Cruising to a Destination Wedding or Honeymoon at Sea
From Caribbean fun and sun or European charm to the natural splendors of Alaska or Hawaii, a cruise provides picturesque destinations to celebrate your love and relationship, while enjoying all the amenities, entertainment venues, and pampering the ship and crew has to offer. Not to mention, a cruise is one of the more value-focused vacations around, with accommodations, food and entertainment included in one price. But there are some very important reasons why it’s critical to enlist the help of a travel agent for this momentous event.
Whether you want a simple wedding or an all-out bash with friends and family, each cruise line offers their own unique onboard packages, with plenty of optional add-ons to heighten the experience. That dizzying array of options is one obvious reason why a travel agent should be your first call.
One benefit of being married on a cruise is that the cruise line will provide you with the services of a wedding coordinator. The coordinator will help you arrange every detail of your ceremony, from music and flowers to photography, video recording, formal wear and a wedding cake. Food can range from light refreshments to a multi-course, sit-down dinner for you and your wedding guests. However, it’s important to remember the wedding coordinator works for the cruise line. While he or she wants your big event to go off without a hitch, a travel agent can help guide you in a more impartial fashion and steer you away from unnecessary expenses. A cruise-specialty agent who has organized weddings at sea can help you determine what you need and will arm you with information so that in the end, you aren’t spending more money than planned.
Princess Cruises pioneered weddings at sea when it launched the industry’s first ocean-going wedding chapel. While many people mistakenly believe the ship’s captain is always the one who conducts the ceremony, this is not actually the case. In fact it wasn’t until the late 1990s that Princess Cruises introduced the industry’s first policy that allowed their captains to conduct weddings while in international waters. Celebrity Cruises is an example of another cruise line that offers this service.
On some cruise lines, like Disney Cruise Line, a senior officer of the ship conducts the ceremony. Because they are not permitted to conduct legal proceedings, your legal ceremony is actually conducted in port on the day of embarkation, with your special personalized ceremony then held later in the cruise.
In most cases, the cruise line will arrange for a non-denominational minister, judge or other qualified official to conduct the ceremony. Or, if you have a special relationship with your own religious official, you may want to invite them to conduct the ceremony for you. While it will be an extra expense to provide their transportation and other costs, it might be worth it if you feel they can provide the best, most personal wedding ceremony – and it’s a practice that some travel agents recommend.
If your wedding is conducted on the ship prior to departure, the bride and groom must be paying passengers; however, wedding guests not on the voyage are usually allowed to come onboard for a few hours to participate in the wedding festivities prior to the ship’s departure.
If you’d rather wed shore side once the cruise is in progress, nearly all lines offer weddings in some of the world’s most beautiful and unique locations. Disney offers ceremonies on their own private island, Castaway Cay; Royal Caribbean and their Explorer Weddings experience provides the opportunity to wed in such places as a European castle, in a rainforest, or on FlowRider (their onboard surf simulator); or exchange vows on an uninhabited South Pacific island with Regent Seven Seas Cruises. In most cases, if the port is on the itinerary a shore side wedding can be arranged.
Be sure to check with the cruise line and other authorities about taking care of any necessary paperwork – including the wedding license – before you depart for your cruise.
Another major benefit of a cruise-based wedding is that the ceremony can blend seamlessly into a memorable honeymoon. Since you’re already on a vacation, combining a wedding and honeymoon into one package provides a smooth transition from the wedding event to celebrating your honeymoon the rest of the trip.
Honeymoon packages, depending on cruise line and package selected, could include a combination of romantic touches such as breakfast in bed, a bottle of champagne, gourmet chocolates, a dinner for two, and a personalized memento. You’ll sail to beautiful, interesting ports of call while enjoying the amenities of the ship. Every evening includes great dining, music and entertainment all right outside your stateroom door.
If you’re already married but want to experience the chance to feel like a newlywed all over again, many cruise lines also offer vow renewal ceremonies. They can include music, flowers, or other creative touches. While not legal ceremonies, they are a sentimental way to mark one of the most important milestones in your life.
Cruise Holidays will work with you to ensure your ceremony as well as your honeymoon are suited to your taste and budget. For more information about planning a cruise ship wedding or honeymoon, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.