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Couple Embracing and Hugging After Their Wedding

TAKE YOUR LOVE ON AN ADVENTURE

MAKE IT UNFORGETTABLE ROYAL WEDDING CRUISES 

You’re getting married! This is one of the most exciting and important times of your life, and Royal Caribbean® has everything you need to make your wedding as beautiful and seamless as you can imagine. From the right venue to the right menu, you’ll find fantastic choices onboard. Our inclusive wedding packages leave room for customization and those special personal touches, so the cake, flowers, music, breakfast-in-bed, and more are up to you.

Ready to say “I Do”? Start planning your Royal Wedding by submitting your information.

Cruise Wedding Packages

EMBARK ON ROMANCE 

Invite sailing and non-sailing guests to share in your occasion during embarkation day. Plus enjoy dinner for two at a specialty restaurant and more.

Start your wedding on the right note with live music at the ceremony. Then dance away at your reception with a live band, pianist, or DJ.

From custom bouquets to accents and arrangements, Royal Weddings offers an array of floral options to make your celebration more colorful.

Create a reception that reflects your personal style. Choose from a variety of unique options--from cocktail parties to restaurant buy-outs.

Pamper yourself with a couples' massage, a warm towel shave or prepare for your special day with salon services.

Capture your special moment with our team of professionally trained photographers.

Create a stunning honeymoon registry and wedding website and be sure on your way to an extraordinary journey together.

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Blue and white striped wedding favor bags are tied shut with a starfish and red coral.

13 Destination Wedding Party Favors for Your Guests

If your dream wedding includes jetting off to a remote island or unique locale, you'll want to get destination wedding favors for your guests. They're an excellent way to thank your guests for making the long trip to be there. The perfect vacation wedding favors range from silver baggage tags to travel candles and incense kits, which are fantastic for unwinding while traveling. 

So, we've curated a list of the best wedding favors for a destination wedding. You'll find many creative travel-themed wedding favor ideas and a few standard ideas. So, you'll surely find some great ideas here, whether the nuptials take place on a tropical island, on a mountaintop, or on a cruise ship. 

Are Wedding Favors Necessary?

In one simple word, no! You are not compelled to distribute favors at your wedding reception. Do we advise doing favors whenever possible? Absolutely. Giving even a small favor makes a tremendous difference. And they don't have to be significant or expensive (or even tangible items). 

The Culture & Spirit 

Before we get into our list of specific favor examples, we have a suggestion…when selecting your destination wedding guest gifts, try to choose something that embraces the culture and spirit of the location.

There are plenty of ways to use locally sourced ingredients and meaningful gifts for your guests. For example, in Mexico, you could give out handmade tortilla presses made from local wood or hand-painted pottery from Oaxaca. You could give out olive oil bottles with personalized labels or soap made with local herbs if you're tying the knot in the Mediterranean. And in the Caribbean, you could give out seashell jewelry or hand-painted wooden boxes.

No matter what type of wedding favors for destination weddings you choose, ensure they capture your destination's spirit. From personalized keychains and handcrafted soaps to eco-friendly jewelry and locally produced food, plenty of creative destination wedding favors will wow your guests and make the event even more memorable.

Destination Wedding Party Favors Guests Will Love

Destination wedding favor bags.

Since many of your guests will be traveling from afar, it's a great idea to give them a welcome bag filled with items they might not have known they would need at your destination. Some things you can include are listed below. 

  • Personalized sunglasses
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mini bug spray
  • Personalized map of the area
  • A few snacks
  • Local treats
  • Sunblock packets
  • Something boozy
  • Hangover kit  (Tylenol, antacids, electrolyte packets, vitamin C packets, travel-size eye drops)

Airplane Bottle Opener

Two bonze airplane bottle openers destination wedding favors are sitting on a wood table. One bottle opener is packaged and the other  rest on a daisy print gift bag.

Wine Stopper

Two gold pineapple wine stopper destination wedding favors are sitting on a table. One wine opener is packaged and tied with a white bow. The other wine stopper is resting against the neck of a wine bottle on its side.

And, of course, you could search for options that embody the spirit of your wedding locale. A starfish or  pineapple wine stopper  for tropical destination weddings, an Eiffel Tower wine stopper for weddings in France, or a cactus wine stopper for a desert soiree are great ideas. Search on Etsy; you're sure to find one that matches your location. 

Luggage Tags

A wooden table is covered with 13 unique and colorful personalized luggage tag destination wedding favors.

Wedding Favor Candles

A woman holds a small glass wedding favor candle with a tin lid in her hands that features a customized label printed with the state of California and the names,

Personalized Tote Bags

A tan floral destination wedding welcome bag that reads,

There are tons of different styles on Etsy; you can shop for  personalized tote bags  here. 

Compass Wedding Favor

A gold compass travel wedding favor is fitted with a tag that reads,

Personalized Olive Oil Jars

A small corked, clear bottle with olive oil and rosemary sprigs displays a tag that reads,

Take A Shot; We’re Tying The Knot

Two small mini patron bottle wedding favors rest on a wooden table imprinted with the poem, "Take a shot, we're tying the knot. Stacy & Dominic" followed by a wedding date.

Custom Coffee Wedding Favor

A wicker basket surrounded by leaves is filled with 3 personalized coffee bag wedding favors.

Personalized Wedding Fan

Two personalized wood and blue paper wedding fan favors are spread open on a white table.

Regional Souvenirs

Local souvenirs are excellent when guests travel a considerable distance to attend a destination wedding. With the trinket, they'll be able to cherish the memories of your wedding and the location without spending money on a souvenir. Here are a few local wedding favor ideas for some of the most popular destination wedding locations. 

Ok, sure, Jamaica is one of the prettiest locations on earth, but it's not just about the beauty. Jamaican culture is something everyone on the planet should experience at least once in their lifetime. So, if you've chosen this tropical locale for your destination wedding, here are some fantastic local items that can be given as gifts to your guests. 

  • Mini rum cakes - they'll love it!
  • Mini Appleton Rum bottles
  • A jar of the local Jerk Sauce
  • Blue Mountain Coffee

Another stunning tropical location, Mexico is easy to get to, beautiful, and affordable, so it's always a popular locale for destination weddings. Check out these awesome ideas for Mexican favors. 

  • Mini tequila bottles (we know it's already on the list, but hey, it's Tequila)
  • Mexican Maracas
  • Mexican tile coasters
  • A Mexican blanket
  • Mexico-inspired hand-painted shot glasses

Greece is one of our absolute favorite destinations because of the weather, the food, and the scenery. So we've rounded up a few ideas for favors for a destination wedding in Greece. 

  • Mini Olive Oil bottles
  • Miniature Ouzo bottles
  • Evil eye charms
  • A keychain with the shape of the country
  • Jar of local honey
  • Greek pastries

Anywhere in Italy is a great place to tie the knot. And if your guests are making the trip to celebrate with you, gift them one of these.

  • Mini wine bottles
  • Italian confetti (candies)
  • Mini bottle of LImoncello
  • Olive oil bottles
  • Natural soap made with Sardinian essential oils of helichrysum and mastic

A card that reads,

We know that you lavishly pay for every guest attending your wedding. However, to attend your special day, your guests must invest time and money in everything from travel and lodging to clothes, wedding presents, and more. Therefore, to demonstrate your gratitude for their participation and support, give a small token to show your appreciation. 

Destination Wedding Party Favors FAQ

Do you give out favors at a destination wedding.

Given the investment your guests make to attend your destination wedding, it is customary to give out a destination wedding favor. Some couples do bypass the standard travel wedding favor for a destination wedding welcome bag. If you're planning a destination wedding, think about giving your out-of-town guests welcome bags to say thank you for making the trip. The customary contents of these welcome packages include snacks, drinks, souvenirs, a list of upcoming weekend activities, and more.

How much do you spend on favors for your destination wedding?

The  average price of a wedding favor is between 1 and 3 dollars , but we recommend adhering to a budget that works for you and emotes gratitude for guests attending your ceremony. 

