Be a Savvy Sailor with Our Glossary of Cruise Terms

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From the incredible destinations and seemingly endless food, to the entertainment and on-board services — we’d wager you know lots about the joys of cruising. But what, if anything, do you know about sailing, seafaring and actual cruise ships?

Before you set sail on your next cruise break, why not brush up on your seamanship by casting your eye over our glossary of cruise terms?

A

About

To turn the ship around and sail in a different direction 

Abreast

To be alongside something, usually used to refer to a dock or other ship 

Add-on

An additional charge for a service or product not included in the overall cruise fee 

Aft

The rear section of the ship

Air/Sea package

A cruise package which includes airfare and transfers

All hands

All of the crew members aboard the ship, including the entertainment team and the captain

Amidships

The middle of the ship

Astern

Towards the back of the ship (aft), or something directly behind the ship

B

Beam

The width of the ship at its widest point, usually taken at the very middle point of the vessel

Bearing

The direction in which the ship is sailing, traditionally expressed in degrees using a compass

Berth

Can refer to where the ship docks when it reaches a port, or else a bed aboard the ship itself

Bow

The front section of the ship

 bow cruise

Bridge

A designated room at the front of the ship (bow) where the captain and his immediate crew control the navigation, bearing and speed of the ship

Bulkhead

A wall or other vertical structure within the interior of the ship

Buoy

A navigational way marker cast at sea to help ships negotiate channels or other elements below the waterline

C

Cast off

To release a ship or boat from its moorings

Category

Refers to the level of amenities and additional luxuries contained in a cabin, as well as its size and location

Channel

The deepest part of a river or harbour, in which most cruise ships usually sail close to shore 

Companionway

An interior stairwell connecting different decks of the ship

Course

Refers to the overall navigational route of the ship as it travels from one port to the next

D

Davit

A mechanical structure used to hoist lifeboats from the side of the ship into the water

Debark

To leave the ship and go ashore

Deck

A floor/level of the ship

Disembark

To leave the ship and go ashore 

Draft

Refers to the depth of water required for a specific ship to travel safely without touching the ocean floor

E

Embark

To come aboard the ship from dry-land

F

Fantail

The overhang at the rear of a ship, which is normally shaped like a duck’s bill

Fathom

A unit used to measure water depth (one fathom=six feet)

Fore

The section of the ship near the front (bow)

Funnel

Refers to a ship’s engine smokestack

G

Galley

The main kitchen of the ship

Gangway

A ramp used to gain entry to the ship from dry land

Gross registered ton

Used to measure interior passenger space, normally in cabins, showrooms, lounges and dining rooms

H

Hand

An individual member of the ship’s crew 

Head

A public toilet or bathroom aboard the ship

Helm

The ship’s steering equipment, always located in the bridge

Hold

A designated cargo area, normally located towards the bottom of the ship

Hull

The exterior shell of the ship from the main deck to the keel

I

Inside cabin

A cabin/stateroom located inside the ship, with no access to exterior windows or a balcony

K

Keel

Often referred to as the ship’s backbone; a structure which runs lengthways from the front to the back of the vessel

Knot

A unit used to express the ship’s current speed (one knot = one nautical mile per hour)

knut

L

League

A unit of measurement used to express how far a ship has travelled/must travel (one league = 3.45 nautical miles)

Leeward

The side of the ship, or the side of an island, which is sheltered from the prevailing wind

Lines

Ropes used to moor the ship to the dock during a port call

M

Maiden call

The first time a ship visits a specific port

Master

Refers to the captain of the ship

Moor

To attach and hold the ship in place during a port call

Muster

The act of assembling the ship’s crew and passengers

Muster Station

Also known as Muster Point; the place where the crew and passengers should assemble during the muster

N

Nautical mile

Equal to 6,076 feet, or exactly one-sixtieth of the earth’s total circumference

O

Open seating

A dining area in which no set seat arrangement is in place

Outside Cabin

A cabin located on the outside section of the ship, normally with access to a window, porthole, veranda or balcony

P

Passageway

A hallway in the internal section of the ship

Passenger space ratio

The total ratio of space enjoyed by the passengers aboard

Passenger to crew ratio

The number of passengers on board a ship compared to the number of crew

Pitch

The forward and backward motion of a ship as it travels forwards over the waves

Porthole

A small window in the side of the ship, usually round in shape

 porthole

Promenade

An exterior deck at the top of the ship, normally used for walking, jogging and other recreational activities

Purser

The crewman in charge of financial and administrative guest services aboard a ship

Q

Quad

A cabin which can accommodate four guests

R

Repositioning cruise

An affordable cruise taken when a ship is relocating from one destination to another, normally after the end of a season

Roll

The side-to-side motion of a ship as it travels forward across the waves

S

Screw

The rear propeller/s of a ship

Stabiliser

A mechanical arm located below the waterline, which can be deployed to help stabilise the ship and reduce its roll in poor weather conditions

Starboard

The right section of the ship when the vessel is facing forward

Stateroom

Refers to a cabin aboard a ship

Stern

The rear section of the ship

Suite

A large category of stateroom, normally with its own separate living and sleeping areas

T

Tender

A small boat used to transport passengers between the ship and dry land. Cruise lines deploy tenders when the ship cannot enter a port due to shallow water

Triple

A cabin which accommodates three passengers

U

Underway

The start of a cruise; when a ship begins to move forwards on its course

Upper Berth

Refers to a cabin or bunk bed within a stateroom

V

Verandah

An exterior balcony attached to an outside stateroom

W 

Wake

The visible track left at the rear of a ship as it travels across the surface of the water

Windward

The side of the ship exposed to the prevailing wind

Ready to set sail atop the open seas? Get yourself over to the Cruise1st Australia homepage, or call us on 1300 857 345.

Image credits: Cristeen Quezon, Curtis & Renee, John Ashley, Richard

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About Author

Alyssa Beit

Alyssa lives in Sydney, NSW. Born on the 14th October and is a Social and Human Service Assistant at Cruise 1st Australia. She is in her early 40’s and loves tranquility on luxury cruises.

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