Bermuda Cruise Wedding
Thinking of getting married on a cruise to Bermuda? Imagine taking a wedding vow in the middle of Atlantic! Although you can choose to wed while on sail, you can also get married at an onshore location in Bermuda or even at your port of embarkation. Each such choice comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. I shall come to that in a while. But whichever option you choose, the cruise lines have their own dedicated wedding planners to handle the entire event end-to-end including ceremony, wedding venue, cake, flowers, reception, photography, food menu, music (live or pre-recorded), dance, rentals... practically everything. You don't need to look for a third party mediation.
Most cruise lines offer wedding packages and offer customization so that you can fulfill your personal desires during the wedding. Note that marriage license will depend on the jurisdiction where your marriage takes place. If you get married on Bermuda's shore, Bermuda marriage license and fees
will apply. And while on sail, depending on the territory you are in (Bermuda or non-Bermuda), the applicable license will apply. Cruise lines can also help obtaining such marriage license. Also note that almost all cruise lines will require that you book the cruise before booking the wedding package.
Wedding at sea
For shipboard wedding, the marriage ceremony usually takes place at the chapel of ship (if available), or in a lounge. Some large cruises offer several other exotic wedding locations including open deck areas, lounge etc. In some cruises where the ship is registered in Bermuda, the Captains are able to perform the wedding ceremony on the sea by obtaining Bermuda licenses. If the ship is not registered in Bermuda, the captain may not be able to perform the ceremony and wedding on sail may not be available. So check this out with the cruise line if this is one of your must dos.
One of the great advantages of wedding on sail is, you are getting married in presence of a relatively small but selected group of friends and relatives, because you can not perhaps afford to charter the ship or pay for a large group of invitees to accompany you in the cruise to Bermuda. And that makes the whole thing that much simpler and worry free as you do not have to worry about a large gathering and their needs. Plus you are surrounded by the Atlantic!
But simplicity comes with some compromises. If you are the type to plan out details of everything including handpicking the flowers you want on the occasion, then cruise wedding won't satisfy that. Also two of you may be in a cabin which can not usually compare with a room or suite of a luxury resort. But more importantly, you can not escape to a place of exclusive privacy, because like it or not, you will be surrounded by your friends and relatives on the ship almost at every step, plus you will be among thousands of other cruise passengers all the time.
Also note that getting official marriage certificate for a wedding at sea that is legally valid worldwide may be a bit tricky. But shipboard wedding at port of embarkation or in Bermuda has no such problems. So get in touch with the cruise line to get all clarifications on this. Several cruise lines offer only symbolic marriage at sea.
Shipboard wedding at port
Shipboard wedding at port of embarkation is a good option if you do not want to limit your invitees to a small group, rather invite many others to your shipboard wedding who can not join you on sail to Bermuda. This way you won't leave anybody in your circle feeling left out of the most important event in your life. The cruise line can arrange for the local clergy to perform the marriage ceremony apart from making all other arrangements.
While this option too allows you to enjoy almost all benefits of cruise weddings on sail, there are certain limitations that do come into play. Although your guests can embark the ship and attend the wedding ceremony and reception party, they would need to disembark within a stipulated time and before the ship departs. This can rush things a bit. Inquire with the cruise line about rules for guests both sailing and non-sailing, as restrictions and security have recently grown tighter. Note that you can also plan shipboard wedding at the port in Bermuda while the ship is docked on the berth, however due to security restrictions, non-sailing guests are unlikely to be allowed to board the ship in Bermuda.
Destination onshore wedding in Bermuda
This is another wonderful option and you get best of both the worlds! You get the opportunity of a lovely romantic cruise and also get married on an exotic location like a pink beach, a lush garden or even a fort in Bermuda. Getting married in Bermuda requires that a minister or an authorized wedding official perform the ceremony as per Bermuda Marriage Laws
. The cruise wedding coordinator will however assist in this.
