When Rachael Hickey (nee Keaton) and her now husband, Dale Hickey boarded the Pacific Explorer, they were expecting the wedding of their dreams.

Cruise Eden
Rachael and Dale Hickey

But when Cyclone Oma battered the east coast of Australia, the couple’s dream wedding was almost put on hold when the P&O ship was marooned in Eden, the picturesque town on the South Coast of New South Wales.

While stuck in Eden over the weekend, Cruise Eden heard about the couple’s plight and came to the rescue to organise a wedding in 24 hours.

“We were due to leave home on Thursday morning ready to head off to Moreton Island for our wedding with 80 guests in tow. We then received notice on Wednesday at 1pm from P&O that we wouldn’t be heading north due to Cyclone Oma, and instead, we were heading to Eden,” said Mrs Hickey.

“We had never heard of Eden so obviously, I was panicking to Dale about the fact that we had to get married in a place that we didn’t know. But as soon as I calmed down, we found the most amazing celebrant named Kylie Grey who helped us with so much.”

Mrs Hickey said her friends, who were intending to fly north for their nuptials, ended up driving down to Eden and contacted Eden Tourism, to see what the crew could do to help.

Cruise Eden couple
On board Pacific Explorer

And this isn’t the first time Eden has had to organise a wedding in a hurry – last year, a Melbourne couple who were bound for Moreton Island as well, also were married in Eden.

“Our friends got in contact with Natalie Godward from Eden Tourism, and between Natalie and our celebrant that they put on their wonder woman outfits and pulled off the most magnificently beautiful wedding we could ever have imagined.

“P&O notified us the night before the wedding that there was a shuttle bus organised especially for us, that is all I knew until we got off and were welcomed by what felt like the entire Eden community headed by the Cruise Eden Volunteers Marge Snijder and Barbara Westmacott.”

With some flowers from Whitbys Florist, chauffeuring by Sapphire Coast Buslines, a local photographer and the hospitality of the Great Southern Inn, the community managed to pull together a dream wedding in just 24 hours.

“I think that’s the thing about Cruise Eden, everyone rallies together – it’s like family. It went well, the bride and groom were so happy. The whole day was about making Eden shine for the bride and groom,” Ms Snijder said.

Mrs Hickey said, “I was already completely overwhelmed about how the day would go and these Eden superheroes had rallied around together and pulled off an amazingly beautiful and magical day for us and we will be forever grateful for the kindness and generosity from the people of this town. We have to say massive thank you to all involved.