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Carnival Victory Wedding Review: January 21, 2005

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We’re back from our January 21, 2005 wedding aboard the Carnival Victory!!!

In short, the wedding and the week leading up to our big day far exceeded our expectations. The ceremony and reception were wonderful and the photos are fantastic.


Gushing aside, I have promised to post a review of our experience with Carnival in the hopes that my review will help other brides and grooms planning cruiseship weddings.


Early Planning Stages


My fiance and I researched a number of different cruiselines before we ultimately settled on Carnival. In the end, our decision came down to the fact that we wanted to make the trip affordable for friends and family so that they could join us – Carnival offers a much less expensive 7-day cruise than other cruiselines such as Princess, NCL, and RCCL. Another factor was the value-for-money of wedding packages offered by the cruiselines. Carnival’s Deluxe Romance package is unmatched by any other line at $US 1450 given that it includes a 1.5 hour reception with hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and open bar plus the standard wedding items that the lines offer.


The next big decision that we had to make was when and where to get married. Since Carnival cannot offer weddings at sea (an idea which we loved), we had to choose a port-of-call and decide whether to have the wedding either onboard the ship or onshore. This provided to be a difficult decision; however, in the end, we decided to get married on the 5th day (and final port of call) of our 7-day cruise. We wanted to be able to build towards the wedding with our friends and family but not feel as though we had invited everyone on our honeymoon. As a result, my fiance and I decided that we would do back-to-back cruises which meant that we cruised with everyone the first week on the Western Caribbean itinerary and were alone for the second week on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary.


After considerable indecisiveness, we finally decided to have the wedding onboard the ship to avoid any stress of getting on and off the ship without being a logistical nightmare (Never having cruised before, this seemed important at the time but after discovering how the whole process works, I think we would have found any inconvenience of disembarkation/embarkation unimportant in the big scheme of things). Part of our decision was also swayed by our desire to have a reception with food and drinks which Carnival does not do onshore. We learned later that we could have had the ceremony onshore and the reception onboard but I’m not sure we would have gone this route had we known.


Save-the-Dates and Invitations


We sent our our Save-the-Dates one year in advance of the wedding which many seemed to appreciate. These consisted of a 4-5 page information letter containing costs, travel agent contact info, etc. and a magnet which we made ourselves using our color printer. These worked out really well and were easy once we figured out how to handle the graphics (we used Microsoft Word).


Our actual wedding invites went out 4 months before the wedding and contained an RSVP card, mostly to flush out anyone who was still undecided on whether to join us. We also included a Reception card for a pre-wedding bon voyage celebration that we had in my home-town a month before the wedding.


We sent both the Save-the-date package and wedding invitation to close to 150 people. We knew that many would not be able to make it but we wanted to let people decided for themselves rather than attempting to manage numbers on our own.


In the end, we had 26 people sail with us which ended up being a perfect amount – just small enough to feel intimate and just large enough to still be a party!


Pre-Wedding Week:


Embarkation went quite smoothly as did the flight down to Miami. I hand carried my dress, veil, shoes and other important items while my fiance checked his suit. We didn’t have any problems with lost luggage so this worked out fine but one of our guests was without his luggage until a few days into the cruise so I would not recommend checking anything that you cannot absolutely do without. Obviously, you can’t hand carry everything so I would suggest sticking to anything breakable and the things that really matter to you.


Once on the ship, we were greeted to our room by several bottles of champagne courtesy of Carnival and a note letting us know that our onboard wedding coordinator would be in touch to arrange a meeting with us to discuss the wedding details. Unfortunately (and this is my main complaint about Carnival), such a meeting never took place. The wedding coordinator did find us at dinner on the first night but the meeting was more or less on the fly in front of all of our friends and family who were sitting with us. This wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that the coordinator had the key details wrong (she had a 1:00 start time for 46 people wheras we had previously confirmed with Carnival that the wedding would take place at 10:30 with 26 people). I have no idea where the wires got crossed but several days into the cruise, we still did not have a confirmed time for the wedding ceremony and reception. In the end, we tracked the coordinator down through our waiter in the dining toom (the coordinator is also the dining room hostess) wherupon the coordinator informed us that a group on the ship had requested the room that we had for the wedding ceremony and prodded us to see whether we would be willing to budge. We stuck firm to our confirmed room and start-time and in the end, faced no opposition from Carnival since they acknowledged that weddings come first. It all worked out but Carnival could do a much better job of ensuring that couples feel more comfortable in the days leading up to their wedding.


We also wanted to meet with our photographer to discuss a rather special request – we wanted to ask whether the photographer would be willing to join us following the reception for photos on an Ocho Rios beach called Mahagony Beach. It took several conversations with the photography manager to get a name but in the end, we were able to meet with the photographer (Aldwin) and convince him to take photos for us off of the ship (Carnival’s wedding department had said that photographers cannot leave the ship for this purpose but it seems to be negotiable with the individual photographer).


