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Glossary of Cruise Industry Terms


Over time, the cruise industry has developed its own set of terms. While this vocabulary is second-nature to experienced cruisers, it can be confusing to people newer to cruising. Below is a cruise glossary of some of the most important terms to know.

Adventure cruise - Expedition cruise catering to those seeking adventurous itineraries in places like the Galapagos, Antarctica, Eastern Europe and other off-the-beaten-path destinations. Experiences at the destinations include wildlife in its natural habitat, beautiful scenery, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking or Zodiac excursions. Best for the agile, physically-fit and flexible-minded.

Aft - At, near or toward the back of a ship.

Alcohol on board - Cruise lines make a substantial percentage of their onboard revenue from sales of alcohol, so passengers are generally limited to bringing one or two bottles of wine on board. Alcohol purchased during the cruise--whether in port or at onboard Duty-free shops--is held by the cruise line until the end of the voyage. It is possible to save money with Drink coupons/Drink packages.

All-inclusive - Some cruise lines tout all-inclusive itineraries, which means you don't pay extra for things like specialty restaurants, tipping, drinks on board, and other amenities. What "all-inclusive" means can vary by cruise line. See AllThingsCruise All-Inclusive chart here.

Alternative restaurant - A restaurant that offers high-end or niche dining, usually at an additional cost. Most of the ultra-luxury lines include all restaurants in the cruise fare.

Anchor - Heavy object used to keep a vessel from drifting; usually an iron weight, lowered by cable or chain to the bottom of a body of water to keep a vessel from drifting.

Anytime dining - A cruise feature where passengers are not assigned tables or dining times, and simply go to dinner when and where they choose. The plus side of this is flexibility; however, there may be a wait for a table and you don't get the opportunity to get to know the same tablemates through the course of the sailing.

Assigned seating - Seating at a pre-reserved table at a specific time in the main dining rooms. Cruisers dine with the same people each night. This can be a real enhancement to the cruise experience, as cruise line computers try to match people of similar ages and backgrounds and many friendships are formed this way. Larger ships offer a first seating (main or early seating) and second seating (late seating). Other cruise lines and ships have open seating, sometimes called Freestyle or Anytime dining.

Atoll - Ring-shaped reef or island of coral, usually encircling a freshwater lagoon.

Atrium - Center area of a cruise ship, usually rising through more than one story and often having a skylight or glass on one side and the roof.

Balcony cabin - Located on the exterior of the ship with a balcony. Strongly recommended on any sailing of 7 days or longer.

Beam - The width of a ship at its widest point.

Berth - A place to sleep in a cabin (i.e., a bed) or, by extension, the cabin/stateroom as a whole.

Bespoke - Another word for "custom." This is a type of travel experience in which a trip is designed specifically for a client with a focus on unique, highly-local experiences.

Boat - In general, boats are smaller and ships are larger. A rule of thumb for knowing the difference is, if a vessel carries boats (i.e., lifeboats), it's a ship. It can be considered bad form to refer to a ship as a boat.

Booking - The act of reserving one or more cabins on a cruise; the cruise vacation purchased. E.g., "She has a booking on the Celebrity Millennium."

Booking onboard - Cruise lines offer passengers the opportunity to book their next cruise at a discount while onboard ship. Passengers can then Transfer the booking to a travel agent to save even more.

Booze cruise - A cruise that features free or low-cost alcohol and where the theme is partying and drinking both on the ship and in port. May refer to a multi-night sailing or to an excursion that lasts only a few hours.

Bow - The front of the ship.

Bridge - A ship's navigational control center. Many cruise ships offer bridge tours where you can meet the officers and bridge crew and see how the ship is commanded.

Bulkhead - Upright partitions separating parts of a ship as protection against fire or leakage. On land it would be called a "wall."

Cabin - A private room on a ship for guests and staff. Also referred to as a "stateroom."

Cabin categories - Cabin categories are the letter and number designations a cruise line gives to classes of cabins, for example B4 or IS. These designations are specific to certain ships, and so the best way to understand them is to either check the Deck plans or ask the travel agent you are working with. Cruise lines vary the prices of cabins based not only on the basic cabin type (e.g. inside cabin, balcony, suite), but on where the cabin is located on the ship. Cabins on higher decks generally sell at a premium, as do cabins whose locations allow for a larger size or a larger balcony (often toward the rear of the ship).

Cabin steward - A person who serves guests / passengers aboard a ship for their daily needs. Each cabin is usually assigned the same cabin steward for the entire cruise.

