The Pros and Cons of Cruise Weddings

Want to make getting married as simple as possible? You may want to consider tying the knot on a cruise ship. Depending on the package you choose and what the cruise line offers, you can plan your entire wedding and honeymoon with one stop shopping.

pros and cons of cruise weddings
Photo Credit: Jennifer Werneth Photography

There are many reasons to say “I Do” on the high seas:

Pros

  • Save money- with the right package, you’ll find a wedding at sea is less expensive than a traditional wedding
  • You can combine your wedding and honeymoon
  • There are tons of activities to choose from already included in the price of the cruise
  • Friends and family can party with you on your honeymoon, but the ship is still large enough to offer privacy

Cons

  • A shorter guest list, since not everyone may be able to afford to attend (this can be a pro and a con)
  • You forfeit control of the cake, photographer, flowers etc. since the cruise line handles those details
  • Buying prints can be very expensive and cost thousands of dollars
  • Port of Call weddings can be impacted by unpredictable weather, avoid ports that require ships to tender. On our last cruise to Grand Cayman, the conditions were too windy for  tender operations, and we were unable to see the island.

Tips

  • Some cruise lines will allow you to take a wedding tour, check with the wedding department
  • Read your wedding contract very carefully before signing to prevent any unpleasant surprises
  • Be prepared for the unknown, the ship could be late getting into port, have mechanical issues, etc. your wedding could be delayed or canceled
  • Watch out for extra charges like late charges, additional guests, etc.
  • Avoid planning a shoreside wedding in the Caribbean during hurricane season. (June through November)
Flower wedding cake
Photo credit: Princess Cruise Line Weddings

Princess Cruise Line Weddings

Princess’ Weddings at Sea packages are available on all ships, and most ships in their fleet have dedicated wedding chapels. Princess also offers a variety of services, extras and options for customizing your package.

Couples getting married on Princess Cruise Lines can choose from three wedding packages. The “Tie the Knot at Sea” package, for $1,800 plus a $455 license fee, includes use of the onboard wedding chapel, a candlelit ceremony officiated by the captain, use of a wedding coordinator, live music, two floral arrangements, a rose bouquet for the bride, groom’s boutonniere, the services of a photographer and a selection of prints, wedding cake, Champagne and two keepsake flutes, and a keepsake wedding certificate.

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“Tie the Knot Harborside” package ranges from $1,300 to $2,000, plus licensing fees up to $500, based on destination. This package includes priority check-in and boarding for the couple and guests, an onboard wedding ceremony performed by a nondenominational officiant, a wedding coordinator, recorded music, silk floral arrangements, a bouquet and boutonniere, a photographer and one included print, wedding cake, Champagne plus a keepsake certificate.

“Tie the Knot Ashore” package, ranges from $1,800 to $2,200, with choice of a beach or garden ceremony, transportation for the couple, an officiant, a wedding coordinator, bouquet and boutonniere, photographer and one included print, cake for two, Champagne and a keepsake certificate. Receptions, photography packages and enhanced ceremony options are available with additional charges.

Best perk for Princess weddings:  state-of-the-art technology allows you to broadcast your ceremony live, via Webcam, to friends and family on land. Plus, you can be married at sea by the captain.

pros and cons of cruise weddings
Photo credit: Jennifer Werneth Photography

Disney Cruise Line Weddings

Choose to get married on one of their ships Disney Magic , Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy or on the white sand beach of their private island Castaway Cay (up to 100 guests). Each ship offers different locations for the ceremony. The number of guests they can accommodate for your ceremony depends on the location and ship. Ceremony packages include 10 guests, if you have more than 10 guests, a $20 per person additional guest fee will be charged. The on board ceremony must take place on embarkation day, while the ship is still docked in Florida.

