7 Cruise Words You Should Know

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When on a cruise, do as the cruisers do. The best way to do this is to learn the lingo. Your first tip: always refer to your cruise ship as a ship, not a boat. Don’t call it a boat (if you do, someone will likely correct you rather quickly).

7 Words to know before you cruise

Standing on the gangway of Quantum of the Seas.
Standing on the gangway of Quantum of the Seas.

1. Gangway. This is how you get on and off the cruise ship. It looks a lot like a ramp and that’s pretty much what it is. But, it’s very important to remember its called gangway, not gangplank. Only pirate ships have a plank for you to walk – and that doesn’t usually end well. Cruise ships are always a gangway.

Towel animal chair hogs about Carnival Sunshine.
Towel animal chair hogs about Carnival Sunshine.

2. Chair Hog. These selfish creatures hog all of the deck chairs near popular pool and outdoor areas. If you’re heading up to soak up some sun and relax, you might find it difficult to find an open chair because of chair hogs. They’ll get up early and ‘save’ chairs for everyone in their traveling party with a random flip flop, beach towel or tawdry romance novel and then not come back to use said chair for hours and hours. Fortunately, cruise lines are starting to crack down and monitor just how long a chair is occupied with only a beach towel.

Forward part of Carnival Liberty.
Forward is the front of the ship.

3. Forward. Here’s a quick tip to remember this one. Forward = Front. In your ship’s guide, you’ll see lots of directions like this: 3, Forward or Lido, Forward. Forward is just fancy ship’s speak for the front of the ship.

4. Aft. So, if forward is the front of the ship, then aft is the … back of the ship! It’s another important direction to know as it’s also be used to describe the location of lounges, restaurants, clubs and other ship’s amenities. 


5. Muster Station. On my first cruise, this word made absolutely no sense to me. I still don’t exactly know why it’s called a muster station, but I know the purpose. It’s where you would gather in the unlikely event of an emergency (this is where the lifeboats would be lowered). You’ll visit your muster station on your first day on the ship to become acquainted with the location and the ship’s emergency procedures.

Embarking Carnival Liberty.
Embarking Carnival Liberty.

6. Embark. Embark means to get on the ship. Basically, to board a ship. When you arrive at the cruise terminal, you’re embarking on the ship. Those working on the ship and in the cruise terminal refer to it as Embark/Debark Day (Debark means to leave the ship – it’s usually a much sadder day than Embark).

Balcony stateroom.
Balcony stateroom.

7. Verandah. When is a balcony not a balcony? When it’s on a cruise ship. You’re far more likely to hear the term verandah than balcony when sailing at sea. This could be used to refer to your private balcony or a larger, public deck. But, haven’t you always wanted to take breakfast on your own private verandah? Now, you can.

What cruise words were new to you on your first cruise? Which ones do you think are the hardest to remember the true meaning?

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By Sarah Phillips

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