Cruise Tips / Cruise Terms Worth Knowing Before You Board: Part 1

Here are ShipsAhoy's A-Cs of cruise terms worth knowing

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By: Ilona Kauremszky

Here at ShipsAhoy we try to make your cruise life easier.

Cruise veterans will come across industry lingo regularly but unless you are one of them chances are pretty good the odd word will pop out at you at some stage in your cruise booking experience that will make you ask, “What did they say?”

Even our friendly moniker has nautical ties. “Ahoy,” is “Hello” usually heard as you board a ship. “Ship Ahoy” from Wiktionary says, “it’s used to hail another ship or vessel or to attract attention to the presence of another vessel most probably close by.”

Here’s a cool tearsheet worth taking with you the next time you board a ship. Watch for more cruise terms in an upcoming issue.

The A-Cs of Cruise Terms Worth Knowing:

Adventure cruise
Some cruise companies cater to guests who want to participate in more off-the-beaten-path experiences. It could be as remote as hanging out at the bottom of the world in Antarctica with the icebergs and penguins. Maybe grabbing your camera for the ultimate Galapagos Islands wildlife encounters. How does snorkeling, hiking, or kayaking sound? Adventure cruises are all about the expedition, the active journey.

So you’re standing at the back of the ship and you hear this term which you mistake as a cool nickname more suitable to identify the afternoon. Wrong – this three letter word means the ship’s rear section which has also been called the “stern.” When you’re choosing your cabin, a good tip to consider is the cabin’s location. If you want to be towards the back of the ship, you’ll hear ‘aft’ or ‘stern.’

Sometimes you might hear “leave the wallet behind because everything’s included” that’s code for all-inclusive. Similar to those all-inclusive resorts you like to flock to during Canada’s deepest, darkest days of Polar Vortex temperatures where food and drink and fun activities like salsa lessons and aquatics classes are free, ditto applies to this ship concept. Some luxury cruise lines like Uniworld and Scenic Cruises position themselves as ‘all-inclusive’ luxury. The cool all-inclusive point here is how tipping, drinks on board and those specialty a la carte restaurants don’t have extra hidden charges. Still, like everything, it’s a good idea to read the small print when deciding on any all-inclusive cruise.

Assigned seating
On those large cruise ships do you ever wonder how dinner is handled? Do you go with the masses at the same time which means big bottlenecks by the elevators and halls? Not at all. Often, many ships will offer a first seating and a second seating for dinner hour. Then there are those ships that actually have assigned seating for a specific table with a neatly penned name card announcing your seat. I have encountered this one at fancy onboard dinner functions where the guests are in tuxes and gowns.

So you’re on board and hear one longtime cruiser who likes to say “ashore” whenever you start to talk about the next day’s itinerary. It’s just fancy talk for ‘on land.’

Say you forgot to register for an activity or your new ship friends you met on your cruise mention meeting up with them at the Atrium. Well where is that? It’s the main passenger area like a hotel lobby. This atrium is the nerve centre for the reception desk and purser’s desk.

No misspelling here, it refers to two nautical ideas: your bed in your cabin as well as the dock where a cruise ship ties up.

You won’t be required to officially bow as if you’re meeting royalty because on a cruise ship the “Bow” refers to the front of the ship. The ship’s front is also known as “Forward.” Have we confused you? When you’re considering your cabin location and prefer to be toward the front, “bow” and and “forward” is what you’ll typically hear.

This is the cockpit of the ship – it’s cruise central and is vital because the captain steers the ship. Higher than the rest of the ship, tucked away on the upper deck, it’s where the captain and his crew lead us on the path of safety.

Captain’s Table
Oh to be at the Captain’s Table! The term is used during a special themed Captain’s Dinner usually at the start or ship’s finale and is referred to as “Captain’s Welcome Dinner,” or “Captain’s Farewell Dinner.” Certain guests will be hosted by the Captain for this one. I’ve been fortunate to be on one during a Uniworld River Cruise on board the S.S. Beatrice sailing the Danube River, and it remains a personal highlight to this day!

Let’s say there’s a family reunion or you’ve been tasked to book a cruise at work for the next company event, agents will refer to this group booking as a charter. It’s trade lingo for booking the entire cruise ship or part of a cruise ship.


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