Cruise and Travel Jargon

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Travel, just as every industry, has it’s "own language, terminology or jargon". Here is a list of some of the most frequently used travel lingo for cruise and tours. We welcome all your suggested additions.


Cruise Brochure Terminology
Ship Terminology
Tour Brochure Terminology

Cruise Brochure


ADD ON – A supplementary charge added to the cruise fare, usually applied to correlate air fare and or pre or post cruise land tours.

AIR/SEA – A package consisting of the two forms of travel, i.e. air to and from the port of embarkation as well as the cruise itself.

BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE – The amount of baggage, generally consisting of the passenger’s personal effects, carried by the cruise line free of charge

BASIS TWO – The cabins per person applicable to a cabin capable of accommodating at least person, i.e. double occupancy (DO)

BOOKING – A telephone or computer request to a line’s reservations department to secure an option on a cabin.

BERTH - the bed within the passenger’s cabin

CABIN – See "Room"

CATEGORY – A price gradient of similar cabins from the most expensive to the least expensive or visa versa.

CLASS – Extinct on most cruises. On some trans-ocean voyages, denotes an overall level of ambiance and cost, such as "First Class", "Tourist Class" or "Transatlantic Class". Cruises are generally termed- One-class service.

CONFIRMED CABIN – A cabin category and stateroom number is confirmed at time of booking.

DEBARKATION – Exiting from the ship.

DECK PLAN – An overhead diagram illustrating cabin and public room locations in relationship to each other.

DEPOSIT - A part payment of the cruise fare required at the time of booking to secure the cabin being reserved.

EMBARKATION – Entering or boarding the ship.

FINAL PAYMENT – Payment of the full cruise fare plus any necessary extras, such as taxes, air add on, preparatory to issuance of correlated travel documents.

FIRST SITTING – The earlier of two meal times in the ship’s dinning room. AKA Main Sitting

GRATUITIES – The passenger’s personal expression of thanks (tips) to the ship’s service personnel for services received.

GUARANTEE CABIN – The cruise line’s promise that the passenger will sail on a stated voyage in a specific price category or type of cabin, at an agreed rate no higher than would ordinarily apply for that voyage, which MAY result in an improvement of accommodation at no additional cost. Cabin assignment typically assigned close to the sailing date of the cruise.

GUARANTEE SHARE RATE – Acceptance by some lines of single booking at the cost-saving double occupancy rate, with the understanding that the client is willing to share use of the cabin with a stranger of the same sex.

INSIDE – A cabin has no windows or portholes to offer a view of the sea or of the river.

LOWER BED – A single bed placed at the conventional height from the floor.

OPEN SITTING – Free access to unoccupied tables in the dining room, as opposed to specific table assignments.

OPTION – The cruise line’s offering of a specific cabin or guarantee for a specified period of time during which the passenger decides whether or not to accept. Acceptance is confirmed either by deposit or final payment.

OUTSIDE – A cabin having window(s) or porthole(s) offering a view of the sea or of the river. AKA Oceanview

PASSAGE CONTRACT – Detailed terms of responsibility and accountability found in the cruise ticket.

PORT CHARGE – An assessment that also includes port taxes, collected by the line and paid to a local government authority.

PORTHOLES – Circular "windows" in the side of the ship’s hull or superstructure.

PORT TAX – A charge levied by local government authority to be paid by the passenger. In some air/sea packages, port taxes are included in the final price.

QUAD RATE – An economical per person rate available to individuals for quadruple occupancy on a guarantee share basis.

ROOM – The passenger’s room, stateroom or personal accommodation.

SECOND SITTING – The later of two meal times in the ship’s dinning room. AKA Late Sitting

SHORE EXCURSIONS – Off-the-ship tours at ports of call for which an extra charge is usually applied.

STATEROOM – See "Room"

STOPOVER – Leaving the ship at a port of call and rejoining it at a subsequent port of call or upon the ship’s return to the earlier port of call.

TBA – To be assigned

TRANSFERS – Conveyance between the ship and other modes, such as airports, hotels, or departure points for shore excursions.

TRIPLE RATE – An economical per person rate available to individuals for triple occupancy on a guarantee share fare basis.

