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About Ashley8053

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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    I love to travel! I work in Marketing to support the habit.
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Royal Caribbean

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  1. @dst No, the photo booth was not through Royal. I work in marketing and my company had a subscription to a service called "Fotozap" which uses an iPad. I brought my own iPad and iPad stand (Amazon for like, $15). People really liked it, and we got some pretty cool pictures of our guests.
  2. You're very welcome, I'm glad it is helping people! Congratulations and good luck to your daughter! We did gift bags as well, but we just left them on the table by the entrance to the Music Hall - where we also had our photo booth, card box, etc. I think we had around 15, so we just told the cruisers to grab their bag on the way out. Anyone who "forgot" theirs we just brought to dinner that night. By the time the cruise was upon us, we had serious doubts about the competency of the wedding crew so we didn't go with the delivery option. I am PRETTY sure you cannot bring 15 bottles of champagne, unless it's distributed among your guests because as you get on the ship, they will check how much alcohol you have and whether or not it's in the allowable amount. I walked on with maybe 6 bottles, and luckily we were able to tell the security people that 2 bottles belonged to 3 different people, and it was fine. You will certainly not be able to bring the bottles on-board already in bags because they need to scan the alcohol. The dessert bar was amazing. It was a HUGE variety. I'm having trouble remembering exactly what was there, but I know it was all individual sized items like cheesecake, cookies, cakes, cream puffs, etc. Everything was very tasty and it was a beautiful spread - I highly recommend it. I would probably compare it to the big area of desserts always set up on the buffet, but it was much prettier. Hope this helps, let me know if you have other questions!
  3. Hi, Amy! @SCCruisinCrazy You're SO welcome for the post. When I was researching for my wedding I couldn't find any useful information from past brides, so I knew I needed to get as many details out there as I could. It's such a huge commitment and they are SO stingy on details before they get your money. Congratulations (again!) on your upcoming wedding! I am happy to help as much as I can 🙂 1. I think the only thing that plan will affect is your deposit. You don't get invoiced until all the final details are handed in - which includes headcount - so if you initially ask for the lower package you might pay a bit smaller deposit, but at the end of the day, you will be charged for whatever you end up asking for. I would ask to get a quote on the deposit for each package - If the deposit isn't a huge deal, go with the one you think you are actually going to use. It's far easier to plan ahead with items that may come with the larger package initially, rather than try to "add on" later. Remember, these people are NOT RESPONSIVE AT ALL, so the more straightforward you can be, especially up front, the better the experience will be. We initially estimated 150 people (the max allowed) but ended up only having 100, and we only paid for 100, so it wasn't a big deal. 2. Group bookings is completely through the cruise line or your travel agent, as are the "perks." The wedding company has nothing to do with it. Our travel agent got us the on-board credit for the booking, but it wasn't really a huge benefit at the end of the day. It was nice to have a group booking because all of our tables were together at dinner, and generally, the cruise knew all of our 15-something rooms were together. The "free stuff" came with the wedding package itself. We got random things like a bottle of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries (which were molded, by the way), and a free dinner at one of the restaurants you normally pay for. My advice is to make friends with the on-board activities director, she got us into reservations that were booked for everyone else, and even got our whole party on the North Star together - which was IMPOSSIBLE through the app. 3. The whole audio fees were quite ridiculous. They absolutely are looking for every possible way to charge you. As you can see on the paperwork there is a charge for a microphone, custom music, etc. We went with the higher priced option, I think it was like, full DJ service, or something? And with that, we got all the other stuff included for free. The music they provide are the very traditional wedding marches, which we didn't want. 4. Yes, all of our normal dinner nights we had about 4 or 5 tables for our party - because of our group booking. If your guests all book their rooms by themselves you will NOT get this automatically. I imagine you would have to call the cruise directly and have them manually link all your rooms, and I'm not even sure if they would accommodate it. It was great for us because we had a lot of room and we each kind of took different seats in our "area" each night to spend time with different guests. 5. As far as photos go, I would 100% tell you to go the direction of having a "guest" do your photos. I wouldn't even mention it to anyone, just do it. I'd be open and honest with your coordinator on-board, but don't even bring it up to the planners ahead of time - they are useless and will just argue with you over policy. To us, the $500 "fee" would have been worth it, with what we saved on their ridiculously overcharged photo package. Luckily, they didn't end up charging us for it. I would definitely say that killing them with kindness is a good way to go. We were nice and friendly with everyone and didn't get charged. If you're a jerk about it, they probably will charge you. If they ask, just tell them that your friend wants to take photos and it wasn't pre-arranged ahead of time. We didn't use any of their flower services. I brought on small flowers in vases to be placed on each table and I brought our two main flower bouquets that sat on the pillars. Everything was fake because they don't allow you to bring on fresh flowers - if you want fresh, you have no choice but to go with their stuff. Your plan to order to the room and tie a ribbon on them sounds good though! Let me know if I covered everything, or if you have any more questions! Good luck with planning! - Ashley
  4. Hey all! I got married on Embarkation Day in August 2018 on Anthem of the Seas. I wrote a VERY DETAILED review of the entire experience on Cruise Critic. I've copied the link below. Check it out and let me know if you have any questions for things I didn't address - I'm happy to help!
