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Common "Cruise-Speak" for New Cruisers

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You are getting ready to book your first cruise, but don’t know your “fore” from your “aft”. Have no fear – help is here! Listed below are some common words and phrases – or “cruise-speak” – to help prevent you from sounding like a rookie when discussing cruises with your friends or browsing through the cruise forums. For instance, “On which deck is my stateroom located?” sounds much more cruise savvy than “What floor is my room on?” Some definitions are “by the book”, and others are my own personal interpretation!

  • Aft: Near, towards or at the rear (stern) of the ship.
  • Atrium: An interior, centrally located & multi-level open area of the ship
  • B2B: Short for “back-to-back” cruise, or two consecutive cruises (usually on the same ship)
  • Berth: (a) a cabin bed; (b) the dock or pier at which ship sits when in port (not to be confused with “birth”, which is what happened behind the scenes nine months after every “Love Boat” episode!
  • Bow: The front of the ship (rhymes with “cow”)
  • Bridge: The ship’s navigation and command center; also a structure used for crossing over a body of water or ripping the mast off a ship sailing beneath if said bridge is too low
  • Deck: The "floors" of the ship, connected by elevators ("lifts") or staircases
  • Document Dance: The excited creative movements your feet make when your cruise documents arrive!
  • Chair Hog: (a) a thoughtless and rude person who saves many deck chairs in the morning only to leave them totally unoccupied for the rest of the day; (b) s of the earth.
  • Drydock: a magical place where a cruise ship goes to get a makeover, eventually emerging “like new” without a blemish (or so its future passengers hope!)
  • Debarkation: Leaving your ship when the cruise is over (boo-hoooo!)
  • E-Docs: Electronic documents (as opposed to paper documents which seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur)
  • Embarkation: Boarding your ship when your cruise begins (yahoooo!!)
  • FCC: Future cruise credit – a credit toward a future cruise, usually given as an incentive to book a cruise while on board another
  • Forward: Toward the front (bow) of the ship; the direction the ship is heading (means the engines are working)
  • Galley: The ship’s kitchen where culinary magic happens
  • Gangway: (a) A ramp or steps by which passengers enter or leave the ship; (b) the place where a passenger is accosted by the ship’s photographer each and every time stepping off in port.
  • Guarantee: A type of cabin booking in which the cruise line promises accommodations in a specified category or cabin at a specific rate, and guarantees you will receive a cabin in that category or better
  • Homeport: The port in which a ship is based and most often sails from, and to which every cruiser wants to live within close proximity.
  • Inside cabin: Cabin with no window
  • Itinerary: The route the ship will travel, detailing arrival and departure times and ports visited
  • Keel: (a) The ship’s “backbone” extending underneath from bow to stern; (b) what a passenger does when receiving the bill at the end of the cruise, i.e. “keels over”.
  • Lido deck: The ship's deck consisting of swimming pools, watersides, rock-climbing wall, wave pools, ice skating rinks, movie screens and every other amusement park ride.
  • Knot: (a) A unit of speed equal to one nautical mile; (b) the way one's stomach is configured when an apprehensive individual is about to swim with stingrays for the first time
  • M.S.: (a) abbrev. for “motor ship”; (b) could also mean a "mega ship"; i.e. "Mega-mammoth of the Seas"
  • Maitre d’: Supervisor of the dining room (next to the ship’s purser, he’s the person to whom people most like to complain)
  • M&G: Meet & greet: meeting of a group of cruisers, sometimes scheduled in advance of the cruise
  • Midnight Buffet: Really? Do we need to eat more?
  • Muster drill: Mandatory practice drill whereby passengers and crew are sent to a preassigned area (muster station) and instructed in safety regulations. Thanks to Concordia, everyone now shows up, awake and alert.
  • Naughty Room: The secret place where the cruise line sends people who try to sneak booze onboard.
  • OBC/SBC: Onboard credit/shipboard credit: An amenity given by a travel agent or cruise line as an incentive to book
  • Onboard Account: A mysterious cashless system onboard a cruise ship whereby the passenger registers a credit card at the beginning of the cruise, and on the last day presented with a bill containing an absurdly large numeric figure.
  • Outside Cabin: A cabin with a window providing a view; in some cases the view is obstructed by a big orange lifeboat
  • Port: (a) The left side of the ship, facing forward; (b) the place the ship docks and the most likely place to empty your wallet © a wine which you may have while in port. Ex: “I exited the ship portside, took a taxi from port to a pub for a glass of port.”
  • Promenade: Open walkway running almost the entire length of each side of the ship, sometimes encircling the ship entirely. Or at least it used to.
  • Private balcony: A veranda that is attached to your cabin. The term “private” is debatable.
  • Purser: (a) The person in charge of onboard accounts and guest relations; (b) the crewmember passengers line up for in droves at the end of the cruise, as if he was some kind of rock star.
  • Single occupancy: Sole occupancy of a cabin designed for two or more passengers, for an absurd amount of money
  • Stabilizers: A fin-like device extending beneath the ship’s waterline from both sides of the ship to the front, making the ship more stable, and therefore, making it less likely you’ll lose your lunch.
  • Starboard: The right side of the ship, facing forward
  • Stateroom: Your cabin, ranging from the size of a teeny closet to that of an apartment
  • Stern: The rear of the ship (Aft)
  • Steward: The person who attends to your cabin; sometimes fondly referred to as “Stewart”.
  • TA: (a) Short for “Travel Agent”: The individual with whom cruisers seem to have a love/hate relationship – i.e. the TA is either loved or despised; (b) can also mean a "Transatlantic" cruise
  • Tender: (a) A small motorized vessel to move passengers from the ship to shore if the ship must anchor; (b) how your skin will feel when you’ve spent too much time baking in the Caribbean sun.
  • Upper: A single bed or bunk usually recessed into the wall during the day
  • Upper and Lower: Bunk beds
  • Towel Animal: Cute (or incredibly scary!) animal fashioned from towels by “Stewart”

There you have it. Feel free to add your own cruise-speak words!

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Here's just a couple of additions Jan......

D.O.D. : "Drink of the Day". They are drinks offered by the ship daily where you get to keep a flute type glass (for a additional fee of course) with the cruise lines logo on it. Usually some type of tropical drink. The glasses used to be actual glass but are now made of plastic. I have about 20 of these glasses from past cruises

I would also like to add for the new cruisers, the easy way to remember "Port" from " Starboard" (Left from right side of the ship) is that "Port" has the same amount of letters in it as "Left"! And remember, the "side" of the ship is determined while facing "forward"

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Good add-ons, Tim - thanks! Yes, I used to have several of the plastic barware, too. They got shuffled around the house so many times when cleaning and one day finally landed in the trash recycle bin - and I'm not sure they're recyclable - so they are probably drifting in the landfill somewhere. Needless to say, I don't waste space in my luggage for them anymore.

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I just thought of another often-seen term. "MUTS": The pet name (no reference to dogs intended) for "Movies Under the Stars" - the outdoor movie screen on Princess ships.

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