It’s 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning in Charm City. The Carnival Pride, an 88,500-ton cruise ship operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, is docked at the Port of Baltimore. Here, 2000-some people are disembarking, officially ending their week-long cruise vacation, and the 900 members of the vessel’s crew are busy as usual, cleaning and restocking in preparation for the arrival of the next round of vacation-goers, who will board the ship, grab their first round of cocktails (presumably) and set sail for their own week of fun in the sun, later that afternoon.
And in the midst of it all, there might just be a group of people boarding the cruise ship for a wedding that will occur within that window of time between when the ship arrives, and then departs, from the port. Tying the knot onboard a cruise ship is a fast-growing wedding industry trend, for a number of reasons, with convenience, cost and flat out “coolness” topping the list. Those who have done it say that the cruise lines make it easy to plan, offering a number of pre-set packages that can be customized based on personal tastes and preferences. And perhaps best of all, couples who do it this way have a chance to invite guests to a wedding that is truly special, unique and fun.
Carol Lyman, Manager of Bon Voyage and Weddings for Carnival Cruise Lines, says that the option is appealing to many couples who would like to have a destination wedding, but don’t want to put their guests in a tough position, where their choices are to either spend a lot of money to travel, or to miss out on the festivities all together.
“For so many couples, convincing family and friends to come to a destination wedding can be hard,” said Lyman, who has worked for Carnival Cruise Lines for 20 years. “When the wedding is on a cruise ship that is docked at home, those guests have the option to be part of the wedding, but don’t need to travel.”
With the Carnival Pride sailing year-round out of Baltimore, Maryland brides can pick any week of the year to have a wedding onboard. Packages include a ceremony and reception, with options available for a cocktail party with heavy hors d’oeuvres or a sit-down luncheon. The size of the wedding party typically dictates the specific locations on the ship that will be reserved for each part of the celebration, with the chapel, jazz bars and lounges being the most preferred hot spots.
“We have seen groups as small as eight and have accommodated parties as large as 100,” Lyman said. “Our packages include everything the couple needs, including an officiant, and can be customized if the bride and groom want special items, like flowers, cake or entertainment upgrades.”
The bride and groom are required to sail on the cruise that departs the day of their wedding, making for an easy transition from wedding to honeymoon-mode for the newlyweds. Attendees of the wedding are not required to sail, and in many cases, whether or not they are given the option is decided by the bride and groom. Some want to bring their family and friends along. Others prefer to say their goodbyes following the reception, and instead spend their first week as a married couple, alone.
Royal Caribbean International also utilizes the Port of Baltimore, and offers couples the option to wed while docked between sailings. When Bobbie Laur received an invitation to attend the wedding of her high school friend, on board the cruise line’s ship, Grandeur of the Seas, she didn’t think twice about checking the “yes” box on her RSVP card.
“Once we got on the ship, we went right to a bar and got rum punch while the bride and groom were getting dressed in their cabins,” Laur said. “It was a party from the second we got there.”
While Laur and her husband, John, opted not to sail (a decision they regretted, when the time came for the non-cruisers to depart), the majority of the 75 people who attended the wedding, did.
“If you have the desire to bring the party along on your honeymoon, this is the way to go,” said Laur, of Baltimore City. “It’s a good way to keep your reception going for five days.”
For those who are already married, or who are thinking proactively about ways to commemorate future anniversaries, the option always exists to book a celebration of love on board a cruise ship. Cindy and Bobby Rahll (photographed below) of Forest Hill did just that, marking their 25th wedding anniversary in a special way by renewing their vows on board the Ocean Princess, one of Princess Cruise Lines’ ships, as it sailed to Alaska.
“We had never cruised so we decided to give it a try and we absolutely loved it,” said (Cindy) Rahll, who was joined by over 30 family members for the occasion. “You can’t beat the service on a cruise. They do so much for you and it was the perfect setting to celebrate our anniversary.”
For a complete listing of cruises that are scheduled in 2014 from the Port of Baltimore, visit www.cruise.maryland.gov.
BRIDAL SERVICES ON BOARD
CEREMONY PERFORMED BY A
CEREMONY SET UP
aisle, pillars, alter, floral arrangements
BRIDAL BOUQUET WITH MATCHING BOUTONNIERE FOR THE GROOM
FLOWER UPGRADES AVAILABLE
KEEPSAKE CHAMPAGNE FLUTES
KEEPSAKE CAKE TOPPER
CAKE CUTTING SERVICE
WEDDING MARCH MUSIC
PHOTO PACKAGE UPGRADES AVAILABLE
DJ or live music
HAIR AND MAKEUP SERVICES
Author: Tracy M. Fitzgerald