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Our Princess Cruises Wedding Experience July 9 - 16, 2005   

Written by Joe and Wanda Tam of Mount Pearl, NL, Canada    

About one year ago (August 2004), my fiancé (Wanda) and I (Joe) were contemplating the details of our future wedding.  We weren’t sure if we really wanted to have a huge wedding with over half of the people invited being strangers.  So, we were walking around the lake one day, and BAM, we had an epiphany, we wanted to get married on a cruise!  A cruise wedding would be perfect for us because the wedding would be small, both immediate families would be able to attend, and we thoroughly enjoyed our previous cruise! J

The next big decision was choosing the cruise line to get married on.  After googling the Web, we came across a great cruise review site that had various reviews on cruise weddings.  There was one cruise review in particular, written by a lady named Suzy Cruisy, that we found especially helpful so we wrote her an email with a few questions.  Suzy had gotten married on a Princess Cruise and answered our questions with a tremendous amount of detail.  Suzy had great praise for Princess and highly recommended them for our wedding.  So, from our reading, and speaking to various people, it was down to Princess and Royal Caribbean.  We finally decided on Princess because of the high praise from Suzy AND the horrible wedding experience that our friend had with Royal Caribbean, but we won’t get into those details.  After shooting emails back and forth with Suzy Cruisy, we discovered that she is a travel agent and she offered to do the booking for us.  We were a little weary at first because she was in the US, we were in Canada and sometimes the exchange rate doesn’t work out too well for us Canadians.  However, in this case, the price that Suzy quoted us was significantly lower than the prices we obtained from Canadian travel agents (after the exchange rate)! So it was really a no brainer in choosing Suzy to be our travel agent.



Time to choose the itinerary, ship and date of travel!  We wanted to travel the Caribbean during the summer months so that our guests could find some time off work and join us on our special day.  We initially set the travel date for late August 2005 but then decided on early July 2005 due to hurricane fears.  It’s a good thing we did change our dates because, in hindsight, Hurricane Katrina was roaring through the Caribbean during late August 2005.  We chose the Eastern Caribbean because we traveled the Western Caribbean the last time we cruised (Grand Princess 2002).  So, we had our criteria: early July, Eastern Caribbean and with Princess.  It turned out that there was only one ship available for that search criteria, and that was the week of July 9th – 16th with The Caribbean Princess, the newest cruise ship to join the Princess fleet.  The final detail with the booking was choosing the type of stateroom that we wanted.  The last time we cruised, we had the inside stateroom, but since we were getting married AND celebrating our honeymoon all at once, we decided to indulged a little and booked the Mini Suite.  After it was all said and done, we had 11 guests booked for our cruise wedding week.


In the navigation chair on the bridgeNow with all the easy stuff out of the way, it was time to start planning our wedding aboard the ship!  Princess outsources their wedding planning to a company called “The Wedding Experience” and we must say that they do an excellent job.  There are various wedding packages that they offer that range from getting married on land or at sea.  Princess is one of the few cruise companies that offer weddings at sea, so we decided to take advantage of it.  We also thought that getting married at sea would be easier due to the fact that we wouldn’t have to worry about external factors, like the weather, as you would on land. Another reason why we decided against a wedding on land is because we were getting married in the middle of the summer in the Caribbean.  Can you imagine walking around in a stuffy tuxedo/wedding dress in 35C humid weather?  The wedding date that we decided on was July 10th, 2005 2pm.  Why?  After careful consideration, we felt that it would be better to get married early in the week so that we could honeymoon the rest of cruise. J  We decided on 2pm because it would give enough time for the ceremony and pictures before our dinner reception at 6pm.  Other than that, there were a few other details that we had to decide on such as bouquet style/colour/type, wedding cake style/type, reception details, and ceremonial details.  From all the stories I’ve heard from people who planned their own weddings, this was a breeze in comparison!  If you decide to get married at sea, just note that you need to book your wedding time as EARLY as possible!



Fast forward to July 7th, 2005.  We hear on the news that a hurricane (Dennis) is brewing!  So we land in Fort Lauderdale without too much trouble, but later that evening it starts to get windy, hurricane windy!  It was pretty crazy that night with the sand blasting against our hotel window and large waves crashing on the beach, this was definitely not the Florida that I was used to.  It just so happens that Hurricane Dennis was the earliest hurricane to hit landfall in US history!  Aren’t we lucky?  At that point, we really thought that the cruise would be cancelled/delayed and that our wedding would be ruined. 


Morning comes along and it’s still blowing a gale outside, power was flickering on and off at the hotel, and some palm trees were blown over blocking some roads.  We called the cruise port and apparently the Caribbean Princess had some trouble docking so they would be a little late getting started.  We arrive at Port Everglades at around 12pm and the lineup is HUGE!  Fortunately, the line moved fairly quickly and we were on the ship before we knew it.


