Seasoned cruisers know everything there is to know about ships, shores, stewards and seating plans, but to the cruising newbie, it can take a while to find your terminology sea legs – not to mention the Lido deck. Here’s a ready reckoner to help you embark on your dream holiday with as little confusion as possible.
The back portion of the ship.
A cruise fare that does not charge extra for specialty restaurants, tipping or drinks.
Some cruise fares cover the regular dining rooms and buffets, but you must pay extra for alternative or specialty restaurants.
The central passenger area, similar to the lobby of a hotel. There is usually a reception desk and shore excursion desk. And it’s usually pretty spectacular.
Your bed. (It also means a ship’s allotted place at a wharf or dock.)
The very front of the ship.
This is the room or platform that acts as the control centre of the ship. It is usually staffed by an officer of the watch or an able seaman while the ship is under way.
Your room on board the ship.
A special dinner with the ship’s captain and other guests, offered by some cruise ships.
Some organisations take over or charter a cruise ship to run themed cruises or conferences.
A cruise itinerary that crosses the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.
This contains all the fine print about what’s expected from passengers, and what to expect if cancellations or delays occur. It’s important to read the terms and conditions.
This person is responsible for fun! They organise all the entertainment on board, send out daily newsletters about all the activities, and might even appear on the cruise ship TV channel. You’ll also see them acting as the MC at shows, and they may even grab the mic for a song or two.
The floors of the ship – take a look at the deck plan to learn your way around.
These workshops won’t make you rich, but you may gain some skills in cooking, photography, art and more.
The area near the front of the ship.
A set of glass doors leading on to a ledge with a railing, much smaller than a full balcony.
The smokestack on some cruise ships.
The ship’s kitchen, which produces an extraordinary amount of food. A galley tour is great fun.
The ramp or staircase where you board and disembark the ship while docked.
OK, so we all know what handwash is, but it’s worth noting you’ll find hand sanitisers all over the boat and you are advised to use them regularly, especially before entering dining venues.
The port where a ship is based.
A cabin in the middle of the ship, with no view of the sea.
A complete, day-by-day listing of ports of call and sea days.
The open pool deck, usually on the top deck.
A cabin with an obstacle, such as a lifeboat, between you and the water.
The middle of the ship.
This is the meeting point during an emergency or evacuation. There will be a safety briefing when you board.
A credit added to your onboard bill – it’s like free spending money.
It used to be that cruise ship passengers had designated seating and meal times. Nowadays many ships have moved to open seating, so you can dine whenever and wherever you like.
The left side of the ship when facing the bow.
A small, round window, usually on lower decks.
Port of call
A destination where the cruise ship stops and passengers can go ashore.
It was once believed that POSH stood for Port Out, Starboard Home, which indicated the best cabin positions for ships between England and India. While it has been widely disputed, I’m with Grandpa Potts (from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) – it’s the posh, posh travelling life for me!
This deck often contains a path so people can walk or jog around the ship. Sometimes it’s a place for shops and restaurants.
The purser can answer questions and handle complaints, as well as handling all the money transactions. Find them in the main lobby at the information desk.
This is a one-way voyage that moves a cruise ship from one home port to another. For example, several ships will leave Australian waters in April and May to reposition to Asia and the northern hemisphere.
This is the side-to-side movement of the ship in rougher seas. Cruise ships these days have advanced stabilising technology to combat this.
A day when the cruise ship stays at sea, and does not visit a port of call. Don’t worry – there’s plenty of onboard entertainment.
Some cruise lines will charge extra if you are travelling solo. This is because cruise fares are usually based on double occupancy.
These retractable devices extend from the side of a ship to reduce roll.
The right side of the ship when facing the bow.
A posher way of saying cabin.
The very back of the ship.
The housekeeper who maintains cabins. They’re a good starting point for questions and special requests.
A cabin with separate sleeping and living areas.
A smaller boat that takes passengers to shore when the cruise ship cannot dock at a port of call.
The white trail of waves left by the passage of the ship.