My Wedding Onboard P&O Cruises Ventura
Where it all began…
It all started on 17th July 2009 and after being together for two years we were engaged, and I had a gorgeous ring on my finger. Straight away I could not wait to get planning, not just the engagement party but the wedding too. I always knew I wanted to do something different, but I just didn’t know what…
Amongst the beautiful gifts we received as engagement presents was a two night Mini Cruise onboard P&O Cruises Arcadia to Bruges. We had the best time, and it was a great taster cruise for my fiance who hadn’t cruised before and straight away he loved it. The entertainment, the food, the number of restaurants & bars with Celebrity Chefs to choose from and the freedom to see and do so much in one holiday. Straight away we were already planning a cruising holiday.
A few weeks later I was given a task at work for a wedding show we were attending. The task was to provide a comparison for weddings in the UK against weddings abroad. It was the perfect job for me as it would give me some ideas for my wedding. I looked at getting married on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Weddings in a small chapel in Italy, on the beach in Cyprus & Greece, Fairytale weddings with our favourite Disney Characters. Then I found ‘the one’, getting married by the cruise ship Captain on board a beautiful ship surrounded by nothing but the most fabulous sea views. I instantly called my fiance, and he loved the idea and as long as our immediate family would want to come with us anyone else that attended would be a total bonus.
We got to work making the invites. We decided to keep with the ship theme and do ‘message in a bottle’ invites and was overwhelmed by our family and friends’ responses regarding joining us for our dream wedding.
The booking process
The booking process could not have been easier. We decided on a Transatlantic Caribbean Cruise sailing from Southampton and visiting Madeira, Tortola, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada & Barbados. Sailing from Southampton would be perfect for us for taking all our wedding items. There were five days at sea between Madeira and Tortola which was an excellent opportunity to have the wedding at sea. After booking the cruise holiday, I called through to a personal wedding advisor at P&O Cruises who would help me right up until the ship departed. She couldn’t have been more helpful, giving me ideas and options to make my special day perfect. P&O Cruises think of everything including flowers, cakes, and wedding breakfasts even as far as suit hire onboard. After booking the date and time, we were sent out all the booking forms and a brochure showing additional extras we may like to purchase.
There are many locations around the ship where you can have your ceremony, however, as I still very much liked the thought of walking down an aisle, I chose the Ivory Suite onboard Ventura. Seating up to 40 guests with a gorgeous grand piano and floral arrangements it was just what we wanted.
We are on our way…
On the 21st October 2011, My family members and I travelled down to Southampton by coach and were met outside the ship by a P&O Cruises porter. He took our luggage off us including my wedding dress and took everything safely straight to our cabin which gave us the freedom to start enjoying all the ship’s facilities straight away. On the 2nd morning, we met with both our wedding coordinator & the photographer and both listened to all our ideas and requests for our wedding day and went to work in making them happen straight away. They booked all our hair and beauty appointments and made little touches such as giving us a private section of the main restaurant so all our family could be together and cordon off the Observatory lounge so we could still have speeches etc. onboard. After this was all discussed, there wasn’t much left to do apart from enjoying all the benefits that came with cruising!
Waking up on the morning of the wedding, my bridesmaid, mum and I enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast on our balcony and the morning was so relaxed knowing that everything was planned. The wedding coordinator came and collected my dad and me around 15 minutes before, and we made our way to the Ivory Suite with the photographer taking snaps along the way.
The ceremony was to be conducted by the Captain of the ship and as I walked through the door to the music we had chosen, we were ready to be married in front our beautiful family and friends. The ceremony was around 25 minutes followed by the signing of the register and photos. After this, we all made our way to the Metropolis Bar, which was at the back of the ship with floor to ceiling windows with glorious sea views. We had arranged canapes and champagne for our guests while we had speeches. The photographer collected my husband and me for photographs; we went to various locations around the ship. The photographer was excellent capturing all the memories of our gorgeous day but also getting us into all types of poses including on top of a grand piano (not easy in a huge dress) but making us laugh along the way. As we walked through the ship’s public rooms, the guests applauded and congratulated us.
The wedding meal was in the Cinnamon Restaurant in a sectioned off area; the table set just as we had requested with small gifts we had bought for each our guests and personalised cookies & cupcakes. Sailing from Southampton helped with all these extras and not having a luggage limit. The tables looked beautiful with fresh flowers and all the attention to detail that you would expect from a 5* cruise ship. In-between courses the waiters all got together with a Banjo and sang congratulations to us which was great fun. The meal all five courses of it was delicious!