Continue reading

5 Inspiring Ideas for Your Backyard Boho Wedding

5 Inspiring Ideas for Your Backyard Boho Wedding

2023 Stunning Wedding Arch Beach Ideas

2023 Stunning Wedding Arch Beach Ideas

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  • Travel Tips

How To Plan A Wedding On A Cruise Ship

Published: December 14, 2023

Modified: December 28, 2023

by Ruperta Echeverria

  • Romantic Vacations

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Introduction

Planning a wedding is a momentous and exciting occasion. It’s a time when couples dream of a perfect day, filled with love, joy, and cherished memories. If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable wedding experience, consider saying “I do” on a cruise ship. A cruise ship wedding offers the opportunity to exchange vows while surrounded by breathtaking ocean views, luxurious amenities, and the excitement of exploring multiple destinations.

Choosing a cruise ship wedding allows you to combine your wedding celebrations with a romantic honeymoon, as you set sail to stunning destinations. From sun-drenched Caribbean islands to picturesque Mediterranean ports, the world is your oyster when it comes to selecting the perfect cruise itinerary for your special day.

One of the biggest advantages of a cruise ship wedding is the convenience it offers. You can have your ceremony, reception, and accommodations all in one place, eliminating the need for travel between multiple venues. Additionally, many cruise lines provide comprehensive wedding packages that take care of the details, allowing you to relax and enjoy your special day without the stress of planning every aspect.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of planning a wedding on a cruise ship. From choosing the right cruise ship and dates to budgeting, legal requirements, and customizing your wedding package, we will cover everything you need to know to ensure a seamless and memorable experience. So, grab a pen and paper and get ready to set sail on the journey of a lifetime, as we explore how to plan a wedding on a cruise ship.

Choosing the Right Cruise Ship Wedding

When it comes to choosing the right cruise ship for your wedding, it’s important to consider several factors that will contribute to the overall experience. Here are some key considerations to help you make the best choice:

  • Destination: Think about the destination you’ve always dreamed of for your wedding. Whether it’s the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean, the stunning fjords of Alaska, or the romantic cities of Europe, different cruise ships offer different itineraries. Research the destinations offered by various cruise lines and choose one that resonates with your vision.
  • Ship Size: The size of the ship can greatly impact the atmosphere and overall feel of your wedding. Larger cruise ships offer a multitude of onboard amenities, entertainment options, and dining choices. They may also have dedicated wedding chapels or venues that can accommodate a larger guest list. On the other hand, smaller ships provide a more intimate and personalized experience, with the opportunity to explore smaller, off-the-beaten-path ports of call.
  • Wedding Packages: Research the wedding packages offered by different cruise lines. These packages generally include the ceremony, officiant, flowers, decorations, cake, and sometimes even photography. Consider your budget and desired level of customization when evaluating the packages. Some cruise lines also offer additional add-ons, such as live music, upgraded menus, or onboard spa treatments.
  • Wedding Coordinator: Find out if the cruise line provides a dedicated wedding coordinator to assist you throughout the planning process. Having an experienced professional to guide you through the logistics and details can alleviate stress and ensure that your vision for the perfect day is brought to life.
  • Guest Accommodations: Consider the comfort and convenience of your guests. Ensure that the cruise ship has enough cabin options to accommodate the number of attendees, as well as amenities and activities that will keep everyone entertained throughout the duration of the cruise.
  • Budget: Set a clear budget for your cruise ship wedding and research the costs associated with each option. Take into account the wedding package, guest accommodations, travel expenses, and any additional expenses you may incur, such as customizations or onboard activities.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select the cruise ship that aligns with your wedding vision and ensures that you and your guests have an unforgettable experience.

Selecting Dates and Planning Ahead

Choosing the perfect date for your cruise ship wedding requires careful consideration and planning. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

  • Availability: Check with the cruise line to determine which dates are available for weddings. Popular cruises and peak travel seasons tend to book up quickly, so it’s advisable to inquire and secure your desired date well in advance. This will give you more flexibility and ensure that you get the date that works best for you.
  • Guests’ Availability: Consider the availability of your guests when selecting the wedding date. Consult with your close family and friends to find a date that works for everyone. It’s a good idea to send out save-the-date cards or notifications well in advance, allowing your guests enough time to plan their travel arrangements.
  • Weather: Research the weather patterns of your chosen destination during your planned wedding dates. Consider potential climatic conditions, such as hurricane seasons or extreme temperatures. While it’s impossible to predict weather conditions far in advance, consulting historical weather data can give you a general idea of what to expect during that time of the year.
  • Special Occasions: Determine if there are any special events or holidays during your desired dates. While getting married on a special occasion can add an extra layer of excitement, keep in mind that there may be increased demand and prices for travel and accommodations during these times. Additionally, availability of wedding packages or onboard activities may be limited, so it’s important to plan ahead and secure your reservations early.
  • Personal Significance: Consider if there are any meaningful dates or anniversaries that hold significance to you and your partner. Getting married on a date that is special to you can add an extra layer of sentiment to your wedding day.
  • Plan Ahead: Once you have chosen the date for your cruise ship wedding, start planning ahead. Make a checklist of all the tasks and deadlines you need to meet, such as sending out invitations, finalizing guest accommodations, choosing vendors, and confirming wedding package details. Create a timeline to ensure that you stay on track with your preparations and make the most of your planning process.

By carefully considering these factors and planning ahead, you can select the ideal date for your cruise ship wedding and ensure that everything falls into place seamlessly.

Budgeting for a Cruise Ship Wedding

Planning a wedding can be a significant financial undertaking, and budgeting is an essential aspect of the planning process. When it comes to budgeting for a cruise ship wedding, here are some key factors to consider:

  • Wedding Package Costs: Begin by researching the wedding packages offered by the cruise line of your choice. These packages usually include the ceremony, officiant, flower arrangements, decorations, wedding cake, and sometimes photography. Carefully evaluate the costs associated with each package to determine the best fit for your budget.
  • Customizations: Decide on any additional customizations or upgrades you would like for your wedding day. These might include live music, upgraded menus, additional decorations, or specialty cakes. Keep in mind that each customization may come with an additional cost, so factor these into your budget as well.
  • Guest Accommodations: Consider the costs of guest accommodations and factor them into your budget. Different cabin categories have varying price ranges, so take into account the number of guests and their preferences when selecting accommodation options.
  • Travel Expenses: Depending on the cruise itinerary, there may be additional travel expenses involved, such as flights to the port of departure or transportation to and from the port. Research these costs and factor them into your budget accordingly.
  • Additional Expenses: Think about any additional expenses you may incur during the cruise, such as onboard activities, specialty restaurants, or spa treatments. It’s important to budget for these extras to ensure you can fully enjoy your wedding experience without stressing about additional costs.
  • Wedding Attire and Accessories: Don’t forget to set aside a budget for your wedding attire, including the wedding dress, groom’s attire, and accessories. Consider any alterations, special shoes, or jewelry that you may need.
  • Vendor Costs: If you plan to hire additional vendors for services such as photography, videography, or music, research the costs associated with these services and incorporate them into your budget. Keep in mind that some cruise lines may have restrictions on external vendors, so be sure to check with your wedding coordinator.
  • Contingency Fund: It’s always a good idea to have a contingency fund for any unforeseen expenses that may arise during the planning process or on the wedding day itself. Setting aside a small percentage of your overall budget for unexpected costs will give you peace of mind in case anything unexpected happens.

By carefully considering these factors and creating a detailed budget, you can ensure that you have a clear understanding of the costs associated with your cruise ship wedding and avoid any financial surprises along the way.

