Honeymoons on the High Seas

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Currently, Windstar is offering two European packages that will prove difficult to resist: The first is a 7-night cruise from Athens to Istanbul, with stops in Mykonos, Santorini and Kusadasi; the second skirts the French and Italian Rivieras, beginning in either Rome or Barcelona and dropping anchor in such traditionally romantic spots like Monte Carlo, Nice, Marseilles and Portofino. Prices start at $2,625 pp plus airfare.

If that itinerary doesn’t make newlyweds’ heads turn, the line recently inaugurated a cruise beginning and ending in Venice, perhaps the most romantic city in the world, and visiting Koper, Slovenia and three Croatian ports, including Split. The price? $2,249 pp, not including airfare.

A one-stop cruise line offering a wide range of destinations is Princess Cruises, a company with a long seagoing tradition and currently operating 16 vessels and more than 100 itineraries. Familiar in every continent, Princess is bound to give pause to even the most ambitious couple planning their honeymoon.

Want to spend a honeymoon sailing on Alaska’s Cook Inlet while watching glaciers drop into the sea? The Diamond Princess, sailing from Vancouver, will take you there.

What about a 7-night Scandinavian sea journey beginning in Southampton, England and stopping in ports in Denmark, Sweden and Norway? The Emerald Princess has staterooms from $1,059 pp.

If honeymooners are contemplating Asia, the line offers a 16-night voyage stopping in Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan, as well as in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai. Prices for this Asian romance begin at $2,009 on board the Ocean Princess—well worth it, if only for the chance to see the moon rising over the South China Sea.

Princess is known for pampering newlyweds. It has what it calls its “Department of Romance,” in tribute to the company’s legacy as having been the inspiration for the TV show “The Love Boat.”

“We certainly have many romantic offerings on board our ships that definitely help set a romantic mood,” says Jan Swartz, Princess’s executive v.p. of sales, marketing and customer service, “including private dinners of lobster and filet served in an intimate balcony, couples’ massages both in the Lotus Spa or in our outdoor massage cabanas at The Sanctuary. One of our most popular shipboard activities for couples is what we call ‘Movies Under the Stars’ where couples share a romantic evening under a blanket watching movies or enjoying a concert.”

Honeymooners on board Princess vessels also receive special care in the form of pre-ordered packages that include champagne, long-stemmed roses, engraved crystal wine glasses to keep as mementos and chocolate-dipped strawberries delivered every evening. These packages range from $140 to $420 per couple.

The jewel of the line’s honeymoon crown may well be its 7-night voyage beginning in Ft. Lauderdale and reaching deep into Caribbean waters. It is considered to be among the most romantic cruises aboard the Caribbean Princess, considered the most romantic ship afloat. It touches on ports in Jamaica, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Prices begin at $649 pp, excluding airfare.

For sheer romance, however, many consider the Regent Seven Seas Cruises to stand head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to honeymooning in the South Pacific aboard a ship bearing Paul Gauguin’s name.

Andrew Poulton, director of corporate communications for Regent Seven Seas, says that although the line does not have any particular honeymoon packages, the entire atmosphere of the Gauguin is conducive to romance. “In the 12 years that the Gauguin has been in operation, we’ve hosted countless couples honeymooning on board,” he says. We go the extra mile to make sure that those spending that special time on the Gauguin will remember it for a long time.”

According to Poulton, the crew holds a special ceremony when the ship is anchored in Bora Bora.

The ceremony is held on the ship’s aft deck where honeymooning couples gather “to be greeted by a group of Polynesian girls brought from shore who then wrap the couple in native sarongs, crown them with tropical garlands and perform an elaborate wedding dance while blessing the couple in ancient Tahitian, the language of the island.”

After the ceremony, the couple is treated to a special cake baked in the ship’s galley and toasted by crew, dancers and passengers with complimentary champagne. Poulton says the couple also receives a “special pillow gift” and photographs to keep as mementos.