If you’ve never cruised before, the language of the seas can often confuse you! But not to worry – Mr Cruise has compiled an A-Z list of some of the most common cruising terms you’re likely to come across. You’ll be a pro-sailer in no time!


The back of the ship.


The central passenger area on a cruise ship, similar to a hotel’s lobby. Here you’ll usually find the reception desk and purser’s desk.


The width of the ship at its widest point.


The compass direction from a ship to a particular destination, in degrees.


The bed in your cabin. Also refers to the dock or quay where a cruise ship ties up to the shore.


The front of the ship.


The elevated platform where the captain steers and navigates the ship.


A floating object in the sea used for marking a channel or highlighting a hazard, for example a reef. Smaller vessels can also be moored or tied to a buoy.

Cast off

To release a ship for its mooring.

Coastal Cruise

A cruise that stays close to dry land.


The direction in which a ship is heading.

Cruise Director

The crew member who is responsible for all the ship’s activities and entertainment. Often acts as the emcee at events.


The floor of the ship. A deck plan will show passengers what they can find on each floor of the ship.


The process of leaving a cruise ship at the end of the voyage.


The process of boarding a cruise ship at the start of the voyage.

Expedition Cruise

A cruise usually on a small ship, often with an ice-strengthened hull, which takes passengers off the beaten track. Hosted by expedition leaders and expert lecturers. Also known as an adventure cruise.


A number of ships operating under the same ownership.


The kitchen on a ship.


The ramp or staircase from the ship to the quay or pier used by passengers to get on and off the ship.


A tip.


The outside shell of a ship from the main deck down to the keel.


The outside shell of a ship from the main deck down to the keel.

Inaugural Cruise

A cruise on a refurbished or reconstructed ship.


The schedule of destinations and days at sea on your cruise.


The main structure of a ship that extends lengthwise along the centre of the ship’s bottom.


A unit of speed equivalent to one nautical mile per hour.


The deck of a cruise ship with outdoor pools.


The midpoint of the ship.

Muster Drill

A lifeboat safety drill where all passengers must follow instructions and learn what to do in an emergency. A muster station is the location where passengers must gather.

Nautical Mile

A unit used in measuring distances at sea, equivalent to 1,852 metres or 6,076 feet.

Open Seating

When no fixed time or fixed seating arrangement is given for dining.


The left side of the ship when facing forward, marked by a red light. Easy to remember as the words ‘port’ and ‘left’ both have four letters.


A round window on a ship.

Repositional Cruise

A one-way cruise that beings and ends in different ports as a ship moves from one cruising region of the world to another.

River Cruise

As it says on the tin – a cruise along a river!


The movement of a ship when it sways side to side. Rarely experienced on large cruise ships.

Sail Cruise

A cruise aboard a sailing ship with masts and sails.

Sea Day

A day where the ship stays out at sea and does not visit a port.

Single Supplement

As cruise fares are based on double occupancy, travelling solo may incur an additional cost.


The right side of the ship when facing forward, marked by a green light.


Another word for cabin.


The very back of a ship.


A small boat that transports passengers from a cruise ship to the shore when the ship is unable to dock at a quay or berth and is therefore anchored in a harbour. Also refers to the ship’s lifeboats.


The trail of waves at the stern of the ship created as the ship moves forward.


The side of the ship facing the wind.

Ready to put your knowledge to the test?

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