In the evening, we all headed for the entertainment and found ourselves in the Exchange Bar which was great for us as our guests ages ranged from 3 – 80yrs old and the entertainment was varied here from quizzes & bingo to live singers and karaoke which suited us all. On our wedding night, it was a live band & singers followed by a disco. Our wedding coordinator arranged for us to have our chosen wedding song and our first dance here. It was the perfect place to spend our wedding night dancing away with family and friends, and a bit of karaoke was thrown in!
The morning after the wedding was our last day at sea which we chose to relax and take in some treatments at the spa onboard. We made an appointment with our photographer for at the end of the cruise to go through all our images and album options of our wedding. Our photographer also gave us the opportunity to have photos on a Caribbean beach which although getting back in my dress was very tempting we decided against this as we wanted to make the most of the exciting excursions and white powder soft sandy beaches that these gorgeous islands offered.
We met with our photographer and the photos were out of this world. He offered us various story books, albums and CDs. It was so hard to pick out a few photos; therefore, we decided on the CD with all the images and brought home all the memories of our gorgeous wedding day.
As our flight home was quite early, we didn’t get the chance to see much of Barbados but hopefully, one day we can go back and explore this beautiful island.
The places we visited…
Tortola – We had booked the excursion long before we embarked onboard Ventura as didn’t want to risk it being full when we got onboard. The excursion was to Virgin Gorda accessible by speedboat, a perfect idyllic start to our honeymoon. White sands and clear turquoise water and very undeveloped. The seas were strewn with giant boulders which formed caves and tidal pools and was so peaceful and relaxing. At the time, my husband thought it would be highly amusing to swim out to the furthest boulder and complete the famous ‘plank’ on top of it.
St Lucia – Unfortunately too much sun and not enough water left me with sunstroke. Therefore, a morning in bed it was for me which was such a shame as we had booked a Quad Biking Adventure. Thankfully one of our guests was able to take my place; they had a great day speeding across beaches, through streams and up mountains. They loved it, unfortunately, their new ‘white holiday trainers’ which were now very muddy thought otherwise! I did manage to get off the ship in the afternoon for a wander around the shops seeing all the local handmade items on display.
Antigua – As there was quite a few of us and we hadn’t pre-booked an excursion. We got off the ship and were met by many taxi drivers. We found one with a minibus for us all, and he was so much more than a taxi driver he told us all the different places we could see and activities we could do and the price we agreed wouldn’t be paid until he returned us to our ship. We visited Nelsons Dockyard and Shirley Heights. His local knowledge was outstanding. We then asked him to take us to a gorgeous uncrowded beach but had water sports; he took us to Fryes beach which was up on the west coast of Antigua. After 3 Hours of sunbathing, selfies and water sports he returned to pick us up and take us back to the port.
Grenada – Our last ‘beach’ day. We took a local boat across the seas to a beautiful beach while other members of the family took a spice tour which they thoroughly enjoyed.
What does a cruise offer…
There is nothing at all I would change about our special day as every detail was just perfect. Having the five days at sea was great so as to enjoy all the ships entertainment both daytime & evening. Relaxing by the pool, taking in a box office film & the relaxing spa treatments, all just perfect. My niece also had a lot of fun at the kids clubs and most days we struggled to get her to spend time with us. As there was such a mixture of ages we all did different things and as the ship was quite big it was so easy to have your own space onboard. Dining venues onboard were so varied with so much choice. At lunchtimes, we could either grab a quick slice of pizza or a burger in the buffet restaurant or grill or have a three course sit down meal in the main restaurant. Also, for dinner, we had the choice of the Main Restaurant, buffet restaurant and Celebrity Dining Restaurants or eat in our own cabin. The choices really are endless! We saw most of the entertainment which included Live Singers, Karaoke, Jazz Bands, Comedians, West End Style Shows, Guest Speakers, Casino, and so much more and the bars didn’t seem to shut until the last person went to bed. Again, something for everyone!
I’ve loved re-living and sharing my wedding story with you, and if a Wedding at Sea or a Renewal of Vows on-board is something you are thinking about then make sure you contact the girls at Experience The World Travel and they will make your dreams come true too!