We took care of a few other pre-wedding details early on in the trip. Once onboard the first day, we contacted the purser’s desk to see whether they would be able to deliver some welcome letters packaged as a message in a bottle. The purser’s desk was willing to do this but most of our guests didn’t receive the letter until the next day. This wasn’t a problem – we mainly wanted to provide them with a short note welcoming to the week/cruise and to let them know the exact time/place of the wedding.


On the first night of the cruise, we also held a one hour welcome cocktail reception before dinner in the Victory’s Adriatic Lounge. This went over well with our guests since it allowed people to make introductions without being in a formal atmosphere. We had originally planned to go through Carnival’s Group services department but found it easier to just pick up the bar tab for our guests instead.


On the second day, I made spa appointments for those who wanted to have their hair done on the day of the wedding. This was fairly easy to do but it wasn’t clear that they would be able to do everyone in time for our 10:30 ceremony start. In the end, the Spa decided the bring in an extra stylist since the spa doesn’t open until 8 in the morning and everyone was done with plenty of time to spare.


We had a half hour self-arranged wedding rehearsal on the 3rd day of the cruise which was a day and see and followed up with lunch in the Mediterranean Room. I’m glad that we took the time to do this since we would not have otherwise felt as comfortable going into the ceremony. Unfortunately, Carnival’s wedding coordinator wasn’t able to join us but she gave us enough information regarding set-up of the room that we managed. Since our officiant was in Ocho Rios, he also wasn’t able to make it but we knew that going in.


The rest of the week leading up to the wedding belonged to our guests and all had a fantastic time enjoying the ship as well as Cozemel and Grand Cayman which were the first two ports of call.


Wedding Day – Friday, January 21 (Ocho Rios, Jamaica)


When I woke up on our wedding day and snuck out onto our balcony to sneak a peak of Ocho Rios, I knew that we had picked the right port of call for our wedding. Ocho Rios is so lush and green even from the cruise port so we were very excited about the day.


I applied my make-up before heading to my hair appointment since I wanted to avoid feeling rushed…it was the right thing to do in my case since my hair wasn’t done until 9 and I stuck around to keep my bridesmaid’s company for awhile. Overall, I was semi-happy with my hair style. I wanted it half-up and had photos but the end product wasn’t quite what I wanted and didn’t stand up to the humidity later during photos. In hindsight, I would have scheduled a hair trail before the wedding with the spa but my hair really wasn’t that bad. Others really liked their hair so I was the only one that wasn’t completely satisfied.


Once my hair was done, I headed off to my room for a few minutes of peace. A few minutes later, the bridesmaids joined me and helped me into my dress while my mom took photos. I really enjoyed this experience and am glad to have some photos to remember the experience. The ship photographer also paid us a visit in the room and took some nice photos of us getting ready.


Our flowers did not arrive until a few minutes before the wedding which caused some panic but I had resolved myself to the possibility that we might have to walk down the aisle without them if they didn’t arrive in time (Island Dream Weddings in Jamaica takes care of the flowers and officiant on behalf of Carnival when the ship is in Ocho Rios and the Jamaican coordinator was quite late). The flowers were pretty close to what I had requested (I sent photos far in advance and followed up with numerous e-mails). I ordered a custom bridal bouquet and custom bridesmaid bouquets made of dendrobium orchids, as well as orchid bout. for the men. We also ordered fresh orchids for the bridemaids to wear in their hair with a clip and fresh orchid petals for the reception cake. Flower prices were pretty reasonable and were of a great quality (they lasted for days after!).


When I came downstairs to get ready for the processional, I was in awe. I tried to stay out of sight but I managed to sneak a peak at how beautiful the Ionian room looked. The leather chairs had been set up on either side of a wide aisle with a white aisle runner leading up to a black piano. Carnival had also strewn white silk rose petals on the floor around the runner (we had brought the silk flower petals ourselves). The room has a grecian décor so it was quite elegant.


Carnival also did a great job with the processional and recessional music which we had brought with us. We worried that music on a CD would sound too start and stop (as opposed to live music) but it was completely fine as is. Our officiant also scored well with us, especially since he was working off of the ceremony and vows that we had written ourselves. He didn’t miss a beat!


The ceremony was very intimate and meaningful for both of us, as well as for our friends and family and needed no improvement from our perspective. Following the ceremony, the photographer snapped some photos of the wedding party, parents, bride and groom, etc. before we headed to the reception.


The reception was held in the Arctic Disco which is the disco on the Victory. The décor, in our opinion, is a bit garish (video screens everywhere) but no one minded. The food at the reception was presented beautifully (and normally I could care less about ice sculptures!) and tasted wonderful. There was plenty of food (we barely dented it) and the drinks were freeflowing. Since we only had 1.5 hours, we had only a few toasts, a few planned dances, and kept things casual. The DJ did a fine job but he really didn’t have to work too hard!


The cake was surprisingly nice to look at which I worried about since Carnival offers little in the way of choice. We ditched the tacky white plastic and tulle topper and brought our own and sprinkled fresh orchids around the cake. Tastewise, the cake was pretty good but nothing out of the ordinary.