  5. Hi, @KJRABINO. We put the 3 day hold on the wedding FIRST. Then we had to book our cruise (1 cabin for the bride and groom.) Once a wedding planner is assigned you fill out a form asking for how many people you will have; I estimated on the high side, the maximum number allowed, actually. About 60 days before the wedding all the final details are due, including the exact number of people. That's when they will charge you as well. So for the wedding invitations, I made sure the RSVP date was well in advance of that 60 day cutoff.
  6. The Embark on Romance package includes the venue from boarding, to wedding time until around 2:45 pm. So, it's up to you how you use the time. Our ceremony was only about 10 minutes long, so the remaining time was our reception. It's all in the same location and is included with the initial cost. Everything else as you mentioned is an additional cost.
  7. We didn't actually do any Save-the-Dates, there just wasn't time. We booked the wedding the first week of November 2017, send out the initial round of invites (first tier, we called them, lol) the first week of December and gave people until the new year to RSVP. From there, it was a rolling invite list, based on who came back with a Yes or a No and who was cruising vs. just attending the wedding. We knew we couldn't go over a certain number of non-cruisers, so we just kept track of everything in a spreadsheet. You need to submit everyone's ID information about two months before, so make sure you ask for all that information in the RSVP; we didn't, and it was a pain in the ass to go back and hunt everyone down for that info.
  8. If you've come across this thread, you are probably doing exactly what I was doing a year ago - frantically searching the internet for some detailed glimpse into a "cruise wedding." I was not very successful in my search and ended up booking a cruise wedding feeling pretty blind. Royal Caribbean makes you put down a lot of money BEFORE they provide you with any details or options for your wedding. It was a scary experience that I don't think any bride-to-be should have to deal with, so I've decided to post a VERY detailed review of my experience, as well as links to all the documents I was provided through the process. If you have any questions at all, let me know and I will answer them based on my experience! All in all, I got married onboard RCCL's Anthem of the Seas on August 4, 2018 and it was wonderful. Read on for more... My Experience Overview: Much like many people on Cruise Critic have said, the Royal Celebrations/Royal Ocean Events company is a big hot mess (I'm really not even sure what their official name is because I saw both names used throughout the planning process. I suspect they may have re-branded since so many brides have ripped them apart on the internet.) My original wedding planner (Laura) left the company about three months into my planning and I (along with all of Laura's other clients) were basically handed off to Larissa. She was NOT great to work with - very unresponsive, often sending me questions that I've answered several times prior in our email chain or contradicting herself. She never once offered a phone call to go over anything; she only communicated via email. (She is getting a very low score from me on my post-wedding evaluation.) So, the basics - We went with the "Embark on Romance" package, fancy talk for an embarkation day wedding. It was great for us because we had a lot of people we wanted at our wedding, but knew not everyone would go on the cruise and this way, our local guests could get off the ship after the ceremony/reception. I started by downloading the brochure posted online and then calling the company to inquire about what dates were available. (I think I called in early November 2017.) They only allow 2 weddings per embarkation day, so I got lucky that there was a 2018 date available for us. They will hold your date for three days. In that three days you need to book your cruise and pay their wedding fee. The forms you need to fill out are as follows: (1) the coordinator agreement and (2) the payment authorization. I was originally charged $5,992 USD (package is $5,600 plus tax) and it was split into two charges: one for ROE (Royal Ocean Events) and one for RCCL (Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines). Note: My card denied this charge and thought it was fraud three times, so you may want to give your bank a heads up before they process it. I quickly received confirmation that they received everything from me, but it was then at least two weeks until my coordinator was assigned to me. Once that happens, they send you over the full wedding choices document. In my pre-booking research I had found an old wedding form posted online, but a lot has changed since then. They no longer offer a sit down meal, and there's no pre-wedding hair and makeup services or tux rental. Basic rundown of the day: 9:30 am - Everyone (guests, cruisers, wedding party, etc.) need to be at the cruise port, for me it was Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ. Note: Everyone is going to see you, and you will see your fiancé, there's no way around it. Myself and my bridesmaids arrived in casual wear and changed inside. Everyone else - minus the groom - arrived dressed. You will be met by the on-site wedding coordinator, walked through security and checked in for the cruise. Non-cruisers will check in and receive a lanyard with their entry pass. Another huge thing to mention: When you turn in your final paperwork you will need to hand