It’s Valentine’s day on Wednesday – and we know our readers are a romantic lot. So whether it’s renewing your vows or saying “I Do” for the first time, we’ve compiled the Good Lovers’ Guide to cruise ship weddings.
And we discovered a ceremony at sea is amazing value. According to comparison and money site Canstar, the average Australian wedding costs $65,000. Even Government money site MoneySmart says plighting your troth costs an average $36,200.
Cruise ship packages, complete with the Captain, a cake, sparking wine and flowers can cost as little as $3,000. For a little bit more, you can even marry on the beach or at a port stop, and throw in a photographer.
Who has the best value when it comes to walking up the gang plank rather than the aisle?
With Valentine’s Day coming up, we’ve shortlisted the best price packages. Now all you need to do is propose!
Princess Cruises offer couples three packages – a ceremony at sea, one harbourside, or one ashore. The ‘At Sea’ wedding package takes place on board. This includes legal ceremony officiated by the Captain, wedding Chapel (or library hire, depending on the ship), a bouquet, boutonniere, a wedding cake, sparkling wine, and a keepsake wedding certificate. Princess Cruises’ ‘Harbourside’ wedding package is for you if you have non-sailing guests. It’ll have all the same inclusions, with the main difference being that you won’t be on board, so the wedding can be legalised by a local officiant. The ‘Ashore’ option allows you to get married at one of the line’s picturesque destinations – such as a beach, garden, or glacier. Again, a local officiant will carry out the ceremony, and this package differs from the first two to include: destination vows, and a specialty cake for the bride and groom.
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Royal Caribbean offer four wedding packages named ‘Vows at Sea,‘ ‘Embark on Romance’, Intimately Yours’, and ‘Destination I do’. The ‘Vows at Sea’ package includes a personal planner, wedding day coordinator, private wedding venue on board, wedding cake and musical accompaniment, bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne, a three-tier wedding cake, chocolate covered strawberries, honeymoon dinner, mimosa breakfast, wedding certificate, gift registry, non-denominational wedding officiant, plus a special gift from Royal Caribbean.
The ‘Embark on Romance’ option has the same inclusions but allows any non-sailing guests to witness the ceremony before the ship sails. You’ll also get a pier-to-ship escort and priority check-in.
Couples who pick the ‘Intimately yours’ package get to have 10 guests at their ceremony. This packages features similar inclusions to the two named above.
For the ‘Destination I do’ deal, couples can choose from a location in port – or get married on the ship while it’s docked. Choose from locations like Antigua, Bermuda, and Florida. Full-blown reception options are available at an additional cost, as well as for photography or live music services.
The line became the first to recognise same-sex marriages and from October 2017, Celebrity’s captains can perform marriages for the LGBTQ community. The first same-sex couple were married at the beginning of this year on the Celebrity Equinox. Celebrity has three packages – Celebrations Package, Shipboard Package, and the Shoreside Package. The Celebrations package is for couples who’d like to host an entire reception on board the ship. This includes: a pre-sailing event manager, reserved indoor event location, full photography service, and a one or two-hour food and beverage reception. If you want to be married onshore at an exotic destination, try the Shoreside package. The Shipboard alternative allows you to be wed at an exotic port of call of your choice (off the ship), before you set sail. And as a third option – consider their Shoreside package. This is your wedding as organised by the cruise line – at your choice of over 200 destinations worldwide. Celebrity Cruises also offer engagement packages, and an option for vow renewal ceremonies as well.
Cunard’s ‘At Sea’ wedding package includes a captain-officiated ceremony, on board wedding coordinator, a wedding license, priority check in, two floral arrangements, accompanying wedding music, and a keepsake marriage certificate. You’ll also get complimentary invitations and thank you cards for your guests. Reception packages can also be arranged on board – with the option for either lunch or dinner dining. Depending on the ship selected, there are plenty reception variations on offer at Curnard’s onboard dining venues – such as the option for a cocktail and canapé wedding reception.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line also have same-sex wedding ceremonies in destinations where the union is recognised by the local legal system. Norwegian offers three wedding packages: A ‘Wedding at Sea’, ‘Harbourside’ Package, and a ‘Destination’ wedding option. The ‘At Sea’ wedding includes a group service coordinator, boutonniere, bouquet, a 6-inch cake and champagne to toast, canapés, chocolate-covered strawberries, and a one-hour wedding photography service. The Bahamas will issue your marriage certificate. They also have a package option that is performed by a ship officer, and thus not legally binding. Destination weddings with Norwegian Cruise Line vary in price – depending on the on shore location of choice. Choose from settings as blissfully exotic as the sands of Bermuda or a glacier in Alaska. A la carte options and additional enhancements like floral arrangements and spa experiences are available at a cost – to complement the basic package inclusions.
P&O’s ‘Weddings at Sea’ Package includes: services of the on board wedding coordinator to make your special day, everything you dreamed of. Whether you’re seeking a family-friendly atmosphere, or an exclusively adult ceremony, they can accommodate to suit. Your choice of destinations will determine the price – choose from a Caribbean or Mediterranean voyage.
The package includes invitations and thank you notes, Captain officiating the ceremony, ceremony venue with floral arrangements, wedding music, a professional photographer, and an official copy of the marriage certificate. The bride and groom receive a bottle of champagne on arrival, and another to perform a post-ceremony celebratory toast.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line’s in the US offers three packages with three options each according to your budget. The ‘Intimate ceremony’ package is designed for a small affair. The ‘Intimate Ceremony’ ranges in price from gold, platinum, and diamond. The basic gold package includes up to 10 guests including the bride and groom, a pre-cruise wedding planner, private venue, local officiant, two-tier cake, champagne for a toast and a honeymoon dinner for the newly wedded couple. You’ll also get an official wedding license and keepsake marriage certificate. Upgrading to the platinum tier gets you breakfast in bed, enhanced decorations, a silk bouquet and chocolate-cover strawberries. You’ll get all the bells and whistles in the highest diamond tier, plus florals for up to three bridesmaids, complimentary bathrobes and a couples’ massage.
If you’re inviting plenty more guests, consider the line’s ‘Grand Ceremony’ package, where you can host up to 50 non-sailing guests and enjoy all other package inclusions. As for decorations, you’ll receive aisle runners and two pillars with silk floral arrangements. The third and most extravagant Carnival wedding package is the ‘Carnival Classic’ – which has all of the above featured as well, followed by a complete on board reception, again available at gold, platinum, and diamond tier price points where you can get Moet + Chandon champagne and a three-tier cake.