Actually with this option, you can get more innovative. For example you can choose to get married outdoor, while enjoy an after-party with your cruising guests onboard the ship. And, in order to escape the curious eyes of your guests and fellow cruise passengers, take a break for few hours or even a day immediately after your wedding, and elope somewhere in the island to enjoy time in privacy. So where can you escape? Here are some suggestions:
Take a day pass in a resort like Coco Reef, wine & dine, and enjoy the private beach for hours.
Indicative cost of wedding on cruise to Bermuda
Bermuda cruise wedding packages generally range in cost from $850-$3,500 depending on where it is done and how elaborate it is. These are the charges of the basic packages and does not includes marriage license cost. Package cost goes up as you go for luxury and enhancements, and there is no limit to that. A basic package will generally include the marriage official, a bouquet for the bride, and boutonniere for the groom, a bottle of champagne, a cake, recorded music and some wedding pictures. Cost of cruising package (i.e. staterooms and food) and marriage license would be separate.
Also note that due to growing popularity, several cruise lines have started including a surcharge for cruise weddings to Bermuda when your wedding date coincides with certain time of the year (for example in summer months like June and September which are considered high season for weddings. But it can vary with the cruise line).
Bermuda cruise wedding packages
Here are some sample wedding packages offered by various cruise lines operating to Bermuda. This for your to get some ideas about the kind of packages, what they include, what they don't, cost and other implications.
Cruise lines offer limited weddings per sail. So you should book early. You also need to ensure that there is wedding provision on your day of sail (for shipboard wedding). Also make a plan-B just in case the cruise is cancelled on the day of your wedding (applicable for on-port wedding) or due to inclement weather making it difficult for outdoor wedding. The rest is for you to relax and enjoy on a luxurious cruise ship, dine out of many specialty restaurants, spend time on plenty of activities, enjoy the ocean views and toast to your heart's content.
Nowegian Cruise Line
NCL has been traditionally the most frequent and popular cruise line to Bermuda from the US with Norwegian Breakaway and Dawn usually making several round trips during the year. The cruise line offers a range of wedding packages.
The package Symbolic Ceremony at Sea on a cruise to Bermuda includes onboard wedding coordinator, the captain conducting the marriage ceremony, bridal bouquet, groom's boutonniere, pre-recorded music, ceremony vow, a 6-inch wedding cake, a bottle of champagne for the couple, a photograph (8 x10), keepsake certificate, canapés & chocolate strawberries in cabin etc. Indicative cost of the package is $1,799.
The Harborside Ceremony at the port of embarkation includes priority check-in for the couple and sailing guests, on-site wedding coordinator, local non-denominational marriage official, bridal bouquet, groom's boutonniere, pre-recorded music, ceremony vow, a 6-inch wedding cake, a bottle of champagne for the couple, assistance with marriage license etc. Indicative cost at New York is $2,995, at Boston $1,995, and if you want it to be arranged at the port of Bermuda (i.e. Kings Wharf or Heritage Wharf, Royal Naval Dockyard) $2,895.
The Destination Ceremony at Bermuda offers most of the above plus a round trip from the cruise to the wedding location and one hour photography. Indicative cost: $4,295.
You can additionally ad spa packages, standard or cocktail reception, fresh flowers of your choice, onboard DJ, special lighting, special cake etc. Note that you may be eligible for group discount if you book a minimum number of cabins (usually eight or more) which is usually given as one or more of complimentary beverages, prepaid service charges, internet packages, photo package, shore excursion credits, other onboard credits, bonus commissions etc.
For further information and booking a wedding package at NCL, contact Royal Ocean Events from 8am to 4pm PST Monday through Friday. Toll free: 1.888.475.5511, direct: 604.940.1181, or Email: [email protected]
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean too offers several wedding packages. The one at embarkation port is known as Ultimate Love Story Package and includes personal wedding planner and coordinator, non-denominational wedding official, private wedding venue (you can choose from several romantic locations in the ship), 3-tier wedding cake, photography, pre-recorded music, bottle of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, breakfast on bed for the couple, decoration of cabin for the couple, honeymoon dinner for couple at a specialty restaurant, keepsake certificate etc. The indicative package cost is $3,800 for up to 50 guests and $4,600 for up to 100 guests. Watch out for some hidden fees like the embarkation fee. You can however customize or enhance any component or even add to the standard package at additional cost.
