You can usually spot first-time cruisers by the terminology they use to describe various features and locations around the ship. Even many experienced cruisers will make the mistake of referring to a specific deck as a “floor” [ships have decks, hotels have floors].
The bow of a cruise ship with several lines securing the ship against a pier.
To help you avoid such cruise “rookie” mistakes, here’s a short glossary of terms designed to guide you around the ship and enhance your overall cruise experience.
Aft—The rear one-third portion of the ship toward the stern.
Bow—The front portion of a ship where sides of the vessel come together at a point that cuts easily through the water.
Bridge—The command control center of the ship staffed by the ship’s captain and other officers; off-limits to guests for safety and security reasons.
Disembarkation—Leaving the ship at the end of a cruise.
Embarkation—The act of boarding a ship usually at the beginning of a cruise.
Forward or Fore—The one-third portion of the ship toward the bow.
Galley—The ship’s kitchen.
Gangway—A temporary bridge walkway placed between the ship and pier to allow guests to walk off and on the ship while in port.
Lines—Usually made of heavy duty rope with a loop on the end and used to secure the ship against a pier. Never refer to lines as ropes.
Mid-Ship—The center one-third portion of the ship.
Port Side—The left side of the ship when you are facing forward. Traditionally, ships dock against the port side but occasionally ships dock on the other side depending upon local port circumstances.
Tender—A small boat, usually a lifeboat, used to ferry guests ashore and back when harbor or shore-side conditions do not permit your ship to tie up at the dock.
Safety Drill—A mandatory muster drill with safety instructions required by international maritime law before a ship gets underway at the beginning of a cruise.
Starboard Side—The right side of the ship when you are facing forward.
Stateroom—Onboard guest accommodations, also known as a cabin.
Stern—The rear of the ship usually rounded or tapered inward on upper decks, also known as the “fantail”.