Once on the ship it was a great relief.  We could actually put down our carry-ons which consisted of my tuxedo, the wedding dress, shoes, plus a couple of suitcases! When we arrived at our Mini Suite on the Dolphin deck we were pleased with the size and class of the room.  It was pretty much twice as big as an inside stateroom along with an attached balcony and a full sized bathtub in the bathroom (usually a stand up shower).  It was nice to have the extra space since we were planning to host a few parties in our stateroom. J  Once we put everything down, we noticed a message on our phone explaining to meet our cruise wedding coordinator “Natasha” immediately.  So we headed straight for the wedding coordinators office to discuss some details (I was hoping to grab some buffet first).  Natasha was extremely professional and detailed about our wedding which we appreciated.  She really was the perfectionist type and we were confident that everything would go as planned with her in charge.  We went over all the details, made a few small changes and we were done!  No need to practice in the chapel or anything!  We did however head up to the chapel to get a feel for what it would be like and do a little practicing of our own.


After the chapel visit, we finally got some grub from the buffet that I dreamed about daily after leaving the Grand Princess a few years back.  After chowing down at the buffet, we ate again in the traditional dining room. J  That evening flew by and the wedding day approached…


The morning of the wedding day was pretty relaxing for me, but my fiancé seemed a little uptight. ;)  After an early morning breakfast, my fiancé ordered me to grab my wedding stuff and to get ready in another room.  Apparently, she owned the suite that we stayed in. J  After leaving our suite, I was wondering what I was going to do until 2pm!  I knew that my fiancé was busy with her hair/makeup etc, but all I had to do was shower, throw on my tux and comb my hair which takes all of 20 minutes.  So, I decided to go eat, why not?  Right?


1:00pm came around pretty quickly and I knew it was soon time to start getting ready and head up to the chapel for a quick rehearsal with the wedding coordinator.  So I shower, get into my tux, comb my hair and head up to the chapel with the best man.  Natasha was already up there waiting for us with the chapel arranged perfectly.  She went through the whole process with me from when the music starts to when we walk out of the chapel.  The guests along with the Captain(he marries us) arrive shortly afterwards and it wasn’t long after that I hear some sobbing (from my sisters) and clicks from digital cameras.


Before I know it, the wedding music starts and the maid of honor is walking down the aisle.  She takes her place, the music changes, and my beautiful bride does her walk down the aisle to her place next to me.  The captain recites a love poem followed by our vows then the exchange of the rings.  The next thing we know it, we are signing the logbook and leaving the chapel.  Upon leaving the chapel we have a quick chat with the wedding coordinator and she explains what happens for the next hour or so with the photographer.


It was now photograph time!  We immediately headed back into the chapel to take a few pictures with the captain.  After that, we were permitted to enter the bridge (we were privileged to do so) to take a couple more snaps.  Upon entering the bridge, the first words that left my mouth was “WOW”.  The view from the bridge was breathtaking and since I’m an engineer, all the buttons and levers were cool too.  After the bridge, we headed to the promenade where the photographer had a backdrop setup.  After seeing the pictures with the backdrop, we were very pleased with the result.  Next on the list were group pictures in the Atrium.  When we arrived at the Atrium, all the guests were already waiting for us and ready to go.  We must have taken a zillion pictures there, but they were well worth it.  After the atrium, we headed for our last photograph theme which was outside on the deck of the Caribbean Princess.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the photographs turned out great.  I must say that we were kind of relieved to finish up with the photographs because our cheek muscles were starting to cramp from all the smiling.


After a short break, it was time for our booked reception dinner at “Sabatini’s”.  Sabatini’s is an Italian restaurant onboard the Caribbean Princess that passengers can enjoy for a fee per person.  The restaurant is small and private (about 60 seats) and we had a great table reserved for us.  The food, I found, was very similar to the regular dining room except that there was a lot more of it.   If I can remember correctly there were 16 courses in total! However it’s not as much as it sounds (not to me anywaysJ), where the servings were extremely small.  After the 16 courses, it was wedding cake time.  The stock cake that came with our package said that it would feed 4 -6 people.  So we paid a bit extra in advance to put an extra layer on the cake so that all of our guests would get a piece.  However, when our server brought our cake out it was MUCH bigger than what we anticipated, it was monstrous.  After giving every guest a generous portion of our cake, there was more than half of it left.  It basically took everyone the remainder of the cruise to finish the cake piece by piece (we used the fridges in our rooms).  As we finished dessert, we invited everyone up to our room for some celebratory drinks and laughs.


The remainder of the cruise was considered our honeymoon, so I won’t get into too many details as there may be children reading this. ;)  All in all, everything worked out as planned and we had a great wedding experience.  We would recommend a cruise wedding to anyone, especially with Princess.


To summarize the costs involved with getting married on a cruise:

Wedding License $400 US

Wedding Ceremony/Planning $2000 US

Reception (optional) $Varies

Extras like a bigger cake, flowers etc. $Varies

Professional Photos $400-1000 US

Cruise/Stateroom Fee. $Varies


Many, many thanks to Suzy!  Without her, things would not have gone as smooth as it did.  We’d also like to give props to “The Wedding Experience” and Natasha for doing a great job on the wedding planning, also to Richard the photographer for taking the beautiful photographs.  On top of that, I can’t forget the guests that attended, without them our wedding would not have been as special as it was.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.


For you Canadians out there reading this, seriously get a price quote from Suzy before booking with a Canadian agent, there was a big difference for us.


I hope you enjoyed our story.  Please feel free to  




Joe and Wanda Tam