Where Do We Get the Word ‘Cruise’?


Today’s blog moves away from the latest industry news and city reviews and moves into dictionary corner, as we explore the origin and etymology of the word ‘cruise’. This slightly superfluous journey into the history of a word so close to all of our hearts will provide you the chance to impress your fellow passengers with your knowledge next time you’re walking the decks atop the high seas.

So strap in, this is going to be a whirlwind ride.

The very first use of the term dates back to the 1650s, when the Dutch started using the word kruisen to mean ‘to cross, sail to and fro’. This was derived from the Dutch word kruis which was in reference to a cross pattern or a physical cross. So this means a cruise isn’t really a cruise unless you make a proper crossing – tours around the UK just won’t cut the mustard.

As leisure cruising hadn’t really come to the fore in the 1650s, the term was coined in reference to trade sailings – so a crossing was necessary, otherwise the trading wouldn’t be great.

Tracing the etymology even further back, kruis was a literal translation of the Latin word crux. The Latin word still retains some importance in modern day Britain, with a cross shaped star constellation called Crux.

When we adopted the term kruis for the English dialect, we simply swapped the k for a c and added the e because we traditionally liked to be difficult. Quite a few other European languages have done likewise, swapping in the c.

Special Collections Toronto Photo Library

So let’s a have a look at how a number of world languages have adapted kruis for their own lexicon.

Danish – Krydstogt

French – Croisiere

German – Kreuzfahrt (a personal favourite)

Greek – Krouaziera

Italia – Crociera

Norwegian – Cruise

Polish – Rejs

Portuguese – Cruzeiro

Romanian – Croaziera

Russian – Kruiz

Spanish – Crucero

Swedish – Kryssning

Turkish – Cruise

Welsh – Mordaith (always have to be different)

So if the only thing holding you back from booking a dream cruise holiday was an uncertainty about the origin of the word ‘cruise’, then you no longer have any excuses. Head over the Cruise1st homepage, or call our dedicated team on 0808 2746 777, for a full range of fantastic deals.

Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Jen, Special Collections Toronto Photo Library


About Author

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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