in all your non-cruisers' full names (as it appears on their ID), date of birth, and ID number (passport or drivers license.) This was SUCH a pain to collect from everyone, so think about incorporating this information in your RSVP. 10:30 am (Approximately) - Everyone boards the ship; guests are taken to the venue. Wedding party can select two cabins for getting ready in. For us, we didn't get on the ship until 11, or maybe a little after. They said they were having issues with the ship sanitization. For us, this was an absolute MESS. The coordinator took EVERYONE to the Music Hall first, which caused mass confusion to the guests and my wedding party who were all supposed to be getting ready but somehow got dispersed into the Music Hall with everyone else. Please make sure you tell the coordinator you want the wedding party taken directly to the rooms to get ready and NOT stop off at the Music Hall. We all got changed into our dresses and had some time for a few quick photos before the coordinator came up and got us to go down to the ceremony. (Note: Hair and makeup must be done before you get on the ship. Our getting ready that morning started at 5 am.) 12 pm - Wedding/Reception begins; mine actually began around 12:15 because we got on the ship late. The length of the ceremony is up to you, mine was about 10 minutes, and I brought my own officiant. I HIGHLY recommend doing that. If you use the boat's officiant it will be "Captain Arnold" - note, he's not the real captain of the ship. He's a very sweet old man, but he's a very slow talker and I think if he did the ceremony it would have dragged on and been very dry. If you do have your own officiant, be aware you will need to take care of the marriage license yourself; they won't help at all. In NJ, if you don't live in the state, you have to appear in person to apply for the license. We're from PA, so this was a bit of a pain. For the wedding, there is an aisle and folding seats set up in standard wedding format. After the ceremony, I was promised that the wedding party could go up to the top deck and take a few photos, but it raining, so we all just went into the casino nearby and got a group shot. During that time, the seating on the dance floor was removed. We then went back in for introductions and first dances. Then, the food was served. I do have a few notes about the food which I will get to more below. 2:30 pm - All non sailers need to be escorted off the ship at this time. They let me know that since we were late getting on the ship, they would extend our reception a bit, so they didn't start pushing people to get off the ship until around 2:45 or closer to 3. Please plan ahead of who will take your flowers/decorations home, since you will be cruising and don't want to be stuck with all that stuff. When I first submitted my paperwork, I was planning to have the full allotment of 150 people attending. (75 non cruisers, 75 cruising.) That caused some drama because Laura told me I could only have 100 - AFTER I had already sent out 'Save the Dates'. I begged and pleaded and with some convincing I was granted 150 people, but it was very frustrating because all of RCCL's information says 150 is allowed. At the end of the day, we only ended up having 102, so it wasn't a big deal, but be aware of this, since the website info is incorrect. Also, it's good to know that kids don't count towards your final count. In their words: "Anyone under the age of 12 does not count in your total numbers count. For the bar and beverage package any guest under 3 does not get charged for beverages. Ages 4 to 20 would be the soft drinks/juices option and 21 up you can make the choice with beverages." As far as wedding location goes on the ship, if you look up past photos and brochures, you can see they used Two70, which is an absolute gorgeous location. However, they no longer allow this for a wedding - and trust me, I begged and pleaded for it. If you have more then 25-30 people, they will put you in the Music Hall. Any less, they put you in Boleros. I was a little disappointed to hear that they don't do any additional decorating in the Music Hall for weddings - what you see is what you get. However, the space is absolutely gorgeous and it turns out, I really didn't need anything additional. I did bring single flowers in a candlestick onboard to put on each little lounge table, just to add some color. I also asked about the ceremony decorations and I was told that on Anthem they do a wedding arch and not the two "pillars" that you see in a lot of photos. I thought the arch was hideous so I told them I didn't want that. At some point, I saw a picture of pillars on the Anthem so I asked if they could bring them to put on either side of my fiance and I for the ceremony. I was told yes, but when we arrived it was just small round tables, no pillars. I would have preferred pillars, but at the end of the day it was a minor hiccup that didn't really matter that much. I mentioned above about the food, which I have a lot of feedback on. Right off the bat, they will tell you the cake feeds 50 people. Since we were having at least 100 people, I requested a second cake. The additional cake is about a $400 add on. Please note - this is NOT necessary. I wish I could get that $400 back because we had an entire cake that no one even cut, so trust me, one cake is enough. You will notice in the wedding packet, it doesn't have desserts, I guess they think the cake is the dessert, but I requested a dessert station, which they granted, for $17 per person. The desserts were good, I'd