Calving - The break-up or splintering of a glacier or iceberg so as to produce a detached piece of ice. This is a spectacular natural process caused by the weight of the ice gradually flowing downhill toward the sea.

Cancel-for-any-reason insurance - Travel insurance usually must be purchased at or near the same time your cruise is purchased, and it only pays off if you miss your cruise due to events beyond your control (usually a documented serious accident, illness or weather conditions preventing travel). Cancel-for-any-reason insurance is generally costlier, but pays off if you cancel for a variety of other reasons. Read the policy carefully before purchasing to make sure you understand what it covers.

Captain - The officer / person in command of a ship. You will usually have opportunities to meet the captain at various events during your cruise.

Captain's table - On some ships this refers to a dinner event in which select passengers are selected to dine with the ship's captain.

Casino - Most larger cruise ships offer casinos where gambling is available when the ship is at sea. Note that the odds in onboard casinos are not as good as the odds you are likely to find at casinos on shore.

Cay - Pronounced "key." A small sandy island on the surface of a coral reef, usually referring to islets in the Caribbean. Several cruise lines offer shore excursions at private cays (i.e., "private islands.").

Cenote - A natural swimming hole formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock, revealing a subterranean world of groundwater pools, with pure, clear, fresh water. Perfect for swimming and diving, there are approximately 7,000 cenotes on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico,

Centrum - The Norwegian word for Atrium. Royal Caribbean uses the term for the atrium or hub of its ships, that feature reception desks and a lively area for high-wire aerial entertainment, performances and games.

Charter - A group booking where any group-friends, relatives, employees of a company, members of an organization, etc.-reserve all or part of a cruise ship.

Christmas market - River cruise lines offer itineraries that center around Christmas or holiday markets, featuring town squares festooned with the traditional sights, smells and tastes of Christmas. See a list of Christmas Market sailings on CruiseCompete.

Circumnavigators Club - The Circumnavigators Club is the only international organization devoted to bringing together those men and women who have traveled around the world. The Club was organized over 100 years ago by two Americans sailing across the Indian Ocean aboard the S.S. Barbarossa.

Commission - The amount of money a cruise line pays to a Travel agent for facilitating the sale of a cruise booking. Commissions can range and agents are at times allowed to use some of their commission to offer customers better deals than direct purchases through the Cruise Line by purchasing extras including Onboard credit. Most Cruise Lines only pay commissions only the Cruise fare, and not on other parts of the Cruise price.

CruiseCompete.com - CruiseCompete.com is the internet's premier cruise marketplace, and the only site where you can submit a request for cruise offers, and receive and compare multiple custom cruise quotes from independent agencies competing for your business.

Cruise card - Also called a key card, cruise ship ID card, ship card, etc., it is a plastic card the size of a credit card that is issued on embarkation day for several purposes: to allow entry and exit from the ship, to allow access to your room, and to use for onboard purchases.

Cruise fare - The portion of the Cruise price that is commissionable to a Travel agent.

Cruise line - A company that operates one or more cruise ships. For example, Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises are considered to be cruise lines.

Cruise offer/Cruise package - Everything you will pay for and receive on your cruise vacation, including any extras such as Onboard credits, Cabin upgrades, etc. It is important to consider all of these elements--and not just the Cruise price--when considering the total value of an offer.

Cruise price - A cruise price consists of three elements: Cruise fare, Port charges and Taxes. In order to compare prices, you need to make sure that all of these elements are included in the price you are offered. While all CruiseCompete quotes include all costs of your cruise, some web sites don't add in the taxes until the final booking screen.

Courtesy hold - Guaranteeing your cabin on a cruise requires a deposit. However, if you need time to make a final decision--whether that's checking airfare costs or consulting with fellow travelers--a travel agent can generally hold your cabin and Cruise offer for one (1) to three (3) days at no cost. The time will be longer the more space is available on the cruise and the further out from sailing. The maximum time can be as short as a few hours when the ship is nearly full at the last minute.

Cruise director - The person in charge of entertainment on board, who often hosts and emcees events around the ship.

Cruise insurance - Insurance to cover such unexpected events as medical issues that can interfere with the ability to take a cruise at scheduled time. There are a variety types of coverage offered by the cruise lines as well as independent insurance brokers. Note that cruise insurance policies can vary greatly in what they cover, so do make sure to read the policy carefully. See Cancel-for-any-reason insurance.

Cruise to nowhere - A short sailing in which a ship will cruise in open waters for one or more days without reaching a destination. Usually fairly short, guests get the chance to experience the amenities of the ship.

