Weddings are exciting- and what better way to get married than a wedding cruise? Planning for your dream wedding can be fun but can also be completely overwhelming. One way to avoid the drama and enjoy the process is to plan a wedding cruise.
A Wedding Cruise is a fun way to celebrate your nuptials. There is some planning and research involved on your end, but once you pick a cruise line and a destination, the main details are taken care of. You and your fiancé can relax and enjoy the day.
This article will provide you with the latest information on choosing the best cruise line for a wedding to catering and entertainment. Read on to equip yourself with everything you need to know to prepare for your big day.
Choosing the Best Cruise Line for Your Wedding
Choosing the cruise line that best meets your vision for your wedding will be the most important and possibly the most challenging part. Once you’ve figured out exactly which cruise line is perfect for your wedding, the rest is smooth sailing.
After choosing the cruise line, there are a few other important decisions to make based on what that particular ship offers. These include:
- Availability of cruise for the date of your wedding
- Where do you want to go?
- Whether to say “I do” on land, on the ship while docked, or while sailing
- How many guests you want versus how many the ship will accommodate- are group rates available?
- Will your guests be going on the cruise, or just hopping onto the ship for the day of the ceremony and depart after the festivities?
- Choosing the right package- finding the right amenities, options, and add-ons for your wedding
Availability: The Best Time of a Year for a Cruise Wedding
The busy season for cruise ships is May through September, as well as holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and New Year’s. This is an important consideration especially if you aren’t planning more than a year in advance.
Depending on your destination, you will need to be aware of the weather patterns. No one wants to be on a cruise during hurricane season.
Destination: Determining Where To Get Married
Before booking your cruise wedding, you need to know where the ship is registered if the captain will be marrying you.
The time of year will also be a factor in the destination, depending on what type of climate you are looking for.
The third factor in determining destination is whether you plan to get married on the ship, while the ship is docked, or on land. Each cruise line offers different options and amenities for this.
Let’s take a look at a range of packages offered by various cruise lines.
Guest Count- How To Include Your Family and Friends
This can be a tricky area. Keep in mind that while the cost of each wedding package includes a specific number of people to attend the ceremony, it is not reflective of the individual costs for guests who are staying on for the whole cruise.
It’s also important to consider who can afford to pay for a cruise to attend your wedding. This can become a point of contention among friends and family members.
First, you have to look at whether you’re getting married on the ship while it’s sailing or while it’s docked. Many cruise lines offer a choice.
If you plan on getting married while the ship is docked, then guests can hop on for the day to attend the ceremony and festivities and then leave before the cruise sets sail again.
Next, how many guests does your package accommodate? Some packages include as few as 8-10 guests for an intimate ceremony, while others have 50 -75 guests.
This allows guests who may not be able to afford to go on the cruise to be able to participate in your special day.
Additional Wedding Details to Consider
There are additional considerations when planning your cruise wedding. Some of them are addressed by the wedding package you choose, and others are left to you to figure out. These details include:
- Save-the-date Cards and Invitations
- Marriage License
- Wedding website
Save-the-Date and Invitations
Save-the-Date cards are extremely important for a cruise wedding because they provide important information to the guests well in advance. This should be more detailed than your typical save-the-date postcard so that guests can make an informed decision.
In addition to the cruise line and dates, make sure to include the rates of the cruise. If you are creating a web site, include the URL so guests can follow along as plans are updated and finalized.
Marriage License- Legal versus Symbolic Ceremony
You need to apply for your marriage license well in advance so that you have it by the day you board the ship. Some cruise lines will have a pre-planning coordinator who can help you with this part of the process.
You will also need to make sure that the captain of the ship or other officiant is registered in the exact location (whether land or at sea) where you’re going to be married to ensure the weddings are legal.
Some ships will perform what’s known as a “symbolic” ceremony. You will still need to get legally married before or after the ceremony, most likely in your hometown.
Photography- Should You Hire an Outside Photographer?
Most cruise wedding packages will provide photography for a set amount of time and may even include an 8×10 of your choice. But you will have to pay extra for the prints.
One advantage the cruise photographer has is that they know the ins and outs of the ship and the best locations and time of day to take pictures.
Having a professional photographer of your choice to attend the cruise is more expensive. Still, it provides you with the option of having pictures taken over the course of the week at any time in any location.
Another less costly option is to have a friend or friends take pictures. These days anyone who knows how to properly use a decent bridge camera can take professional grade photos. You can select the ones you want to be printed and save the rest.
A high-quality smartphone camera can provide for additional candid photos.
Wedding Website- The Story of Your Wedding
Wedding Websites have been around for quite some time. Many brides like the planning feature it provides. It also allows the bride and groom to update and share wedding information, such as:
- Group rates for bookings
- Wedding itinerary
- Engagement photos and photos throughout the planning process
- Wedding and honeymoon photos
The website also makes for a keepsake digital scrapbook of the couple’s engagement and wedding.