Legal Requirements and Documentation

When planning a cruise ship wedding, it is essential to be aware of the legal requirements and documentation needed to ensure a legally binding marriage. While the specific requirements may vary based on the cruise line, ship, and destination, here are some general guidelines to consider:

  • Marriage License: Research the marriage license requirements for both the country where the ship is registered and the destination(s) where the ceremony will take place. Check if the cruise line will assist in obtaining the necessary marriage license or if you need to obtain it on your own. Be aware of any waiting periods or residency requirements that may be imposed by the destination.
  • Identification Documents: Ensure that you and your partner have valid passports, as well as any other required identification documents, such as birth certificates or driver’s licenses. Some countries may have specific entry visa requirements, so check with the respective embassy or consulate if necessary.
  • Divorce or Death Certificates: If either you or your partner has been previously married, you may need to provide divorce decrees or death certificates to demonstrate the dissolution of previous marriages. Check the specific requirements for each destination to ensure compliance.
  • Translations and Notarizations: If any of your documents are in a language other than English, you may need to have them translated into the required language and notarized. Check with the appropriate authorities to ascertain if this is necessary.
  • Witnesses: Confirm the number and age requirements for witnesses to the wedding ceremony. Some destinations may require a specific number of witnesses, and they may need to be of legal age.
  • Legalization and Apostille: Some countries require additional steps, such as the legalization or apostille of documents. This involves getting official approvals or certifications from the respective authorities to validate the authenticity of the documents.
  • Wedding Officiant: Check if the cruise line provides qualified wedding officiants or if you need to arrange for your own. Depending on the ship’s registry and the destination’s requirements, there may be specific qualifications or certifications needed for the officiant.
  • Pre-Wedding Counseling: In some cases, destinations may require pre-wedding counseling or blood tests. Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of the destination to ensure compliance.

It is essential to consult with the cruise line’s wedding planner or coordinator to obtain accurate and up-to-date information regarding the legal requirements for your cruise ship wedding. They can guide you through the necessary steps and help ensure that all legal documentation is in order, allowing you to have a hassle-free and legally recognized wedding ceremony.

Wedding Packages and Customization Options

One of the advantages of having a cruise ship wedding is the convenience of inclusive wedding packages offered by many cruise lines. These packages are designed to provide all the essentials for your special day. Here are some key points to consider when exploring wedding packages and customization options:

  • Package Inclusions: Review the details of the wedding packages offered by the cruise line. Typically, these packages include the ceremony venue, officiant, floral arrangements, decorations, wedding cake, and sometimes photography services. Be sure to understand exactly what is included in the package and any limitations or restrictions that may apply.
  • Upgrade Options: Explore any upgrade options available to enhance your wedding package. This may include options such as upgraded floral arrangements, premium cake designs, live music or entertainment, upgraded menu selections, or additional photography or videography services. Consider these options based on your preferences and budget.
  • Customizations: Determine if the cruise line allows for customizations to their standard wedding packages. This could involve adding personalized touches, such as incorporating your own vows, selecting specific music or readings, or including cultural or religious rituals. Discuss customization options with the wedding coordinator to ensure your vision for the ceremony is realized.
  • Additional Services: Inquire about any additional services or amenities that can be added to your wedding package. This may include arranging spa treatments, reserving private dining experiences, organizing group shore excursions for your guests, or planning pre- or post-wedding celebrations. Explore these options to create a comprehensive and memorable wedding experience.
  • Photography and Videography: Assess the cruise line’s photography and videography services included in the wedding package. Review sample portfolios to ensure their style aligns with your preferences. If desired, inquire about the possibility of bringing in your own professional photographer or videographer, as some cruise lines allow for outside vendors at an additional fee or with specific requirements.
  • Wedding Reception: Determine if the wedding package includes a reception after the ceremony and what options are available. This may range from intimate dinners at specialty restaurants to grand receptions in dedicated venues onboard the ship. Consider the number of guests, your budget, and your desired atmosphere when selecting the reception options.
  • Personalization Opportunities: Discuss any opportunities for personalization, such as creating customized wedding invitations, favors, or welcome gifts for your guests. These small details can add a special touch to your wedding and make it truly unique.

By carefully reviewing the wedding packages and exploring customization options, you can select a package that aligns with your vision, budget, and personal preferences. Don’t hesitate to communicate your desires and requests with the cruise line’s wedding coordinator to ensure your dream wedding becomes a reality.

Coordinating with Wedding Planners and Cruise Staff

When planning a cruise ship wedding, you will have the support and expertise of wedding planners and cruise staff who are dedicated to ensuring your special day goes smoothly. Here are some important points to consider when coordinating with them:

  • Initial Consultation: Schedule an initial consultation with the cruise line’s wedding planner to discuss your vision, preferences, and any specific requirements for your wedding. This will help establish clear expectations and enable the planner to guide you in the right direction.
  • Clear Communication: Maintain open and clear communication with your wedding planner throughout the planning process. Clearly communicate your priorities, preferences, and any changes or updates that may arise. Respond promptly to their requests for information or decisions to ensure a smooth planning process.
  • Clarify Expectations: Clearly communicate your expectations for the wedding day, including the ceremony and reception details, preferred vendors (if applicable), and any personalized elements you wish to include. Providing a clear vision will help the wedding planner and cruise staff work together to create the wedding of your dreams.
  • Regular Updates: Stay connected with the wedding planner and cruise staff by scheduling regular updates or check-ins. This will allow you to address any concerns, ask questions, or make adjustments as needed throughout the planning process.
  • Timeline and Deadlines: Work with the wedding planner to establish a timeline and adhere to deadlines for tasks such as selecting wedding packages, customizations, vendor selections, and guest accommodations. This will help ensure that all elements are arranged in a timely manner and reduce any last-minute stress.
  • Onboard Meetings: If possible, schedule in-person meetings with the wedding planner and cruise staff once you embark on the cruise ship. Use this opportunity to review all the details and finalize any remaining arrangements. This will allow you to address any last-minute concerns and ensure that everything is in place for your wedding day.
  • Rehearsal: Coordinate the wedding rehearsal with the wedding planner and cruise staff. Walk through the ceremony and reception details, ensuring that everyone involved understands their roles and responsibilities. A rehearsal will help alleviate any nerves and ensure a smooth flow on the actual wedding day.
  • Day-Of Coordination: Trust the expertise and professionalism of the cruise staff on the wedding day. They will work diligently to ensure that everything runs smoothly, from setting up the ceremony and reception venues to coordinating with vendors and managing any unexpected situations. Allow them to take care of the logistics while you focus on enjoying your special day.
  • Express Gratitude: After the wedding, take the time to express your gratitude to the wedding planner and cruise staff for their efforts in making your wedding day memorable. A simple gesture of appreciation goes a long way in acknowledging their hard work and dedication.

Coordinating with the wedding planners and cruise staff is crucial for a successful and stress-free cruise ship wedding. By maintaining clear communication, adhering to timelines, and building a trusting relationship, you can ensure that your wedding day is flawlessly executed.

Guest Accommodations and Invitations

When planning a cruise ship wedding, it’s important to consider the accommodations and invitations for your guests. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Guest Accommodations: Work closely with the cruise line to ensure that there are enough accommodations for your guests. Check the availability of cabin categories and ensure that they align with the preferences and budgets of your guests. Consider reserving a block of cabins to secure availability and potentially receive group booking discounts.
  • Informing Guests: Notify your guests about the wedding as soon as possible. Send out save-the-date cards or notifications well in advance to allow them time to plan and make any necessary travel arrangements. Include all relevant information such as the cruise line, ship name, embarkation port, wedding date, and any additional events or activities you have planned.
  • Invitations: Follow up the initial notification with formal invitations. These can be sent electronically or through traditional paper invitations, depending on your preference. Include details such as the ceremony and reception times, onboard dress code guidelines, and any specific instructions or requirements for the wedding day.
  • Travel Planning Assistance: Provide your guests with travel planning assistance by sharing helpful information such as recommended flights, transportation options to the embarkation port, and any special arrangements made for group transfers. Including contact details for a designated point person who can assist with questions or concerns will also be appreciated.
  • Group Activities: Plan pre- or post-wedding activities for your guests to enjoy together. This could include welcome gatherings, group shore excursions, or informal get-togethers onboard the ship. Organizing group activities fosters a sense of camaraderie and allows your guests to make the most of their time together.
  • Wedding Website: Consider creating a wedding website to provide your guests with additional information about the cruise ship, the destination(s), travel tips, and a detailed itinerary of the wedding events. This can also serve as a platform for collecting RSVPs, sharing updates, and communicating important details with your guests.
  • Guest Favors: Show appreciation for your guests’ presence by providing thoughtful wedding favors. These could be small mementos, personalized tokens, or practical items that will remind them of the special occasion. Consider incorporating elements that reflect the cruise ship wedding theme or the destination.
  • Follow-Up Communication: Keep in touch with your guests leading up to the wedding. Send reminders, updates, and any additional information they may need to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Encourage them to reach out if they have any questions or concerns and assure them that you are there to assist.
  • Special Considerations: Take into account any special considerations for your guests, such as dietary restrictions, mobility issues, or medical requirements. Communicate these to the cruise line so that appropriate arrangements can be made to ensure the comfort and enjoyment of all attendees.