Cruise tour/ Cruisetour - A vacation combining a cruise with a land journey before or after the cruise, sometimes with a host or guide. Cruise tour itineraries are pre-packaged by the cruise lines.

Cruiser - A passenger or guest on a cruise ship.

Days at sea - The days during a cruise when the ship does not stop at a port.

Debark/Debarkation - To leave a ship and go ashore. Debarkation usually refers to leaving the ship at the end of the cruise.

Deck Plan - A diagram of a ships cabins, access points and the public rooms. CruiseCompete hosts deck plans here.

Departure port - Where the cruise ship loads passengers at the beginning of the cruise. See AllThingsCruise list of cruise departure ports here.

Deposit - The amount of money required to hold a cabin on a ship in your name at a particular rate. Deposits are usually $500 per cabin, and are refundable until a certain number of days before your ship sails. This varies by cruise line and by the length of the sailing.

Direct booking or "Going direct" - The act of not using a travel agent and instead booking a cruise directly with a cruise line. Rarely a good idea, as travel agents have more flexibility on pricing and extras to give you than the customer service reps. who work for the cruise lines. If you do book with a cruise line, you can usually Transfer your booking to a travel agent and a better deal.

Disembark - To leave a ship.

Dock - A structure on or next to the water that allows a ship to tie-up and load and unload passengers.

Double occupancy - The cost per person when two people share a cabin. For example, if the cabin is "$1,000 per person double occupancy," the total cost is $2,000. Note however, that the pricing can be very different if only one person occupies the cabin. See Single supplement.

Drink coupons/Drink package - Many cruise lines offer drink packages including unlimited alcoholic beverages and/or soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages, or coupons that can be purchased at a discount and exchanged for drinks onboard. Both of these options tend to be less expensive if purchased prior to sailing vs. purchasing them onboard. When considering the value here, be sure to consider how many days in a row you can consume enough drinks to for the package to make financial sense, and don't forget to factor any (much cheaper) drinks you may purchase onshore.

Dry dock - A place where ships are taken out of the water so external surfaces can be cleaned and machinery can be serviced. Cruise ships are often upgraded with new features and amenities while in dry dock.

Duty-free shopping - Duty-free shops allow the purchase of goods as liquor, cigarettes, perfume, and other popular items for without the payment of import duties and taxes. Cruise ship shops offer sales and promotions throughout the cruise, so it's often a good idea to wait for an onboard sale before making purchases.

Embark - To go aboard a ship.

Embark/Embarkation - To board the ship; the act of boarding a ship. Embarkation usually refers to boarding the ship at the beginning of the cruise.

Enrichment - Programs that let passengers sign up for short courses in art, cooking, digital photography, computers and other subjects, usually taught by art instructors, guest lecturers, chefs and other experts.

Expedition cruise - Cruises that cater to those seeking more adventure and/or off-the-beaten-path itineraries, with a focus is on the experience at the destination rather than onboard activities.

Family cabin - A cruise ship cabin that can accommodate more than three (3) passengers.

Final payment/Final payment date - The Deposit paid when a cruise is booked is usually only a portion of the total Cruise price. The Final Payment is the remainder of the cost, and is due at on a specific time prior to sailing, usually anywhere from six (6) weeks to four (4) months. When this payment is due varies by cruise line, and often by the length of the cruise being purchased. Longer cruises usually have final payments further in advance of the sail date. After final payment, there are no refunds allowed. When shopping for a cruise, it's good to know when the final payment is due, as cruise lines often discount sailings for new bookings immediately after the final payment date (i.e., once previous purchasers are "locked in.").

FIT - Travel industry jargon that refers to individual bookings (FIT) as opposed to group travel. Originally an acronym for "Foreign Independent Travel," it now more often refers to Fully (or Freely) Independent Travel.

Fleet - All of the ships belonging to a particular cruise line are collectively known as that line's fleet.

Flightseeing - A form of sightseeing from the air, generally in a small plane or helicopter.

FlowRider - A trademarked name for an onboard surf pool on some Royal Caribbean International ships where guests can try their hand at surfing or boogie-boarding.

Flyboarding - Watersport that lets you glide over the surface of the water, powered by water pumped through a hose connected to a Jet Ski. Often available in cruise beach destinations.

Forward - Toward the front of a ship.

Freestyle cruising - Norwegian Cruise Line's trademarked term for cruising featuring casual dress and no set dinner times or assigned seating in restaurants.

French balcony - A glass door or wall-to-wall window that opens to give you fresh air and the feel of a veranda, minus the veranda, tables and chairs. Often a feature of cabins on river cruise ships.