Royal Caribbean also offers Just us package which involves only the couple who would like to get married in private. It includes personal wedding planner and coordinator, non-denominational wedding official, private wedding venue, photographer (not pictures), bottle of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, breakfast on bed for the couple, keepsake certificate, gift registry etc. The package price starts from $850.
Celebrity cruise line offers similar wedding packages as several others, but their specialty is deck wedding. Their Nautical Nuptial (At Sea Package) includes Pre-Sailing wedding coordinator, legal service, onboard event coordinator, wedding venue, flower bouquet, boutonniere, live music (a welcome change from other cruise lines that offer only pre-recorded music in the basic package), organized wedding vows, one hour photography service, wedding cake for the couple, bottle of champagne, two champagne flutes, chocolate covered strawberries, fresh flowers etc. Indicative cost is $2,500.
Celebrity also offers Shipboard Wedding at port of embarkation or at a port of call like Bermuda. A variation of this is a wedding ceremony performed on open deck known as Deck Wedding. The basic package includes pre-sailing wedding coordinator, priority check-in for the couple and sailing guests, escort for the couple from the ship berth to the cabin, indoor or outdoor deck wedding location depending on the package, wedding ceremony performed by a local official, wedding vows, flower bouquet, boutonniere, wedding cake for two, bottle of champagne, Keepsake wedding certificate, photography service etc. The Destination Wedding in Bermuda where the wedding takes place in a romantic location of choice in the island would additionally include the round trip transportation from the ship. Indicative cost for Shipboard Wedding: $2,895, Destination Wedding (beach in Bermuda): $4,895.
Celebrity also offers assistance in obtaining marriage license in Bermuda. Indicative cost of marriage license along with processing fees and assistance charges is $445.
North America Contacts:
Toll Free: 866-535-2352, Direct: 305-421-1022
How to plan a wedding on a cruise to Bermuda
You should start planning minimum 60 days in advance. If you start with a shorter timeline, the cruise line is likely to add a hefty charge. Most couples start the planning process one year in advance, some even 18 months in advance. Follow the steps below for a smooth plan for your wedding on cruise.
Step-1: Review wedding brochures of the cruise lines
Unless you have decided on the cruise, collect brochures (mostly available online) for the wedding packages offered by the applicable cruise lines, study the materials and compare the offerings and prices. Remember that the couple needs to book the cruise before they can book the wedding package.
Step-2: Finalize the wedding date
Once you decide on the cruise and the wedding package, call up the wedding department of the cruise line, talk to the wedding planner and confirm your date. You should ideally have choice of dates in case your preferred date doesn't work for some reason. Note that it's not only about the cruise line going full with weddings on the day, it's also about local marriage officials being available on the day, national holidays and many other factors.
Step-3: Book the wedding package
Discuss the wedding package you want, and also any personalization of the package with the wedding coordinator and finalize the package price. Pay required advance (usually the entire package fee) and book the wedding package. Ensure that you have carefully reviewed the cancellation policy and understand all implications. This is also the time to discuss and settle all other logistics. For example if you your wedding takes place on day of sail, you and some of your guests may need to come a day in advance and therefore may require hotel bookings at the port city. The cruise line may be able to help here as well. Once you book the wedding, you will be given guidelines and a contract to sign.
Step-4: Make your guest list
Send out invitation to all your sailing and non-sailing guests. The number of guests needs to conform to that of the wedding package you have booked.
Step-5: Keep track of how it goes
Keep in regular touch with the cruise wedding planner and clarify any doubt you may have. This is also the time to fine tune many aspects of the event. Remember the cruise lines are usually very reluctant to deviate from initial plans. But if you insist (after all it's your event and you are paying for it), they will agree to most.
1) Check out Bermuda Cruises
to know all about cruises calling ports in Bermuda.
2) Check out Bermuda Wedding
to know all about how to get married in Bermuda.