By thoughtfully planning guest accommodations and invitations, you can ensure that your loved ones feel welcome, informed, and excited to be a part of your cruise ship wedding. Their presence and support will contribute to making your wedding celebrations all the more memorable.

Onboard Activities and Entertainment

When planning a cruise ship wedding, it’s important to consider the onboard activities and entertainment options available to you and your guests. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Pre-Wedding Gatherings: Take advantage of the various facilities and venues onboard the ship to organize pre-wedding gatherings or welcome parties. This could be a casual get-together at one of the ship’s bars or lounges, a poolside meet-and-greet, or a more formal cocktail reception.
  • Spa and Wellness: Indulge in relaxation and pampering by booking spa treatments for you and your wedding party. Many cruise ships have luxurious spas offering a range of services, including massages, facials, and beauty treatments. Treat yourself to some pre-wedding self-care and rejuvenation.
  • Recreation Opportunities: Cruise ships are equipped with a myriad of recreational activities to keep you and your guests entertained. From swimming pools and water slides to sports courts, fitness centers, and even rock climbing walls or zip lines, there is something for everyone to enjoy during their time on the ship.
  • Specialty Restaurants: While most cruise ships offer dining options included in the fare, consider treating your guests to a memorable dining experience at one of the ship’s specialty restaurants. These establishments often offer gourmet cuisine and a more intimate atmosphere, providing a perfect setting for a rehearsal dinner or post-wedding celebration.
  • Evening Entertainment: Cruise ships are renowned for their evening entertainment, which may include Broadway-style shows, live music performances, comedy acts, and dance parties. Coordinate with the ship’s entertainment staff to ensure that there are engaging activities for your guests to enjoy during your wedding celebrations.
  • Group Shore Excursions: Plan group shore excursions to give your guests the opportunity to explore the ports of call together. Cruise lines offer a variety of excursions, ranging from guided city tours to adventure activities, cultural experiences, and beach outings. This allows your guests to have shared experiences and create lasting memories during the cruise.
  • Unique Onboard Experiences: Research the unique onboard experiences offered by the cruise line, such as wine tastings, cooking classes, art auctions, or educational seminars. These activities can add an extra dimension to your wedding celebrations and provide opportunities for your guests to bond and engage in enriching experiences together.
  • Casino and Nightlife: For those who enjoy some late-night excitement, cruise ship casinos provide an entertaining and lively atmosphere. Additionally, the ship’s bars, lounges, and nightclub venues offer opportunities for your guests to dance, socialize, and celebrate long into the night.
  • Personalized Activities: Consider coordinating personalized activities or surprises for your guests, such as a themed costume party, a group photo session, or a private gathering for your wedding party. These personalized touches add a special touch to the overall wedding experience and create lasting memories.

By exploring the onboard activities and entertainment options available, you can enhance the wedding experience for both you and your guests. From relaxation and wellness to exciting excursions and unforgettable entertainment, a cruise ship wedding provides a wide range of activities to ensure that everyone has a truly memorable time onboard.

Selecting Vendors for Photography, Flowers, and Cake

While many cruise ship wedding packages include the services of photographers, florists, and pastry chefs, you may have the option to select external vendors for these important elements of your special day. Here’s what you need to consider when choosing vendors for photography, flowers, and cake:

  • Photography: Research the photography options available onboard the cruise ship. Review the sample portfolios provided by the cruise line’s recommended photographers to ensure their style aligns with your preferences. If you prefer a different approach or have a specific photographer in mind, check if the cruise line allows for external vendors and if there are any additional fees or restrictions involved.
  • Flowers: Consider your floral preferences and consult with the onboard florist provided by the cruise line. They will be familiar with the options available, taking into account the destination, season, and ship’s resources. If you have specific floral arrangements in mind or desire a wider selection, inquire if external florists are allowed and what requirements must be met.
  • Cake: Review the cake options offered by the cruise line. Determine if they can accommodate any dietary restrictions or specific design requests. If you have a specific cake design in mind, discuss it with the cruise line’s pastry chef. Alternatively, find out if you can bring in an external baker to create a custom cake that meets your vision.
  • Vendor Experience and Reputation: Whether you choose vendors provided by the cruise line or bring in external vendors, it’s important to research their experience and reputation. Read reviews, view their portfolios, and ask for references to ensure they have a track record of delivering high-quality work.
  • Communication and Personalization: When selecting vendors, consider their responsiveness and ability to understand your vision and preferences. Ensure that they are willing to customize their services based on your specific requirements and offer open lines of communication throughout the planning process.
  • Budget Considerations: Compare the costs of using external vendors versus the services provided by the cruise line. Take into account any extra fees, such as corkage fees for the cake or photography permits for the ship. Balance your desire for specific vendors with any budgetary constraints you may have.
  • Coordination and Logistics: Discuss the logistics of working with external vendors with the cruise line’s wedding coordinator. Determine if there are any restrictions or requirements for vendors boarding the ship or delivering their services onboard. Coordinate with the wedding coordinator to ensure a smooth collaboration between the vendors and the cruise ship staff.
  • Insurance and Contracts: If you decide to bring in external vendors, make sure they have appropriate liability insurance coverage. Review all contracts carefully and ensure that they outline the specific services, deliverables, payment terms, and cancellation policies. Protect yourself and your investment by clarifying these details in advance.

By carefully considering these factors and making informed decisions, you can ensure that the vendors you choose for photography, flowers, and cake contribute to the overall success and beauty of your cruise ship wedding. Whether you opt for onboard services or bring in external vendors, make sure your vision is realized and your wedding day is everything you dreamed of.

Finalizing Details and Rehearsal

As your cruise ship wedding date approaches, it’s time to focus on finalizing the last details and ensuring that everything is in place for your special day. Here are some important steps to take during this phase:

  • Review Contracts and Confirmations: Double-check all contracts and confirmations with the cruise line, vendors, and any external service providers. Ensure that everyone is clear on the agreed-upon details, including dates, times, venues, services, and any special requests or customization. Make note of any outstanding payments and confirm deadlines.
  • Finalize Guest Accommodations: Confirm the guest accommodations with the cruise line, ensuring that all rooms are properly allocated and any specific requests or special needs have been addressed. Communicate the instructions for embarkation to your guests, including meeting points and times, as well as any documents they may need to bring onboard.
  • Seating Arrangements: If you are planning a reception, finalize the seating arrangements for your guests. Consider any special requests, groupings, or preferences when arranging the tables. Create a seating chart or placeholders as necessary and provide this information to the cruise line’s staff for set up on the wedding day.
  • Rehearsal: Schedule a rehearsal with the wedding coordinator and anyone involved in the ceremony, such as the wedding party, officiant, musicians, and readers. Walk through the ceremony processional, exchange of vows, and recessional to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and knows their roles. Take this opportunity to address any last-minute questions or concerns.
  • Finalize Playlist and Readings: Confirm the music selection and any readings or speeches that will take place during the ceremony. Provide the necessary information to the musicians, readers, or speakers. If you have specific timing or cues, communicate them clearly to ensure a smooth and coordinated flow during the ceremony.
  • Check Transportation Arrangements: If you have arranged for transportation to and from the embarkation port or any off-ship activities, reconfirm the details and ensure that everything is in place. Communicate the transportation information to your guests so that they are aware of the arrangements and can plan accordingly.
  • Delegate Wedding Day Tasks: Assign specific tasks or responsibilities to trusted individuals who can assist with any last-minute errands or tasks on the wedding day. This may include coordinating with vendors, overseeing guest arrivals, or handling any unexpected situations. By delegating these responsibilities, you can focus on enjoying your wedding day.
  • Finalize Payments and Tips: Settle any outstanding payments with the cruise line, vendors, and service providers. Prepare envelopes with tips for vendors who have provided exceptional service and plan to distribute them accordingly on the wedding day or before, depending on the cruise line’s guidelines.
  • Confirm the Wedding Day Itinerary: Review the final wedding day itinerary with the wedding coordinator and ensure that all details are accurate. Share the itinerary with the key members of your wedding party and any guests who may need to be aware of specific timing or events during the day.
  • Take Some Time for Yourself: Amidst all the final details and preparations, remember to take some time for yourself to relax, reflect, and prepare for your wedding day. Get a good night’s sleep, eat well, and engage in activities that help you feel calm and centered. This will ensure that you are ready to fully enjoy and embrace every moment of your special day.

