Updated October 18, 2017
A cruise ship pier is a structure in a port designed for docking to allow passengers on and off the ship, and/or for the ship to restock its provisions. Some ports have multiple piers and some piers are long enough to accommodate more than one cruise ship. The specific spot at the pier where a ship is parked, or moored, is its berth.
Modern cruise piers are made of steel and concrete and are generally wide enough for service vehicles and pedestrians to traverse safely. The pier will have steel mushroom-shaped bollards for the ship's mooring lines to be looped around to hold the ship snug against the rubber bumpers of the pier. During docking, the captain or pilot will utilize the ship's side thrusters to gently park the ship next to the pier while the port crew and the ship's crew work together to tie the lines on the bollards.
Piers may extend out into the water or be built along the shore of the port. In some ports, the pier may be shorter than large cruise ships, but have additional mooring points permanently placed beyond the end of the pier to accommodate these large ships. "Dolphin" is the proper nautical name for these unattached mooring points.
In some ports, passengers walk directly on the pier between the ship's gangway and a terminal building or port entry gate. In busier ports, particularly for embarkation and disembarkation purposes, passengers enter and exit the ship via a raised skybridge above the pier itself.