If you’re still getting to grips with the basics of the cruising lifestyle, you’ll likely here an array of unfamiliar terminology which can leave you scratching your head in confusion. However, there is no need to worry, as below we have explained the most common cruise terms, so you can step aboard your ship with a host of new cruise jargon to impress your fellow shipmates.


Aft is at or towards the back end of the ship.

Anytime dining

Anytime dining allows guests to dine whenever they want, with no set schedule or timetable dictating their meals times. They can make a reservation if necessary or simply wander into their favourite restaurant on-board.


The beam is the widest part of the ship, usually located towards the middle of the vessel.


Berth can mean either a bed or a place where the ship is docked.

Bow and stern

The bow is at the front of the ship and the stern is at the back of the ship.


The bridge is where the captain and crew controls, navigates and steers the ship.


The galley is another name for the ship’s kitchen.


The gangway is the ramp which is used to connect the ship with the shore upon arrival in port.


Gratuities is another word for the tips that are automatically charged to a guest’s on-board account for the service that they have received on-board.


The helm is the equipment used to steer and navigate the ship, found in the bridge.


The hull is the ship’s outer shell which extends from the main deck down to the keel.


The keel is the ship’s backbone, which runs lengthways along the middle of the bottom of the vessel.

Maiden voyage

A maiden voyage refers to the very first sailing of a new ship.

Muster drill

The muster drill is a non-optional event on the first day of a new cruise during which passengers are guided through their ships safety and emergency procedures. It is imperative that guests do not miss this safety briefing as it contains vital information for everyone on-board.


In an open-seating dining venue, guests can sit wherever, whenever and with whomever they wish.

Port and Starboard

When facing towards the front of the ship, port is on the left side and starboard is on the right.


The promenade is an open deck which runs all the way around the ship, sometimes used as a jogging track for guests.


The roll refers to the movement of the ship from side to side whilst in the water.

Single supplement

Single supplement is an additional charge that single passengers must pay to allow just one person in any given suite or stateroom.


A tender is a small boat used to transport passengers to shore when the port’s dock is not large enough for the cruise ship to access.

Traditional dining

With traditional dining, guests are allocated a specific table and timeslot for their meals, so that they can dine with the same group of people each night and develop a standard routine and rigid schedule on-board.


The veranda is a private balcony featured in certain suites and staterooms.

If you fancy brushing up your vocabulary first-hand, find your perfect cruise with Cruise118.com and call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 1234 118 to find your perfect cruise today. 

Emma Smith
Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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