Funnel - A smokestack on a cruise ship.

Gangway - A passageway for entering (embarking) a ship or leaving (disembarking) a ship.

Gateway - A place or stop travelers use to reach their final destination; for instance, on an international trip from Miami to Rome, your gateway might be Houston for the first leg of your journey to Miami. Some travel packages include airfare from "Gateway cities". In other words, you have to arrange your own transportation to a gateway city and this is not included in the price.

GPS - Acronym for Global Positioning System, a satellite navigation system to locate positions anywhere on the earth, widely used in mobile devices, vehicles, planes, ships, etc.

Gratuities (Tips) - Most mainstream cruise lines have automatic gratuities. A charge equal to $10-$15 per guest per day shows up on your onboard account, and this covers room stewards and wait staff. You can leave the charge there, or ask at the purser's desk to have the charge removed if you want to tip directly. For other services on board-room service, drinks at the bars, salon and spa attendants-make sure you check your charge slip carefully. Sometimes tips are added automatically, so sometimes they aren't. If the tip isn't added, 15% is pretty reasonable, or 20%-25% for exceptional service. Most luxury cruise lines include gratuities in the cruise price.

GRT - Acronym for Gross Registered Ton, a measurement of enclosed passenger space, including the space in cabins, lounges, showrooms and dining rooms; a measure of volume, not weight.

Group rates/Group space - Blocks of cabins reserved at a discounted rate by travel agencies. These can be used for related groups of people, or unrelated people assembled into a group by the agency. As agencies are generally not allowed to advertise group rates, it's impossible to know which agencies are holding this discounted space without communicating with the agency directly. One of the advantages of quote requests via CruiseCompete is that any agencies holding discounted space on the cruise you want can search for and find your request and respond with a quote.

Group travel - In cruising, generally refers to a group of people booking at least 7 cabins on one cruise sailing.

Guarantee cabin - When you book a guarantee cdabin, you are selecting a class of cabin, but the cruise line will determine exactly which cabin you are assigned. This method generally gets you get a better rate, but you give up your opportunity to choose a specific cabin. Your cabin will at a minimum be in the class you booked (usually either inside, outside, or balcony) but the cruise line will choose the location for you based on availability close to sailing. This is a good option if you're not picky about where you cabin is located. You will usually end up on a lower deck (good for people who are concerned about the motion of the ship), but significant upgrades do happen occasionally.

Guest Services - The customer service area on a cruise ship. Also known as Purser's Desk or Reception, this is where cruise passengers go to deal with financial issues and changes, lost key cards and other issues that may arise during sailing

Holiday market - During the holidays, river cruise lines offer itineraries of holiday or Christmas markets that feature town squares festooned with the traditional sights, smells and tastes of Christmas and holidays.

Home port - Some ships leave from and return to the same port all year round, making that location their "home."

Hosted cruise - A sailing where a knowledgeable person--often a travel agent--travels with a group and provides support and expertise both on the ship as well as on shore.

Hoverboarding - Watersport that lets you glide over the surface of the water, powered by water pumped through a hose connected to a Jet Ski. Often available in cruise beach destinations.

Inside cabin - Located in the interior of the ship without windows. They are the least-expensive cabins on the ship and best for short cruises and for people who like to sleep late.

Inside passage - A popular seagoing route along the U.S.-Canadian coast, extending from Seattle to Skagway, Alaska.

Inside stateroom - A stateroom without a porthole, a window or a balcony. These cabins are the least-expensive cabins on the ship and best for short cruises and for people who like to sleep late.

International date line - Established in 1884, this imaginary line passes through the mid-Pacific Ocean and roughly follows a 180 degrees longitude north-south line on the Earth. It functions as a "line of demarcation" separating two consecutive calendar dates, so when you cross the date line you become a time traveler of sorts.

Internet cafe - A computer room or business center available to ship's passengers where access to the internet and printers is available for purchase.

Internet package - Most cruise lines offer internet connectivity via wi-fi for those that want to stay connected while at sea. Note that you can often enjoy significant savings by purchasing these packages prior to your cruise.

Itinerary - The schedule of ports that a cruise ship visits. A cruise ship may follow the same itinerary over and over, or may sail different itineraries each voyage.

Junior suite - Sometimes referred to a Mini-suite, this is a cabin-type somewhat larger than a standard balcony stateroom on a particular ship. Sizes vary greatly by ship, so it's best to review Deck plans before making a final booking decision.

