aboard.
astern
Toward the aft (back of the ship), or behind the ship.

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B

B2B
Is a back-to-back cruise. Two cruises in a row. See back-to-back.
B2B2B
Is a back-to-back-to-back cruise. Three cruises in a row. See back-to-back-to-back.
back-to-back
One cruise, then another cruise, one after the other. Two cruise in a row.
back-to-back-to-back
One cruise, then another cruise, then another cruise, one after the other. Three cruises in a row.
beam
The width of the ship at its widest point, usually right across the middle section of the ship.
bearing
The compass direction the ship is sailing, expressed in degrees.
berth
A bed; or the place where the ship is docked in port.
bow
The front part of the ship.
bridge
The location where the captain and crew controls the ship-where navigation and steering occur.
bulkhead
The structural wall in the interior of the ship.
buoy
A marker or float used to identify navigational landmarks or channels.

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C

cabin
A passenger room onboard the ship; sometimes referred to as a stateroom.
cabin steward
The person who cleans the cabin.
Capers
Previous name for Carnival's daily activities publication, now known as the Carnival Fun Times.
cast off
To release the ship from her mooring.
category
The price level of a cabin based on location, size, and amenities.
channel
The deepest part of a river or harbor
companionway
A stairway inside the ship that connects the deck levels.
course
The ship's route from one port to the next.
cruise card
On most cruise ships, you’ll be given a cruise card which will act as your room key, ID and your method of payment when on your cruise.
cruise contract
The terms and conditions that cruise passengers agree to. When booking a cruise you’ll need to agree to a cruise contract.
cruise director
Head of the ship's entertainment staff, often emcees events.
cruise tour
A cruise that is preceded or followed by a bus tour, operated by the cruise line.
Cruise To Nowhere
Any cruise in which there are no ports of call; the ship embarks and debarks from the same port without making any stops in between.

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D

davit
A steel structure that hoist lifeboats over the side of the ship.
debark
To go ashore.
deck
Each level (floor) of the ship.
deck plans
A map of all the cruise ship decks.
disembark
To leave the ship and go ashore.
dinner seating
The time a passenger is assigned to a particular dining venue on the ship.
dock
A place to moor the ship.
double occupancy
Two people to a cabin. A cruise fare is typically based on double occupancy as a standard, and this is what you will see as an advertised price.
draft
The depth of water needed to sail so that the ship doesn't touch the ocean floor (The draft is measured from the waterline to the lowest part of the ship, usually the keel).
dress code
Cruise lines have suggested dress codes, ranging from very casual to more formal. The dress code can be general or specific to an event or occasion onboard.

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E

embark
To go aboard the ship.
emuster
A new way to muster drill. Emuster is typically done partially or in whole by using the cruise lines phone app. It was brought into use to avoid large close quarter gatherings onboard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many cruise lines have adopted a form of emuster, and its' use will likely be continued after the pandemic is over.

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F

fantail
The rear overhang of a ship (shaped like a duck's bill).
fathom
Measurement of water depth. One fathom equals six feet.
first seating
The earlier of two meal servings (dinner seatings) in the ship's main dining room-also referred to as the main seating.
fleet
A number of ships under the same ownership.
FlowRider
Onboard surf pool on Royal Caribbean ships.
fore, forward
The area toward the bow of the ship.
formal night
A tradition on many cruise ships, the formal night is a night to dress up. Check your cruise line’s dress codes for suggestions. Some cruise lines have relaxed their dress codes a bit.
Friends of Bill
Is a term refering to recovering alcoholis. It is used typically in reference to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings onboard. William (Bill) Wilson founded Alcoholics Anonymous as a society of members dedicated to helping each other achieve and maintain sobriety.
Friends of Dorothy
Is an older term for people who identify under the LGBTQ+ spectrum: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all other members of the queer community.
Freestyle Cruising
Norwegian Cruise Line's style of cruising, featuring casual dress and no set dinner times.
Fun Ships
Name for Carnival's cruise ships.
Fun Times
Carnival's daily activities publication, previously known as the Carnival Capers.
funnel
The ship's smokestack.

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G

galley
The ship's kitchen.
gangway
Ramp or stairway between the ship and the shore while the ship is docked.
gratuities
Gratuities or tipping is customary on a cruise. A per person service fee or gratuity will be charged daily to your cabin, on most major cruise lines. See also prepaid gratuities.
gross registered ton (grt)
A measurement of enclosed passenger space, including the space in cabins, lounges, showrooms, and dining rooms. This does not apply to open spaces such as decks and pool areas (unless, of course, they are enclosed).
guarantee
A cruise reservation in which one pays for a certain category cabin, but is not given a cabin number. Passengers often take this type of reservation with the hopes of getting upgraded to a higher category.

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H

hand
A crewmember.
A bathroom.
helm
The ship's steering equipment, located in the bridge.
hold
The ship's cargo area.
hotel manager
Shipboard director of hotel operations such as housekeeping and passenger services.
hull
The outside shell of the ship from the main deck down to the keel.

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I

inside cabin
A stateroom that does not have a porthole, window, or balcony.

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J

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K

keel
The chief structure of the ship that extends lengthwise along the center of the ship's bottom-the ship's backbone.
knot
The measurement of the ship's speed. One knot is one nautical mile per hour.

