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Port vs. Starboard, Bow vs. Stern, and Forward vs. Aft: How to Find Your Way Around a Cruise Ship

No matter how many times you cruise, boarding a new-to-you ship for the first time can be confusing. Cabin hallways can look the same, dead ends can force you to retrace your steps to get to dinner, and if we had a penny for every time we found ourselves at the back of the vessel when we thought we were headed to the front, we could buy a ship of our own.

The first step to orienting yourself is to understand the directional terms used at sea. What does forward mean on a cruise ship? What does aft mean? What's the difference between bow and stern? How about port and starboard?

What Is a Galley on a Cruise Ship?

Life at sea is, undoubtedly, different from life on land, lending itself to its own set of rules, protocols, customs and even language. If you truly want to feel like a cruise insider, you'll need to learn the appropriate lingo.

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