Married at Sea

One of the romantic traditions at sea is to be married by the Captain. Someday, I have to research if a ship’s Captain could ever marry someone at sea, although a Notary Public can in Florida, and a Captain certainly outranks a Notary.

I never really thought about being married at sea, but when my wife and I were discussing our wedding almost fifteen years ago, we spent days trying to find a place. Her family is travel-allergic and mine are cranky, so finding a venue was really about us. Most of the cities we both loved had residence restrictions, so they were out, because she had just started a new job and had limited vacation. Plus, I had limited job security, so it wasn’t like I wanted to be away too long.

I finally played my trump card – Hawaii – and she said “Too far.” At that point, I gave up, and told her to tell me where I was supposed to be. The next morning, she suggested Key West. I had never been to Key West, so I agreed.

Then, the research began. In Key West, you get married at sunrise or sunset. We are not morning persons, so sunset it was. Then, you get married on the beach or on a boat. I couldn’t picture being married on a beach with everybody else that had chosen beach and sunset the same day (how big could the beach be?) so it was the boat.

That’s how we got married at sea. On the Dream Catcher, a 60-foot schooner, off Key West. However, the Captain didn’t do the ceremony – the ship suggested Deborah Noeker, a local healing minister (and a Notary Public) who did the ceremony (and did a lovely job).

Later, as our cruising hobby (addiction) began, I thought about the concept of getting married at sea on a slightly larger ship – but Norwegian didn’t do weddings.

Well, now they do.

In fact, they do vow renewals, which is all we need since we’re already shackled. If you choose a vow renewal, you can get the Captain.

So, now, we can get re-married on our fifteenth anniversary, at sea, on a really big ship, by a Captain. (Having the Captain do the ceremony is an extra $200 – for an hour – so, next time you think your plumber is expensive, have him bless your marriage while he’s fixing your leak.)

We’ll see what happens. A vow renewal is much simpler than an actual wedding, but there’s still a lot to cover.

After the event

The Vow Renewal Ceremony was very nice, actually. Everyone got their lines mostly correct, everybody said “Yes”, so we’re still married.

It was worth the money, especially compared to the costs of a wedding ceremony at sea. (I’ve since learned a lot of people get married by the local JP and then have a “wedding” that is really a vow renewal at sea, so the Captain can perform the ceremony and the cost goes way down.)

The Captain performed our ceremony (which doesn’t seem to be an option on the Norwegian website any longer), and it was short and sweet. He was most gracious. We were given sample vows, which I personalized for us, and the Captain led us through the vows. Afterwards, we had cake and champagne, and the photographer led us about the ship for more photos.

After all of the planning and running around beforehand, the ceremony and cake and photos were over in about a half-hour, but it met our needs, and we’re very happy. It was a very small group – just us and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, so at one point, we were almost outnumbered by the crew.

Word got around on the ship, since we had dinner comp’ed the night of the ceremony, and were presented with an anniversary cake at dessert. We had met the assistant hotel director on an earlier cruise, so after we met him at the Meet & Greet, he had our room decorated, with towel swans, roses, cake and wine. (We had a lot of cake this cruise!)

My only “regret” is that it wasn’t filmed. We do have photos, so that’s better than our first wedding, where we didn’t even have an official photographer – we had friends with a point and shoot.

We saw a very grumpy bride heading back to the ship in Nassau, so at least after our ceremony, everyone was in a good mood. Plus, we didn’t have to walk back to the ship – we were on it.

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