Cruise Terms Explained

Don't know your Virtual Balcony from your Interior, your Forward from your Aft? Don't panic - you've come to the right place! Here are some of the more common terms explained to help you either with your booking or when you climb onboard the ship! We hope you find it helpful...

Port Side

The 'port side' refers to the left hand side of the ship. To make this easier to remember then think that both 'port' and 'left' are each 4 letters long.

Inside or Interior stateroom

An inside or interior stateroom is a room that does not contain a window and tends to be tucked into the middle of the ship.

Outside or Ocean View Stateroom

A stateroom that contains a window or 'porthole' allowing you to see outside and letting in natural light. Naturally the size of the window can vary both on a ship and across ships. Note an obstructed or partially obstructed Ocean View refers to a restricted view from the window by, for example, an overhanging lifeboat. Nothing wrong with these staterooms and often slightly cheaper because of that slightly reduced light or view.

Balcony or Veranda Stateroom

A stateroom with your own private outside area accessed through sliding glass doors usually containing a couple of chairs and a table. Slightly bigger balconies will incorporate deckchairs. On more mainstream cruise lines the term Balcony will be used whereas deluxe luxury cruise lines tend to say Veranda.


Suites differ from cruise line to cruise line and even within ships however a suite would be considered to be a different class of room above a balcony stateroom. These are normally larger sometimes with separate seating areas, normally have a few extra little luxuries such as bathrobes, toiletries etc., considered to be in a better location and often has a little more included as part of your cruise fare like drinks packages or speciality dining. Also, suites can also allow access to exclusive areas on the ship, exclusive bars, restaurants or pool areas for example. Some give you access to your own concierge or even a butler. Again, you will need to clarify exactly what your suite gives you to see if it justifies the price tag. When you consider all you have included it can!

Starboard Side

The starboard side refers to the right hand side of the ship. If you remember that port refers to the left hand side and that both port and left have 4 letters it will help you determine the starboard or right hand side.


A deck of a ship is like a floor of a hotel. Decks are usually numbered but often also have names such as Promenade Deck or Pool Deck.

All Inclusive

Generally when someone refers to All Inclusive they mean that the drinks are included Note - We are continually frustrated by this term as every cruise lines 'All-Inclusive' tends to be different. Definitely handle with care and seek clarification when you see this mentioned - we can help!


The Aft of the ship refers to the back of the ship.


The opposite of Aft, forward refers to the front area of a ship.

Speciality Restaurants

As part of your cruise fare your food in the main dining room, the buffet and often other smaller cafes and restaurants are included. However, increasingly cruise lines are opening alternative 'speciality' restaurants where you pay a small surcharge to enjoy perhaps a dining experience from a Michelin starred chef or perhaps a very high end steakhouse. However the surcharge is often a fraction of what you would expect to pay for the same experience on the 'high street' and ultimately you decide whether it's something you want to pay that little bit extra for or not, or perhaps you want to celebrate a particularly special occasion. There is an abundance of food available without the need to use speciality restaurants - as ever choice is yours.

Embark or Embarkation

When passengers join a ship they 'embark' the ship and the period of passengers joining is referred to as embarkation.

Disembark or Debark

When passengers leave a ship it's referred to as Disembark or to debark.

Home Port

The port from which a ship starts or originates / where the ship is based out of. Example, we've been talking about Celebrity and Princess Home Porting in Dublin - that is, Dublin Port becomes home for a period of time and ships start and end at the same port, ie, Dublin

Lido Deck

The Lido deck refers to the pool deck. Head to the Lido deck to take a plunge into the swimming pool or the whirlpool!

Onboard Credit

Often cruise ships will give 'onboard credit' as part of a promotion or while onboard due to an unforeseen event. You can use this credit to buy things on board, from the shops or perhaps a treatment from the spa. Usually it can only be used on your current voyage.

Repositioning Cruise

Usually occurring April and November (or thereabouts) a repositioning cruise refers to an itinerary that takes the ship from one part of the world to another, often to chase the seasons or the warm weather - ie, from Dubai to Rome, Southampton to Florida so that the ship can start a season of voyages in its new part of the world. Repositioning cruises often offer great value, reduced prices, unique itineraries and often lots of sea days with which to enjoy the ship. Worth considering!

Shore Excursion

Shore excursions are land based trips in each port to allow you to fully immerse yourself in and enjoy each port. They can range from a city tour to a particular cultural event to various active pursuits. Cruise lines will have a range of organised shore excursions to avail of that give you the comfort of knowing that everything is organised for you and you will be collected and delivered back to the ship well on time. However there are very reputable companies that also offer shore excursions often at cheaper prices. Of course you don't have to do either; you can do completely your own thing. The choice is yours!


A tender is a small boat that ferries passengers to the shore from the ship and back again. In some ports the ship can't get into dock at the shoreside and has to anchor off shore. Passengers are then tendered to and from the ship so they can enjoy the port. This is more of a problem with larger ships and less of a problem for smaller boutique ships.

Virtual Balcony

A virtual balcony gives you the impression of having a balcony in your stateroom and a real time sea view through the use of a HD display. In Royal Caribbean's case there is even a virtual rail, the balcony comes complete with curtains so you can cover and uncover it and 'natural' sounds relevant to the view are also played in


The very front part of the ship is called the Bow


The stern refers to the very back of the ship