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Ask the Editor: Cruising Trivia and Terms
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What is the derivation of the term "Lido Deck"?

What is the meaning of the term "sea legs"?

What's a poop deck?

Where did the term "as the crow flies" come from?

What does the big "X" on the funnels of Celebrity ships stand for?

When does a boat become a ship?

What is the derivation of the term "Lido Deck"? It seems that whatever the rest of the decks are named, that upper deck with pool and buffet almost always takes that name.

This term has come down to us from the early days of transatlantic steamship travel. The word, "Lido," is a 19th-century term meaning a fashionable beach resort, with most authorities attributing its origins to the Island Resort located on an island in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Venice, Italy. European steamship lines, in the era of multi-class ocean travel, coined the phrase Lido Deck to refer to the pool and sun deck area exclusively for use by first-class passengers.

Help us settle a difference of opinion about the meaning of the term "sea legs." My husband says it refers to being immune to seasickness; I think it's that feeling you get when you walk off a ship onto dry land and it still feels like you're rocking. Which one of us is correct?

The last thing we want to do is take sides in a domestic dispute, but, in this case we have to side with your husband -- though strictly speaking, he's not totally correct either. "Sea legs" originally meant the ability to maintain one's balance on a pitching deck solely by shifting one's weight from one foot to the other, without having to hold onto something solid to maintain balance. By extension this has come to include the ability to tolerate a rocking ship without getting seasick. The feeling you are talking about is commonly called "dock rock," and has the scientific name "Mal de Debarquement Syndrome" (MDD or MdDS).

What's a poop deck and where does that name come from?

No, it's not where young officers walk the captain's wife's poodle. The term, referring to a raised deck at the very aft end of a ship, goes all the way back to ancient Rome. Those early Mediterranean sailors carried sacred idols on raised platforms on the sterns of their vessels, presumably so the idolized god could look down upon the ship and crew and grant protection. The Roman term for such statues was puppis, and the platform was called a puppim, which eventually became poupe, and, finally, poop deck.

Where did the term "as the crow flies" come from?

In the good old days before talking GPS machines, mariners often carried cages full of crows or ravens for use as aids in coastal navigation. If the sailors were uncertain of their position and bearing to a nearby land mass, they would release one of the birds who would usually fly in the shortest, most direct route toward the nearest land. In colloquial parlance, "as the crow flies" has come to mean the same thing, which usually is a straight line.

What does the big "X" on the funnels of Celebrity ships stand for?

It stands for "Chandris." Originally, Celebrity was the upscale division of Chandris Cruises, a Greek company. If that doesn't seem to answer the question remember that the "ch" sound in Greek is represented by the letter, chi, whose alphabetical symbol is "X."

Please help settle a family feud! My husband is constantly calling our cruise vessel a "boat" and I keep telling him, no, it is a "ship." When does a boat become a ship?

Far be it from us to contribute to any marital discord, so our answer -- and it's the truth -- is that there is no difference.

However -- and this is paraphrased from "Chapman Piloting: Seamanship & Boat Handling" (63rd Edition), the mariner's bible for all things maritime -- though there is no official difference, the line is generally drawn at 20 meters (or about 60 feet), at which point a "boat" becomes a "ship," though neither designation is incorrect for any length.

But, in a similar vein, which of the following three vessels is not considered a yacht: a) a 12-foot outboard inflatable dinghy; b) a six-foot kayak; or c) a 32-foot motorized charter catamaran?

Answer: c) the charter catamaran. The yacht, by the "official" definition, is a pleasure craft not for commercial use. Now, before everyone who's taken yacht charters fires off angry e-mails, remember I said "official definition." Nowadays, the term is used far more loosely, but if you are rowing a rowboat, you are still considered to be piloting a yacht!

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