Cruise Ship Lingo: Knowing Cruise Terminology



Going on a cruise can feel like stepping into a strange foreign land with a whole new language to learn and decode. English is the most commonly used language on board, but the cruise ship terminology and jargon used can prevent you from deciphering what we are talking about.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to understand this foreign language. This quick guide with cruising tips will help you navigate those foreign terms and familiarize you with the lingo before you board. Read on to navigate confidently in the Language of the Seven Seas.

Cruise ship conditions

Rear / front: The stern of a ship is called aft, while the front of the ship is called front.

Atrium: This is a multi-deck area of ​​a cruise ship located in the central part of the ship, close to shops, cafes, and elevators. The atrium can be any length and ranges from two to ten decks in height.

Bow to stern: The very front of the ship is called the bow. The bow has been designed so that it slides easily in the water. The shape a bow takes is determined by the type of boat or vessel, the speed of the vessel, and the type of water it needs to navigate.

The stern is aft of the ship or boat and is located at the opposite end of the bow, the front of the ship. It refers to the area that is built around the sternpost, the main vertical post at the aft end of a ship.

Bridge: The deck is the area from which the captain directs and steers the ship and from which the ship is commanded.

Photo credit: Ceri Breeze /

Crossing: A crossing refers to the journey that a ship makes on water to reach a particular destination.

Deck plan: Deck plan refers to plans showing the type of cabins located on each deck of a cruise ship, as well as other facilities and rooms on deck, including elevators, shops, restaurants, and theaters.

Departure port: This is the port or point from which your cruise begins and ends.

Gallley: The galley is the location of the ship’s galley. Cruise ships usually have many kitchens due to the large number of meals they have to prepare on a daily basis.

Corridor: The ramp that you will use to enter the ship as well as to disembark.

Tips: These monetary amounts are an expression of thanks from passengers for the service they received throughout a cruise. Tips for groups are usually included with the passenger’s final payment.

shell: The hull is the exterior of the ship.

Keel: It is the middle and central part of a ship that extends from the bow to the stern.

Lido Bridge: “Lido” refers to the beach in Italian and the lido deck on a ship encompasses the deck which has pools and bars. Much of the pool activity-based programming takes place on this deck and it is one of the highest decks on the ship.

Open places: This refers to being able to sit anywhere there are unoccupied stories in the ship’s dining rooms. It is an alternative seating arrangement to fixed dining table arrangements.

Harbor: This is the left side of the ship seen from the forward perspective of the ship. The left side and the port side of the ship both mean the same thing.

Port of call: A stopover refers to one of the destinations on a cruise where you will most likely be able to disembark and take shore excursions.

Port expenses: Each port of call you arrive at on your cruise will collect a fee based on local taxes and charges. These charges usually come as additional cruise expenses, as cruise lines typically don’t charge port expenses and other taxes.

Portholes: These are the circular windows in the cabins of ships.

Porthole cruise ship cabin
All pictures by: Melissa Mayntz

Walk: The boardwalk is the open area that runs the full length of either side of a cruise ship. Some ships have decks that completely encircle the ship.

Repositioning cruise: A repositioning cruise occurs when a cruise ship has to move from one part of the world to another. These cruises often occur with a change of seasons and are also often economically priced.

Simple supplement: This is an additional amount that is charged as cruise rates are based on double occupancy. Some cruise ships may charge double the fare for a single fare, while others have a few single cabins available which will cost single travelers the same as double occupancy rates.

Starboard: Starboard refers to the right side of the vessel when viewed from the forward facing position of the vessel.

Thruster: It is a propulsion device that is mounted on the bow or stern of a ship. They are smaller than the ship’s propellers and allow greater maneuverability at low speeds, making mooring easier. Large vessels may have a number of bow and stern thrusters.

Read also: Port and starboard: which side is which?

Cruise ship catering conditions

Casual Cruise: This is the term used for the dress code for dinner most nights aboard a cruise ship. Men can wear casual clothes such as pants, jeans, dress shorts, and sports shirts. Women can wear casual dresses, pants, capri pants as well as dress jeans.

Elegant Cruise: On these nights, passengers are advised to wear more formal clothing such as dress pants, dress shirts and men’s sports coats. Women should wear more formal cocktail dresses, skirts and pantsuits.

Formal evening: On longer cruises there will be at least two dress evenings. This involves wearing formal suits or tuxedos for men and evening dresses for women. This dress code is not an absolute requirement although it is appreciated.

Cruise Ship Lingo: Knowing Cruise Terminology



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