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L

lanyard
Used by many cruisers to hang a cruise card around their neck for convenience.
latitude
The distance north or south of the equator expressed in degrees.
league
A unit of measurement equal to 3.45 nautical miles.
leeward
The side of an island or ship that is sheltered from the wind.
lido deck
The pool deck. For ships with multiple pools it is typically the top open deck with the largest pool.
lines
The ropes used to tie up the ship while it is at the dock.
longitude
The distance east or west of the prime meridian expressed in degrees.

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M

MDR
The main dining room of the ship.
maiden voyage
The first voyage of a new ship.
maiden call
The first port-of-call on the ship's maiden voyage.
master
The person who is in charge of the ship; the captain.
mini-suite
The smallest, most affordable suite on a ship, often with just a curtain dividing the living and sleeping areas.
moor
To hold the ship in place with lines at a berth.
muster
To assemble the passengers and crew.
muster drill
A mandatory event where passengers assemble in a specific location and receive instructions on what to do in an emergency. Typically occurs on the first day of a cruise. See also emuster.
muster station
A meeting place onboard the ship that usually refers to the area where one would go to get into the lifeboats in case of an emergency.

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N

nautical mile
A unit of measurement equal to one-sixtieth of a degree of the earth's circumference; it's measured in the U.S. as 6,080.2 feet or internationally as 6,076.1 feet.

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O

OBC
acronymn for onboard credit.
oceanview cabin
An outside cabin with a large porthole window or a verandah.
onboard
Located on the ship; carried or used on the vessel.
onboard booking
Booking your next cruise while still onboard your current cruise. Onboard booking is done to receive benefits and discounts not offered at other times.
onboard credit
A credit added to your onboard account, either as a perk of booking or as compensation for an unforeseen event.
open seating
A dinner seating in which tables are not assigned.
outside cabin
A stateroom with a porthole, window, or balcony that overlooks the ocean-also referred to as an oceanview cabin.

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P

passageway
A hallway inside the ship.
passenger space ratio
The number of gross registered tons (grt) divided by the total passenger capacity.
passenger to crew ratio
The total number of passengers divided by the total number of crewmembers.
pier runners
The name given to those, whom have been known to have had too many libations, who can be seen running in the last few minutes hoping not to miss the ship’s departure. It is quite entertaining and is typically accompanied by loud cheers from the the cruisers already onboard.
pitch
The forward and backward rise and fall of the ship as it moves.
port
The left side of the ship when facing forward; also the harbor where a ship docks.
porthole
A round window on a ship.
port-of-call
port at which the ship anchors or moors, and the passengers are allowed to disembark.
prepaid gratuities
When booking your cruise, you can prepay your gratuities. Some people choose this option to reduce additional onboard expenses which will need to be paid at the end of the cruise.
promenade
An open deck that encircles a ship, often used for walking or jogging.
pullman bed
They are like bunk beds that come out of the wall or ceiling. They can typically be found in smaller cabins that accomodate more than 2 passengers.
purser
The officer onboard who serves as a financial or administrative manager for guest services.

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Q

quad
A cabin that will accommodate four passengers.

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R

repositioning cruise, repo cruise
A one-way itinerary that brings a ship from one region to another, this typically occurs at the change of the cruise seasons.
roll
The side-to-side movement of the ship.
roll call
A group of people who chat online before a cruise, and may have some gatherings set up once on board. A roll call may be set up for your cruise by yourself or other cruise passengers.

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S

sailaway
The period of time that your Cruise Ship actually sails away from the shore. Often there will be a Sailaway party, typically located on the top deck.
screw
The ship's propeller.
sea day
A full day at sea when your cruise ship is not visiting a port.
second seating
The later of two meal servings (dinner seatings) in the ship's main dining room-also referred to as the late seating.
single occupancy
Refers to cruising solo. A cruise fare is typically based on double occupancy. When cruising solo, most of the time you’ll be paying a single occupancy rate, which can be almost the same as the cost of 2 people in a cabin, except you won’t pay double taxes.
single supplement
An extra charge solo travelers pay to have just one person in a cabin. See single occupancy.
sister ships
Ships built of the same design-sometimes referred to as ships owned and operated by the same cruise line.
shore excursion
A tour or guided activity in which guests participate while ashore.
stabilizer
A retractable arm located below the waterline mid-ship, which can be extended to help reduce the ship's roll in rough sea conditions.
starboard
The right side of the ship when facing forward.
stateroom
A cabin.
stern
The back end of the ship.
suite
The largest class of stateroom; features separate living and sleeping areas.

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T

TA
Is short for travel agent.
tender
A small boat used to transport passengers from the ship to the shore. Tenders are used when the harbor is not deep enough for the ship to dock. Also can be used as a verb; i.e. we tendered to shore in Saint John.
transfer
Transportation from the airport or a hotel to the ship and vice versa.
triple
A cabin that will accommodate three passengers.

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U

underway
The act of sailing
upgrade
A change in cabin assignment to a better category.
upper berth
A bed similar to a bunk bed, often folded or recessed into the wall or ceiling.

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V

verandah
A private balcony adjacent to the ship's stateroom (cabin).

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W

wake
The track left in the water at the stern created by a moving ship.
windward
The side of the ship against which the wind is blowing.
world cruise
A three- to four-month-long cruise that sails around the world; guests can choose to cruise the entire time or just on select one-way segments.

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X

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Y

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Z

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Page last updated: Sat Jul 16, 2022
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