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    Cruise Jargon Buster

    Ruling as a sea monarch is more rewarding when you understand the language used by your subjects on deck. Nautical terms used while cruising can sometimes sound complicated or confusing. That’s why we’ve made this Cruise Lingo to English Dictionary just for you so that nothing will be lost on you during your reign.

    • Aboard – Onboard: the opposite of ashore. Used when referring to being or doing something on the ship.
    • Accommodation - A guest's stateroom or suite.
    • Add on - An additional charge to the cruise fare that usually refers to airfare, transfers, or land tours.
    • Aft - Towards the back of the boat. Technically it's a ship, but you can call it a boat. But it is a ship. Never forget.
    • Air/Sea - A package deal including the cruise price, airfare and transfers to and from the ship.
    • Alleyway – A corridor or passageway.
    • Alongside - When the ship is beside the pier (or another ship).
    • At Anchor - When the ship is anchored offshore (as opposed to docking alongside).
    • Ashore - On land: the opposite of aboard.
    • Astern - Behind the ship / beyond the stern.
    • Baggage allowance - The amount of baggage, generally consisting of your personal things, carried by the cruise line free of charge.
    • Beam – The width of the ship at its widest point.
    • Bearing - Compass direction, expressed in degrees from the ship to a particular destination.
    • Berth - The beds in your cabin are sometimes called berths. And when the ship is docked, it's also in a berth.
    • Bow - The front of the ship.
    • Bridge - The cockpit. Full of NASA-style technology and home to the Captain, supreme commander of the vessel who will be taking you to the next exciting destination.
    • Bunkers - Fuel storage area.
    • Cabin - A 'room' in a hotel is the equivalent of a 'cabin' afloat. Sometimes known as staterooms, your cabin has all the facilities you'd expect from a hotel room.
    • Cabin grade – E1, B3, F5…. What? The letters and number combos for selecting which type of cabin you want to book are confusing. That’s why our helpful cruise specialists are at the other end of the phone to help you choose which cabin is right for you.
    • Cabin type - Although this depends on the cruise ship, there are four main types of cabin. Inside, outside, balcony or suite.
    • Cabin steward/stewardess - This is the lovely lady or gentleman that takes care of your cabin every day, turning it down at night and maybe even leaving chocolate on your pillow, if you're lucky.
    • Cashless system - No need to carry cash around the ship as your boarding/swipe card can be used to make purchases onboard. Only available on selected ships.
    • Category - The price level of a stateroom based on location, size, and amenities.
    • Charts - Navigation maps detailed with depth, latitude and longitude of the area being sailed in. The position is plotted on these charts.
    • Colours – The ship's emblem or flag of nationality.
    • Course – The ship's direction (in degrees).
    • Crew - The staff. From the Captain to the most junior bottle-washer, everyone is working to meet your celebrity wants and needs on your Virgin Holidays Cruise.
    • Cashless system - On some ships your boarding / swipe card can be used to make onboard purchases. So there’s no need to carry cash around.
    • Debarkation / Disembarking - Quite simply, this is getting off the boat. Simple.
    • Deck - Each level (floor) of the ship.
    • Deck plan - An overhead diagram illustrating stateroom/suite and public area locations.
    • Dock – ‘To Dock’ is the act of bringing the ship alongside the Quay.
    • Draft - Distance from the ship's waterline to the bottom of its keel.
    • Embarkation / Embarking - To enter or come onboard the ship.
    • Electrical supply - Usually it’s 110 volts so you will require an American-style adapter to use the electrical items in the cabin. Always ask before embarkation.
    • Emergency drill - A requirement of maritime law, it’s compulsory for guests to attend an emergency drill. The purpose of this is to familiarise you with the safety procedures onboard and the actions you must take in case there’s a real emergency.
    • Fathom - Distance of depth (1 fathom = 6 feet).
    • Final payment - Payment of the full cruise fare plus any necessary or agreed extras, such as taxes, air add-on, prior to the issuance of related travel documents.
    • First seating - The earlier of the two meal times in the ship's main restaurant.
    • Forward - Towards the front of the ship.
    • Funnel - Ship's exhaust. Each massive tube on the roof.
    • Galley - Ship's kitchen.
    • Gangway - The ramp linking the ship to the land.
    • Gratuities - These are the tips, which will be added to your onboard account
    • G.R.T. - Gross Registered Tonnage. Sounds riveting, no? This is basically how big and heavy a ship is. Normally, the ship is very heavy.
    • Guarantees - The commitment that a stateroom in the same category as that purchased will be assigned. If one isn’t available, a stateroom in the next category of greater value will be assigned to you.
    • Guest cruise/Cruise tour ticket contract – The detailed terms of responsibility and accountability found in the cruise ticket.