By finalizing these details and conducting a rehearsal, you can feel confident that everything is in order for your cruise ship wedding. Remember to stay organized, communicate effectively, and trust in the support of the wedding coordinator and cruise line’s staff to make your wedding day a truly memorable experience.

The Big Day: Wedding Ceremony and Reception on a Cruise Ship

Your big day has arrived! It’s time to celebrate and exchange vows on your cruise ship wedding. Here’s what you can expect for the wedding ceremony and reception:

The Ceremony:

Arrive at the designated venue for your ceremony, such as a dedicated wedding chapel or a picturesque deck with stunning ocean views. The ceremony site will be beautifully prepared, adorned with flowers and decorations according to your chosen theme or preferences.

With the assistance of the wedding coordinator, gather with your wedding party and loved ones, ready to embark on this memorable journey. The officiant, whether provided by the cruise line or an external vendor, will guide you through the ceremony, ensuring that your personalized vows and readings are flawlessly incorporated into the proceedings.

As you exchange vows, surrounded by panoramic ocean views and the embrace of your loved ones, you’ll feel an immense sense of joy and fulfillment, knowing that you’re starting this new chapter of your life in a truly unique and breathtaking setting.

The Reception:

After the ceremony, your guests will move to the designated reception area, which may be a dedicated venue onboard the ship or a reserved section in one of the ship’s restaurants. The reception area will be beautifully decorated, reflecting your chosen theme and creating a celebratory atmosphere.

Enjoy delicious cuisine crafted by the ship’s talented chefs, who will have prepared a delectable menu tailored to your preferences. Raise a toast to your new union and share heartwarming speeches, laughter, and joyful moments with your guests.

Throughout the reception, the ship’s staff and wedding coordinator will ensure that everything flows smoothly. They will coordinate the timing of the events, assist with any necessary announcements, and be there to anticipate and fulfill any last-minute requests or needs.

Immerse yourself in the festivities, dance to your favorite tunes, and celebrate with your guests, surrounded by the luxurious ambiance of the cruise ship. The onboard entertainment and live music will add to the merriment, creating an unforgettable experience for all in attendance.

Capture the Memories:

Throughout your wedding day, professional photographers will be there to capture every cherished moment, from the exchange of vows to your first dance as a married couple. They will expertly document the emotions, joy, and love felt during this special day, providing you with beautiful and lasting memories of your cruise ship wedding.

Post-Wedding Celebrations:

Extend the celebration beyond the wedding day by planning post-wedding activities. This could involve organizing group shore excursions at the ports of call, hosting informal gatherings onboard the ship, or even arranging a post-cruise celebration at your final destination.

Continue cherishing the moments with your loved ones and create lasting memories as you explore new destinations or relax and unwind on the remainder of your cruise. The wedding experience on a cruise ship offers the perfect blend of romance, adventure, and celebration, making it a truly unforgettable journey for everyone involved.

As the sun sets on your wedding day, take a moment to reflect on the incredible memories made, the love shared, and the beginning of a lifelong journey. Your cruise ship wedding will forever remain a cherished chapter in your love story.

Post-Wedding Activities and Celebrations

Your cruise ship wedding doesn’t have to end with the ceremony and reception. Extend the celebration and create lasting memories with post-wedding activities and celebrations. Here are some ideas to consider:

Group Shore Excursions:

Take advantage of the exciting ports of call during your cruise and plan group shore excursions. Explore the local attractions, indulge in unique cultural experiences, or partake in thrilling adventures together. From city tours to snorkeling trips, there are plenty of options to suit different interests and preferences. These group adventures will provide an opportunity for your guests to bond, create shared memories, and continue the celebration in new and exciting destinations.

Informal Gatherings:

Organize informal gatherings onboard the ship, such as poolside parties, sunset cocktail hours, or casual group meals. These relaxed and laid-back events will allow your guests to mingle, reminisce about the wedding day, and enjoy each other’s company. It’s also an opportunity to thank them for being a part of your journey and to express your appreciation for their presence and support.

Post-Cruise Celebrations:

If your cruise concludes at a destination that holds significance to you and your partner, consider extending the celebrations with a post-cruise gathering or party. Book a venue at the destination and invite your closest family and friends to join you for a reception or dinner. This is a chance to continue the festivities and spend quality time with loved ones while reveling in the memories of your beautiful cruise ship wedding.

Toast and Thank You:

Take a moment during one of the post-wedding activities or celebrations to express your gratitude and toast to your guests. This is a wonderful opportunity to thank everyone for their presence, support, and love throughout the journey. Raise a glass, share heartfelt words, and let your guests know how much their presence has meant to you.

Relaxation and Reflection:

After the excitement of your wedding day, take some time for you and your partner to relax and reflect on the journey you’ve embarked upon. Whether it’s indulging in a couples’ spa treatment, finding a quiet spot on the ship’s deck to watch the sunset, or simply spending quality time together, prioritize having moments of calm and intimacy amidst the celebration. This will allow you to savor the memories and strengthen the bond between you as newlyweds.

Create a Wedding Album or Video:

Once you have returned from your cruise ship wedding, gather the beautiful photographs taken by the professional photographers and any video footage captured. Compile these precious memories into a wedding album or video that you can share with your loved ones. Reliving the joyous moments through images and videos will keep the memories of your cruise ship wedding alive and cherished for years to come.

Plan a Wedding Celebration at Home:

If you want to extend the celebration even further, consider planning a wedding reception or party back home to include those who couldn’t attend the cruise ship wedding. This is an opportunity to share the joy and happiness of your wedding day with a wider circle of family and friends. It can be a formal affair or a casual gathering, depending on your preferences and budget.

By planning post-wedding activities and celebrations, you can prolong the joy and create even more cherished memories with your loved ones following your cruise ship wedding. The adventure continues beyond the ceremony and reception, allowing you to fully embrace the journey of love and celebration.

A cruise ship wedding offers a unique and unforgettable experience, combining the joyous celebration of your union with the adventure of exploring beautiful destinations. From the moment you say “I do” against the backdrop of breathtaking ocean views to the post-wedding activities and celebrations, a cruise ship wedding creates cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

Throughout the planning process, considerations such as choosing the right cruise ship, selecting wedding packages, coordinating with wedding planners and cruise staff, and finalizing all the details ensure that your wedding day is seamless and stress-free. The convenience of having everything in one place, from the ceremony to the reception and guest accommodations, eliminates the need for additional logistics and allows you to fully immerse yourself in the joy of your special day.

With the ocean as your backdrop and the luxurious amenities of the cruise ship at your disposal, your wedding day will be filled with beauty, romance, and adventure. The onboard activities and entertainment options provide a perfect blend of relaxation, excitement, and celebration for you and your guests, ensuring that every moment is filled with love and happiness.