TYPE - See "Category"

UPPER BED – A single size bed higher from the floor than usual (similar to a bunk bed) often recessed into the ceiling or wall by day.

WAIT LIST – Not a guarantee, but the cruise line’s endeavor to obtain accommodation for passengers on a first-come-first-served basis when all cabins are presently either sold, under deposit or under option.

TARIFF RATE – The rate printed in the brochure, i.e. brochure rate.

Ship Terminology

AFT – Near, toward or in the rear (stern) of the ship.

AMIDSHIPS – In or toward the middle of the ship; the longitudinal center portion of the ship. Also known as midships.

ASTERN – Abaft; or beyond the ship’s stern

BERTH –a dock, pier or quay.

BOW – Front or forward portion of the ship (the pointy end)

BULKHEAD – Upright partition (wall) dividing the ship into cabins or compartments

COLORS – A national flag or ensign flown from the mast or stern post.

COURSE – Direction in which the ship is headed, usually express in compass degrees

DAVIT – A device for raising and lowering the ship’s lifeboats.

DRAFT – Measurement in feet from the waterline to lowest point of ship’s keel

FORE – The forward mast or the front (bow) of the ship

FORWARD- Toward the fore or bow of the ship

FUNNEL – The smokestack or "chimney" of the ship.

GALLEY – The ship’s kitchen

GANGWAY – The opening through the ship’s side and the ramp by which passengers embark and disembark.

GROSS REGISTERD TON (GRT) – A measurement of 100 cubic feet of enclosed revenue-earning space within a ship.

HELM – Commonly the ship’s steering wheel, but more correctly the entire steering apparatus consisting of the wheel, the rudder and their connecting cables or hydraulic systems

HOUSE FLAG – The flag which denotes the company to which the ship belongs.

HULL – The frame and body (shell) of the ship exclusive of masts, superstructure or rigging.

KNOT – A unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour (6,080.2 feet) as compared to a land mile of 5,280 feet.

LEEWARD – In the direction of that side of the ship opposite from which the wind blows.

MOOR – To secure a ship to a fixed place by hawsers, cables, or anchor.

PITCH – The alternate rise and fall of a ship’s bow which may occur when underway.

PORT - The left side of the ship when facing toward the bow.

REGISTRY – The country under whose laws the ship and its owners are obliged to comply, in addition to compliance with the laws of the countries at which the ship calls and/or embarks/disembarks passengers/cargo.

ROLL – The alternate sway of a ship from side to side, which may occur when underway.

RUDDER – The fin-like device astern and below the waterline which when turned to port or starboard will cause the bow of the ship to respond with a similar turn.

RUNNING LIGHTS – Three lights (green on the starboard side, red on the portside and white at the top of the mast) required by international law to be lighted when the ship is in motion between sunset and sunrise.

SCREW – The ship’s propeller.

SPACE RATIO – A measurement of cubic space per passenger. Gross Registered Tonnage divided by number of passengers (basis two) equals Space Ratio.

STABILIZER – A gyroscopically operated, fin-like device extending from both side of the ship below the waterline to provide a more stable motion.

STARBOARD – Right side of the ship when facing forward toward the bow.

STERN – The extreme rear of the ship or toward the rear.

SUPERSTRUCTURE – The structural part of the ship above the main deck.

TENDER – A smaller vessel, sometimes the ship’s lifeboat, used to move passengers to and from the ship and shore when the ship is at anchor.

WAKE – The track of agitated water left behind a ship in motion.

WEATHER SIDE – The side of the ship exposed to the wind or to the weather.

WEIGH – To raise, for example, to "weigh" the anchor

WINDWARD – Toward the wind, to the direction from which the wind blows.


