Cruise Industry Glossary

There are many terms used onboard a cruise ship which are not usually used on land. Here are some common terms you will hear on a ship with a definition of each.

Atrium – A new feature on cruise ships that is a multi-story space.

Abreast – Something alongside of the ship, usually referring to another ship or to the dock.

Aft – The back end of the ship.

Amidship – The middle area of the ship.

Astern – May refer to either the back end of the ship or behind it.

Beam – The ship at its widest point – usually in the middle.

Berth – A bed, but may also refer to the docking space of a ship.

Bow – The front of the ship.

Bridge – The space where the command center of the ship is, where the Captain and the ship’s controls are located.

Bulkhead – A wall that divides one area from another.

Cabin Steward – Someone who cleans the rooms (cabins).

Companion Way – A stairway that leads from one floor level (deck) to the next.

Concessionaire – Businesses contracted with cruise lines to provide specific services. They hire their own staff, who are then placed onto ships. Typically, concessionaires run shipboard spas and gift shops. Photography and art auctions are among other services provided by concessionaires.

Cruise Director – The person who directs the entertainment staff and activities on the cruise ship.

Debark or Disembark – Leave the ship.

Draft or Draught – How far down into the water the ship’s hull goes, measured from the waterline.

Embarkation – Boarding, or coming onboard of the ship.

Fantail – The rear of the ship that overhangs.

First Seating – Of the two designated times for eating, this refers to the earlier one.

Galley – The ship’s kitchen area.

Gangway – The ramp or stairway used to get on or off of the ship.

Hotel Desk – The information desk.

Keel – The heavy steel beam at the bottom of the ship upon which the ship is built, and which helps to keep it upright.

Knot – A measurement of the ship’s speed, which is equal to about 1.15 land miles per hour.

Leeward – The side of the ship that is opposite of the windy side.

Lido Deck – The pool deck area, which usually has informal dining like a buffet.

Magrodome – A clear skylight of glass that is can slide into place to cover the pool in cold weather.

Muster – A call for passengers and/or crew to assemble for emergency practices or real emergencies.

Outside Cabin (or Stateroom) – A cabin that has a porthole or window looking out on the water.

Port, or Portside – The left side of the ship – when facing forward.

Purser’s Office – The front desk for passengers. Also called the reception desk, hotel desk, or information desk.

Staffing (Manning) Agent – Cruise line companies often have agencies that do the hiring for them. They may be directly employed by the company, or may be an independent agency. It is a better idea to apply to them rather than directly to the cruise line – if the cruise line you are targeting uses such agencies.

Starboard – The right side of the ship – when facing forward.

Stern – The back of the ship.

Tender – A small boat used to carry passengers and crew from the ship to shore (dock) and back.

Windward – The side of the ship exposed to the wind.


Cruise Publications & Associations