cruise-weddings-feature

All about cruise weddings

Thinking of a cruise wedding? There’s almost nothing you can’t do on a boat.

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


The pros and cons of a cruise wedding

There are some pros, some cons, and things that could go either way depending on what you’re looking for.

Pros
  • All-around great value, and can let you get more for less
  • You’re also paying for honeymoon travel at the same time
  • Activities, decorations, cake, catering and more can be built into one easy package
  • Some types of dream wedding will only be affordable with a cruise wedding
  • Can get you to some great locations and venues at reasonable prices
Cons
  • It might not be possible to fit your entire guest list
  • You have less choice of providers, and might have to go with whoever you’re assigned
  • Your choice of cake, floral arrangements and catering might be restricted
  • Customised options might cost more on a cruise than on dry land
  • Your accommodation options are limited to the rooms available on a cruise ship
  • Unpredictable weather might get in the way of an on-shore wedding
Could go either way
  • You get to, and have to, spend a lot more time with your friends and family
  • You can sit back and relax while most details are handled for you, but you might not want to

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.


Cruise lines with wedding packages

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 weddings

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.

    • At Sea: A legal wedding ceremony performed by the ship’s captain while at sea, either in the chapel or the library.
    • Harbourside: Welcome your guests aboard while the ship is in harbour, for a ceremony performed by a local officiant.
    • Ashore: Get married where you’ve dreamed, whether it’s a secluded beach, a garden or even at the foot of a glacier.

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:

  • An open bar service
  • Hors d'oeuvres
  • Spa, beauty and professional salon services
  • Limousine and car transport for yourself and guests as needed
  • Tuxedo and formalwear hire for guests
  • Wedding favours delivered to your guest’s rooms
  • Entertainment of your choice, including DJ or band, sound and lighting technicians, and others
  • Professional photography
  • Decorations and art, such as ice sculptures or food arrangements

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

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.

Disney cruise wedding venues
  • Castaway Cay: Disney’s private beach in the Bahamas. It can be booked for weddings, starting at $4,000. You’ll be able to book this venue on any Disney cruise that goes to Castaway Cay.
  • Deck 10 Aft Overlook: Both the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder have a spot for tying the knot under the sun, on the rear decks.
  • Meridian Patio: Both the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream have an intimate starboard-side deck that can be booked out for weddings, with room for up to 18 people.
  • Outlook: Both the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream feature similar cocktail lounges, designed for picturesque photos with floor to ceiling windows, ocean backdrops neutral colour palettes and stylish furnishings, including a grand piano. Up to 28 guests can enjoy the space, and bookings include a pianist.
Disney cruise wedding floral arrangements

There are six different bridal bouquet options. The groom’s boutonniere will match the chosen bouquet:

  • Solid colour french rose bouquet - Available in red, white ivory, hot pink, lavender, yellow and orange, you can choose up to two colours.
  • Tropical bouquet - A vivid combination of hot pink, orange and yellow
  • All white flower arrangement - An elegant blend of white lilies, roses and hydrangeas
  • Garden bouquet - A mix of pastel lavender, green and white roses with violet highlights
  • Orchid and rose - Red roses, mixed with green and fuschia orchids
  • Calla lily bouquet - A choice of coloured lilies,with options including bright white, red, gold and more. Colours cannot be mixed like you can with the french roses.

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.

Disney cruise wedding cake and champagne

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.

  • Chef Mickey: A two-tier cake with Hidden Mickey emblems along the top row, finished with a floral topper.
  • Natural elegance: A three-tier buttercream frosted cake, finished with fruit and floral details.
  • Nautical: A two-tier ocean-themed cake, with ship-inspired details, and finished with a custom Disney Cruise Line cake topper.

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.

Disney cruise wedding music

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 cruise weddings

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:

    • Entertainment: Live music at the ceremony, and then live band, violinist or DJ at the reception.
    • Flowers: Customise your own floral arrangements, or choose from a range of pre-selected options.
    • Receptions: From a stroll on-deck to a cocktail party to a restaurant buy-out, your Royal Caribbean wedding planner can work with you to get the reception you want.
    • Photography: Royal Caribbean can arrange the right photography and videography for your day.

How much do cruise weddings cost?

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:

  • Getting married in a castle in Lucca, Italy: $5,000
  • A harborside wedding in Juneau, Alaska: $2,500
  • A breach wedding in the Cayman Islands: $2,750 to $3,250

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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    Andrew Munro

    Andrew writes for finder.com, comparing products, writing guides and looking for new ways to help people make smart decisions. He's a fan of insurance, business news and cryptocurrency.

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