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In perfect cruising parlance, she vowed, “I will be your anchor.” There, on the dance floor of B.B. King’s Blues Club, onboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam, my good friend and colleague Aaron Saunders was married to his lovely bride. The ceremony was a testament not only to their love, but also to the benefits of hosting a wedding on a cruise ship.
One benefit of this kind of event is combining the couple’s nuptials and honeymoon into one seamless package. The entire wedding party boards earlier than the rest of the passengers, and the ceremony and reception takes place before the ship sails. That way, any attendees who are not continuing on the cruise can return shoreside.
For the couple and guests staying on, it’s a full day of festivities utilizing all the onboard facilities. After the wedding itself, a reception lunch may be held in a specialty restaurant — the Pinnacle Grill, in my friends’ case — not usually open to other passengers. The evening then concludes with a joyous sail-away dinner and perhaps other private gatherings at venues around the ship.
While the couple might be frequent cruisers, this may be the first exposure to cruising for members of the wedding party. Those only on for the day receive a fantastic glimpse into onboard life (visitors are seldom allowed on the ship otherwise), and friends remaining on the cruise could potentially become converts to cruising, as well.
Plus, some ceremonies are even commissionable for travel advisors. Carnival Cruise Line, for example, will pay at least $150 per wedding reserved, dependent on booking tiers. And of course that’s in addition to any commission made from the rest of the cruise.
Sounds like wedded bliss, doesn’t it?