For your first cruise, you might want to brush up on the lingo. It isn’t necessary but sometimes it just makes you feel a little better when you know what everyone is talking about aboard the ship. From aft to windward, we’ve got you covered.
1. Bow – This term refers to the very front of a ship. Think of the scene in “Titanic” when Leonardo DiCaprio shouts, “I’m the king of the world!” He was standing on the bow.
2. Stern – This is the back of the boat or ship. It’s generally where a lot of the outdoor activities are and possibly a large swimming pool. Often this is the widest open space on the top of the ship.
3. Gangway – This is the bridge that passengers walk on to get onto the ship when they first arrive or get off the ship in a port. You’ve probably heard of a gangplank? On older ships the gangplank was the walkway to get on and off the ship – or be forced into the sea!
4. Bridge – So why isn’t the gangway just called a bridge? The bridge is the name for the captain’s area. It’s the place where he and his crew take care of all the navigational aspects of the cruise ship. Just like an airplane pilot has a cockpit, the bridge is where the ship is “driven” from.
5. Embark/Disembark – Unless you’re spending lots of time at sea, you’ll be getting on and off the ship many times throughout the duration of your cruise. The proper term for getting on the ship is embarking, while getting off is called disembarking. You may hear staff refer to disembarkation points as well. Sometimes there are multiple points on the ship where people will disembark. Be sure you know yours!
6. Port – This term has two meanings. It can mean the left side of the ship as you face forward. It can also mean a stop on the cruise. Ports are docking points for ships.
7. Starboard – This is the opposite of the port side of the ship – the right side of the ship as you face forward.
8. Leeward – Leeward is the side of the ship that is facing away from the wind. It could be port or starboard – depends on how the wind is blowing!
9. Windward – It probably isn’t a surprise that windward means the side of the ship where the wind is blowing.
10. Knots – In ship-speak knots doesn’t refer to knots on a rope but to how fast the ship is moving. Just like miles per hour measures how fast a car is moving per hour, knots measures how many nautical miles the ship can travel in an hour. A nautical mile is just over 1,800 meters.
Learning these handful of terms ahead of time can help you to understand some of the lingo you might hear when you’re onboard your next cruise. It’s also great trivia fodder for your next game of Trivial Pursuit!
Do you have any cruise questions or cruise tips you can offer others?