Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wedding at sea

from left, canapes, room set up for a ceremony, reception room set up
Carnival Cruises wedding setup: reception (l and r ), ceremony (m)
Having spent a week vacationing on a cruise, Wedding-Scoops.com decided to create a list of pros and cons for marrying at sea.

Then we contacted travel agents, cruise lines and an industry association to get the skinny on the prevalence of cruise weddings, the most common reasons for holding nuptials on a boat and the costs incurred.

Pros:

1. It is romantic
2. You can roll your wedding and honeymoon into one adventure
3. There are tons of activities
4. You can pretend you are Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in the famous scene from "Titanic"
5. You won't lose site of your bridal party and other guests
6. The cruise staff will be at your beck and call since they can’t leave
7. If you are anxious and start swaying during the ceremony, people won't notice
8. Hook-ups between strangers are easy

Cons:

1. There is no escape
2. Someone could get sea sick
3. If it’s a large boat, you don't have the venue to yourself
4. If someone gets drunk, they could fall -- or get pushed -- overboard
5. Guests may become more excited by ship events than your wedding and wedding-related activities
6. The food will taste pretty much the same the whole trip
7. If you decide you need to bail on the wedding, it’s harder to flee the scene
8. Hook-ups between strangers are easy
9. The wedding could be super cheesy

And now for the facts....

The number of people marrying on a cruise has been on the rise. According to a survey by North America's largest cruise industry organization Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), cruises have seen increases in wedding bookings of as much as 60 percent in the last decade.

Carnival Cruise Lines has over 5,000 weddings booked for the 2010-2011 year, according to a spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines' wedding department.

"The top reason couples decided to book a cruise wedding is cost. It tends to be more economical to book a wedding though our cruise line compared to a land base," the spokesperson said.

According to the CLIA survey, brides and grooms told their travel agents that two of the top reasons they wanted to wed on a cruise were to combine a wedding with a honeymoon and the value offered by cruise lines.

“Many enjoy the concept of cruising and getting married as they can have their wedding and continue on and honeymoon after the vows,” said Heidi Golfman, a travel agent at Vision 2000 Cruises & Vacations. One drawback, she noted, relates to logistics. “If there are children attending, you will want to choose a cruise that has activities for the younger ones. This might not necessarily be the cruise of your choice.”

The cons, the Carnival spokesperson said, include itinerary issues and cruise cancellations.

Wedding packages vary by cruise line but can include wedding planning services, legal marriage ceremonies performed by a ship’s captain and a reception.

The most popular destinations for Carnival brides and grooms are Jamaica and Grand Cayman with an average wedding of 30 to 60 guests.

Prices for at-sea weddings on Princess Cruises begin at $1,800 for the ceremony plus $450 for registration and license fees. Carnival's wedding packages range from $1,195 to $3,000.

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