DS - Diesel ship

MS – Motor ship

MTS – Motor turbine ship

MV – Motor Vehicle

NS – Nuclear ship

RHMS- Royal Hellenic Mail Ship (old)

RMS – Royal Mail Ship

SS – Steamship

SSC – Semi Submersible Craft

STR – Steamer

TS – Twin Screw

TSS - Turbine steamship

USS – United States Ship (U.S. Navy)

Travel Terminology used in Tour Operator Brochures

ESCORTED – You will have a tour escort with you from beginning to end. This person will be in charge of all travel details will make sure everything goes smoothly. They travel with you on all flights, stay at your hotels and may or may not take local tours with you. They are not local guides; they are in addition to the local guides. A tour escort may be provided for as few as 10 persons but generally a minimum of 15 persons is required. A tour that is "escorted" generally clearly specifies this benefit. It is a benefit that is costed into your tour pricing, so you are paying for this benefit. If a minimum number of persons are not reached for a particular tour, typically it will be canceled.

LOCALLY HOSTED - locally hosted tour means that in each city you visit there is a local company looking after you – provide you with transfers and tours according to your pre-made arrangements. If you have transfers included, they are at the airport to meet you and take you to the hotel, help you check in and give you a general briefing on your arrangements and locale. They will tell you what to expect on your tours and when to be ready. If you want to arrange optional tours, they will arrange them for you. If you have problems, they are there to help you. When you do not have pr-arrangements, you have time to yourself. Locally Hosted tours give you the benefit of a local contract without the drawback of paying extra or being dependent upon other people selecting the same tour at the same time you do.

FIT - "FIT" is today’s lingo for "Foreign Independent Tour" or more simply put local hosted arrangements, but designed specifically for you and tailored to meet your specific needs and desires. It may be on a private basis or "Seat-In" basis.

PRIVATE VS "SEAT-IN" – PRIVATE – means you have your own private guide and your own private vehicle, both of which allow you to go at your own pace. Private basis offers many benefits as you get to do it your way within the specified time and frame works. You visit and see what you want and not what the "typical" tour takes you to. Should you add museums or other attractions with additional costs, you may be asked to pay those costs. Obviously, this is a more expensive way to tour, but it is generally worth the extra cost.

SEAT-IN- Many of the popular tours are provided this way. / The local operator schedules the tour for a specific time and puts many individuals together. The cost of the vehicle and the guide are less on a per person basis because the cost is shared among all participants. Seat-in tours normally stop at major hotels to pick up and drop off passengers. The guide may be speaking several languages, depending on those on board. This type of touring saves money and provides assurance that the tour will take place. You do the standard tour at the standard pace.

HOTEL CATEGORIES – Hotel Categories can be very confusing as different areas call the best hotels "first class" and some call them "deluxe hotels". Of course the rating will vary area to area, as sometimes the standards are different, i.e. the best hotel in the area may be the best there, but not necessarily be considered the same as "the best" on an international level. Having said that, here are some general guidelines:


"Deluxe" "First Class" "Standard"

Five Star Four Star Three Star

MEAL PLANS – Meal plans vary per country, per city and often per hotel. Below please find the usual meal plan lingo.


A la Carte You order off the menu any items that you want.

American Breakfast Full breakfast; you order from a menu

American Plan Includes Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Box or picnic lunch Prepared before your departure, in a box or Bag such as a sandwich or piece of chicken, bagged chips or crackers & cheese, cookies, soft drink or bottled water. These are usually provided, as there is no suitable place on the route.

Buffet Breakfast Fancy self-serve continental breakfast.

Sometimes include pre-made cooked items.

Continental Breakfast Breads, jams, coffee-tea, maybe fruit juice Or fruits, cereals. As it sounds, generally with non-cooked breakfast items that is Self-served

European Plan No meals

Inclusive Plan All Inclusive (meals, sports, extras)

Lunch en route Generally in a restaurant and generally "Table d’hôte"

Modified American Plan Two meals per day, typically Breakfast and Dinner

Table d’hôte Family style – You may or may not have Choice of the main entrée but all other items are pre-selected.


Tips at airport – The local guide tips the porters for bringing your luggage from the baggage area to the vehicle or from the vehicle to the check-in Counter.

Tips to hotel doorman - The local guide tips to the doormen to get the luggage from vehicle to lobby and from the lobby back to vehicle.

Tips to guides – Are almost always left to your discretion. The more the guide does for you, the more you should tip. Obviously private guides taking care only of you will warrant a larger tip than if you are a member of a "seat-in" tour.

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