Kiteboarding - Sometimes called kitesurfing or sailboarding, is a sport where a large sail or kite is used to catch the wind and pull a surfer across--and often above--a body of water.

Knot - A nautical mile, equal to 1.15 land miles. The word "knots" is often used as shorthand for "Nautical miles per hour." For example, if a ship is said to be traveling at 20 knots, this would be equivalent to a speed 23 land miles per hour. Abbreviated as kn or kt.

Lanyard - A strap that goes around the neck used to hold a Cruise card. The card may be attached directly (via a hole punched in the card) or held in a pouch, usually of clear plastic.

Leeward - The side of the ship (or island) away from the wind, as opposed to windward.

Lido deck - The open pool deck on a cruise ship, where most of the onboard outdoor activities take place.

Life boat - Boats carried by cruise ships in case the ship must be abandoned. Sometimes used as tenders to ferry passengers to shore in ports lacking docking facilities, modern cruise ship lifeboats are motorboats capable of journeys of hundreds of miles, and are stocked with supplies to support passengers.

Life buoy - A life preserver in the shape of a ring.

Life jacket/ Life vest - A life preserver in the form of a sleeveless jacket or vest.

Loyalty program - A program offering rewards to repeat cruisers, with benefits that increase with frequency or spending. Perks might include shipboard credit, free wi-fi, exclusive get-togethers, etc.

Luggage services - Cruise line or outside vendor service to send your cruise vacation luggage to the cruise ship to save handling and hassle when you embark.

Main restaurants - This refers to the dining venues on a cruise ship included in the cruise price. Larger ships usually have at least one formal dining room and one buffet, the latter generally on the open Lido deck.

Midship - The middle of the ship lengthwise (i.e., halfway between the bow and the stern).

Mini-Suite - Sometimes referred to a Junior suite, this is a cabin-type somewhat larger than a standard balcony stateroom on a particular ship. Sizes vary greatly by ship, so it's best to review Deck plans before making a final booking decision.

Mobile passport - A smartphone app authorized by U.S. Customer and Immigration to expedite a traveler's entry process into the United States; a free app, available for Android and iOS phones, that allows you to submit your passport and customs declaration via your smartphone or other mobile device instead of paper. Only U.S. citizens with a valid passport and Canadian citizens traveling with both a valid passport and a B1 or B2 visa are eligible to use Mobile Passport. It currently works at 24 airports and one cruise port, Port Everglades. We highly recommend using this app--it's very easy to use and saves a lot of time. You can find more information and download at https://mobilepassport.us/.

Moor - To hold the ship in place with lines tied to a dock.

Muster drill - To gather, specifically to assemble as for inspection or roll call or for a drill or practice exercise. Every cruise sailing has a muster drill before leaving the embarkation port, and all passengers are required to attend--no exceptions.

Muster station - A specific location on ship to gather in case of an emergency. Assignments are based on cabin assignment. Where passengers gather for the pre-sailing Muster Drill.

Nautical - Of or having to do with sailors, ships or navigation. A unit of speed of one nautical mile (6,076.12 feet or 1,852 meters) an hour; abbreviated as kn or kt.

NCF - Non-Commissionable Fees (sometime Non-Commissionable Fare). The portion of the Cruise price on which the cruise line does not pay commission to the travel agency, i.e., the Port charges and Taxes.

Norovirus - The most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Norovirus gets wide coverage in the media when an outbreak occurs on a cruise ship, though the Centers for Disease Control points out that your chances of coming down with norovirus are much greater on land than at sea, as it affects 20 million people a year in all age ranges. To avoid this and other illnesses, use the same common-sense hygiene practices you would use on land, including washing your hands often and using the antiseptic gel available around the ship. Also avoid touching door knobs and touching your face with your hands.

OBC - Whether called "OBC" or "Ship-board credit" this amounts to the same thing: money in your ship-board account to spend during your cruise. And you will spend it, whether on tips, drinks, specialty restaurant fees, or other onboard purchases.

Obstructed view - These cabins are exactly what they sound like: there will be something in front of your balcony or window (usually a lifeboat) blocking or partially blocking your view of the ocean. You may want to book one of these to save money vs. other cabins in the category, but still enjoy natural light.

Ocean cruise - Takes place on oceans (as opposed to rivers.)

Oceanview cabin - A stateroom with a porthole, window or balcony that overlooks the ocean. Also known as an Outside cabin.

Onboard (or Shipboard) credit - Whether called "OBC" or "Ship-board credit" this amounts to the same thing: money in your ship-board account to spend during your cruise. And you will spend it, whether on tips, drinks, specialty restaurant fees, or other onboard purchases.

