Editor’s note: This item is adapted from a blog posting on our U.K. sister site.
When it comes to setting the stage for onboard romance, Princess Cruises has long been more successful than any other line in making this point: If you’re a couple, of whatever age or tenure, and you want a simply swooning experience, book yourself on a Princess cruise. From the earliest stages of our one-year courtship and seven-year marriage, my husband, Teijo, and I have experienced all the best heart-driven stuff that Princess can throw at us – sunset dinners on the balcony, lovely gentle movies like “Roman Holiday” on the in-cabin television, rose petals strewn on the bed.
Wandering around Grand Princess on our first sea day, it was brilliantly sunny and hot, and most folks were outside, broiling on sun loungers in various states of undress. Inside, though, was a sprinkling of passengers who were freshly washed, coiffed, flowered,and formally (and beautifully) dressed. Turns out they’d either gotten married or, having been married (one couple told me they’d wed in a registry office 46 years ago but hadn’t had a proper wedding), had decided to renew their vows. They were glowing, walking as if on a two-foot plank of air.
We were among them.
Inasmuch as we were commemorating our seventh anniversary on this voyage, it had occurred to me to ask beforehand on Cruise Critic’s Princess message boards. Princess board for suggestions on the best way to celebrate onboard. I was thinking more along the lines of dining at Sabatini vs. the Crown Grill when a member suggested we renew our vows. With ships registered in Bermuda, which permits captains on Princess to perform weddings, the line’s one of the few with that ability (on other cruise lines you’d need to bring your own officiant or arrange for an in-port wedding and book a celebrant there).
Ding-ding-ding: Yes. The seventh anniversary, whatever the gift symbolism, is an important one (you’ve fought through all the usual learning-to-live-with-each-other stuff and now are settling in to just enjoying each other). Abd while cruise lines are now starting to twig to the niceties of having lavish wedding chapels, Princess has long seen the point. Indeed, a new wedding chapel was one of the enhancements added to Grand Princess during its recent makeover.
We were assigned a “wedding planner,” a fantastic staffer in the purser’s office who clearly had other job responsibilities but made us feel a top priority. She made sure that a corsage was delivered to our cabin, that the captain was notified to show up (with a written ceremony), that there would be photographs, and oh, yes, that there would be music. Thanks to a crew member who downloaded our preferred tunes — Henry Mancini’s “Two for the Road” and “Moon River” — onto his iPod, we had music.
At the appointed time, we showed up in the best finery we’d brought, and Captain Herriott was waiting for us. “Two for the Road” was playing on the stereo, and this time I walked up the aisle with Teijo. The vows were short, written along the lines of those we’d promised to honor seven years earlier, and were unexpectedly moving. In the end, this personal ceremony, with just the captain, some marvelous staffers who made the event seamless and a couple of dear friends, was – if it’s even possible – more memorable than our original wedding. Planning was certainly less stressful. And this time around, the ceremony wasn’t so much about the dress and the attendants and the party after. The simplicity was powerful in a way we didn’t expect.
And here’s another great thing about a cruise ship ceremony, whether a betrothal or a renewal of vows, that didn’t occur to me before: After a wedding, you pretty much move into honeymoon mode; the glow doesn’t stick around too long. Onboard? As the cruise continues, as we make a detour every night to the Wheelhouse Bar to dance to the Marlene Arden Quartet playing Henry Mancini, pass by Sabatini (our dining spot that evening) or say hello to Captain Herriott, we’re reliving the experience.
And especially when we run into others who are dolled up in finery and submitting to the best part of sentimentality in reliving their own weddings, our marvelous moment lives on.
Ready to say “I do?” Check out our 9 Best Cruise Lines for Weddings.
Let the sap in you come out. Read our slideshow on the Top 10 Romantic Ideas for Your Cruise.