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Useful Glossary to Understand the Language of Cruisers

Aft: Near, toward, or in the rear (stern) of the ship.

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

Alternative Dining: A dining option offered in addition to the ships main dining room. Venues are specialty or themed restaurants, reservations are often required, and additional charges may apply.

Atrium: An interior, multi-deck, open area of a ship that typically is centrally located near elevators, shops, cafes, and guest services.

Balcony Cabin (Veranda Cabin): A cabin accommodation with a private, exterior balcony.

Berth: The dock or pier where you embark or disembark from. Also used by cruise lines to refer to each passenger bed.

Bow: Toward or in front the ship.

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

Course: The direction the ship is headed, typically expressed in compass degrees.

Cruise Card: Credit card-sized personal ID card given to each passenger to charge shipboard purchases, use as their cabin key card, and use to embark and debark the ship.

Cruise Director: The onboard staff member in charge of all entertainment and social events.

Debarkation/Disembarkation: Exiting the ship.

Deck Plan: A diagram that illustrates cabin and public room locations.

Dry Dock: A vessels maintenance period when a ship enters a dry dock to maintain its underwater hull and to undergo onboard refurbishments.

Embarkation: Boarding the ship.

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

First Seating: In ships with traditional or “fixed” seating, the earlier of the two evening meal times in the main dining room- usually around 6:30pm.

French Balcony: A large window with a sliding door that opens to a shallow balcony and railing. Usually found on riverboats or added to ships post-construction.

Galley: The ships kitchen.

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

GRT: Gross registered tonage. Generally referred to as the ships “size”.

Homeport: The port in which a ship is based and sails from.

Inside Cabin: An interior cabin with no windows.

Keel: The ships “backbone” which extends underneath from bow to stern.

Knot: A unit of speed equal to one nautical mile.

Lido: The deck that features the main swimming pool and often bars and eateries.

Maiden Voyage: The ships first passenger sailing.

Midship: In or toward the middle of the ship.

Muster Station: The location where groups of passenger are asked to report in the event of an emergency (or, during a mustard drill.)

Muster Drill: All passengers must participate in this departure day drill in which passengers and crewmembers go to an assigned muster station at a set time where they are given instructions about emergency procedures. (Also referred to as a Lifeboat Drill.)

Nautical Mile: 6,076 feet (versus a land mile of 5,280feet)

Open Seating: Open access to tables in the ships dining room, as opposed to specific table assignments. An alternative to the traditional fixed dining style.

Outside cabins: A cabin with a window or porthole that offers an exterior view of the ocean or river.

Panamax: The Panama Canal permits ships no wider that approximately 110 feet or longer than 965 feet to transit. Ships that are under this maximum size are referred to as “Panamax” ships. “Post-Panamax: refers to ships that are too large to pass through the canal.

Port: The left side of the ship as you face forward.

Promenade: Usually an open walkway that transverses the ship, whether encircling it or running through the center.

Purser: The onboard staff member in charge of passengers shipboard accounts and guest relations.

Registry: The country where a ship is registered. The ship and its crew are obliged to comply with that country’s registry laws.

Repositioning: Cruises that essentially move a ship from one homeport to another when changing its itinerary.

Second Seating: In ships with traditional or “fixed” seating, the later of the two evening meal times in the main dining room- usually around 8:30pm.

Shipboard Account: A passenger account that keeps track of onboard purchases, shore excursions, gratuities, and other extras that is settled at the end of the cruise.

Shore Excursions: On-shore tours and activities at ports of call.

Single Occupancy: Solo occupancy of a cabin that is designed to accommodate two or more passengers, in which a premium is typically charged.

Starboard: The right side of the ship as you face forward.

Tender: A small vessel used to transfer passengers between the ship and shore when the ship is ata anchor.

Upper & Lower Berths: Bunkbeds

Veranda Cabin (Balcony Cabin): A cabin accommodation with a private, exterior balcony.

Cruise Ship Passenger Resources
Maritime Blog Cruise Brett Rivkind is dedicated to bringing boaters and cruisers the latest industry news and informative articles. In his blog, Mr. Rivkind shares his vast knowledge and experience in the maritime legal field, reporting on cruise ship and boating law issues.
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