To help you make the most of your experience onboard, we've compiled a list of terms and definitions that are commonly used on the ship and during your cruise.
Some cruise lines now offer passengers the option to choose between eating at fixed time each night (Traditional Dining) or eating when, where and with whom you wish each night (Anytime Dining). Many other options are available including 24-hour buffet restaurants, a full selection of alternative restaurants, poolside lunches and snacks, patisseries, and 24-hour room service.
The main dining room option enabling passengers to dine at a set time each evening at an assigned table.
Personal Choice Dining / Freestyle Dining
Restaurant-style main dining room option, in which passengers can dine whenever and with whomever they like. Reservation may be arranged after passengers get onboard.
In addition to the main dining rooms, many ships also offer smaller restaurants which serve an upscale, specialized cuisine, it may be a French Bistro, an Italian trattoria,, a hearty steakhouse, or a tasty Sushi Bar. Usually there's a cover charge if dine in an alternative restaurant.
Informal / Smart Casual
The usual onboard dress code, such as one would find at an upscale landside resort. Appropriate attire includes skirts/dresses, slacks, and sweaters or blouses for ladies and pants and open-neck shirts for men. A jacket and tie is optional.
Onboard dress code for specially designated formal nights. Appropriate attire includes evening gowns and cocktail dresses for ladies; and tuxedos, slacks with a dinner jacket, or suits for men.
To board the ship
To leave the ship
Port of Call (Port)
A city or destination where the ship stops, usually for a full day, to give passengers an opportunity to disembark and visit the area attractions.
Organized tours designed to make sightseeing easy and convenient for passengers during their time in port. Examples include hiking, horseback riding, snorkeling and many other exciting adventures.
When the ship cannot pull up directly to the dock, passengers are shuttled to shore via smaller tender boats.
A service to transport passengers to and from their ship from the local airport, usually by motorcoach or van.
Sea Day vs. Port Day
During a sea day the ship is sailing to its next destination, giving passengers a relaxing day to enjoy all of the amenities of the ship. Port days offer the opportunity to go ashore and explore the highlights of the ports of call.
Cruise Preparation Terms
Documents sent to booked passengers about 60 days or more in advance of their voyage. These documents include shore excursion information as well as necessary paperwork required before the passenger can board the ship.
The legal contract between the Cruise line and the passenger.
Inoculation/ImmunizationMedical precautions that may be required based on where the cruise is going. Passengers are advised to check with their doctors regarding any health requirements of the ports they will be visiting.
Travel Care/ Travel ProtectionTravel insurance plans are available, featuring medical insurance as well as “cancel for any reason” vacation coverage. Travel insurance is optional, it is strongly recommended to help protect your travel investment.
Passenger Immigration Form – these must be filled out before passengers are allowed to board the ship, and include such things as passport, emergency contact and credit card information.
Government Fees and Taxes
Extra charges required by the government that are not included in the cruise fare.
Due to high fuel cost, cruise lines reserve the right to impose additional charge to cruise fare if crude oil price increase. Depends on cruise lines, amount varies from $9 per person per day to $20 per person per day.
Ship and Destination Related Terms
Fleet A group of ships under the same ownership.
Starboard Side A nautical term for the right side of the ship, facing forward.
Fore A nautical term meaning toward the front or bow of the ship.
Port A nautical term for the left side of the ship, facing forward.
Aft A nautical term meaning toward the rear or stern of the ship.
Deck The levels or floors of the ship.
StateroomA passenger's cabin or hotel room.
Berth The sleeping capacity of a stateroom. Most cabins feature two berths, but some are available with third or fourth berths
Onboard Crew Terms
Cruise DirectorThe head of the ship’s entertainment department, the Cruise Director oversees all passenger activities, and can be found hosting many of them.
Purser / Passenger Services Director
The head of the hotel department, the Passenger Services Director (also known as a purser) is responsible for all passenger operations, including accommodations, public rooms and dining services. This position is similar to a general manager of a landside hotel.