As your cruise ship wedding comes to an end, the post-wedding activities and celebrations continue the joyous experience. Group shore excursions allow you to explore new destinations together, informal gatherings provide opportunities for connection and laughter, and post-cruise celebrations extend the festivities beyond the ship. It’s a time to relax, reflect, and express your gratitude to those who shared in your special day.

Remember, a cruise ship wedding is not just about the wedding day itself—it’s about the journey you embark upon as a couple. It’s a celebration of your love and commitment, surrounded by the endless possibilities of the open sea and the beauty of the world’s most stunning destinations.

Whether you dream of exchanging vows under a Caribbean sunset, in the embrace of the Mediterranean’s romantic cities, or on a voyage to the breathtaking landscapes of Alaska, a cruise ship wedding guarantees an extraordinary and unforgettable experience. So, set sail on the journey of a lifetime, create lasting memories, and celebrate your love with a cruise ship wedding that is truly one-of-a-kind.

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Princess ® Perfect Weddings (And More To Love)

Creating celebrations with heart on your cruise, dream big for your big day.

That perfect wedding you've always wanted? You deserve it. And with Princess® Perfect Weddings it's within reach.

Just tell us your dream destination, wedding date and ceremony style, and we'll take it from there. We have a world of options — grand ceremonies in The Piazza, outdoor settings with an ocean backdrop — and packages at a value that beats land-based venues.

Wedding Packages To Fit Your Lifestyle

Browse our three At-Sea wedding packages, all offered as either legal or symbolic ceremonies.

By clicking the below link, you are now leaving the Princess Cruises website and navigating to a 3rd party website that is not owned, operated, or controlled by Princess Cruises or any of its affiliates.

Perfect Pair Wedding

The perfect package for couples getting hitched before only a few of your favorite people (includes the couple and up to 2 guests).

Package highlights:

Indoor or outdoor ceremony by the ship’s captain

Fresh florals, wedding cake and sparkling wine toast

  • Dedicated photographer and memorable prints

Romantic breakfast for the couple

  • Stateroom gifts and goodies
  • Pre-cruise and onboard wedding coordinator
  • Keepsake certificate

Timeless Ceremony at Sea (Ceremony Only)

Celebrate in style with a romantic ceremony at sea (includes the couple and up to 8 guests).

Solo live musician during the ceremony

Dedicated photographer service

Memorable prints and digital high-res photos

Timeless Wedding at Sea (Ceremony + Reception)

This package includes everything from the ceremony to the reception to celebrate with your whole crew (includes the couple and up to 18 guests).

Fresh florals for the couple

Fresh florals for the wedding party

Two treatments from select salon services

1-Hour dedicated venue to celebrate after ceremony

Solo live musician during the reception

Good Spirits welcome cocktails, curated by the couple

2-Tier wedding cake and sparkling wine toast

Memorable prints and all digital high-res photos

One specialty dining reservation for the couple

So we offer additional packages about more than just matrimony

Renew the love

(Includes just the couple)

There's no better place to renew your vows than The Love Boat®. Our crew's got you covered!

Package highlights

  • Short, sweet indoor or outdoor ceremony by the ship's captain
  • Fresh florals, celebration cake and sparkling wine toast for the couple

Princess perfect proposals

"Will you…" have a proposal that’s one for the books (just the right setting and setup)? You will.

  • Secret proposal setup in a private indoor or outdoor location
  • Proposal rose and rose petal décor
  • Celebration cake
  • Pre-cruise and onboard coordinator

Weddings & Occasions

a married couple holds hands while walking up the stairs

Wedding Packages

You’ve done the hard part: the man or woman of your dreams is yours, and aren’t they lovely? Do we ever have a wedding spot to match — aboard a Carnival ship! A Carnival shipboard wedding is a great way to start your life together… a spot as unique as the two of you. After all, think of all the weddings you’ve been to — we’ve got the fun alternative, with a view that’s hard to find on land and a sea breeze you just can’t get at a country club. Your shipboard wedding will be held in the port of your choice, so choose a city you’ll remember forever as the one where you made it official. Leave wedding stress ashore, because for a simple fee Carnival takes care of it all: the ceremony includes not only an officiant to get the knot tied right, but little details like the cake, champagne, music and more. And perhaps best of all: once you’re married, you’re already on your honeymoon! Your shipboard wedding can be customized to fit your imagination and budget. Add packages that include everything from a simple open bar and hors d’oeuvres reception to an elegant sit-down luncheon in the ship’s formal restaurant. Whatever you’re looking for, let our professional wedding agents help you design your ideal wedding. Learn more about shipboard weddings.

Wedding Venues

Personal touches.

What matters most on your wedding day is that you’ll be spending it with the person of your dreams. But if you could custom-design your dream wedding, how would you make it truly your own? Let’s start with where — a Carnival destination wedding lets you choose a scenic island as the background for your memories. The blue skies, the sounds of nature and even the sea-scented breeze as you say “I do” will become some of the most vivid parts of the memories you make that day. It’s important to remember that a Carnival destination wedding makes planning easy, because we take care of nearly every detail. We’ll take the bride and groom to the wedding site, select a local officiant to perform the ceremony, and handle the music and bouquet. We’ll even help you obtain a legally-binding marriage certificate in your destination port! Since we’ve already thought of everything, all you need to think about is how great it’s going to be. Learn more about destination weddings.

These folks celebrated their wedding on a Carnival cruise. If you did too, we’d love to see! Hashtag your photos #CarnivalCruiseWedding — you may see them right here.

  • Honeymoon & Wedding Cruises

Wedding favors

Tayoko

By Tayoko , March 16, 2017 in Honeymoon & Wedding Cruises

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Cool Cruiser

Hi everyone I am planning on get married on carnival pride 12/8/19 assuming that carnival continues to the Baltimore schedule pattern. My question is what have people done as unique favors for their cruise weddings. Every time I think of a cute idea I remember customs 🤔 . Thanks for any ideasBrandi

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Share on other sites, carolina_girl87.

Hey! We did personalized sunglasses, koozies, and an anchor shaped bottle opener. Also filled the bag with travel size sunscreen, Dramamine, Advil, bug spray, and other things they might need on the cruise!

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

25+ Club

Dakotasmommy1212

I've been searching as well! We are getting married on the Pride as well but on 9/2/18!

Reportress

We are doing personalized shot glasses that we ordered on Etsy. We'd had a lot of other ideas we toyed with, but decided that shot glasses are small, portable and easily packed for our guests (and sure to get some use).

Are you doing and embarkment day or at sea. And who is your contact person?
We are getting married in port on embarkment day, that way we can have family come for the wedding and not cruise as everyone can't afford to do so. Lissy Fernandez Is ours. How about you?!
We don't have one yet our cruise is not officially available yet 😋 But they have had the same cruise for the last 4 years so it shouldn't change.

Fingers crossed for you!!!

  • 1 month later...

50+ Club

Cruising Bride

I'm doing a welcome bag with personalized sunglasses, sun block, lanyards for the room cards, Advil, Tums, have sanitizer, lotion, and other small cruise/ vacation things.

Sent from my Pixel using Forums mobile app

Luv2Cruz24/7

I'm going crazy thinking of all types of fun things. I'm putting logos on small backpacks and filling it with water bottles, decks of cards, lanyards which also have the logo. Then I'm adding sanitizer, tissue, small vials of peppermint essential oil (for sea sickness and headaches) and coloring books for the kids. I may add more...we'll see.

  • 2 weeks later...

Maple syrup, personalized chocolates, cocktail, mint etc.

  • 1 year later...

Have you booked yet?!

I did book and it was what I wanted 12/8/19 on carnival pride out of Baltimore. I cant wait we have also decided to do welcome bags instead of favors with lanyard and different card games then assorted sundries. That way they are useful and fun

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wedding favors for cruise ship

I'm a mom of 3 and I prefer to vacation with each of my kids individually instead of traveling as a family

  • I am one of three siblings and we used to travel together as a family. 
  • I have three kids of my own now, and I travel individually with each of them instead of together.
  • It's too expensive to fly five people, and we always need two rooms. 

