• Newsletter
  • Write a Review
  • Boards
  • Deals
  • Find a Cruise
  • Reviews
  • News
  • Cruise Tips
You may also like
Passengers disembark Norwegian Sun in Victoria (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

What Is a Gangway: Gangway Uses, Materials and More

Passengers disembark Norwegian Sun in Victoria (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Marissa Wright

Aug 18, 2023

Read time
3 min read

In the simplest terms, the gangway is the means of getting on and off a cruise ship. There are other terms that refer to a gangway, including gangplank and ship brow.

As cruisers explore the seas, the gangways on cruise ships allow travelers to embark and disembark easily at new locations.

What Is a Gangway?

Passengers disembark Costa Toscana in Ibiza, Spain (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

In general shipping terms, a gangway refers to a walkway or bridge connecting the vessel to land.

Because access varies widely from one port to another, a cruise ship gangway simply refers to the place on the ship where you enter and exit.

Cruise lines and staff may use various terms for the gangway. These can include the brow of a ship, gangway, gangplank and ship brow.

In beloved children’s movies, you might hear swarthy pirates make people “walk the (gang)plank” to enter the watery depths. When it comes to cruise ships, a gangplank or gangway will help you reach land safely.

How Cruise Ships Use a Gangway

On embarkation and disembarkation days, for example, the gangway will often consist of an enclosed raised bridge like a jetway in an airport. That gangway connects the main deck of a ship directly to the cruise terminal.

At ports of call where the ship is parked at a dock, the gangway is usually on a lower deck, where a metal walkway bridges the gap between the ship and the dock.

At ports where the ship does not dock and passengers are taken to shore in tender boats, the gangway will again be located on a lower deck where passengers are helped across a walkway or platform to the tender boat.

Understanding how cruise ships work and where the gangway is on your cruise ship helps you have the best experience onboard. If you’re new to cruising, remember to read our top tips to help you get around a cruise ship efficiently.

How to Find the Gangway on a Cruise Ship

The gangway aboard Carnival Spirit (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Published notices, announcements and signs should point you to the proper deck and location of the gangway at each port of call during your cruise.

If you’re unsure where the gangway is located or get turned around, ask cruise staff to point you in the right direction.

Different Terms for a Gangway

Due to the rich history of sailing and life on the water, different terms often refer to similar things.

While seafaring pirates may refer to it as a gangplank, modern sailors and cruise staff refer to it as the gangway or ship brow. The gangplank meaning is the same as a gangway and refers to a walkway or bridge connecting the vessel to land. The same is true for the brow of a ship.

Types of Gangway Material Used in the Shipping and Cruise Industries

There are widely varying sizes of boats in the shipping industry, and specifically the cruise sector, which then means that there are different types of materials used to help people reach land safely.

Modern gangways are made with fiberglass, aluminum and steel. Gangways often use a blend of materials to create the sturdiest mechanisms for ships and their passengers.

Updated August 18, 2023
How was this article?
About UsCruise DestinationsFirst Time CruisersFind A Cruise

International Sites

© 1995—2023, The Independent Traveler, Inc.

  • Privacy and Cookies Statement

  • Terms of Use

  • Site Map