Cruise Terminology FAQs



So you are off on your first cruise vacation. Familiarize yourself with some cruise terminology so you are not all at sea on the ship! Always refer to your ship in the female gender 'she' and remember it is anathema to refer to her as 'boat'. Here's a list to get you started:

Aft: the back portion of the ship

All hands: all the crew members

Amidships: the center part of the ship

Astern: the back portion of the ship or behind the ship

Beam: the widest part of the ship normally in the central part of the ship

Berth: can be a bed or the place where the ship is docked in a port

Bow: the front portion of the ship

Bridge: the location from where the captain controls the ship

Buoy: a marker at sea that serves as a landmark, normally when entering a port

Cabin: a room for the passenger on board the ship, also called a stateroom

Cruise Director: the person in charge of all the entertainment at sea

Debark: go ashore

Disembark: to leave the ship and go ashore

Deck: location of a floor level on the ship

Dock: to come to a port and tie up alongside

Embark: to go on board a ship

First seating: a dinner seating in the main dining room. Normally at around 6 pm. This is also called Main seating

Fleet: the number of ships in the company

FlowRider: on board Royal Caribbean ships -this is a surf simulator

Forward: the front portion of the ship

Galley: a ship's kitchen

Gangway: a ramp that is used to get from the shore to the ship while it is alongside

Guarantee cabin: while reserving a guarantee cabin, you will get the cabin category you have paid for at a lower than normal price, but you will not be assigned the cabin number or the deck at that time. The details of deck and cabin will be disclosed to you a few days before the sail date

Hand: a crew member

Head: a bathroom

Inside cabin: a cabin that does not have a window, porthole or balcony

Knot: a measurement of the ship's speed. One nautical mile per hour is equal to one knot.

Maiden voyage: the first sailing of a ship

Master: the captain of the ship

Muster Drill: an exercise conducted onboard the ship whereby the passengers are advised where they are to assemble, safety instructions regarding life jackets and life boats, in case of an emergency at sea. This is a mandatory drill that is conducted on board all cruise ships.

Muster station: is the location or area to assemble in case of emergency

Ocean view cabin: an outside cabin that has a fixed window

Pitch: the forward and backward movement of the ship as it moves

Porthole: a round window that is fixed in the cabin

Purser: an officer aboard the ship who serves as manager for guest queries and services

Quad: a cabin that can accommodate four persons

Roll: the ship's side to side movement at sea

Second seating: is the later of the two dinner seatings on board a ship

Shore excursion: is a guided tour of the destination/activity a guest can go on when the ship is docked at a port

Starboard: the right side of the ship

Stateroom: is another term for a cabin on the ship

Stern: is the back or rear portion of the ship

Suite: refers to the largest category of cabin on the ship and normally includes living and sleeping areas

Tender: a small ship/boat that transports passengers to the shore if the ship is anchored at sea and not docked alongside. This is common practice when the harbor is not deep enough for the ship

Triple cabin: is a cabin that can accommodate three guests

Veranda: is the private balcony attached to the cabin