Insider Today

Growing up with three siblings, I regularly spent my summers at a beach house with cousins and spring breaks in Arizona, watching the San Francisco Giants ' spring training. I always thought I'd do the same when I had my kids and spend our vacations exploring new places as a family.

Now that I have my own three kids, I've found that I don't particularly enjoy family vacations . It's expensive to fly with five people, you always need two hotel rooms, and my husband doesn't enjoy travel. I am the planner, and that role is tough when you are trying to please five different personalities, especially with teenagers in the mix.

Traveling with just 1 child is so much easier

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Florida and bring one of my kids along. While I would normally have declined the opportunity in favor of a full-family trip, I decided to take my oldest kid along. I couldn't believe how easy it was to travel with only one kid: We could visit the hotel's pool when she wanted to and enjoy a tepanyaki restaurant where her brothers would have turned up their noses.

Related stories

Since then, I've sought out opportunities to travel with my kids individually, and it has become my favorite way to see a new city or country.

My middle kid could spend all day fly fishing on a river in Wyoming without a care in the world. This activity would be particularly hard for my youngest due to his ADHD. He's much happier on a food tour or doing something active like hiking.

When my daughter and I visited Costa Rica on a cruise this past spring, we spent part of our time in Quepos, visiting the many thrift stores in town. If I'd been there with all three of my kids, there's no way we could have spent as much time doing this activity that she loves.

Individual trips mean we avoid sibling drama

There's nothing worse than planning a big family vacation and having your kids fight with each other and complain the whole time. Small rental cars, hotel rooms where sharing beds is required, and early wake-up times are typical triggers. Somebody always feels they got the short end of the stick, and it's just not fun to referee sibling fights while trying to relax.

Single-kid trips allow me to accommodate teens who need more sleep with later wake-up times, and there's no fighting over who gets to sit in the front seat of the rental car.

Traveling with my kids individually lets me get to know them in a new way

My three kids are all teenagers, and they'll likely go to college in the next few years. I especially love traveling with them individually as I get to see their personalities develop.

When my middle kid and I cruised to Alaska two years ago, he was one of only a few kids on the ship. Without others his age to hang out with, we spent many afternoons in the Crow's Nest, where he taught me how to play Catan. I'm not going to say that we shared our deepest and darkest secrets, but I got to know him outside his place in our family, which was invaluable.

While we do occasionally go on whole-family trips and force Dad to accompany us, I prefer these solo-kid adventures and hope they continue. Cross your fingers that I can convince one of them to hike the Camino de Santiago with me in the future.

wedding favors for cruise ship

  • Main content

We wouldn’t topple the Statue of Liberty, so save the SS United States

3-minute read.

Public polling shows Americans are sharply divided over politics, public policy and cultural issues. We’re not only dissatisfied with the state of the nation, but pessimistic about our prospects for the future. Now is the moment to draw inspiration from the unifying and inspiring symbols of the nation, whose resilience and power can reforge common cause in uncertain times.

Among those great national symbols, America’s global ambassador of strength and innovation, the SS United States, is now on the brink of eviction and possible destruction. Would we consider toppling the Statue of Liberty, demolishing the Lincoln Memorial or melting down the Liberty Bell? Never. Nor should we contemplate scrapping our nation’s flagship — the only vessel that bears the name of our country.

This moment is an opportunity to rediscover our shared history and celebrate our unwavering capacity to do great things together that can captivate the world.

America's flagship is an enduring symbol of our national capacity

America’s flagship began as the dream of an eight-year-old boy who watched in wonder the launch of the SS St Louis along the banks of the Delaware in Philadelphia in 1894. Young Willie Gibbs stood among the crowd of 40,000 as President Grover Cleveland, favorite son of New Jersey, lauded the ship built “on American plans, by American mechanics, and of American materials.”

Almost six decades later, the keel of SS United States was laid in Virginia’s Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company. For William Francis Gibbs, by then America’s most accomplished naval architect, the vessel rising above the landscape was the culmination of a lifelong dream to design the safest, fastest and most advanced vessel the world had ever seen. Three thousand men and women toiled away to build her, complete with components from every state.

Conceived as a public-private partnership between the U.S. government and the United States Lines, she was a Cold War military asset with pioneering, Top Secret technology. Able to quickly transform from luxury liner to military transport, she was capable of carrying 14,000 troops over 10,000 miles without refueling. Her elegant mid-century modern design, American artwork and state-of-the-art fittings made her the envy of the maritime world.

Built like a battleship, but with mid-century modern grace and style, her 240,000 shaft horsepower engines and other features made her an engineering marvel in the days before the moon shot. Her maiden voyage in July 1952 smashed the transatlantic speed record in both directions. It’s hard to fathom in our era of lumbering cruise ships, that a vessel the size of the Chrysler Building laying on its side could blast through the sea at  more than 40 miles per hour.

In her heyday she symbolized our unconquerable, can-do spirit, bringing hope and optimism to people ravaged by the horrors of WWII and its aftermath. The SS United States’ grandeur successfully and gracefully connected the U.S. to the rest of the world. When she entered port, an embodiment of the American Dream arrived with her. She also personified our strive for racial equality, providing integrated spaces on board before they were available in many places at home.  

Over 17 years and 800, incident-free crossings, the most famous ship that didn’t sink played host to everyone from A-list celebrities of the “Mad Men” era, former and future U.S. Presidents, tourists and immigrants. Icons in their own right including Bob Hope, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Grace of Monaco, Salvador Dali, Rita Hayworth, Harry Truman, John and Jackie Kennedy, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Duke Ellington and more luminaries of the age graced the decks of the fastest ship ever built.

The jet age spelled the end of the SS United States’ service career in 1969. Since then, though the illustrious name on her now is marked by age and her red, white and blue funnels are worn and faded, she has stood the test of time, waiting for renewal.

In 2011, facing the scrappers' torch, the SS United States Conservancy, a national nonprofit organization, purchased America’s Flagship thanks to a generous donation by Philadelphia philanthropist Gerry Lenfest. She’s been safely afloat and cared for ever since.

Where will the SS United States dock?: Massive, historic 'America's flagship' must leave Philadelphia port

SS United States faces twin threats

Last year, together with leading New York developer, RXR, and hotelier, MCR Hotels, the SS United States Conservancy unveiled a transformative redevelopment plan that demonstrates the ship’s commercial viability as a permanently moored mixed-use waterfront destination and museum. The plan proved the enormous economic potential of the ship, which would create thousands of jobs and produce millions in direct and indirect revenue for New York, Philadelphia, Miami, or Virginia’s Hampton Roads region — or another port city willing to provide her with a home.

But this American symbol faces twin threats to her survival.

During the pandemic, the SS United States’ landlord attempted to double the ship’s rent without notice in an effort to force her off her current pier. After a lengthy legal dispute, a federal court ruled in favor of the Conservancy on the issue of rent, but ordered the 1000 foot-long ship to be moved by Sept. 12, 2024.

Now, the ship that raced across the Atlantic is in a race against time to find a new temporary or permanent location. Having never taken any government funds, the Conservancy now needs Americans, global supporters, business and political leaders to unite to save the SS United States. This is a chance for President Joe Biden, Gov. Josh Shapiro, Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Gov. Ron DeSantis, or Gov. Kathy Hochul; members of Congress, local officials, or even the U.S. Navy to put aside political agendas and help save this symbol of our nation’s highest ideals. 

This imminent danger facing our nation’s flagship should be a rallying cry to save this towering personification of what we can accomplish when we dare to do great things and embrace not only what is, but what is possible.

The SS United States can and must be saved. She needs a new berth now. By uniting behind our flagship, we can ensure this enduring expression of American innovation inspires future generations to greatness. The world is watching whether the ship that represents our values will have a bright future, or become a tragic metaphor for national decline, division and demoralization.

Susan Gibbs is the President of the SS United States Conservancy, owners and caretakers of America’s Flagship, and the granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs. Those wishing to contribute to saving America’s Flagship can visit www.SavetheUnitedStates.org.

A reader peruses the shelves at The Ripped Bodice bookstore in Brooklyn.

