Nautical Terms for Cruisers | CruiseHabit

Nautical Terms for Cruisers

On your cruise (and our Periscopes) you'll hear all sorts of terms you wouldn't otherwise use on a daily basis, and no, we're not talking about the lyrics Bob Marley's song "Kaya".  Let's cover some of the more common (or, in some cases, just some of the more interesting) terms, especially as they relate to cruising.  The list certainly isn't all inclusive, but we think it's a good start.  

a cleat with rope
This is a cleat, and it isn't on our list of nautical terms for cruisers.


Bow - the front of the ship
Stern - the back of the ship
Port - adj the left side of the ship when facing forward (remember left and port both have four letters)
Starboard - adj the right side of the ship when facing forward
Forward - adj, adv towards the front of the ship (you can walk forward, or a room might be forward of another)
Aft - adj, adv towards the back of the ship
Prow - n the part of the bow that is above the waterline
Midship - n the middle of the ship
Draught - n the depth of water needed to float a ship
Air Draft- the height of the ship above the water line
Beam - n the width of the ship
Hull - n the main body of the ship
Keel - n the bottom of the ship's hull
Leeward adj, adv, n side or direction away from the wind
Windward - adj, adv, n side of direction from which the win is blowing

Moor - v to dock, tie up to shore
Embark - v to board a ship
Disembark or Debark - v to leave the ship
Muster station - n where passengers meet in the event of an emergency
Muster drill - n a requisite drill at the beginning of a sailing to convene and go over emergency procedures
Muster - v to meet
Galley - n a kitchen
Bulkheads - n the dividing wall (or doors) separating parts of the ship
Berth - 1) n a bed, or area where one sleeps 2) n the area where the ship is docked 3) v to moor
Tender - 1) v to take a small boat between ship and shore where the ship is unable to dock 2) n a small boat used for tender operations
Pilot - n a mariner from the local port that boards to help guide the ship in and out of a port (article on pilots here)
Port of call - n a port which a ship is visiting during a cruise

Want to learn a bit more about the history of the term "cruise"?  A Cruise By Any Other Name will enlighten you in less than two minutes!

Have you heard a term we didn't mention?  Reach out in the comments below so we can cover this topic from bow to stern (or to let you know that your friend's time in the Navy may have been spent at a desk).  You can also contact us on Facebook and Twitter!