I was a guest at a cruise wedding last fall (Carnival). My SO and I decided not to stay for the cruise (too expensive). Probably won’t do that again. It wasn’t a good experience:
– To get to the port we had to take a shuttle bus. Cheaper than parking at the port or taking a taxi but round trip for the two of us was still $60. Because the shuttle makes other stops we had to leave super early (wedding at 1:00, left hotel at 8:30 am and hotel was only 8 miles from port). Even worse on the return trip when it took almost 90 minutes to get to the hotel with all the stops
-Even with the “VIP” access as part of the bridal package, it took 2 hours to go through security and be cleared to board. At least half of that was just sitting around waiting but we did not have the option of showing up later, so we pretty much wasted half of a Saturday morning just sitting in a hot, noisy boarding area with like 400 other people (they had multiple weddings)
-Once on board we had about 90 minutes to kill and could not buy any food or drinks because the cruise ships do not take cash/credit cards, only the cruise ship on board spending card, which we did not have because we were not cruising. So we sat and sat some more and finally found a friend who was cruising to buy us a drink. This probably pissed me off more than anything because we had literally nothing we could do to pass the time And couldn’t buy anything anywhere.
-Ceremony was a little generic and mass produced, just seemed very cookie cutter (it was nice but I didn’t think my friends had much influence over the content)
-Reception was extremely short. After the ceremony we had another 30 minutes to kill and begged the same friend to buy us another drink. The reception itself was very nice but only had appetizer buffet since there was not enough time to do a proper meal (at this point it was going on 2:00 and no one had had lunch), so we were freakin starved. There wasn’t enough time to make a proper meal from the buffet and no one wanted to be “that guy” with th giant pile of food while everyone else is stuck in line behind you. We left hungry and cranky when we got the instruction to leave. There was probably only 45 minutes between first dance and last dance, no cake cutting ceremony, no speeches, really nothing and I felt really bad for the couple because even though they really tried to, they weren’t able to greet every guest— simply not enough time.
-The couple could not have extended the reception because there is a mandatory evacuation drill at 3:00 and all non-sailing passengers have to be gone before that, and they could not start earlier because US Customs don’t let you on the ship sooner.
I heard the people who actually did th cruise had fun, but even they thought there was a lot of sitting around and not enough time to do an actual reception. So from a guest point of view it really is a sucky experience.