Onboard entertainment - The collection of music, bingo, Broadway-style shows, outdoor movies and other offerings available on a cruise ship. Most onboard entertainment is included in the cruise fare and does not require extra payments.

Onboard shopping - Larger cruise ships have a variety of shops onboard, closed in port and open whenever the ship is at sea. These offer purchases duty-free, with items such as watches, jewelry, perfume, clothing, shoes, purses, sunglasses, Alcohol, and tobacco products most common. Frequent sales are promoted during the cruise, so it is often a good idea to wait for these deals before making purchases. If you see something you like, ask the sales staff if it's likely to go on sale during the cruise. You can also purchase sundries and cruise-logo gear during your voyage.

Open seating - Meal seating where tables and seating places are not assigned.

Outside cabin - A stateroom with a porthole, window or balcony that overlooks the ocean. Also known as an Oceanview cabin.

Owner's suite - High-end class of stateroom, usually with larger living areas and larger bedrooms along with additional amenities.

Paddleboarding - On cruise excursions, refers to a water sport where people stand on boards similar to surfboards and use a paddle to propel themselves through calm waters (Stand Up Paddleboarding or SUP); it also refers to kneeling on a paddleboard or surfboard to propel yourself through the surf with a swimming motion.

Parkview cabin - Some of Royal Caribbean's largest vessels have open areas in the center of the ship, and they offer cabins with a view to this area known as Park View or Central Park View cabins.

Passenger capacity - Occupancy rate of a cruise ship based on two people per room or that plus the additional portable beds added to rooms. Most ships sail near or above capacity, with an industry average of 104%; passengers traveling solo usually have to pay extra since most cabins can be sold at double rate (See Single supplement).

Passenger/crew ratio - Indicates the number of crew members available to serve each passenger. The cruise industry is averaging a 2.5 passenger-crew ratio, with luxury cruises having lower ratios and higher costs for the additional attention and service.

Passenger/space ratio - Refers to a ships square footage of passenger space divided by the number of passengers; i.e. passengers divided by a rough estimate of total space in a ship's common areas, cabins. etc. A score of below 20 is poor; 20-30 average; 30-40 good; 40-50 very good; over 50 excellent.

Pier - A structure built out over the water and supported by pillars or piles, used as a mooring place for ships. (See Dock.)

Poker - Most larger cruise ships offer Texas Hold 'Em poker games onboard. Note that the dealer rake on these games tends to be very, very high compared to onshore casinos. Poker Tournaments are also available.

Port - Left-hand side of a ship as one faces forward: opposed to starboard; refers to the side toward the port or dock, since steering oars prevent docking to the right. Also, port can mean the places a cruise ship stops and visits, as in Port of call.

Port charges - The per-passenger fees that Ports of call charge visiting cruise ships. These charges are part of your Cruise Price, and are not commissionable to Travel Agents.

Port of call - Regular stops on a cruise itinerary.

Pre- or post- - Travel agent jargon for the days prior to the beginning or end of your cruise. For example, a "Pre-hotel stay" would refer to a hotel stay before you board your cruise.

Promenade - Refers to a deck on a ship that has open decking allowing one to walk all the way around the vessel (though there are ships with decks called "Promenade" that do not allow circumnavigation of the ship.) On some ships the promenade serves as a jogging path, while on others it serves as a public space where you might encounter shops and restaurants.

Purser/Purser's desk - The customer service area on a cruise ship. Also known as Guest Services or Reception, this is where cruise passengers go to deal with financial issues and changes, lost key cards and other issues that may arise during sailing.

Quote request - A submission to CruiseCompete.com asking for competing cruise offers from independent travel agencies.

Quote/Cruise quote - An offer of a cruise package in response to a quote request via CruiseCompete.com.

Refurbishment - Generally refers to an update to the décor on board, and can layout changes, new restaurants and amenities, and occasionally a wholesale makeover of the ship where the ship can be "stretched"--cut in two and then lengthened--to accommodate more passengers.

Repositioning cruise - A one-way itinerary that brings a ship from one region to another, such as from Alaska to the Caribbean, or from the Caribbean to Europe. As some cruise regions are only popular or even accessible in warmer months, cruise lines reposition their Fleets to best meet consumer demand. Repositioning cruises are generally less expensive than other sailings, and tend to feature a higher ratio of Days at sea compared to port calls vs. the average itinerary.

River cruise - A cruise taking place on one or more rivers rather than on the ocean.

Sail date - The date a cruise begins.

