Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- 30 Cruise Lingo Terms and What They Mean
- Cabin Steward
- Crew Members
- Cruise Card
- Cruise Director
- Cruise Keycard
- Cruise Ship
- Deck Plan
- Lido Deck
- Muster Drill
- Muster Station
- Nautical Mile
- Onboard Credit
- Open Seating
- Port of Call
- Final Thought on Cruise Lingo
If you are planning to sail the high seas on an upcoming cruise vacation, it is good to know some basic cruise lingo to help you navigate your journey before your first cruise. While it may seem like a small thing, it may help you find your cabin on the aft starboard side of the ship. Or, it may help you know what the Cruise Director is talking about when he or she directs you to a fun activity. So before you head off to the Caribbean, be sure to peruse this post so you have all the cruise lingo you need before you hit the lido deck.
My family and I love taking cruise vacations. We have been on the Disney Cruise Line several times, both before having kids and with kids. But prior to that, we have also taken Caribbean cruises on Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruiseline. As a child who grew up in the 80’s I had heard about a Cruise Director and lido deck many times on “The Love Boat.” But to finally see a real purser in person and peek out a porthole for real was so exciting.
Having knowledge of the right cruise lingo is important for first-time cruisers. Not only will it help you navigate the ship, but it is critical for your safety!
Join our NEW Facebook Community: Making Travel Easier. We promise to always tell you what we would tell our best friend -- what works for kids, what doesn’t and what you need to know before you go to have the Best. Family. Vacation. Ever. Our group of travel experts are ready to answer your travel questions!
Knowing where your muster station is and participating in a muster drill on the first day is important in case there is an emergency. But not to worry! This post will give you everything you need to ensure you know the front of the ship from the back of the ship, and the starboard side from the port side before you ever set foot on the gangway.
30 Cruise Lingo Terms and What They Mean
Before you are welcomed aboard to your first cruise, be sure and review these cruise lingo terms. You’ll be talking the talk and walking the walk (even if the ship is listing) in no time!
The area to the back of the ship is called the aft. I try to remember it by thinking of the word “after.”
The atrium is the interior, usually multi-deck, open area of a ship. Usually, atriums a central area near shops, guest services, coffee shops, etc. Often this area is used as gathering for photos before or after a meal.
This is where the Captain and his crew member officers sit to manage the operational control center and navigation of the ship.
This is typically an assigned person who is in charge of tidying up your stateroom or providing you with anything you need. As gratuities are not included in the cruise fare, it is good to know who is your cabin steward team and your dining team is, so you can provide gratuities to these crew members at the end of your trip.
These are the staff who work on the ship. They can be officers or any staff member that helps operate the ship.
This is important cruise lingo to know! A cruise card is your identification card used on most cruise ships. This is something you need usually to scan before you disembark and when you embark on the ship, as it is how the crew members make sure they have all of the cruise passengers on board before they leave a port of call.
This is typically the managing crew member of all of the entertainment. Often this person emcees evening shows, gives updates over the intercom to tell about shore excursions and the person in charge of creating fun, entertaining activities on the cruise ship!
This is your all-purpose card for both entering your stateroom and for making any additional charges while on the cruise. Extras like shore excursions, specialty drinks and store purchases can be charged to your onboard account using your keycard.
To begin with, you are crossing the gangplank onto a cruise SHIP – not a boat. This one is important, especially if you don’t want to see crew members wince or shudder when you ask them where to find something on the boat ship. Ok, so they may not actually wince or roll their eyes or do anything obvious (other than providing exceptional service, of course), but I’m sure that they are probably doing so on the inside.
This is like a directory of the ship. Often these are located on each floor and the walls throughout the ship, so you can navigate your way around to staterooms, the lido deck, restaurants and other areas you need to go.
This is when you get off the ship when you get to a port of call.
This is when you get on the ship either at the start of your cruise or after visiting a port of call.
This is the front of the cruise ship (where it comes to a point.) The point is the bow of the ship.
