What could be more romantic than a cruise wedding where the endless blue ocean and the vast expanse of the sky witness the union of two loving souls in holy matrimony?
Since the wedding will be far away from the shore, everything that is needed for the ceremony must be arranged on the ship or brought along as it is not possible to rush to the nearest store to get any last minute items. If properly researched and planned, a cruise wedding can be the most memorable event of a lifetime not just for the bride and groom, but also for the entire family and attendees.
As more and more people opt for cruise weddings, cruise lines and tour operators have come up with attractive offers and packages for wedding and honeymoon cruises. Finding the best ship that suits your wedding requirements depends on what you want out of a cruise wedding.
Once you have decided that a cruise wedding is for you, the next step is to choose from the many various cruise wedding options and packages available, they are all listed below to make it easier for you and your partner.
Types of Cruise Weddings
There are aquatic and land based wedding cruises. When performed inside the ship, it is an aquatic wedding. An aquatic wedding can be arranged:
- Inside the ship’s chapel
- Around the lounge
- On the pool deck
Aquatic ceremonies can either be performed in the daytime or at night. Most couples prefer night weddings under the starlit sky beside the pool, where the sky’s reflection in the clear waters with the cool breeze add a magical atmosphere.
Land based weddings are usually performed in a port according to the preferences of the parties involved or as per the rules, customs, and traditions prevailing in that region, depending on which is permitted on that land. While it is not that different from a regular wedding back home, it is also a part of a cruise wedding.
Cost of Cruise Weddings
An important element in a cruise wedding is the monetary considerations while planning the ceremony on-board. Different ships have varying wedding packages that may suit your budget and expectations. Depending on how much money you are willing to spend for a cruise wedding, the facilities and services could be budget, premium, or of a luxury class.
While calculating the cost of a cruise wedding, the following elements must be taken into account to get a clear picture of how much money you will need.
Number of People Attending the Wedding
Since it is a cruise, all the family members and guests that accompany you may be there until the end of the voyage and their expenses must be taken care of. Additionally, if you want the other passengers and ship crew to attend your wedding, their cost will be added as well. You’ll need to decide who will be coming with you for a cruise wedding and whether you will be entertaining your fellow passengers as well.
Party and Other Entertainment
Usually ships that offer wedding cruises have their own party packages with options for fun and entertainment for the entire wedding group. You may want more or less from the packages available and will need to make sure that the cruise line allows such omissions and provides discounts and deductions for any services not used.
It is also possible to get customised packages where you can decide what you want such as a wedding menu, music, dance, etc. Most cruise wedding offers combine honeymoon packages with the regular wedding options. It may be either free of cost or may involve additional or marginal expenses.
Besides the cost of cruising, money spent for transporting guests to and from the port if needed, also counts. All these must be added to the total expenditure.
Size of the Ship
When you prepare the guest list for the wedding, make sure that the ship you have chosen can accommodate all of them. If you have a large number of people attending your wedding, look for bigger ships or arrange a small ship or yacht exclusively for your unique needs.
Again, such decisions depend largely on your budget and availability of cruise ships of the required size on the preferred date.
Legal Aspects of Cruise Weddings
One of the important issues to tackle is whether the marriage will be valid if performed on-board or within the desired port. Laws can change from region to region and country to country. Some laws stipulate that weddings must take place within a specific distance from the shore. You will need to inquire about all such legal aspects before booking a wedding cruise.
Hire Cruise Wedding Planners
One of the easiest ways to plan a cruise wedding is to hire the services of a wedding planner. You will need to ensure that the person or agency you have selected has prior experience in arranging cruise weddings.
An established wedding planner must be able to search and find suitable wedding packages for you, contact the cruise line and book the ship, make the arrangements, help in preparing guest lists, send invitations, arrange transport to and from the port for the couples, families, and guests, and check the wedding preparations on-board.
You also have the option of using the services of the on-board wedding planners. Since, they are meant for planning weddings on-board, they may have more experience in planning cruise weddings than any other wedding planner. Of course you’ll need to check the cost of this; if they are included in the cost of the wedding package or will you need to pay extra.
Check the Facilities on board the Ship
Before selecting a cruise ship for the wedding, it is important to check the features and facilities of the ship. Even the wedding package options must be scrutinised for conditions and limitations.
Some ships may not include child care facility as part of the wedding package. It may be difficult for the family members and guests with infants or small children to bring them to the venue. They may require babysitters or child care facilities while they attend the wedding.
Likewise, the elderly members accompanying you may also have special requirements such as the need for a wheelchair, special diet, etc. All these have to be checked in advance for a hassle free wedding.
Cruise Wedding Packages – Choosing among the Best!
Cruise wedding packages come in all shapes and sizes. The trick is to find the one you want. Therefore, it is essential to know the content of the different packages and how they differ from each other. Typically, cruise weddings come under three main types.
- Economy class
- Premium class
- Luxury class
The services and features offered can change considerably depending on which class you choose.
Other than the level of hospitality and facilities, there are many other factors to consider while choosing a wedding cruise plan. Some of the most basic offers that a package should include are listed below.
- Services of a wedding co-ordinator
- Wedding cake
- Food and drinks
- Wedding registration
Some may even offer extra services like
- Dance halls
- Pre-wedding activities
- Fun and entertainment activities for the couples as well as their families and guests
- Honeymoon plans
- Wedding suites
Many services can be customised to suit your requirements and it may be possible to arrange extra offers and facilities at an additional cost . Sometimes, discount offers are available, which may include some of the luxury class facilities and arrangements.
Other considerations in choosing the best wedding cruise ships include the following.
- Duration of the cruise
- Room service
Finding a Wedding Cruise Ship
A Wedding is a time to enjoy and relax. If all the planning and preparations are completed with the utmost care, then nothing can beat the charm of a cruise wedding.
Some of the cruise lines that offer wedding packages are Azamara, Celebrity, Cunard, Princess, Pullmantur and Royal Caribbean. If you are not sure of which one to pick you can contact a travel agent to find you the best deals.
Alternatively, you can also contact all the cruise lines individually for a quote and then decide which deal is best suited for you and your fiancé.
Searching for a suitable cruise should start fairly early on; in fact, almost immediately after the wedding date has been decided. There are many ways in which you can find a wedding cruise that meet your expectations.