So you are ready to take your first cruise and you do not quite want it to be like the first time when you went to Hawaii and you did not know the local terminology. This time you want to be prepared before you go so when they tell you to go “astern” you do not head toward the front of the ship. This little primer will give you the lexicon you need for successful cruise ship survival.
I can only assume that you know that “aboard” means to get on the ship whereas “ashore” refers to being on the shore. “Aft” refers to being toward the rear of the ship while “stern” refers to the absolute rear of the ship. Though many people will say that they are heading toward the “stern” when they truly intend on being “astern” which is another way of saying that they are around the rear of the ship.
The “heading” of the ship is a reference to the heading on a compass and refers to the direction of the ship, whereas the “bearing” is a specific reference of the ships direction relative to the ships destination. The “beam” of the ship is its widest width and the “keel” is the primary center bottom point of the ship that runs from the bow to the stern. The “berth” is normally the place where the ships doc. A “berth” is a particular space on the dock where the ship is docked. The “bridge” is the main command and control area for the entire ship and the “brig” is an isolation area, also known as on board jail.
The “bulkhead” is the wall that separates each cabin and a “cabin” is another word for a “room” on the ship. “Fore” and “forward” are references to the front of the ship as is the word “bow” which refers to the absolute front of the ship, the opposite of the stern. A “fathom” is equal to 6 feet and specifically refers to 6 feet underwater. The “funnel” is the smokestack of the cruise ship.
The “galley” is the kitchen and the “gangplank” is the ramp that connects the pier to the ship. It is the gangplank that you walk on in order to board the ship. The “gangway” is the door or opening that the gangplank connects to, it is the entrance point to the ship. The “hawseholes” is the place where the chain to the anchor enters into the ship. These are usually holes on the upper side of the exterior “hull” of the ship. The “hull” being the exterior of the ship.
When looking toward the bow of the ship the “larboard” or “port” side of the ship is to your left, and the “starboard” side of the ship is on your right. For some reason this is always confusing and forgotten by travelers. To this day I cannot think of an easy way to remember it. It is commonly suggested that “star board” has the same number of letters as “right hand” but that is not exactly easy to remember.
The “lift” or “roll” is the amount to which the ship moves from side to side and the “pitch” is the amount the bow of the ship moves up and down with the waves. The “port of call” is your ships destination and your ships “registry” is the country the ship calls its home. The word “scuttle” means to sink a ship, this is a word that you will not be hearing on your cruise unless you like your destination so much you wish you could scuttle the ship and stay.
To end this little educational primer you should know that wot “weigh anchor” means to lift the anchor. The “wake” is the way the water is displaced behind the ship hence the phrase “leave it in your wake” and lastly the word “windward” refers to the side of the ship that the wind is blowing against.
Hopefully this is a great resource and tool for you to use on your first cruise. I know for myself I do not like going places where there are a lot of special words being used that I do not understand. I think all of us travelers first encountered this the first time we go to Hawaii. We think they speak English but then they start off with “aloha” and “mahalo” and it never stops until you leave. Now you are prepared for your cruise.