This is the bridge or walkway that connects the cruise ship to the land. If you are getting off at ports of call in different countries, this is often where your passport will be checked before stepping onto the gangway and upon returning to the ship, and where you will go through a security screening after crossing the gangway on your return to the ship.
This is used to describe downwind or away from the wind. This may be important if the Captain updates any weather-related issues that could impact the journey.
This is an important place to know as it is where the swimming pools and outdoor restaurants and bars are located! Usually, it is a good place for enjoying the day during a sea day or even went the other guests are taking part in shore excursions!
The midship is the area in the middle of the ship.
This is basically the safety drill. It is a requirement for every passenger to report to their muster station for a run-through of the muster drill on the first day on the ship. It is usually to show you where the lifeboats are, and any important information you may need to know should cruise passengers need to utilize the lifeboats.
This is really important cruise lingo to know! Usually on the first day of your cruise, after embarkation, you are required to go to your assigned muster station, depending on where your stateroom is located. The crew members usually take roll calls. This is a practice safety drill so you know where to go and what to do should there be an emergency on the cruise ship.
A nautical mile is a unit of measure for cruise ships at sea. It is 6080 feet for one nautical mile. The speed at sea is measured in knots, a knot being one nautical mile per hour. You may hear these terms from the Captain when he gives an announcement for how far the ship is from its next port of call.
This is when you have “money to spend” on the ship. Sometimes when you purchase your cruise or as an incentive to buy something while on the cruise, you may be offered “onboard credit” toward your purchases or charges accumulated while onboard.
In the past, most cruise ships had traditional seating which meant you were assigned a main dining room and table number, with an assigned time for dinner (either the first seating or second seating.) Often you sat with the same passengers each evening for dinner. But some cruise lines, like Norwegian, began using open seating. If you see this cruise lingo, it means that you have the freedom to attend dinner in the Main Dining Room any time between dinner hours. And, like a restaurant, you tell them how many are in your party and they find you a table. Other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise line have adopted something similar, though the names for open seating may differ.
Port of Call
This is the area a ship stops when on a voyage. The number of ports of call depends on the cruise itinerary, how far it is going and how many days it is. For example, on a three-day Disney cruise, you may have two ports of call. On a seven-day cruise to Alaska on Norwegian Cruise Line, you may have four days where you visit a port of call and one or two sea days.
The port side is the left side of the ship. The word “port” is also used to describe where the ship parks.
This cruise lingo is typically describing the head crew member who keeps smooth running of the operations of the ship. While the Captain is the main boss of the cruise ship and the one in charge of driving it, the purser is like the head of guest services.
If you are looking for the right side of the ship, it is the starboard side. I’ve heard a few tips on how to best remember these – easiest for me was to note that the words ‘port’ and ‘left’ both have four letters each and both end with the letter ‘T’, leaving ‘starboard’ to be the right side by process of elimination.
Since both sides of the ship tend to look identical on decks where the staterooms are located, remembering if yours is on the port or starboard side is definitely helpful.
The stateroom is your “hotel room” on the ship. It is where you sleep and can also be called a cabin. Some staterooms have an ocean view, and others just have a porthole. Some cruise ships are internal without any ocean view at all, but these tend to save passengers money on cruise fare.
This essentially means something happening on a trip. So, for example, if a cruise line has its own island, as Disney Cruise Line has Cast Away Cay, an activity or event could happen on the island or it may be a shipboard activity.
Now if you have a stateroom with one, you may already know that what you’re sitting on a veranda enjoying the ocean view. But it’s not a balcony! Why? I’m not sure – but that’s what it’s called on a cruise ship. However, I do know that it’s my absolute favorite place ever to enjoy breakfast or watch the stars at night.
TravelingMom Tip: Verandas are great for enjoying the outside when on Caribbean cruises or a cruise to Alaska. But they do add a bit of extra cost to your cruise fare.
This is facing the wind. The Captain may mention a part of the ship that is the windward side.
Final Thought on Cruise Lingo
It is important to know some basic cruise lingo before coming aboard a cruise ship, both to make your sail go smoother and also for your safety! I hope this cruise lingo guide will help you first-time cruisers navigate your way around your cruise ship.