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A horsedrawn carriage is more romantic than an economy class airline seat, but a cruise probably tops that. If you’re after a more leisurely way to travel and don’t mind taking your time, cruises can be a great alternative to air travel, sometimes costing about the same or even less, than airfares.
Plenty of cruise lines also offer wedding packages, have their own on-board chapels and celebrants, and know how to make sure everyone has the time of their lives.
Pre-made wedding packages can take a lot of the hassle out of wedding planning, or if you’re not into a pre-made package then cruise ships are also event management experts, and may happily work with you to organise the big day exactly how you want. When you’re on a boat the sky’s the limit.
Feature image: Princess Cruises
There are some pros, some cons, and things that could go either way depending on what you’re looking for.
You might think of cruise weddings as a great way of getting to exclusive places and using venues like secluded beaches that would otherwise be out of reach, at the cost of forfeiting some control over the fine details, and having more limited options in other ways.
You might not be able to pick your own DJ or band, celebrant or caterers, and might simply have to go with whoever the cruise line assigns to you. Similarly, if you want a completely customised wedding cake, rather than a design you picked out of a book, it might end up costing more than the same cake would at a bakery on dry land.
You should also make sure to read the fine print of any contract carefully. For example, to look at whether you’ll have to pay exorbitant amounts for “extra” wedding photos or prints, or whether every single photo of the day will belong to you.
Most major cruise lines offer different wedding packages to choose from. These can be affordable packages by themselves, or might just be a nice, easy way of assembling the heart of your wedding ceremony.
Princess Cruises, for example, has three very different packages to start with, depending on whether you want a wedding at sea, harbourside, or in any one many exotic destinations you can find en route.
By themselves, these options are all you need for a more intimate ceremony, and you can add almost anything you want on top of them.
By themselves, these packages can include the officiant’s services, rose bouquets, sparkling wine, wedding cake, boutonniere and a keepsake wedding certificate.
From there, you can then add more on top, and pick out things like:
If you’re looking for options that aren’t included in any packages, such a fully customised cake, you may be able to sort it out with Princess Cruises ahead of time.
Disney cruise weddings don’t offer as much flexibility as others, but instead let you create your own day by assembling a wedding package with a different combination of options.
The first step is deciding on a venue, which also involves picking a ship and a specific cruise. As the Disney cruise fleet expands you’ll be able to find more options in the future.
There are six different bridal bouquet options. The groom’s boutonniere will match the chosen bouquet:
You can also choose a range of additional floral arrangements as decorations, including posies, corsages, orchid leis, rose wands, floral cake toppers, flower girl rose baskets, bouquets for the bridesmaids and tropical-themed arrangements of palm fronds and shells.
You can choose from three different styles of cake, each of which will be finished in classic and timeless white icing and different cake toppers.
Once you’ve chosen your design, you can then choose from more than 20 different flavours, and can even mix and match some of them to find what you’re looking for. For the champagne, you can choose a bottle of Fairy Tale Cuvée or Martinelli’s sparkling cider included in the package, or pay extra for a bottle of premium champagne.
You can create your own wedding playlist by bringing any songs you want (on a CD), and picking from a list of traditional and Disney-themed songs to be performed by a piano or keyboardist.
Your options may be more limited with Disney weddings than some other cruise lines, but this might also be an advantage if you want less hassle while wedding planning.
The base price includes the services of your own personal wedding coordinator to help the big day go off without a hitch, and up to 8 guests. You can naturally invite more, up to the limits of your chosen venue.
Royal Caribbean weddings are arranged with the help of a Royal Caribbean wedding planner who liaises with the cruise line on your behalf. This can make it easier to customise your dream wedding, and make arrangements that might not be possible with other cruise lines.
You start with a package that includes the range of services you want, from a basic “Just-Us” ceremony to a big bash with the “Ultimate Love Story” package. In both cases, you can work with the Royal Caribbean wedding planner to further tailor your day, including:
Simply by opting for a cruise wedding, there’s a good chance you’re saving money on a ceremony that would cost a lot more to arrange elsewhere.
This might be especially true if you’re looking for a wedding in an exotic destination, such as on a small tropical island, or on a glacier. The ship itself can carry transport you, all of your guests, and all the food, drinks and everything else to these locations, while the ship itself might a premium salon and spa on board and close at hand.
The cruise pricing scheme can also make an immense difference, because cruise wedding packages will often have flat surcharges, instead of the straight-forward price hikes you might find elsewhere.
With Princess Cruises, for example, getting married between 24 December and 4 January is just a flat $150 surcharge. Anywhere else you might be looking at double prices from every single provider you work with, from the caterers to the florist to the band to the photographer, and everyone else.
The base packages are also remarkably affordable, especially once you consider that they include accommodation, travel, a legal ceremony, venue hire, meals and plenty more. Example prices, also taken from the Princess Cruises wedding packages include:
Cruise lines are also large event specialists, so the extras are typically much more affordable than what it would cost to arrange it yourself. For example you can get ice sculptures from $125 each, or get an open bar service from $18.95 per person, per hour.
Generally, each aspect might be cheaper when obtained through a cruise line, while still letting you get almost anything you want. In short, you can get a premium wedding for reasonable prices, to say nothing of how much easier and more convenient it can be.
If you’re considering a cruise destination wedding, it might be well worth checking the prices offered by different cruise lines against how much an equivalent ceremony would cost by organising it yourself.
If you know you want to travel for a destination wedding, but are still on the fence about sailing or flying, or want to head somewhere inland, it’s also worth remembering that destination weddings in general can help you get the day you’ve always dreamed of at a lower price than it might cost at home.
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