Planning that once-in-a-lifetime wedding experience or honeymoon as a gay couple? An increasingly popular and affordable option for gay and lesbian couples is a wedding or honeymoon aboard a cruise ship.
Things have changed quite a bit in the cruise world since the heyday of “The Love Boat.” Today, all major cruise lines have business staff catering to newlyweds, and a wedding at sea lets you cross off one item on your to-do list: Many ship captains can officiate the ceremony and legally tie the knot, though location will matter if you decide on a shoreside ceremony.
Weddings at sea run the gamut, from a ceremony on the top deck of the ms Paul Gauguin sailing off the coast of Tahiti to a cruise aboard a Windstar Cruises yacht to a pre-arranged wedding destination on shore. (Try Cruiseable’s Bliss filters at the right, where we've cranked the “Romantic” slider up to 10!)
Here is a short guide to cruise wedding options for LGBT couples.
Caribbean islands where you can wed
On land, things have changed as well. There are now five islands in the Caribbean region where same-sex marriage is legal and a handful of other islands where symbolic same-sex marriages are commonplace.
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands became the two latest Caribbean destinations where same-sex couples can legally wed, following the Supreme Court's ruling last June that same-gender couples have the constitutional right to marry in all 50 states and all U.S. territories. Civil marriage equality at the territory level is now the law of the land. (Guam is another option.)
That's not to say, though, that these are paradises for gay couples — the locals on Bonaire and St. Eustatius are not always as LGBT welcoming as you'll find on other islands that don't (yet) allow gay weddings, such as Curacao, considered the LGBT capital of the Caribbean. Although you can't get married on Curacao, the island offers symbolic wedding ceremonies and vow renewals for same-sex couples, and it even offers a wedding planner to help couples plan their ceremonies. St. Maarten, Aruba, Barbados and Antigua also offer symbolic ceremonies.
Gay-friendly travel destinations
Further afield, you'll find plenty of other spots where you can hold a ceremony or enjoy a carefree honeymoon. For instance, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Puerto Vallarta and Mykonos are especially welcoming to gay couples and LGBT travelers.
Out Now Business Class recently published a study asking 300 LGBT respondents around the world to select from a list of more than 300 worldwide locations where they planned to visit in next year.
Most popular cities
- New York City
- Amsterdam (the Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize gay marriages)
- Rio de Janeiro
- Buenos Aires
Most popular countries
- United States
- United Kingdom
Straight cruise or gay cruise?
One big decision you'll have to make is this: Straight cruise or gay cruise?
If you’re bringing your wedding party with you, a mass market or boutique cruise ship might be the way to go — some host gay groups on regular cruises. But gay cruises see their fair share of weddings, too. Some offer fully chartered gay and lesbian cruises, while others specialize in catering to LGBT travelers and their families.
Cruises catering to lesbians
Olivia: Olivia Cruises — motto: “all women, all the time” — is the first cruise line designed to cater to the lesbian cruising market. For over 20 years Olivia has brought a bit of sophistication and romance aboard its ships. Olivia offers exotic and unique destinations such as a five-star voyage around the Aegean Sea and even Antarctica (if you don’t mind penguins on your honeymoon). The ships include spas, wine bars and specialty shops.
Cruises catering to gay & lesbian families
R Family: Many LGBT parents are eager to set sail with their newlywed kids. R Family Vacations has pioneered the blend of cruises plus diversity plus family. As the only line that equally targets both lesbian and gay guests, R Family, founded by Kelli O'Donnell (Rosie's ex), draws a good mix of youthful and grown-up seafarers. Upcoming cruises are headed to the Greek Isles, the Caribbean and the European classic of Spain/France/Italy, with occasional partnered trips with Nickelodeon.
Cruises catering to gay men
RSVP: RSVP Vacations offers the most balanced ratio of gay men and lesbians after R Families. Now in its 26th year, RSVP sells out large and small ships at a good range of prices. Destinations include the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, Europe and Mexico with a range of onboard entertainment.
Atlantis: Atlantis Events draws a 95 percent male crowd on its tours to gay-friendly coastal cities like Barcelona, Puerto Vallarta, Athens, and Amsterdam. Bigger ships make for lower rates, and nightly mega-discos and celebrity entertainment are integral to the freewheeling vibe.
Spend some time with Cruiseable's planning tools to find the cruise, ship and destinations to help you plan your ultimate wedding or honeymoon getaway.