All Disney Cruise Line ceremonies include:

  • On-site ceremony coordinator to coordinate your ceremony day events
  • Choice of personal fresh floral for the couple (You may also opt to include floral for your bridal party, available at an additional cost)
  • Pianist for the Ceremony and Cake & Champagne Celebration
  • Officiant to perform the ceremony (a senior officer performs the ceremony onboard Disney ships)
  • Cake & Champagne Celebration onboard the ship which includes an elegant 2-tier wedding cake, keepsake Mickey & Minnie figurine, one bottle of champagne and one bottle of sparkling cider (non-alcoholic) for the toast, served by host or hostess
  • Dinner for the couple at Palo on night of ceremony (adults only restaurant) Additional guests may join you for $20 per person if space is available or a private room is reserved.
  • Disney Cruise Line Commemorative Ceremony Certificate
  • Steaming for the couple’s ceremony attire
  • A $100.00 onboard stateroom credit that may be used towards merchandise, spa treatments, port adventures, and other onboard activities . (Any unused portions are non-refundable and non-transferable.)
  • Photography packages with Event Photographer, available for an additional cost
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While it would be cool if you could have Mickey or Minnie by your side as you say your vows, “Disney characters are not available to participate in ceremonies.” However, depending on their availability, they may be able to make an appearance at the cake and champagne celebration following the ceremony at an additional cost.

pros and cons of cruise weddings
Photo credit: Carnival Cruise Line Weddings

Carnival Cruise Line Weddings

Your cruise must be booked prior to booking your wedding, and all weddings must be booked at least 35 days before the sailing date. Due to popular demand, they recommend you book as far in advance as possible. Carnival only allows three weddings per day.

You can get married on any ship in Carnivals’ fleet. The Carnival Spirit, Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend and Carnival Miracle have onboard chapels. Shipboard weddings on Carnival ships are available in these ports: Baltimore, Barbados, Boston, Catalina Island, Charleston, Ft. Lauderdale, Galveston, Grand Cayman, Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Honolulu, Jacksonville, Key West, Los Angeles, Maui, Miami, Montego Bay, Nassau, New Orleans, New York, Ocho Rios, Pt. Canaveral, San Juan, Seattle, St. Thomas and Tampa.

Island weddings are available in Barbados, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Key West, Montego Bay, Nassau, Ocho Rios, San Juan and St. Thomas.

Carnival imposes seasonal surcharges from December 24th* – January 4th* the surcharge is $150, from February 11th – February 18th  $150, and all month May and June $100.

Carnival guests also have three wedding packages to choose from. The “Just for the Bride & Groom” package includes an official civil ceremony with a bouquet for the bride and a boutonniere for the groom, Champagne toast with keepsake flutes, wedding cake with cake topper, prerecorded wedding music, and a photographer. (Prints are extra.)

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The “Welcome Aboard” package  includes the above, plus a cocktail hour with an open bar and hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, a traditional two-tiered wedding cake and coffee service.

The “Deluxe Romance” package includes all of the above, plus a 90-minute reception and an ice carving. Package prices vary depending on the port where the ceremonies are performed and cost of marriage license.

Perk of Carnival weddings: they offer a free, online Honeymoon registry so guests can contribute to a couple’s destination wedding. Couples have the ability to register for activities, room upgrades, excusrions, spa treatments and more! They also have access to a wedding Web site, blog, e-mail wizard, and photo album.

pros and cons of cruise weddings
Photo credit: Blake Slade Photographers

Royal Caribbean International Weddings

Royal Caribbean is  the first line to offer adventurous shipboard and destination weddings through a subprogram, Explorer Weddings. Adventurous couples can say “I do” at unique shipboard locations like the FlowRider®, Rock Climbing Wall, Ice-Skating Rink or Mini-Golf Course. Shore-side options include: European or Caribbean castle, Vineyard, Glacier, Rain Forest and more.

Royal Caribbean also offers three wedding packages to choose from, receptions are not included in the packages. The “Shipboard Duet Package,” starts at $1,995,its the most basic and includes a wedding coordinator, on-board ceremony with officiant, one hour of photography, recorded music, bouquet and boutonniere, chocolate-covered strawberries and sparkling wine.

The “Shipboard Harmony Package,” from $2,295,  includes a Champagne breakfast in bed and upgrade the flowers in the bride’s bouquet. The third option is a shore-side wedding that includes transportation to the ceremony site and all the options of the Duet package. (Prices vary depending on the shore-side wedding location.)

Wedding parties that exceed 25 guests require an additional wedding coordinator ($150 charge).  Due to popularity of weddings on the RCI ships with chapels: Voyager-class, Freedom-class and Oasis-class ships, there is a $100 surcharge for shipboard wedding ceremonies. There are also additional surcharges that may apply, depending on the dates you choose.

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4 comments

  1. I love this article. My husband and I almost got married on the Disney Cruise line so our kids and us could “honeymoon” together. We were blending families so it sounded like fun. Wish there was this article when I got married.

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