Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line Words You Need to Know

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With the recent announcements about the Disney Wish’s upcoming debut and the now widely available COVID vaccines, many travelers are now starting to think seriously about planning cruise vacations again.

If you’re new to cruising, or if you need a refresher after an extended hiatus away from the sea, here are some terms that you’re likely to come across during your planning process. Some are unique to Disney Cruise Line and some are applicable to cruising in general.

  • ABD Adventures by Disney. This is the world-travel arm of Disney Destinations. They run the Disney river cruises as well as guided tours within some DCL sailings.
  • ADULT DISTRICT The area on DCL ships that includes most of the bars and lounges. These areas are typically restricted to guests age 18 and up after 9 p.m. The deck plans for the new Disney Wish look like there will be no dedicated adult district on this vessel.
  • ADULT DINING Describes the premium restaurants on the ship that require guests to be age 18 or older to attend and that carry an additional fee.
  • AFT The rear of the ship.
  • ADJACENT STATEROOMS Staterooms that are next to each other but aren’t connected by an internal door. You must enter the hallway to travel between the rooms. Note: This is NOT the same thing as CONNECTING STATEROOMS.
  • ALL ABOARD The time at which you’re required to be back on board the ship following a day in port. If you’re not back at the ship by all aboard time, you’ll be left behind.
  • ALL ASHORE The time at which guests may disembark the ship for a day in port.
  • ASSISTANT SERVER This is the person on your serving team who is primarily responsible for your beverage orders and for making sure your plates are cleared between courses.
  • BACK TO BACK (B2B) Booking two consecutive cruises. This is most common on the Disney Dream, where guests with a fondness for Castaway Cay can book a three-day and four-day cruise one after the other. You can sometimes keep the same stateroom for B2B sailings.
  • BACKSTAGE Behind the scenes. Refers to any area of the ship that is not normally accessible to guests. (Backstage has the same meaning at the Disney parks.)
  • BOW The front of the ship.
  • BLACKOUT/BLOCKOUT DATES Specific sail dates for which onboard-booking (OBB) discounts are unavailable.
  • BRIDGE The area at the front of the ship where the captain and crew navigate the vessel.
  • CAPTAIN The leader of the entire vessel. Responsibilities include navigating, operating the ship’s equipment, overseeing personnel, and tending to miscellaneous business. Many longer cruises include an opportunity to meet the captain.
  • CAST MEMBER Disney-speak for “employee.” Everyone who works for Disney is a cast member.
  • CASTAWAY CAY Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. (Cay is pronounced “key.”)
  • CASTAWAY CLUB Disney Cruise Line’s “frequent flyer” program.
  • CLOSED-LOOP CRUISE A cruise that starts and ends at the same port. (Compare with Repositioning Cruise.)
  • CONNECTING STATEROOMS These are staterooms that are next to each other and also have an internal door connecting them. (Compare with Adjacent Staterooms.)
  • COSTUME Anything worn by a DCL cast member.
  • CREW MEMBER Generally, the employees of a ship. On DCL, cruise staff (see below) are distinct from crew members.
  • CRUISE DIRECTOR Holds responsibility for onboard hospitality, entertainment, and social events; serves as the public face of the cruise line on his or her ship. (For classic TV buffs, this is the Julie McCoy role on The Love Boat.) On the DCL ships, you’ll hear the cruise director make most onboard loudspeaker announcements. He or she also will appear in the theater on most evenings, giving opening and closing remarks.
  • CRUISE STAFF You’d think this would mean all of the crew who work on the ship. On DCL, however, “cruise staff” refers to the dozen or so attractive, personable, and hyperenergetic cast members who run the onboard family and adult entertainment activities: bingo, karaoke, dance parties, and so on. If they’re not spiffed up for some themed event, you’ll find them wearing a nautical look: white shoes and shorts with a red-and-navy-striped top.
  • DECK Nautical verbiage for “story,” “floor,” or “level.” For example, your stateroom isn’t on Floor 6 but Deck 6.
  • DCL Disney Cruise Line.
  • DOUBLE DIP Slang in the Disney-cruise community for an itinerary with two stops at Castaway Cay. Each year there are just a handful of double-dip cruises, making them particularly coveted.