Typical Packages Offered by Notable Cruise Lines
Each cruise line has its own signature. Here’s a look at several different cruise lines and their “typical” packages, amenities, and regulations. The cruise lines we’ll look at are:
- Royal Caribbean
Princess Cruises- Tie the Knot
Princess Cruises offers the Tie the Knot wedding package. There are several variations of this based on whether you plan to get married at
The information provided below is based on what’s involved with the Tie the Knot At Sea package. There are pricing variations based on the location you will be in and whether you are tying the knot on the boat or on land.
This wedding package starts at USD 2,266; the Tie the Knot at Sea includes the following features:
- Wedding Chapel or other onboard location
- Candlelit ceremony
- Captain to perform ceremony
- Special vows at sea
- Wedding coordinator on board (required for additional guests in increments of 25
- Pre-recorded ceremony music
- Two fresh floral arrangements to adorn the ceremony location
- One rose bouquet
- One 16 x 20 canvas unframed wall portrait
- 9” Wedding cake
- Bottle of champagne
- Two Princess keepsake champagne flutes
- Keepsake wedding certificates
You can also set up a honeymoon gift registry so you and your new hubby can enjoy dinner at the ship’s restaurant or his and her massages at the spa.
The Harborside and Ashore packages differ based on the location where you’ll be getting married. They offer most of the same options as the At Sea package, with a few exceptions.
Norwegian Cruises- Harborside and Destination
Norwegian Cruise Line offers two packages. The Harborside Package starts at USD 3,099. What you get with this package is:
- Priority check-in for bride and groom and their sailing passengers
- Non-sailing guests can attend the ceremony and reception
- Local non-denominational officiant
- Onsite wedding coordinator
- Ceremonial vows provided
- Pre-recorded ceremony music
- Bridal bouquet made up of 12 Ivory Roses and matching boutonniere for the groom
- 6” Wedding cake for the bridal couple
- One bottle of sparkling wine from Norwegian’s private selection
- Assistance obtaining a marriage license
In addition to features included in the Harborside package, the Destination package also includes round-trip transportation to and from the ceremony site for the bridal couple and one hour of wedding photography (in select locations).
In tropical destinations, the bridal bouquet will be made up of local, tropical flowers.
The price of the Destination package varies depending on the location. The marriage license is sold separately. You will need to discuss details in advance with your wedding coordinator so you know which features will cost extra.
Norwegian wedding officiants can also perform same-sex ceremonies at destinations where same-sex marriage is recognized by law. Same-sex ceremonies are legal in all U.S. and Canadian ports.
Carnival Cruises- Just for the Bride and Groom (and more)
If you’re looking for a slightly less expensive wedding cruise with a fun vibe for a younger crowd, then a Carnival Cruise wedding is for you.
Carnival Cruises offers four packages starting with “Just for the Bride and Groom.” This package allows for eight people including the bride and groom. Starting at USD 1195, this package also includes:
- Ceremony officiant
- Two-tiered wedding cake
- Champagne toast
- Selection of vows to choose from
- Bridal bouquet and boutonniere
- Etched champagne flutes for bride and groom
- Wine and chocolates in the staterooms
The Welcome Aboard package accommodates up to 20 people and offers all of the above plus a one-hour bar with hot and cold hor d’oeuvres. Rates start at USD 1695.
For $1795, the Deluxe Romance package offers everything the Just for Bride and Groom package offers plus a half hour open bar and ice carving.
Lunch anyone? The Ceremony and Luncheon package also offers the staples plus lunch for eight. Additional guests will also be served lunch for a cost of $34.50 per person.
All Carnival weddings are performed at a selected destination or departure port. Up to 50 non sailing guests may attend your wedding. Weddings are not performed at sea. Carnival can assist in getting a marriage license.
Each package can be customized and upgraded to meet the bridal couple’s wedding wishes.
Holland America Cruise Line Weddings
Holland America Line also offers a choice between having the wedding at sea, harborside, or on land, as well as a wide variety of destinations.
The Symbolic at Sea package is a non-legal – hence symbolic- ceremony that starts at USD 1,800 and includes the following features:
- Ship’s captain officiates
- Onboard wedding venue
- Onboard wedding coordinator
- Pre-cruise wedding coordinator
- Recorded ceremony music
- Keepsake wedding certificate
- Photography service (ceremony only- additional time and photos available for additional price)
- One 8 x 10 photo
- Commemorative wedding album
- Bottle of sparkling wine
- Small 9” wedding cake
- Bridal bouquet made up of a dozen roses and matching boutonniere
The Anchors Away includes all the above and is a great option to be able to include guests who are not planning on attending the cruise. Priority check-in and boarding for up to 25 guests is included. Additional guests can be included for an additional coordinator fee of $175.
