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    12 Common Cruise Terms For Newbie Cruisers


    For your first cruise, you might want to brush up on the lingo. It isn’t necessary but sometimes it just makes you feel a little better when you know what everyone is talking about aboard the ship. From aft to windward, we’ve got you covered.

    Bow – This term refers to the very front of a ship. Think of the famous “Titanic” scene where Leonardo DiCaprio shouts, “I’m the king of the world!”

    Stern – This is the back of the boat or ship.

    Aft – Here’s where it can get confusing. Aft means towards the back or towards the stern. So, the stern is the place (noun) and aft is a description or a direction. The sailor is at the stern. The sailor was told to stow the luggage aft.

    Gangway – This is the bridge that passengers walk on to get onto the ship when they first arrive. In the movies, pirates were often depicted as having a shorter version and demanding people walk the gangplank.

    Bridge – Why didn’t they just call the gangway a bridge, you ask? Simple. The bridge is the name for the captain’s area. It’s the place where he and his crew take care of all the navigational aspects of the cruise ship. His (or her) cockpit, if you will.

    Embark/Disembark – Chances are you will get on and off the ship many times throughout the duration of your cruise. The proper terminology is to embark (get on) or to disembark (to get off).

    Fluke –Usually a fluke is known as chance happening or something good that happens by accident. On a cruise ship, however, a fluke means something much different; it is the point of an anchor that catches the ground when the anchor is deployed, particularly the pointy tips on each arm.

    Port – This means the left side of the ship as you face forward (towards the bow – see #1). It also can be a stop along the cruise – as in, “We docked at the port in Mexico.”

    Starboard – The opposite of port, this means the right side of the ship as you face forward.

    Leeward – Here’s where it gets confusing to land-lubbers again. Leeward is the side of the ship that is facing away from the wind. It could be port or starboard.

    Windward – Take a guess ... That’s right. Windward means the side of the ship where the wind is blowing.

    Knots – This is not referring to the knots on a rope but rather the speed at which your cruise ship is traveling. The proper mathematical definition is how many nautical miles a ship can travel in an hour. A nautical mile is just over 6,000 feet or 1,800 meters. If you don’t want to remember all that just remember not to ask the captain about mph over dinner.

    Study this list. Learn the lingo. If you do your homework, you won’t feel like such a newbie. In fact, you might be able to teach a seasoned cruiser a thing or two.

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    Great list, Jason! Thanks very much for posting.

    One thing that helped me to remember the difference between port and starboard is that port has four letters, and so does left. The port side is the left side. Hopefully that helps :)

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