Cruise Ship Life #6: Ship Lingo

Dear Reader,

If you are working on a cruise or just curious, here are some of the words and phrases you will encounter from employees working on board. Keep in mind that I worked on an Italian cruise company, therefore there might be some that are specific to this company, while some are universal.

The cruise ship I was working on


Ship: let’s start with the obvious. It is a ship, not a boat. A boat would not fit as many people.
Forward (Prua): this one is pretty straightforward. It refers to the front of the ship
Aft (Popa): This is the exact opposite, meaning the back of the ship.
Starboard: the right side of the ship.
Port side: the left side of the ship.
Bridge: where the people who command the ship work from
Deck: On a ship, the floors are called decks. So the reception might be on Deck 5 instead of Floor 5.
Lido deck: This is the top deck where the pool is. The exact number will change from ship to ship.
Cabins: This is what we can rooms.
Mess: we don't call it a mensa. On board, it's called a mess.

Related to cruising

Embarkation: is when you board the ship
Embarkation port: a port where there are new guests arriving. We might have just one or two embarkation ports per cruise or we might have five or six.
Port of call: this is the places you dock at and visit.
Shore excursion: a tour you take organized from the ship (by the excursion office)
Tender port: meaning you have to disembark with tender ships (small ships that take you from the ship to the port)
Disembarkation: leaving the ship
Disembarkation port: the port you leave the ship (most of the time the same as the embarkation port)

People related

Captain (also known as Capo): the highest ranking person on the ship, in charge or navigating it
Staff-captain (also known as Staff): second in command
Hotel director: the most important person on the hotel side, in charge of everything related to the hotel operations.
Guest Relations Manager (GRM): Head of the reception. in charge of any issues that come up during your stay related to rooms.
F&B Manager: Head of the Food and Beverage department in charge of all the restaurants and bars on board.
Maitre de Hotel: The main person in charge of the restaurant. He is the person you should go see if you want to change your tablet or seating.
Cruise Director: the person you probably see most often. He is in charge of all the entertainment.
Entertainment staff: all the people working in the entertainment department.
Dancers: only the people dancing on stage during the shows.

Alerts you might hear

Charlie Alfa (Crew Alert): means the crew has to go to their emergency positions
General emergency signal (7 short and 1 long blast): meaning you should go to your room get your lifejacket and head to your assembly station. This is just a precaution, it may not mean anything yet.
Delta Eco (Damage Emergency): meaning there is a damage in the ship and it is most likely leaking. Stay above deck 4 and wait for further instructions
Mike Eco (Medical Emergency): meaning something happened on the ship that requires the immediate attention of the medical crew as well as people to carry the gurney.
Foxtrot Eco (Fire Emergency): meaning there is a small fire somewhere on board and the fire team is probably handing it. There is no need to worry yet.
Two Long Blasts: This it the signal for a bigger fire, which will probably lead to the general emergency signal
Three long Blasts: This is the man overboard signal.
"Only for Exercise": meaning anything that is said after this is only for exercise and is not truly happening. You will hear this every time there is a drill.

Crew lingo

My cruise ships friend

These all terms you will hear the crew throwing around. Some may exist on land, others are very specific to the ship.

"I got banana": meaning I got in trouble and most likely yelled at by the boss.
Babaloo: carries the meaning of idiot on board, but also used between colleagues and friends in a friendly way. I believe the origin is Indonesian, but it could be from an Indian language.
Capo: meaning not just the captain, but also your immediate boss. This may be specific to Italian ships.
Takataka: this means someone is talking a lot. Or there is a lot of talking going on.
Malaka: this is the Greek word for idiot. You might hear this one a lot if you have Greek security.
The highway/ I95: meaning the main corridor on Deck 4 used to get from the front to the back of the ship in the fastest way possible.
Paisano: meaning someone who is from the same country as you.

There you have my extensive list of cruise ship lingo. Hope this will help you understand your colleagues and the rest of the crew better. If you have any more feel free to share them in the comments below or on social media. Enjoy your contract.



2 thoughts on “Cruise Ship Life #6: Ship Lingo”

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