Romance Bookstores Are Booming, Dishing ‘All the Hot Stuff You Can Imagine’

Bookstores once shunted romance novels to a shelf in the back. But with romance writers dominating the best-seller lists, a network of dedicated bookstores has sprung up around the country.

Romance bookstores are largely owned and operated by women, with women making up most of the genre’s readers. Credit... Natalie Keyssar for The New York Times

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Alexandra Alter

By Alexandra Alter

  • July 7, 2024

Last summer, when Mae Tingstrom had the idea to open a romance bookstore in Ventura, Calif., the first thing she did was search online to see whether there was already one in her region. She found The Ripped Bodice — a bookstore in Culver City that was doing so well, it was expanding to a second location in Brooklyn.

“That was intimidating,” she said.

If their success was daunting, it also suggested that there might be room for another romance store. So this February, she opened Smitten on a busy strip of Main Street, about 60 miles from her competitor. In the months since, Smitten has become a vibrant hub for romance readers, with author signings, tarot readings, book clubs and trivia and craft nights.

Customers sometimes approach her with highly specific requests. “Someone came in and was like, ‘I like fantasy, I want it to be queer, I want it to have representation from a different culture and I want it to be as smutty as possible,’” Tingstrom said.

And they come in often. “I have regulars who come a couple of times a week,” Tingstrom said. “I’m like, didn’t you just buy two books the other day?”

Once a niche that independent booksellers largely ignored, romance is now the hottest thing in the book world. It is, by far, the top-selling fiction genre, and its success is reshaping not only the publishing industry, but the retail landscape as well.

Over the last two years, the country went from having two dedicated romance bookstores — The Ripped Bodice and Love’s Sweet Arrow, in Chicago — to a national network of more than 20. Among them: Tropes & Trifles in Minneapolis, Grump and Sunshine in Belfast, Maine, Beauty and the Book in Anchorage, Lovebound Library in Salt Lake City and Blush Bookstore in Wichita, Kan.

More are on the way, including Kiss & Tale in Collingswood, N.J.; The New Romantics in Orlando, Fla.; and Grand Gesture Books in Portland, Ore., an online romance store that’s moving into a storefront.

The bookstores are largely owned and operated by women. And women make up the majority of the readers who have sent romance sales soaring — from 18 million print copies sold in 2020 to more than 39 million in 2023, according to Circana BookScan.

“There’s been a cultural shift around the way that we think and talk about media that has been primarily written by, and directed toward, women,” said Becca Title, a former immigration defense lawyer and the owner of Meet Cute, a romance bookstore in San Diego. “More people are realizing not only that romance sells and that it has commercial value, but that it has artistic value and entertainment value.”

Romance writers like Sarah J. Maas , Emily Henry, Colleen Hoover and Rebecca Yarros dominate the best-seller lists: Six of the top 10 best-selling fiction authors in the United States so far this year are romance writers. Publishers are expanding their romance lists, wooing self-published romance authors with large advances and adding new imprints.

The shift is huge from the days when romance was looked down upon as frothy and unserious “chick-lit,” or as smut. Even just a few years ago, many independent bookstores carried only a small selection of romance novels, often relegated to a shelf in the back of the store.

Leah Koch, a co-owner of The Ripped Bodice — which was the first romance bookstore to open in the United States, in 2016 — remembers searching in vain for romance novels in bookstores as a teenager. The feeling of being overlooked was part of what motivated Koch and her sister, Bea Hodges-Koch, to open their stores.

“Many people who work in publishing and at independent bookstores felt like romance wasn’t worth their time,” Koch said. “I’m like, you could have been making money, but that’s fine, I’ll make the money.”

Romance sales began to soar during the pandemic, as people rediscovered reading and many turned to romance fiction as an escape (one rule of the genre is that the stories almost always end with an H.E.A. — Happily Ever After). The arrival of BookTok also helped drive the surge, as TikTok influencers drew in younger readers with videos championing their favorite authors.

Now, romance novels are featured prominently at the front of Target and Barnes & Noble. Romance readers who once mainly bought e-books — they are cheaper and easier to access, and perhaps easier to conceal — now display their romance novels on bookshelves like trophies.

The rapid rise of romance bookstores has given the genre’s fans a new locus — a welcoming place to shop and swoon over their favorite books with unabashed enthusiasm.

“You can go into a romance store, and the bookseller is like, ‘Do you like spice? Do you like historical?’” said Jane Nutter, a communications and marketing manager at Kensington, a romance publisher. “They’re going to know what you want, and they’re not going to judge you for it.”

Many of these stores have a flirty, flamboyantly feminine aesthetic: heavy on pink, accented with heart and floral motifs, decked out with signs and merchandise that play on familiar romance tropes — enemies to lovers, forced proximity, forbidden love, secret identity. They carry every conceivable romance sub genre: historical, L.G.B.T.Q., YA, supernatural and romantasy, and sports-themed. Many also stock self-published novels, which mainstream booksellers typically don’t carry.

Melissa Saavedra, the owner of Steamy Lit, a romance bookstore in Deerfield Beach, Fla., discovered romance a little over a decade ago, when she was serving in the U.S. Navy as a petty officer. Her gateway was E.L. James’s erotica series “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which she read on her tablet when she was in her bunk on the U.S.S. America, an amphibious assault ship.

“I started working on my ‘I’m not reading a sex scene in public’ face then,” Saavedra recalled. “Now, you can’t even tell.”

After leaving the Navy in 2017, she worked as a travel agent for sports teams. When work was slow during the pandemic, she came up with the idea for The Steam Box — a quarterly subscription box of romance novels paired with vibrators. It quickly took off.

The Steam Box was also a way to erode the lingering stigma surrounding erotic romance and women’s sexual pleasure. “We still have to fight tooth and nail for people to respect the genre,” she said.

Saavedra, who was born in Lima, Peru, and moved to South Florida when she was 10, also made it her mission to promote romance authors from diverse backgrounds.

She decided to open a bookstore when she realized that her community in Deerfield Beach was a romance book desert — particularly when it came to diverse romance. At Steamy Lit’s opening weekend in February, 500 people showed up, and the store sold 900 books. Since then, the store has had book signings with more than 30 writers, including Kennedy Ryan, Ali Hazelwood and Abby Jimenez, who held an event there in May that featured baby goats in pajama s, in an adorable allusion to a baby goat scene from her novel “Part of Your World.”

On a sunny Sunday afternoon this spring, Steamy Lit was full of readers browsing, sipping Prosecco and getting books signed by A.H. Cunningham, a romance writer promoting her new novel, “Out of Office.”

“These are the kinds of spaces we need,” said Cunningham as raucous conversations in English and Spanish ricocheted around the room.

Customers snapped photos in front of the store’s pink neon signs (one says “More Amor Por Favor”). Others browsed the shop’s selection of Spanish translations, a table of tear-jerkers collected under the heading “In My Crying Era” and bookshelves labeled “Morally Gray” and “Dark Romance.”

“These shelves never stay full,” Saavedra said, referring to the dark romance.

Rosen Fulmore, a frequent shopper at Steamy Lit, carried a stack of several worn novels for Cunningham to sign.

“I hope you don’t mind the water damage,” she said to Cunningham.

“I love that they’re well loved,” Cunningham replied.

Fulmore heard about the store when Ryan, one of her favorite authors, posted on social media that she would be having an event there, and she has since become a regular customer. “It’s got all the hot stuff you can imagine in a one-stop shop,” she said.

Another customer, Angela Thayer, who works at the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, said she usually comes by every two weeks, when she gets her paycheck. That Sunday, she brought her daughter, Ashley Watkins, who was excited to see so many romance novels by authors of color. “Seeing books with people who look like me in romance situations is really nice,” Watkins said.

Steamy Lit also stocks some general fiction and nonfiction for the rare customer who doesn’t like romance, on a bookshelf labeled, “I Got Dragged Here.” It’s tucked away in a discreet spot, at the back of the store.

Alexandra Alter writes about books, publishing and the literary world for The Times. More about Alexandra Alter

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