Sailaway - Refers to both the beginning of a cruise vacation, when the ship leaves port (often accompanied by a party on deck), as well as departures during the cruise from scenic ports of call when passengers gather on deck to watch the ship depart.

Sailing - A specific cruise voyage or itinerary sailed on a certain date by a cruise ship, as in "We had very good weather on that sailing." It basically means your cruise as a whole.

Sea-band - A knitted elasticated wrist band that can help prevent seasickness by applying pressure on an acupressure point on each wrist by means of a plastic stud. Because the bands don't contain drugs, they don't cause any of the side effects associated with anti-nausea drugs and can be used by adults and children.

Sea day - A day during a cruise when the ship does not dock at a port.

Segments - Portions of a long cruise itinerary. Breaking a long cruise into segments allows passengers to select which sections of the journey to travel, letting them join or leave the voyage at ports of their choosing. These options are seen often on World cruise itineraries.

Ship - Any water vehicle of considerable size navigating deep water, especially one powered by an engine - ocean cruises take place on ships, not boats. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on their larger size and cargo or passenger capacity.

Ship tour - Cruise lines regularly make their ships available for ship tours, sometimes called ship inspections or shipboard inspections when the ship is in dock. The event usually lasts only a few hours, is by invitation-only and generally geared to travel agents and select guests. A ship tour can provide agents with a way to familiarize themselves with a new ship's features and amenities.

Shipboard credit (or Onboard credit) - Whether called "OBC" or "Ship-board credit" this amounts to the same thing: money in your ship-board account to spend during your cruise. And you will spend it, whether on tips, drinks, specialty restaurant fees, or other onboard purchases.

Shore excursion - A tour or guided activity that passengers take part in while ashore. Can be booked via the cruise line or arranged independently. CruiseCompete offers high-quality discounted shore excursions via a third-party consolidator that offer better rates and a smaller group experience than what is typically available via a cruise line.

Shoulder season - A travel period between peak season and low/off-peak season. When this occurs depends on the destination.

Single supplement - An extra charge that solo travelers pay to occupy a stateroom designed for two or more passengers. At times, a single passenger can pay more than two people in a cabin under the theory that one person will spend less onboard than two people, while on some sailings single supplements are less than the cost of two passengers or waived entirely. Some river cruise lines offer sailings that don't cost extra for solo travelers, and some cruise lines offer solo cabins.

Smartship - Refers to cruise ships that have been built to include digital technologies such as faster and more widespread internet, video streaming and online social sharing, faster check-ins, bracelets or medallions that communicate passenger preferences or allow people to make reservations or purchases.

Snuba - One-part snorkeling, one-part scuba diving in which the swimmer uses swim fins, a diving mask, weights and an underwater breathing system.

Spa - An onboard establishment offering massage and beauty treatments. Spa treatments are generally not included in the price of the cruise.

Spa cabin - A cruise ship cabin designed for passengers especially interested in spa treatments. Usually located very close to the ship's onboard spa, these cabins often come with discounts or free spa treatments and upgraded cabin amenities like special towels and shampoos.

Specialty restaurant - Cruise fares covers the cost of the ship's regular dining rooms and buffets. However, on many ships you have the choice of dining at a specialty or alternative restaurants that offer additional, usually higher-end or niche dining, generally for an additional price. Typically included on an ultra-luxury cruise.

Stabilizers - Wing-like retractable devices that extend from the sides of a ship to reduce roll and produce a more stable ride. Large, modern cruise ships usually have very little of the rolling motion that causes sea sickness.

Starboard - The right-hand side of a ship or boat as one faces forward, as opposed to port or left.

Stateroom - A private bedroom on a ship, also referred to as a cabin.

Stern - The rear of the ship.

Steward - A person whose work is to maintain guests' staterooms while onboard. The same steward is usually responsible for the same cabins throughout the entire cruise.

Suite - On a cruise ship, a suite can be anything from a slightly larger version of a standard balcony stateroom to a grand area with separate sleeping quarters and living space Sizes and configurations vary greatly by ship, so it's best to review Deck plans before making a final booking decision.

Taxes - Cruise lines are taxed by the government on the sale your cruise booking. These costs are passed along to you as part of the total Cruise price. Taxes are not commissionable to Travel Agents.

Tender - A boat for carrying passengers to or from a ship close to shore. Usually use to transport passenger in cruise ports without docking facilities for large ships.

Tender Port - A stop on a cruise voyage where there are no docking facilities available for the ship, so passengers must be ferried to and from the ship on smaller boats.

Thalassotherapy - Therapeutic use of seawater and marine products to restore and remineralize the body.

Tips (Gratuities) - Optional money given to reward good service. Most mainstream cruise lines have automatic gratuities. A charge equal to $10-$15 per guest per day shows up on your onboard account, and this covers room stewards and dining room wait staff. You can leave the charge there, or ask at the purser's desk to have the charge removed if you want to tip staff directly. For other services on board-room service, drinks at the bars, salon and spa attendants-make sure you check your charge slip carefully. Sometimes tips are added automatically, and sometimes they aren't. If the tip isn't added, 15% is pretty reasonable, or 20%-25% for exceptional service. Most luxury cruise lines include gratuities in the cruise price.

Theme cruise - A cruise with a central theme geared toward people with common interests, such as music, sports, history, politics, cooking, wine, computers, stargazing and so on.

Tonnage - A measurement of enclosed passenger space, including the space in cabins, lounges, showrooms and dining rooms. Although frequently misunderstood, ship tonnage is a measure of volume, not weight.

Towel animal - Towel folded in the shape of an animal, left for guests in their rooms during their voyage as a way to put a smile on your face. Common towel animals are swans, elephants, snakes and monkeys.

Transatlantic - A cruise that crosses the Atlantic Ocean, sometimes with longer itineraries, usually for Repositioning cruises.

Transfer - Going from point A to point B as part of cruise travel; could be the bus ride from the airport to your cruise ship or from the ship to a hotel booked for a post-cruise stay. Independent travelers can ask about paying extra for the ship-sponsored transfers, though it's often more convenient to use a ride-hailing app such as Uber or Lyft or to take a taxi rather that wait for a shuttle bus.

Transfer a booking - When a consumer books a cruise directly with a cruise line, he or she has a time window to contact a travel agent and have the agent take over the booking. This results in a better deal for the consumer, as agents have more flexibility to offer better pricing and onboard perks than do cruise line customer service reps.

Travel agent - A travel professional who can help and guide you through all steps of planning your cruise vacation. Agencies are paid commissions based on what they sell, so there is no cost to use a Travel Agent instead of purchasing directly from a cruise line. Travel agents have the flexibility to use some of their commission to get you a better deal then what you would find buying direct; have special pricing offers (e.g. Group rates) that the Cruise Line sales people do not have access to, and can advocate on your behalf with the cruise line in the rare event that there should there be any problems with your cruise vacation.

Travel insurance - Insurance to cover such unexpected events as medical issues that can interfere with the ability to take a cruise at scheduled time. There is a variety of coverage and this insurance is offered by the cruise lines as well as cruise agents and independent insurance brokers. Note that cruise insurance policies can vary greatly in what they cover, so do make sure to read the policy carefully. See Cancel-for-any-reason insurance.

Trunk show - A short-term sales event that gives passengers the ability to buy merchandise not normally carried on board the ship, with watches, jewelry and sunglasses being popular items sold.

Turnaround day - The day when one cruise ends and another begins. The group of passengers completing their cruise leaves the ship in the morning; the group for the next sailing embarks in the afternoon.

Turndown service - The time in the afternoon when the guest is usually absent and the steward can refresh the room, provide clean towels and perhaps leave a chocolate on your pillow, provide a corner folding of the bed blanket and leave a friendly towel animal.

Upgrade - A change of cabin assignment to a higher cabin category.

Veranda - The private balcony that comes with many staterooms on the exterior of a ship.

Virtual balcony - A floor-to-ceiling approximately 80-inch high-definition TV screen showing live views from the outside of the ship. Pioneered by Royal Caribbean and offered in some interior cabins.

Waterproof phone pouch - A plastic pouch the protect a smart phone from water, sand and dust. Usually worn around the neck and used frequently so photos and video can be taken on water-based shore excursions without damaging the phone. Available via Amazon.com.

Wave season - January through March time period during which cruise lines and travel agents book a disproportionately large number of cruises with promotional deals.

Whale tail - The distinctively-shaped smokestacks on Carnival cruise ships.

Windward - The side of the ship from which the wind blows; toward the wind, as opposed to leeward. World cruise - A cruise that visits many ports in regions around the globe. Guests can choose to cruise the entire itinerary, or select to take on certain segments of the voyage.

Zipline/Ziplining - An outdoor activity during which a rider wears a harness that is securely connected to a cable suspended high above the ground. The rider then glides along the zipline cable for an exhilarating experience.

Zodiac - A brand of inflatable boats that are especially popular on luxury ships and expedition cruises and used as tenders.

 
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