Have you considered going on a cruise honeymoon as a way to leave the stress of your wedding behind and sail off to explore romantic ports together? A relaxing change like that is certainly part of the pleasure, but there's more to the experience than that. Discover the pros and cons of choosing a cruise — and the very best cruise lines for couples.
It's easy. After making countless choices regarding your wedding, taking a honeymoon cruise is the simplest choice of all. On a cruise all the basics—cabin, meals, on-site activities, and entertainment—are covered in one all-inclusive fee. To make things even simpler for yourselves, use a travel agent to book your voyage. An agent should be able to recommend a ship that's right for you as well as possibly secure an upgrade, onboard credits, or other benefits.
Stay within budget. Ahead of time, you'll know the price of your cruise (except for miscellaneous on-board purchases and fees) and the cost of airfare, so you can plan a honeymoon that you can afford.
Ship-shape accommodations. Although most cruise cabins are small (under 300 square feet), they are impressively well designed to accommodate a double bed, couch, desk with chair, closets, minibar, and private bathroom with shower.
Unpack once. After you board, empty your suitcases, stash them under the bed or in the closet, and don't think about using them again until you have to get ready to disembark.
Leave your wallet in the safe. You can charge everything you need on board to your cabin and pay before you depart. There's no need to carry money around, unless you take part in excursions or you're on a ship with a casino and want to gamble.
You won't go hungry. Food, including snacks and beverages, is plentiful. On big ships, the buffet is usually open or you can get coffee or even ice cream in the middle of the day.
Onboard activities. Most ships issue a daily schedule of activities. In addition, there's usually a fitness center and spa (fee for services).
Water wonderlands. Big ships have swimming pools and hot tubs surrounded by chaise longues. Some pool areas have special water features such as slides and surfing simulators.
Sunrises and sunsets. Passengers love having a private balcony, and new ships accommodate by building more cabins with them. Have breakfast together on yours in just your robes, sunbathe in private, and toast the sunset there before going out at night.
At your service. Visit the customer relations desk or ask your cabin steward if you need help. Or choose an upgraded guest room or suites to get a dedicated butler or concierge.
Ports of call. Explore new destinations together each time the ship docks.
Meet new friends. If you're in the mood to socialize, you'll find ample opportunities to meet, tour in the company of, dine with, and make friends with other couples onboard.
Marry onboard. Desire an all-in-one wedding and honeymoon? Cruise lines are experienced in hosting weddings onboard and in port. Most work with offsite wedding planners who can arrange all the details in advance, regardless of whether it's just the two of you or a large group of friends and family. Onboard, a coordinator can make sure the event plays out just as you dreamed it would.
Seasickness: Unless you have a very delicate stomach or are sailing transcontinental in the winter, seasickness isn't likely to affect you. But if you're concerned, pick up a pair of seasickness bands, over-the-counter Dramamine, or ask your doctor for a Transderm Scop prescription (it's a patch worn behind the ear).
Limited—or costly—dining choices. River cruises usually have a single dining room, where you take all your meals. Huge cruise ships typically have a large main dining room and smaller eateries, but you may have to pay to dine there to get better food. Although some cruise lines have put great effort into upping their cuisine, many others still offer mediocre meals.
Quick port visits. Most cruise ships dock for just a few hours, so it's important to plan ahead on how to spend your time. Don't expect to soak up the local culture during a short window of time.
Hidden costs. River cruises offer complimentary daily walking tours, but on bigger ships, off-site excursions and activities are not included in the price.
Wi-fi isn't free. Although some river cruise companies such as Viking provide it gratis, connections aren't always dependable. On big ships, there is usually a charge to connect to the Internet.
Talent not ready for prime time. On-board entertainment is designed to appeal to the widest audience and may not be to your taste.
Casino temptation. There's no guarantee you'll win when playing games of chance, and unlucky individuals and those with an addictive personality can find themselves losing a lot. So set a daily limit, and bet with your head and not over it.
Tips appreciated. These are usually not included in the cruise fare. As the sailing comes to an end, you'll be notified of appropriate amounts to leave the staff, who work hard to serve.
Norovirus outbreaks. Every once in a while, some passengers succumb to this, and it's awful. Today ships have installed hand-cleaning stations in public spaces, and there hasn't been a major outbreak lately.