recommend those. For food, we went with the Tier One Hors d'oeuvres, a salad station and a pasta station. Honestly, all the food was GREAT. However, the set up was a big huge pain - probably the biggest disappointment in the day. They had three stations set up in this order: [salad] [Pasta] [sides and Dessert]. The pasta station is manned by two chefs who are making the pasta as people come up and order; it's not pre-made. So basically, it took FOREVER. The issue was that people would get in line, get salad and then get stuck behind everyone backing up at the pasta station. I guess I just had polite guests because no one was skipping around the pasta line to continue to get other food, even if they didn't want pasta. This caused a huge back up that wrapped around the entire room. I actually had a few quests who didn't get to eat because of the line, so please - if you get the pasta station, ask them to set it up at the END of the table arrangement, or, by itself. The other thing that worried me was the "No bartenders" situation. Even thought the Music Hall has a great bar, they don't man it during weddings. All the drinks are bused. So people walk around and ask what you want, go back, make/get the drink and bring it back out. I thought this was going to be an issue, but I will say they were ON TOP of it. As far as the cruise itself, the wedding company does nothing regarding reservations and travel planning. I have a friend who is a travel agent and she was able to create a group booking (you need an 8 cabin guarantee for that). I think we got pretty standard pricing, maybe $50 or so less per person then the cheapest online site, so I guess the group rate was a slight break. The great thing was that we all got onboard credit, so that was a plus. Since the reception absolutely had to end by 3 pm, I decided to have a private reception that night for my friends/family who were cruising. Essentially, they let you do a "buy out" of one of their specialty restaurants. We decided on Wonderland, which cost $4,400 for the food, and $1,500 for drinks for a total of $5,900. Honestly, this was a GREAT idea and I highly recommend it. The food was absolutely amazing, but unfortunately, I was SO exhausted that about halfway through the dinner I thought I was going to fall asleep in my food, so I went to bed and missed dessert, lol. (I highly recommend taking a nap in-between sail off and dinner. I didn't do this, and I regret it.) A few other notes I will point out - The coordinators on-site are downright AMAZING. They more than made up for the awful experience with the pre-wedding coordinators. Tammi - the main coordinator - and her team seriously made the day happen, and followed my instructions to a T. She called me two days ahead to go over everything and completely calmed me because I was freaking out due to my negative interactions with Larissa. The other coordinator there was Sandra, she's in charge of the on-ship activities. She will be your best friend, trust me. She helped me set up everything as far as NorthStar reservations for the group, dinners together, excursions, etc. There wasn't a day on the cruise that I didn't call her for something and she was so, so helpful. The last thing I want to touch on is photography. Their photo packages are ridiculously expensive for what you get, so after some internet research, this is what we did - My maid of honor and her husband knew a photographer who they were friends with. My fiancé and I met with him and his wife and we hit it off. We hired them as our photographers and we paid for them to come on the cruise. As far as Royal Caribbean knew, they were attending the wedding as "guests", not as paid vendors. So, yes, I was a little deceptive on that front, but this way, I had a photographer for everything - including the cruise - and I will get all the photos from someone I trust, not pay piecemeal through a randomly hired cruise ship photographer. Obviously, hired vendors are a BIG no no, but - even if you want to be truthful, they only charge $500 as a fee if you bring a photographer. They won't come right out and tell you this, but at the end of the day, that $500 is still cheaper then their lowest cost package which is over $1,000 for only 1 hour of photos. Do with that information what you want, but I will say that having a photographer with us was so, so perfect. Ok, I think that is literally EVERYTHING I can think of. Like I said, some things were frustrating and some things didn't go exactly as planned, but it all ended fine. I heard from so many people that it was the most unique wedding they had ever been to. And now, I have a reason to push hubby for an anniversary cruise every year! :D:D Files: Coordinator Agreement Doc: https://ashleyandgentry.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/coordinator-agreement.docx Payment Authorization: https://ashleyandgentry.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/payment-authorization-form.docx Embark on Romance Package Options: https://ashleyandgentry.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/embark-on-romance-wedding.docx Dessert Option: https://ashleyandgentry.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/dessert-package.png Wedding on Anthem Picture, from Royal: https://ashleyandgentry.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/arch-on-anthem.jpg Wedding on Anthem, Real life, from one of my guests: https://ashleyandgentry.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/our-wedding-set-up-no-pillars.jpg
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