    Cruising has a language all its own and that goes double for Disney Cruise Line.
  • DVC Abbreviation for Disney Vacation Club, Disney’s time-share program.
  • EXCURSION Known in Disney lingo as a port adventure, this is any organized land-based activity in the ship’s port of call.
  • FISH EXTENDER (FE) A sort of “Secret Santa” gift exchange among Disney cruisers. Next to each stateroom door is a metal fish that serves as a hook/mail slot. Some guests hang fabric pockets from the fish (thus extending the fish), which they use to accept gifts from their Fish Extender group. To participate in an FE exchange, search Facebook for a group for your specific sailing. This is completely optional. We do not this recommended during your first sailing. (NOTE: We have not received word from Disney if Fish Extender exchanges will be permitted in the first post-COVID sailings.)
  • FORWARD The front part of the ship.
  • GANGWAY The ramp or staircase that guests use to embark and disembark the ship. Depending on the specifics of a particular port, the location of the gangway may vary.
  • GTY Abbreviation for Guarantee. Some guests book a stateroom without knowing the exact room number. Such bookings are known as guarantees because Disney guarantees that it will be in the category that the guest pays for or better. This is a nice way to book a room if you’re not picky about its location.
  • HEAD SERVER The waiter in charge of the entire dining room in Disney’s rotational restaurants. You may not see your head server much, but that’s because he or she is extremely busy making sure the entire dining operation runs smoothly. If you’re having any trouble with your primary serving team, speak with the head server.
  • IGT Abbreviation for Inside Guarantee (see GTY). This is a nonrefundable fare for an inside stateroom, typically booked at the last minute. You won’t get to choose your exact stateroom, but you will get the category of room you want.
  • KEY TO THE WORLD (KTTW) CARD The card you receive upon checkin at the ship that functions as your room key, identification during onboard photo opportunities, and a charge card for merchandise and additional-cost food and beverage items on the ship. You will need your KTTW Card many times throughout your day on board, as well as to get on or off the ship. Always keep it with you during your cruise.
  • KNOT A unit of speed equal to 1 nautical mile (1.852 kilometers) per hour, or 1.151 miles per hour.
  • LIGHTHOUSE POINT Disney’s second private island, currently under development. This new Bahamian port of call will be located on the island of Eleuthera.
  • MDR Short for main dining room (aka rotational dining room). Each DCL ship has three MDRs.
  • MUSTER The required first-day safety drill.
  • NAUTICAL MILE See Knot (above).
  • NAVIGATOR See Personal Navigator (below).
  • OBB Abbreviation for onboard booking, or booking your next Disney cruise while you’re on your current cruise. All DCL ships have a dedicated Onboard Booking desk. If you book your next cruise on board, you receive a discount on the OBB sailing (typically 10%).
  • OFFICER A member of the leadership team of the ship. On Disney Cruise Line, officers typically wear white uniforms.
  • OGT Abbreviation for Oceanview Guarantee (see GTY). This is a nonrefundable fare for an Oceanview stateroom, typically booked at the last minute. You won’t get to choose your exact stateroom, but you will get the category of room you want.
  • ONBOARD CREDIT “Gift” money that you can apply to your onboard account. Guests might given onboard credit when they book their cruise through a travel agent. You also can win onboard credit at bingo games on the ship and at promotional Disney Vacation Club, spa, and shopping presentations. Onboard credit can be used to pay for shore excursions, adult dining, shipboard merchandise purchases, and so on.
Ships officers on the Disney Fantasy, July 2018
  • PERSONAL NAVIGATOR The daily publication detailing each ship’s onboard activities. Available as a hard-copy brochure and a mobile app.
  • PFD Abbreviation for personal flotation device, or life vest.
  • PLACEHOLDER A deposit for a future sailing, at a nonspecified date, made while you are on a DCL ship. Placeholders get the benefits of booking a future cruise, such onboard credit, reduced deposit, etc. but can choose their sail date later.
  • PORT (adjective) The left side of the ship, as you face the front of it.
  • PORT (noun) A town or city with a harbor. The ships makes stops in ports.
  • PORT ADVENTURE See Excursion (above).
  • REPOSITIONING CRUISE Cruise in which the embarkation and debarkation ports are different (compare with Closed-Loop Cruise, above). Disney
    primarily use this term when referring to its 10-plus-day Transatlantic and Panama Canal sailings, but there are several other DCL examples as well.
  • SERVER Your waiter. The server will guide you through the menu each night, take your order, and ensure that it’s delivered to your table properly and promptly. If you have dietary issues or food idiosyncrasies, your server will be the one who makes sure your needs are met.
  • SHIP A large oceangoing vessel — don’t call it a boat! With a few exceptions, the general rule of thumb is that a ship can carry a boat but a boat can’t carry a ship.
  • STARBOARD The right side of the ship, as you face the front of it.
  • STATEROOM Your room on the ship. Most other cruise lines call them cabins; DCL calls them staterooms regardless of the size or location of the room.
  • STATEROOM HOST The person who cleans your room. Your stateroom host will also turn down your bed at night, deliver messages, and generally assist with any aspect of your room’s functionality. Don’t forget to tip!
  • STERN The back of the ship.
  • TENDER A small boat that transfers guests from the cruise ship to land. Tenders are used when a port’s waters are too shallow for a large ship to dock next to a pier.
  • TRANSFER The Disney-arranged method of getting you to the ship prior to sailing or to another form of transportation after sailing. For example, you can purchase transfers from a hotel at Walt Disney World to Port Canaveral or from Port Canaveral to Orlando International Airport.
  • VGT Abbreviation for Verandah Guarantee (see GTY). This is a nonrefundable fare for a Verandah stateroom, typically booked at the last minute. You won’t get to choose your exact stateroom, but you will get the type of room you want.
  • VPP Abbreviation for Vacation Protection Plan, DCL’s version of trip insurance.
  • WAVE PHONE The mobile phone provided in your stateroom for communication with other guests while you’re on board the ship.

Have any other Disney Cruise Line terms you’re curious about? Let us know in the comments.


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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

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