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Cruise Wisdom: Cruise Lingo

Learn the Lingo

A handy cheatsheet for first-time cruisers

By Cindy O’Neil

Q: Several of our friends are avid cruisers, and when they talk about their recent voyages, my husband and I are often left in the dark. It almost seems that cruisers have their own secret language! Can you help us with the lingo?
— Jane W., Sioux Falls, SD

A: You bet! Here is a handy list of terms that’ll get you speaking like a seasoned sailor in no time. Hope this glossary not only helps you dive right into the next cruise conversation, but inspires you to set sail yourself!

Aft: Near, toward, or in the rear (stern) of the ship
Air/Sea: A package that includes airfare to and from the port of embarkation as well as the cruise. (Also referred to as “Fly/Cruise”)
Alternative Dining: A dining option offered in addition to the ship’s main dining room. Venues are specialty or themed restaurants, reservations are often required, and additional charges may apply.
Atrium: An interior, multideck, open area of a ship that typically is centrally located near elevators, shops, cafés, and guest services
Balcony Cabin (Veranda Cabin): A cabin accommodation with a private, exterior balcony
Berth: The dock or pier where you embark or disembark from. Also used by cruise lines to refer to each passenger bed.
Bow: Toward or in front of the ship
Bridge: The navigation and command center of the ship, usually found high up and forward
Course: The direction the ship is headed, typically expressed in compass degrees
Cruise Card: Credit card–sized personal ID card given to each passenger to charge shipboard purchases, use as their cabin key card, and use to embark and debark the ship
Cruise Director: The onboard staff member in charge of all entertainment and social events
Debarkation/Disembarkation: Exiting the ship
Deck Plan: A diagram that illustrates cabin and public room locations
Dry Dock: A vessel’s maintenance period when a ship enters a dry dock to maintain its underwater hull and to undergo onboard refurbishments
Embarkation: Boarding the ship
Forward: Toward the fore or bow (front) of the ship
First Seating: In ships with traditional or “fixed” seating, the earlier of the two evening meal times in the main dining room — usually around 6.30 p.m.
French Balcony: A large window with a sliding door that opens to a shallow balcony and railing. Usually found on river boats or added to ships….

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Photo: Norma Joseph/Alamy

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