The Pros and Cons of Getting Married on a Cruise Ship

See recent posts by Megan Wood

Parekh Cards/Flickr
Parekh Cards/Flickr

Getting married on a cruise ship is the ultimate destination wedding. It's an affordable, efficient, and fun way to combine your nuptials with a honeymoon for you and a vacation for your guests. Whether you want to elope at sea during sunset, bring your entire family to watch you exchange vows on a Caribbean beach, or trek to the top of an Alaskan glacier to say "I do," a cruise ship wedding can make it happen. But along with the many cruise ship wedding pros, there are some cons you should consider as well. Below, we put together a list of the advantages and disadvantages of getting married on a cruise ship.


The Pros

Terrace Pool on Ruby Princess/Oyster
Terrace Pool on Ruby Princess/Oyster

1. Affordability 

Carnival‘s wedding packages start at $249 per person, for a simple and lovely ceremony. Of course, the sky is the limit, with add-ons and luxury packages that can include everything from a trio of live musicians to custom wedding cakes, glamorous floral arrangements, and full video services.

2. Wedding Planners

Most cruise lines have a dedicated team of wedding planners who will organize and schedule everything on your behalf. Apart from picking your package and adding customized options, the bride and groom have little to do except show up and say “I do.” Some cruise lines even offer free wedding websites to help keep your guests up-to-date and organized.

3. Accommodations and Food

Deciding where you and your guests are going to sleep and eat is super simple on a cruise. The newlyweds can splurge on the Honeymoon Suite and guests have their choice of cabins — from interior to suite — depending on their budget. Norwegian‘s freestyle dining plan means there’s a huge variety of included restaurants onboard, plus specialty options for romantic dinners for two.

4. Vacation and Honeymoon

After the wedding, your honeymoon begins at the next port. And your guests can enjoy having a proper vacation. Cruise ships set sail on almost every corner of the world, allowing you to combine your wedding with anything from island-hopping to climbing glaciers to circumnavigating the entire globe. Need help deciding which cruise to book? Check out our list of seven great cruises for first-time cruisers.

5. The Captain

Some cruise lines, like Princess, allow you to be married at sea by the captain. How cute is that?

6. LGBT-Friendly

Many cruise lines offer legal weddings for same-sex couples. Carnival launched same-sex Bermuda weddings in 2018 and Cunard‘s first same-sex wedding is set to take place in November 2018.

7. Unforgettable Photos

If photos are your thing, a cruise ship wedding offers some of the world’s best and most creative backdrops, both on the ship and at port. You can hire a full photo team from the cruise ship, complete with edited and printed photos, or do it yourself.

8. It’s Fun

Couples have reported great success with getting married on cruise ships. Cruise ships tend to have a convivial and party-like atmosphere, and nothing makes people more excited than a wedding. Expect plenty of goodwill and well-wishes from fellow passengers on your big day at sea.

The Cons

Queen Mary 2/Oyster
Observation Deck on Queen Mary 2 (QM2)/Oyster

1. Other Passengers

If you’d prefer privacy on your wedding day, either choose a small cruise line or get married on land. You may not be the only bride on the boat, so be prepared to share the spotlight.

2. The In-Laws

Inviting family on a cruise ship for your wedding means they’ll be there on your wedding night and honeymoon. That works great for some families, but others may want more space and privacy.

3. Complicated Paperwork

Getting married at sea or in a foreign country can be complicated and require paperwork in advance. Be sure to check with your cruise line wedding planner for all the requirements. Some couples get married legally at home and simply have a ceremonial wedding on the ship.

4. Port Weddings Can Be Tricky

It’s not very common, but occasionally, a port call has to be canceled due to weather or time. If your heart is set on getting married on a specific beach in Jamaica, be sure you’re okay with having a back-up plan.

5. Seasonal Surcharges

Because cruise weddings have become so popular, some lines tack on fees for getting married on Valentine’s Day and preferred wedding months, such as May and June. Carnival even adds on surcharges for weddings on its newest ships.

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