Cruise Ship Terms

Cruise Ship Terms You Should Know

in Cruise Tips

Have you ever asked – which side is port side on a cruise ship?

Get on board any cruise ship and you will soon see and hear terms that may sound familiar to you yet foreign. Everyone who cruises would benefit from knowing some cruise ship terms that will help you navigate the ship and understand the crew better. Having this knowledge can also help you when choosing the best part of the ship for your stateroom.

Regardless of what cruise line you are on there is a new language you need to understand that will help make your trip even more enjoyable. It may seem odd to have to relearn the names of directions and the physical parts of the ship but knowing these nautical terms will help to ensure you are always on time for dinner, your amazing excursion and night time entertainment. What if you hear the announcement, “Head to the port side of the ship to see a pod of whales as they make their way by”? Do you know where to go? Knowing where the “port side” is will help you get there faster so that you don’t miss it.

Cruise Ship Terms Defined

Cruise Ship Terms You Should KnowThe most important thing to remember is all these terms reference a part of the ship based on the bow or front of the ship. Like a compass where all directions are based off of North. With that in mind here are a few of the most common nautical terms you will hear and see on board a cruise ship.

  • Bow: The front most part of the ship. (remember that scene from the Titanic with Jack and & Rose)
  • Forward: To get to the bow, you must go forward.
  • Midship: Seems obvious but is the portion of the ship between forward and aft.
  • Stern: The back of the ship.
  • Aft: Means to go away or you’ll head aft towards the stern.
  • Port: Is the left side as you face the bow.
  • Starboard: Is the right side as you face the bow.
  • Passageways: These are the hallways you will use to move from the bow to the stern.
  • Bridge: The captain and his crew are piloting the ship from here and is typical forward. Think of it like the cockpit of a plane but much bigger. Unlikely you can just walk up to the bridge but your cruise line may offer tours. Ask your cruise director.

There is still much to learn about cruise ship terms as we have only scratched the surface.  It is totally acceptable to approach any of the crew to ask them further questions. Look especially for those walking around in white uniforms with lapels adorned with stripes and swirls. These are your officers who will be more than happy to inform you more about their world and the language they all speak.

Cruise Tip:

On many ships when you are on the weather deck (the part of the ship exposed to the elements giving access to walking around the outside) you can also identify what side of the ship your on with colors. The Port side lights will always be red. The starboard side lights will always be green.

Bonus Tip – What Does the Cruising Know it All say?#1 – One way to remember port and starboard is like this:
The word left is shorter than right. The word Port is shorter than Starboard.

#2 – On many ships when you are on the weather deck (the part of the ship exposed to the elements giving access to walking around the outside) you can also identify what side of the ship your on with colors. The Port side lights will always be red. The starboard side lights will always be green.

We're here to help you make the most of your next cruise adventure. We are avid cruisers who believe that how you cruise is as important as where you cruise. Take a look around and let us know if you have any questions.

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