P&O Cruises can probably rightly claim the biggest collective celebration at sea, with more than 12,800 Brits onboard its ships on the big day. Anybody sailing out of Southampton on April 29 on Ventura can get in the mood with a huge sailaway party with bunting and flags, although they'll have to time their arrival at the terminal carefully to watch the proceedings on specially-installed TV screens at 11 a.m.
Those passengers already on P&O's ships on the 29th will receive a mock Royal Wedding invitation in their cabin to watch the ceremony, which will be broadcast in all possible areas on board, and attend a Royal Gala Ball that evening. Films shown on board will have a royal theme – “The Queen,” “The King's Speech” and “The Princess Diaries” -- and quizzes will be held with royal themes. Having said that, each P&O Cruises ship will have one wedding-free bar for those who've had enough.
Passengers on Aurora (in the Atlantic), Azura and Oriana (both in Palma), Oceana (returning to Southampton) and Ventura (boarding at Southampton) will be able to watch the ceremony during daylight hours but those on Arcadia, in the Panama Canal, are going to have to crack open the champagne early in the morning if they want to watch it live, thanks to the time difference.
Cunard's ships will each screen the event live in their Royal Court Theatre. In the evening, each vessel will offer a special commemorative menu at dinner and a champagne toast to the newlyweds. All three of Cunard's vessels happen to be at sea on April 29.
The take-up of street parties in Britain may be thin on the ground for Will and Kate's nuptials but Voyages of Discover will be throwing one on board Discovery, which is on a France and Spain cruise on April 29, as well as televising the wedding. A whole deck will be festooned with bunting and three venues will show the wedding on TV, starting at 9 a.m., with a drinks promotion in each location – so some royal-watchers could be in high spirits by the time the vows are exchanged. There's more: a pub lunch, afternoon tea, an evening singalong and a traditional British menu for supper, as well as quizzes, with wedding-themed prizes. And just in case guests still want more, the cinema will show a re-run of the whole thing in the evening.
The U.S.-oriented Norwegian Cruise Line has embraced the festivities with a contemporary interpretation of a very old-fashioned British street party, although whether these will bear any resemblance to actual street parties all over the UK is questionable, given that most Brits have moved on from the Beatles tributes and pie and mash, two of the promised attractions. Partygoers will also enjoy wedding cakes decorated with a Union Jack on the buffets, fish and chips, and bread-and-butter pudding. Champagne, gin and tonic and Pimms will be served in the bars.
Two special meals will be served, at a charge. The Prince and Princess Brunch ($15) will include eggs poached in champagne served on English muffins, kippers, scrambled eggs with grilled lamb, toast with marmalade and fruit salad with clotted cream, while for $10, guests can indulge in a high tea of cucumber sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and lemon curd sponge.
NCL will be broadcasting the wedding throughout ten of its 11 ships (Norwegian Sky won't be showing the event in the Bahamas).
On Princess Cruises ships, passengers can watch BBC coverage of the wedding on deck on the giant Movies Under the Stars screens (though this time round, it'll hopefully be under a clear blue sky). Celebration parties will also be hosted onboard including special Royal-themed cocktails, Royal wedding trivia and (top marks for a fun twist here) a William and Kate look-alike contest.
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On Cruise & Maritime Voyages' two ships, Marco Polo and Ocean Countess, both of which set sail on April 29, passengers will be in the process of embarking when the wedding takes place. Still, the line is arranging for giant TV screens to be installed in the terminals at Tilbury and Hull and a royal banquet will be served on each ship that evening. Wedding coverage will be re-run once the ships sail, for anybody who was too busy checking in to notice it, and a spokesman for the line confirmed there will be a street party on board, with bunting, a ‘Last Night of the Proms' atmosphere with rousing renditions of ‘Rule Britannia' and ‘Land of Hope and Glory', and a cocktail called Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, ingredients of which have yet to be revealed.
The ultra-European influenced MSC Cruises will broadcast the ceremony in English on all the ships it has sailing in Europe – that is, the entire fleet with the exception of MSC Sinfonia and MSC Opera. A special cocktail, the Royal, has been created, of sparkling wine, cognac and Grand Marnier and the ships' bars will all be serving champagne and prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) – at a cost.
Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara ships will all show the wedding, with champagne and flags adding to the mood on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas and Celebrity Eclipse, both of which will be on mini-cruises from Southampton. We're surprised, though, that more fuss isn't being made about celebrating the nuptials, given the high number of Brits traditionally on these ex-Southampton cruises. Least Enthusiastic
Not as surprised, however, as we are about Fred. Olsen, that most traditional of British lines, which is showing a marked lack of interest in the wedding. A line spokeswoman said: “Each ship will plan its own celebrations and although we know there will be things like special cocktails and meals, no one has confirmed anything yet.” With less than two weeks to go? Isn't Fred. Olsen cutting it a bit fine?
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor