Glossary of Cruise Industry Terms


A promise of what you are going to deliver. It is an identifiable trademark, characteristic or association that becomes the primary recognition of a product or service.

Channels of distribution

How travel is sold. Products or services can be sold directly to the consumer (direct distribution) or through the travel trade (indirect distribution).


A fee paid to an agent for transacting a piece of business or service. In the travel business, commissions are paid to travel agents, and tour operators or wholesalers as compensation for marketing and selling products or services to their markets.


A single travel or tour service; when grouped together, components form a package.

Contemporary product segment

Includes cruises in medium-size to very large and/or modern ships with daily rates of less than $300. The contemporary cruise product appeals to passengers of all ages and income categories, and most often to first-time cruisers.


Those firms under special contract rights to provide food, beverage, retails, spa services, etc. on the cruise ships.

Cruise Association

A non-profit or not-for-profit organization of cruise homeports and ports-of-call joined together for the promotion of their destinations to the cruise lines and the cruising public. An example of this is Cruise BC. A cruise association can also be a non-profit or not-for profit organization of cruise lines and related organizations and businesses. An example of this is Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Cruise Theatre

In cruise tourism, a theatre is the geographic area and waters where cruise itineraries occur.  The theater includes the entirety of the air, land and sea space that is, or that may potentially become, involved in supporting both the water based activities of the cruise ship, marine excursion actives or shore based tour operations.

Cruise Tourism

Means the arrival of large and small cruise line vessels and “mega yachts” that are chartered. The term used here does not include private boats and their owner passengers although they are a great addition to community tourism and can use many of the same facilities.


The distribution of cruise ships by cruise itinerary and ports of call, generally based on seasonality and consumer demand.

DMC (Destination Management Company)

A DMC is a professional management company specializing in the design and delivery of events, activities, tours, staffing and transportation, possessing and utilizing extensive local knowledge, expertise and resources.

DMO (Destination Marketing Organization)

An organization whose primary function is to attract visitors to its locale for the purpose of enhancing the local economy through purchase of room nights, food and beverage, retail items, transportation, visitor services, etc.

Economic Impact

The cumulative economic stimulus of visitor spending from direct, indirect and induced spending as visitor dollars work their way through the local economy.

Escort (Escort & Driver)

The representative of a tour company who leads a group; driver is often sub-contracted with the coach, but works with the tour company escort to ensure the success of a tour; drivers are responsible for the safety and comfort of the group while onboard the coach; escorts are responsible for all aspects of the tour, and represent the tour operator, dealing with all of the suppliers during the trip.

Experiential Product

A tourism product that provides personal development opportunities, recreation activity training or simply an enhanced interactive involvement.

Exploration / Soft Adventure product segment

Cruise products that are generally found on smaller ships with widely varying daily rates, fewer frills, but an emphasis on earning/education.

Familiarization (“FAM”) trips

Free or reduced-priced trips given to travel agencies, tour wholesalers and operators, travel writers, and others by destination marketing organizations and travel suppliers. “FAM Tours” help stimulate sales and cultivate positive media coverage of an area or product.

FIT (Fully independent tour)

Custom designed travel itineraries designed by travel agents or tour operators for travelers who prefer to have a fully planned vacation but do not want to be part of a group tour.

Guest Lecturer

An individual, not usually on permanent employment with the cruise line, who speaks on a particular hobby, skill or activity that he or she is considered expert.


Guides work for tour companies or ground operators may be called land operators or receptive operators. A ground operator is a type of inbound tour operator who specializes in servicing other tour companies’ arriving groups. These guides meet their clients and conduct tours for the various groups.

Ground Operator

A company that contracts services and/or a selection of products to a tour operator; its role is to ensure all components contracted for in a region are fulfilled; often looks after meet & greet services and airport to lodging transfers.


Port from which a cruise ship loads passengers and begins its itinerary, and to which it returns to disembark passengers upon conclusion of voyage. Sometimes referred to as embarkation port and turn around port. It is also where the cruise ship’s supplies are loaded for the cruise, which includes everything from fresh water and fuel to fruits, vegetable, champagne, and any other supplies needed for the cruise.


A representative who provides information, meet & greet services, or who assists at a destination with ground arrangements. Does not actually accompany the tour.


The assembled buildings, machines, tools and other hardware gathered for the purpose of conducting business. Port infrastructure means the physical facilities used for cruise ships such as docks, aprons, gangways, roadways, parking, etc.


