I'd like to tell of an experience that a family member had. She planned on getting married in Key West, one of the stops on her cruise. She had all the plans made and all the guests invited and booked on the cruise. She came to learn that the cruise ship changed their itinerary and was no longer going to Key West. She found out on her own but searching the website. By this time, she really had to scramble to change her plans and try to get married in Miami the day before the cruise departed. This created quite a few problems, as most people already had their airfare booked to arrive on the day of departure. Weddings can be stressful enough without adding the "unknowns" to it. I think planning a wedding on a ship would be fine....but please be warned about getting married in a port......you just may not make it to that port.
Mary Lou Scanlon
NCL Pride of America April 24, 2010
NCL Epic February 12, 2011
RCCL Allure of the Seas - September 18, 2011
Celebrity Eclipse - February 11, 2012:
RCCL Navigator OTS - February 9, 2013
You definitely see stories online about missed port weddings.
I knew someone in the same situation - cruise left out of Miami with wedding scheduled at first port (Key West). Her ship never went there due to mechanical problems shortly after setting sail. Even had she booked through the cruiseline, couples must still abide by laws where they marry, so the port they went to later in the Bahamas had laws that she could not meet on short notice (residency requirement or something like that). So it doesn't matter *who* you book through as each port has it's own laws and the coordinator can't change the laws of the port (blood tests, residency requirements, etc). She ended up marrying back in Miami that she put together while on the ship.
You also see many brides who plan their cruise weddings in the Caribbean smack-dab in the middle of hurricane season, then get very upset when their cruise is rerouted. Hurricane season technically runs June 1 - November 30, but inclement weather can happen any time. Some brides just ignore the hurricane season dates and schedule weddings then anyway, taking the risk.
Another factor to be wary of is if tendering is involved. Sometimes ships go to Grand Cayman but cannot tender in due to rough waters. Would be tough to have a wedding scheduled in Grand Cayman, be able to see the island, but not be able to tender in.
And as always, the fine print of the cruise contract states that itineraries can change at any time for no reason at all.
On a positive note, we had a port wedding while on a 7-night cruise in 2003 (St John, USVI), taking a total of 19 people (all cruise guests). It turned out to be everything we dreamed, but we also were aware of the many "what ifs" that can take place on a cruise. Having cruised previously, we knew of the risks but were willing to play the odds. It was a terrific feeling to set foot on St John that morning and even better to feel the sand between my toes as I walked down the aisle at 9:00. A reception onboard a chartered catamaran capped off the morning followed by a private tour of St Thomas for our group that afternoon. Everything worked like clockwork, even with five ships in port.
Definitely purchase "wedding insurance" or work with a coordinator who has some sort of guarantee as well. Our's would reschedule our wedding up to 12 months later if we missed port... just another reason to return to that beautiful island. We were intent on marrying there, and were set to return had we missed port (even if it was just the two of us). Now after taking everyone there on a cruise, they all want to return!
I got married on the Grand Princess at sea. It was wonderful and stress free. The Captain performs the wedding on the days the ship is at sea, therefore no stresses of getting off the ship, marriage licences, etc. etc. The wedding coordinator arranges all of it and you just show up.
I didn't want to look back on my wedding and someone say "what was Cozumel like" and me say "I don't know, I just got married there". I wanted to be able to enjoy the ports that we went and not spend the whole day rushing around for the wedding and not see anything else.
I highly recommend the chapel weddings with Princess. The chapel is beautiful and the ceremonies are done well.
Of course there are always small things that go wrong but that is the case with all weddings I am sure.
LU - I agree - marrying onboard a Princess ship while at sea definitely takes away the risk of missing a wedding if marrying at a port of call. We originally researched Princess, but knew what we really wanted was our toes in the sand... and took the risk.
If brides plan their day in advance, they *can* have a wedding and see the port without being rushed. Our's...
9:00 wedding on St John (Hawksnest Beach) followed by pictures
10:00 reception on chartered catamaran sailing along St John's beautiful north coast (heading east) then circling back to return to St Thomas (Red Hook)
11:45 private tour of St Thomas for us, our family, and friends including snorkeling at a beach
2:45 time for afternoon shopping before returning to ship
Our afternoon tour was really more for our family/friends than us because we had vacationed on St John / St Thomas several months prior as well as visited previously on a different cruise. We could have bailed and went back to the ship or into town, but we wanted to go on the tour we set up for them (which was good - we learned things we didn't know).
We really want to try the Grand or Golden Princess - have read good things about those ships!
I hadn't thought about it, but now that you mention it, getting married onboard makes more sense than in a port.
My bride and I promised each other we'd get married on a ship if at all, and have since decided to get married onboard the Carnival Liberty, upon which we're cruising from Citavecchia, Italy to Miami, Florida Nov. 18 - Dec. 4, 2009.
We wanted to get married onboard as it departed from St. Maarten, but I've discovered that St. Maarten isn't on Carnivals list of places where they offer onboard weddings, so now we may get married in Miami before we disembark.
This change of plans isn't as critical to us, since it's not likely anyone else will attend our wedding, unless we make friends here or onboard.