    • Guest relations - Onboard guest services and information centre that assists with guest requests and arrangements.
    • Helm - Commonly the ship's steering wheel, but more correctly the entire steering apparatus consisting of the wheel and rudder and their connecting cables or hydraulic systems.
    • Hull - The framework of a ship.
    • Inside cabin - A cabin situated in the middle of the ship. Ideal if you're happy to go up to the deck for your sea view.
    • Interporting - The option for guests to embark and disembark a ship at specific ports over the course of a full, scheduled cruise itinerary.
    • Keel – An extension of the ship's underside from top to bottom.
    • Knot – The distance by sea is measured in knots, rather than miles. A knot is about 1.15 mph, if you’re interested in being ultra technical.
    • Leeward - The side of an island or ship that is sheltered from the wind.
    • Lifeboat - For use in an emergency.
    • Life jackets - 1 per person can be found in your cabin on arrival. To be used at the emergency drill and in the case of an emergency. If you are travelling with a child or infant please contact your cabin steward/stewardess to arrange these to be placed in your cabin.
    • Lower bed - A single bed placed at the conventional height from the floor.
    • M.S. - Abbreviation of Motor Ship.
    • M.V. - Abbreviation of Motor Vessel.
    • Manifest - List of passengers, crew and cargo.
    • Midship – A difficult one: towards the middle of the ship.
    • Muster - Assemble guests and/or crew.
    • Muster station - This is your emergency assembly point. Remember fire drills at school? In the first few hours of your cruise, you'll do something similar. When the alarms go off, you'll don that gorgeously fetching life jacket of yours and head to your muster station.
    • Nautical mile - 1,852 meters (10 knots = 10 nautical miles per hour = 11.5 land miles per hour).
    • Onboard credit - Some cruise lines will give you special offers of credit to be spent onboard on whatever you fancy. You can top this up yourself – rather like your own personal tab.
    • Open seating - Free access to unoccupied tables in the ship's restaurant, as opposed to specific table assignments.
    • Outside cabin - We prefer 'sea view' cabin. Outside cabins means you'll have a window to enjoy the scenery floating by. Not to be confused with a cabin without a roof and walls - these do not exist.
    • Pilot - Independent navigational advisor at times of entering/ leaving port.
    • Pontoon - Used and lowered to the side of the ship for guests to walk on prior to getting in the tender boat to go ashore when the ship is at anchor.
    • Port  - This has two meanings. Port means the left of the ship (to remember it, there are four letters in both ‘left’ and ‘port’). The word also refers to the places you'll visit - all those fabulous destinations you'll be heading to on your cruise.
    • Port charge - An assessment which also includes port taxes, collected by the cruise line and paid to a local government authority.
    • Porthole - If you've booked an outside cabin, you'll have a window, AKA a porthole.
    • Port-of-call - A port where the ship anchors and guests are allowed to disembark and visit the area.
    • Port tax - A charge levied by a local government authority to be paid by the guest. In some air/sea packages, port taxes are included in the final price.
    • Port terminal - On the Dock / Quay through which the guests check-in and enter / leave the port at each destination.
    • Pullman bed - This is a pull down bed from the wall for some of the beds in the cabins.
    • Quay - Dock, pier, or berth.
    • Roll - A side-to-side movement of the ship. Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean the ship is literally rolling over.
    • Rudder - The part of the boat that steers it.
    • S.S. - Abbreviation for Steam Ship.
    • Sailing time - The actual hour at which the ship is scheduled to depart the dock and set sail.
    • Satellite navigator - The global positioning system (GPS). A system using 24 satellites to fix the ships position.
    • Second seating - The later of two meal times in the ship's main restaurant.
    • Shore excursion - Off-the-ship tours at a port-of-call (an extra charge normally applies).
    • Stabilisers – Wing-shaped fins on the bottom of the boat that helps minimise the side-to-side rolling movement. Why? To make you cruise as smooth sailing as it possibly can be.
    • Starboard - To the right of the ship.
    • Stern - The back of the ship.
    • Swell - The motion of the ocean.
    • Swipe cards - Used for the security on and off the ship and for the cashless system onboard for you to sign for purchases.
    • Tender boat - If your ship is too big to squeeze in to a particular destination, you'll have to jump (not literally) onboard a tender to take you the short distance to shore.
    • Transfers - Conveyances or transportation between the ship and other locations, such as airports, hotels, or departure points for shore excursions.
    • Upgrade - A change in stateroom assignment to a higher category.
    • Upper bed - A bed similar to a bunk bed, often folded or recessed into the wall.
    • Wake - The track left in the water at the stern created when the ship is underway or in motion.
    • Windward - The side of an island or ship against which the wind is blowing.