Terminologies and Words you should familiarize with when you’re on board the cruise ship

As soon as you board the ship, everything suddenly becomes nautical and for a first timer, it might take days, or even the whole trip to at least know what these officers and crew members are talking about.

This photo was taken while we were sailing through the inside passage of The Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska. View from the open deck.

I have written down some of the common words you will encounter when you get on board a cruise ship. Very few terminologies might differ depending on the cruise company – usually in the hotel side.


  1. Port/Starboard side – This terminology, I would say, is one of the most important words that you should remember. Port side means the left side of the ship and Starboard side means the right side of the ship. When you ask for directions, crew members and officers will always refer to left as port and right as starboard. You will hear them use these words in most announcements such as which side to look when there is sighting of whales etc.


  1. Forward and Aft – Another important terminologies. Forward (obviously) means the direction towards the front of the ship and Aft means towards the back of the ship. Now these words and the ones above are the popular ones as you will definitely need to know the directions around the ship and whenever you ask for one, you will be hearing these. Like for example, during port days you will hear announcements such as.. “For those who wishes to get off the ship, Gangway is located Forward, Starboard side.”


  1. Bow – the very front of the ship. You know, where Jack and Rose from Titanic had their moment. But please don’t do that on a cruise ship. You’ll probably get a warning, or worse, they will ask you to disembark the ship and that is totally a bummer! Good luck!


  1. Stern – Back part of the ship. Nothing special. Oh but if you like staring at the sea water being pushed by the propeller and get lost in it because for some reason, it’s just so calming and relaxing, go ahead.


  1. Deck – It means floors, e.g. Deck 1, Deck 2, Deck 3, etc Nothing special really. It is just plain term used instead of floors. Not all Decks are labeled by numbers though. They have A Deck, B Deck and so on.


  1. Gangway – Now , you have to know what this word is otherwise you won’t be able to get in and out of the ship! It is the Entrance and Exit from the ship especially when you’re docked/anchored. You really need to pay attention to the announcements though because the gangway doesn’t stay in one place. I mean sometimes they change the location of where you can get on and off the ship so If you get off in Deck 2 and you get on in Deck 3, don’t be surprised. Due to the changes in the tide that they change the gangways. The higher the tide is, the lower they’ll set the gangway and the lower the tide is, the higher deck the gangway will be located. Always pay attention to the announcement so you don’t waste time looking for the gangway.


  1. Lido – This is one of my favorite words. This means food – well not exactly. Lido is a place where they usually serve breakfast, lunch and dinner (buffet style). This is like the casual restaurant where you can gain 1 pound per day (at least that’s what they say when you’re on a cruise!). For first timers, This is the main restaurant where you can just walk in and get stuffed! You don’t have to pay to dine here as this is included in the cruise. Some cruise ships have specialty restaurants where you will have to pay in able to dine in.


  1. Showroom/Mainstage – Basically the theatre where the shows and other presentations are held. Every night, there’s a show going on in the mainstage. Whether it’s the cast members performing or a super cool magician, special performers, and what not, this is the place where wonders and magic takes place!


  1. Cruise Director – The one in charge of the shows and programs happening on the ship. You would probably see  him walking around the ship saying hi to everyone and reminding you all about what is happening around the ship. Good guy.


  1. Tender boat – When the ship is anchored, tender boats are used to bring the passengers from and to the shore side. There are some ports that aren’t big enough to accomodate big ships. Mostly the ship will drop its anchor somewhere where I assumed is safe of course, and tender boats are used for transporting people. Sometimes it could be a bit of a struggle to board a tender boat especially when the current is a little off.


  1. Galley – The main kitchen of the ship. This is like the centralized kitchen like in hotels. All the food go through and prepared in the galley. Then brought up to its respective satellite kitchen such as the Lido and the other specialty restaurants


  1. Stateroom/Cabin Room – This is basically where passengers and crew members stay. It’s your room. Staterooms, just like in hotels, have different types. Staterooms ranges from totally closed like without windows – they call it the inside cabin – to suites with balcony. Oooh I love what you can find in the suites’ minibar!


  1. Shorex – short for Shore Excursions which means the department that deals with activities ashore. Their desks are usually found in the main lobby probably near the front office.


  1. Bridge – this is the navigation room where you will find the controls and the steering wheel of the ship! Well it’s not a big one like we usually see on pirate movies but you get what I mean. This is the working place of the captain! Whenever you hear the Cruise Director or officers or even the Captain speaking and wonder where they are, guess what? They’re speaking from the Bridge.

Now, I’ll stop right here before it gets complicated because after all, you’re on vacation! There are a lot more ship terminologies from where that came from but these are just the basics. I will let you find out the others when you get on board. Try to talk to the officers and crew members and ask them if you don’t understand some words and I absolutely sure they will be happy to enlighten you!

Happy sailing!

P.S. What other ship terminologies have you learned during your cruise? Let us know by leaving some comments! Keep us updated!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. ryazantristram says:

    Great info! This will surely come in handy when cruising. Thanks for sharing BFF.x

    Liked by 1 person

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