Popularity of newlywed cruise packages grows By Rebecca Tobin / January 17, 2005 Share 1 -- Theyre not as secluded as an over-the-water bungalow in Bora Bora, but cruise ships are growing in popularity with honeymooners, said Andy Pesky, executive vice president of New York-based Protravel. I think its really an untapped market as far as the honeymoon market is concerned, Pesky said. Tahiti is great, the Mediterranean is getting a big play for the summer months, the Caribbean always is a good play. I dont think theres anything thats really off-limits.Gloria Price, sales director at Cruisecheap.com, said the biggest pitfall for honeymooners is going to a resort and ending up being bored.Those big ships can kind of dissolve that, she said. There are a lot of honeymooners out there who are real active and looking for not just a lot of activity, but variety. And then, of course, there are people who are able to entertain themselves ... and they might lean toward something like a Windstar.Package itNearly every cruise line offers some sort of romance package with goodies geared toward honeymooning clients or those celebrating a special occasion, such as an anniversary.Norwegian Cruise Lines $79 honeymoon/anniversary package, for example, includes sparkling wine and strawberries in the cabin and dinner in the ships Le Bistro restaurant with a complimentary bottle of wine. The deluxe version of the package, for $229, includes a massage.On Carnivals Web site, www.carnival.com, friends and family can order extras like Fun Ship chocolates ($10) or a dozen red roses ($48) for the couple.SeaDream Yacht Club offers vow renewals for couples who marry ashore but still want a ceremony at sea. The line offers the ceremony plus a complimentary toast for two.But if clients want to invite a group of friends and family, for $350 they receive printed invitations; a 12-person reception hosted by the captain, with caviar, champagne and cake; and a Hadeland crystal wedding gift from the captain.Saying I do onboardCruise lines offer several other options for couples who want a more inclusive ship experience, including having the wedding onboard.You can do a basic onboard wedding package, Price said. The one Im pricing now with Celebrity is $1,095. It doesnt include the reception and the photographer, but it includes an officiant, cake and champagne. It is so affordable.Cruise lines typically offer two options for weddings: an onboard ceremony thats conducted in port and a destination wedding, where the couple exchanges vows during a port call.Many cruise ships, like Royal Caribbean Internationals Voyager-class ships and Carnivals Spirit-class vessels, have small chapels that can be used for the wedding ceremony. In other instances, the ships crew will rope off an area of the vessel for a wedding ceremony.Packages are priced accordingly, depending on how many bells and whistles the couple wants.Royal Caribbean, for example, has Duet, Harmony and Symphony packages that describe the size of the event. As its name suggests, a Symphony would include more perks than a Duet event.In any event, an onboard wedding can be less expensive than its shoreside counterpart -- which, as Pesky pointed out, can be prohibitive.Holland America Lines wedding packages start at $1,295 for sailings in North America and the Caribbean. The ship provides music, flowers, photography, cake, a wedding planner and, of course, the service. The reception, with food, beverages and more cake, can be arranged for an extra fee.On Royal Caribbean, receptions start at $26 per person for an hourlong reception with hors doeuvres and an open bar with house wines and beer.A cruise line planner or coordinator can help take a basic package and add on the extras, Price said -- exchanging taped music for live music, for example.An onboard wedding thats performed in the ships embarkation port would enable the couples friends and family who arent taking the cruise to participate in the ceremony.They would register with the ship beforehand as a guest and would disembark before the ship sails.But perfectionist brides take note: If your ship comes in late or U.S. Customs clearance is delayed on the morning of your wedding, the reception could be more than a little rushed.The ceremony is performed by a notary public, although captains often perform vow-renewal ceremonies.The exception is Princess Cruises, where passengers can be married by the master of the ship.Making a marriage callSometimes clients are a little more adventurous. What do travel agents do if their clients tell them they want to get married on a glacier in Alaska?No problem. From upwards of $2,000, Royal Caribbean International will fly the couple to a mountain glacier during a port call in Juneau. For those who want to invite friends and family, a garden ceremony can be arranged in Juneau for about $1,600.Is there a couple who wouldnt fancy a location in Tuscany? Done -- for $4,000. Or maybe theyd just like to use a beach in St. Thomas as a backdrop for the big day.For about $1,700, Royal Caribbean can arrange it. For an extra $15 per person, clients can get champagne and cake served at the site. An ice sculpture also can be transported to the location for $125.A 32-page PDF file available on Carnivals Web site lays out all of the available onboard and on-site packages in each port of call.A ceremony in a gazebo or waterfall setting in Ocho Rios includes the ceremony for the bride and groom, a champagne toast, a tropical bouquet and boutonniere, music and photography. The price is $995.The cruise line coordinator will set up the destination weddings for your clients, and the cruise line often can help clients obtain a marriage license in the country or state where theyd like the ceremony to be performed.But be sure to check. Royal Caribbean assists in some locations, but Carnival does not.Agents and clients can put together do-it-yourself shoreside weddings, but Price cautioned against it.Ive had this happen: The ship changed the order of the ports and youre not on St. Thomas on Tuesday, Price said.Another bonus for agents, as far as an onboard wedding is concerned: Unlike a getaway honeymoon, brides and grooms who plan an onboard wedding are more likely to have an entourage.You get a group discount and the value-added amenities, Price said. And then you have, ideally, the expert advice of the [cruise line wedding planner] to administer to your group, she said.To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to email@example.com.Site sets list of top honeymoon cruisesDELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- CruiseCheap.com created a Top 10 list of honeymoon cruises using what it calls a highly scientific method -- which is actually the sites educated opinion. Gloria Price, the agencys director of sales, put the list together. It includes a pick from each of the major cruise lines alongside a description of the vessel and its current itinerary.Price said she looked for the best characteristics of each line, ship and destination.She said she was wowed by the Carnival Valors western Caribbean itinerary from Miami, which includes stops in Belize; Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; and Grand Cayman -- its No. 6 on the list.Of course, Norwegian Cruise Line offers an itinerary like that, too, but Price was more interested in NCLs seven-day Hawaii cruises for honeymooners, No. 3 on the list.And the Diamond Princess, No. 8, is sailing in western Mexico: Thats the original Love Boat [route], Price said.According to the Web site, the cruises were judged on factors such as destination, value, dining and, of course, romance. People are looking for an experience, she said.Another important factor: Most of the ships on her list have Sunday departures.What didnt count was the dollar value.I think, as far as honeymooners are concerned, theyre all looking for romance and great service, Price said. They want to feel very special, they want a nice room. They just want everything to be perfect.Cunard Lines Queen Mary 2 made Prices top 10 list, as did the Disney Wonder, the Navigator of the Seas (one of Royal Caribbeans Voyager-class ships), Holland America Lines Amsterdam and Celebritys Millennium.No. 2 is a Windstar cruise in the Greek Isles.And the No. 1 honeymoon cruise, according to Price and CruiseCheap? Radisson Seven Seas Cruises Paul Gauguin in Tahiti. That, by far, is the best cruise on the planet, Price said. -- R.T.