The Ashore package is priced similarly to the At Sea with some variances in features (listed below). The package includes 25 guests, but the Anchors Away package allows for additional guests for a $175 coordinator fee. Some different features included are:
- Location on or near a beach, garden, castle, or glacier
- Seasonal bridal bouquet and boutonniere
- Transportation for bridal couple
Royal Caribbean- A Cruise Wedding Fit for Majesty
Royal Caribbean offers four unique upscale packages that can be customized to reflect the personalities of the bridal couple.
The Vows at Sea package starts at $3,850 and includes up to 50 guests (including the bridal couple) as well as:
- Non-denominational officiant
- Pre-cruise wedding planner
- Onboard wedding coordinator
- Bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne
- Pre-recorded music
- 3-tier wedding cake
- Dinner for the couple at a specialty restaurant
- Chocolate-covered strawberries for the couple
- Mimosas Breakfast-in-bed for the couple
- One hour of photography service
- Stateroom decor for the couple
- Keepsake Wedding certificate
- Private venue
The Embark on Romance Package, starting at USD 5,600 for a group of up to 75 people is the port of call option and includes all of the above, plus:
- Priority check-in
- Pier-to-Ship escort for the couple and guests
The Intimately Yours package is a more affordable option for a smaller party. Starting at $1,950, it includes almost everything the Embark on Romance package offers. The differences are:
- It only includes up to 10 guests over the age of 12. Children 12 and under are not included in the count
- 2-tiered wedding cake
The Destination I Do package can be celebrated on the ship during a port day or on land at your destination.
This package includes up to 50 guests and starts at $4,650. Transportation for the couple is included to and from the port venue. A couple’s wedding cake is included.
Disney Cruise Fairytale Weddings
Have you always dreamed of a romantic fairytale wedding? A Disney Cruise will make all of your dreams come. Ceremony packages start at USD 3,500.
There are four ships to choose from depending on where you are headed:
- Disney Magic
- Disney Wonder
- Disney Dream
- Disney Fantasy
Each has its distinctive look and wedding decor that mix elegance and fun into a one-of-a-kind wedding that will provide memories for a lifetime.
Disney also provides six unique ceremony venues. Below is a chart with a description of each venue and lists the ships where they are available.
|The Atrium||Grand entryway inspired by the art deco era. Provides a majestic setting for the most romantic of weddings.||● Disney Dream|
● Disney Wonder
● Disney Fantasy
● Disney Magic
|Deck 10 AFT Overlook||The rear deck of the ocean liner provides outdoor seating, and stunning views of the surrounding area.||● Disney Magic|
● Disney Wonder
|Meridian Patio||Charming starboard side deck provides gorgeous ocean views, great for an intimate ceremony||● Disney Fantasy|
● Disney Dream
|Outlook||Cozy cocktail space with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide an out-of-this-world view of the ocean||● Disney Fantasy|
● Disney Dream
|Castaway Cay||This location is on land in the Bahamas. You can get married on white sand, surrounded by palm trees and a stunning view of crystal-blue waters||● On land destination|
|The Wedding Point||This upgraded venue provides views of the sparkling ocean waters and views of Castaway Cay||● On land destination|
Disney Cruise weddings provide similar features to the other cruise lines, but there is more choice and planning involved. Your Disney wedding specialist will work with you to:
- Create unique floral arrangements and bouquet
- Choose music to be played live at the ceremony and post celebration.
- Choose from amazing cake design and flavors for your two-tiered wedding cake
Even more, options are available, including Disney princess inspired wedding dresses! You can request a digital brochure from their website. When you speak with a wedding specialist, they will customize a proposal for your wedding.
Pros and Cons of Getting Married on a Cruise Ship
As with everything, there are pluses and minuses to getting married on a cruise ship. The table below summarizes them.
|● Usually cheaper than a traditional wedding|
● Fewer decisions to make
● Most of the planning and work are done for you
● Food provided
● Beautiful location
● Wedding and honeymoon are combined
● Fun activities available throughout the length of the cruise
|● Fewer choices for many options (while this can be a pro, it also limits your options)|
● Fewer guests accommodated
● May not be able to be married at sea depending on cruise ship jurisdiction
● Limited to specific times of the year based on weather and availability
Now Start Planning Your Perfect Day
At the end of the day, if your dream is to get married on a cruise, your wedding will be beautiful no matter whether you married on land, in port of call, or at sea.
There are a lot of luxury amenities to take advantage of, as well as entertainment, and fun activities to engage in.
The important thing to remember is to enjoy every minute of planning your wedding cruise. Don’t sweat the small things. There are so many elegant, fun, and creative options available to make your wedding special for you and the love of your life.