Now that we know who to talk to about what, it will be helpful to make some sense out of those nautical terms. Here are the meanings of a few of them.
ABEAM: At right angle to the keel . . . that is, to the length of the ship.
ABOARD: On board.
AFT: Toward the stern (the rear) of the ship.
AMIDSHIPS: Toward the middle of the ship, halfway between the front and back (bow and stern).
ASTERN: Toward the ship’s stern (rear).
Not only do ships have “titles,” so does the cruise ship staff. The saying goes “you can’t tell the players without a program” — so here is your own personal “Cruise Ship Program.”
CAPTAIN: Oversees (and is responsible for) the entire operation and safety of the ship. You will recognize him by all the gold stripes on his shoulder epaulet: 4 same-size bars or 1 wide bar and 3 smaller bars; plus a diamond or loop shape.
STAFF CAPTAIN, FIRST MATE, or FIRST OFFICER: This person is second in command, and is qualified to take over for the Captain in case of an emergency.
SECOND OFFICER: Third in command.
HELMSMAN: The person who steers the ship.
NAVIGATOR: The person who charts the course for the helmsman to follow.
ENGINEERS: They are in charge of the engine room.
CHIEF PURSER: The ship’s accountant, who oversees everything relating to money on the ship, and is responsible for safe-deposit boxes, check cashing, and money changing.
If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you’ve already seen the alphabet-soup on the ship right before its name. And you’ve heard people referred to as pursers and helmsmen and first or second officer. And you’ve had the opportunity to be confused by nautical terms such as leeward, prow, and yaw. If you HAVEN’T been on a cruise yet, now you will learn what to expect!
A thrifty traveler isn’t just someone who wants to get the most out of every travel dollar. The thrifty traveler is also an intelligent and well-informed traveler – even if that means having to learn another language. Therefore, here is an introductory 3-part course in “cruising language.”
We’ll begin by taking the mystery out of ships’ prefixes. Ships have “titles” before their names, just like people do (e.g., Mr., Ms., Captain). These are referred to as the ship’s designation.
- H.M.S. = Her/His Majesty’s Ship (British)
- M.S. = Motor Ship
- M.T.S. = Motor Turbine Ship
- M.V. = Motor Vessel
- N.S. = Nuclear Ship
- R.H.M.S. = Royal Hellenic Mail Ship
- R.M.S. = Royal Mail Ship
- S.S. = Steamship
- STR = Steamer
- T.S. = Twin Screw
- T.S.S. = Turbine Steamship
- U.S.S. = United States Ship (U.S. Navy)
Have you seen other prefixes? If so, let me know and I’ll find out what it stands for!
Tomorrow we’ll discuss “Who is in Charge of What?”