The travel schedule provided by a cruise line, travel agent or tours operator for their clients. A final itinerary, however, provides all details such as flight numbers, departure port and times, ports-of-call and describes any prepaid planned activities.

Large cruise lines

Based on the size of ships rather than the size of the company. Large Cruise Lines deploy ships that carry upwards of 1,800 passengers.


The unit of measurement used to describe how many passengers a ship will hold. It refers to the number of people that can sleep in the beds available in a cabin that are at floor level. Thus it is possible to have more than 100% occupancy on a cruise ship.

Luxury product segment

Usually includes medium-sized to smaller ships, and daily rates of $300 to $600 or more, longer cruises and worldwide service.

Market share

The percentage relationship of an organization’s sales (or number of visitors) to total industry sales.

Net Rate or Price

The rate to be marked up by a wholesaler or a cruise line for resale to the traveller.


The combination of related and complementary travel and hospitality services into a single-price offering.

Partnership Cooperative

Promotions/marketing efforts and other cooperative offerings made by travel and hospitality organizations. Partnerships can also play an important role in packaging shore excursions – where two businesses work together to deliver to tour experience. An example of this is a motor coach operator providing transportation to an attraction.

Passenger capacity

The number of revenue-paying passengers that can be accommodated on a cruise ship. Calculated at an occupancy of two persons per cabin.

Premium product segment

Includes daily rates from $200 to $400. It attracts older, more affluent passengers, and experienced travelers/cruisers. Typically this segment features large, frequently newer ships.


A destination that is visited as part of the cruise’s itinerary. Calls may range from five to 24 hours. Sometimes referred to as transit port and destination port.

Pre / post tours

Optional extension or side‐trip package before or after a package tour or cruise.


Prices to be given to an RTO, tour operator or cruise line. Rates are to be net, non-commissionable, which allow the operator to add a required profit margin to a reach a competitive retail price.

Receptive Tour Operator (RTO)

Also known as inbound tour operators or ground operators, provide and specialize in ground services within a destination and sell these services to tour operators, wholesale tour operators and in some cases travel agencies.


Typically, when a vessel moves from one seasonal cruise area to another i.e. from Alaska in the summer to the Caribbean in the winter. The movement (or segments of the movement) from, the Alaska cruise theatre to the Caribbean may be termed a “repositioning cruise.”

Retail price

The published price. Retail prices are often discounted.

Round-trip or circle itinerary

When a cruise vessel leaves from and returns to the same port. Also called a closed-jaw itinerary.

Small Cruise Lines

Based on the size of ships rather than the size of the company. Small Cruise Lines deploy ships that carry fewer than 500 passengers.

Shore Excursions

Shore side tours operated by independent tour companies specifically for cruise passengers. An extra charge is usually applied to your shipboard account.

Shore Excursion Manager

His or her primary responsibilities are the promotion, arrangement, and supervision of all shore excursion programs arranged on behalf of the cruise line by the independent organizations that provide the various tours.

Shore Excursion Staff/ Assistant Shore Excursion Manager

The responsibilities of shore excursion staff are to assist with shore excursions and land tours. The position is comparable to that of a Junior Assistant Purser and, on some cruise lines; the actual title is Junior Assistant Purser, Shore Excursions. Office and administrative skills are required, but no previous experience in tourism is necessary. The Shore Excursion staff sometimes are referred to as Assistant Shore Excursion Managers and are responsible for staffing the shore excursion desk that includes guest services and tour sales. They also must politely deal with complaints from passengers

Time in port

The length of time a cruise vessel is at a port-of-call location. It can range from 4 hours to up to 24 hours.

Turnaround time

The length of time a cruise vessel is at a home or turn around port location. The length of time is determined by the size of ship and the need for passengers to disembark and embark.


A cruise that crosses the Atlantic Ocean. Today, port-of-call visits to Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Canada and the Saint Lawrence River are often scheduled into Trans-Atlantic crossings.

Wholesale price

The price assigned to a product or service that covers all variable and fixed costs and a profit to the producer. The difference between wholesale and retail price includes mark ups and commissions by distributers, retailers, and others.

Sources for Definitions: American Association of Port Authorities, American Bus Association, Association of Destination, Management Executives, Great Destination Strategies, Hospitality and Travel Marketing by Alistair Morrison LLC, Miriam-Webster Dictionary, U.S. Tour Operators Association, National Tour, Association, Tourism BC, Wave Point Consulting Ltd., Wikipedia.

For further cruise industry definition see (Glossary of Cruising Terminology)

Overview of the Cruise Ship Industry in Canada.