Following the reception, the photographer took some group photos of everyone on the main stairs leading to the Seven Seas atrium which we gave to each of our guests before the end of the cruise. We also did some formal portraits on the ship before meeting a bus on the cruise pier to take us to Mahagony Beach for photos (we arranged this through Island Dream Weddings). The beach was perfect for photos and was really the highlight of the whole week…as we sipped on Red Stripe Beer, we took turns posing for the photographer who did a number of photos with the parents, wedding party, etc. We all wore flip flops which we eventually kicked off before going into the water for some fun photos. I can’t say enough about our photographer Alwin who really captured the essence of our wedding day.

Unfortunately, the ship was leaving Ocho Rios at 3:30 so we only had a few hours on the beach before heading back to the ship. My now husband and I spent some quiet time together before meeting people later for drinks and dinner in the dining room. Everyone stayed in their wedding attire which worked well given that it was formal night on the ship.


After a long day, we returned to our room around midnight and slept very well!


Post-Wedding: Photos, etc.


We met with the photographer the morning following the wedding to look at proofs from the wedding and to discuss prices for various packages. We were told that Carnival doesn’t have packages per se but were given a price for the CD as well as for individual processed photos. In the end, we walked out with close to fifety 8x10s and 200 5x7 as well as the CD for a reasonable price. The photos were worth it and we felt that we were offered a fair price (despite being ready to do some heavy negotiating).




In sum, we had a fantastic wedding with Carnival and have no regrets although Carnival could more more helpful in the pre-planning process. We witnessed some minor coordination problems between Carnival’s wedding department, the onship coordinator and Island Dream Weddings that could have resulted in major problems. In the end however, everything went very well and we would recommend a Carnival wedding to anyone!


I would be happy to share photos but I'm nervous about posting them publically. In the meantime, feel free to leave me your e-mail if you want me to send you some photos!



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Thanks Kendal for the great review. I tried to log on so i could see your photos however i didnt have a proper password so i dont know if there is a way to put a password everyone can use on there or not?

I look forward to our wedding onboard the glory in June.

Congrats again.



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Thanks so much for posting your photos - it really help me picture what our wedding might look like. You looked beautiful! We are getting married aboard the Carnival Triumph in less than three months and I'm constantly wondering how things will turn out.


I wondered if you could tell me which items you upgraded on - e.g., was your cake an upgrade (I noticed your cake seemed like a step up from other Carnival cakes I've seen)?, were the flower petals on the floor at your ceremony an upgrade?


Thanks too for posting your review.

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Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!


In terms of upgrades, we did not upgrade the cake itself but we brought our own cake topper (Carnival's topper is not very nice) and ordered fresh orchid petals for around the cake (they were $4.50 for the bag). Otherwise, I think the size of the cake reflects how many persons will be at the reception.


We also upgraded the flowers which meant that I sent our coordinator a description and photo of what we wanted. Carnival/Island Dream Weddings was happy to accomodate so I would highly recommend exploring other options if you're not into white roses (I wasn't).


Finally, the silk rose petals that were sprinkled on either side of the aisle in the ceremony room were our own.


Everything else was standard as part of the Deluxe Romance package. If you want to see photos of the flowers, Carnival cake topper, etc. I would be happy to send them to you.



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Your wedding was very beautiful. I'm getting married on the Valor in September. Carnival did such a wonderful job with your decor. I'm glad to know they allowed silk petals on the floor. Now mine won't go to waste. Any helpful hints you can pass along will be appreciated.

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My main piece of advice for other Carnival Brides would be to not be afraid to make special requests. Carnival wedding services led us to believe that we would have difficulty getting our welcome packages delivered, using silk flower petals and having our photographer join us for photos off of the ship. We managed to negotiate all of these things once onboard!

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THanks for all or your information. We are getting married on Carnival Glory and i have to say i am a bit nervous as it doesnt seem to be the ship that many are getting married on...lol. How much was it to upgrade your flowers? I was told that if i sent a picture i could have my bouquet done the same as the picture but i also wondered if i should get a second bouquet of silk just in case!!! We had chosen to go with the luncheon but all of our guests we think will be sailing with us so we might upgrad to the appetizers since they can all eat on ship...

We are going to get another cake topper too. The petals around the cake were they ordered thru the wedding coordinator? I am hoping that we will marry in the chapel but as you know we dont get that information for quite awhile. We are 19 weeks away!

Your pictures were gorgeous! Thanks for sharing them with us. I am a bit nervous about having the hair done onboard, we are getting married before we sail but my hair is shorter so i cant do an "updo" so not sure what they will do and that makes me a bit nervous too.


Congratulations again,


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I wouldn't worry about the fact that the Glory doesn't seem to be a popular ship...I couldn't find anyone who was married on mine either but there were at least three weddings each week on the Victory while we were on it:-)


As for flower upgrades, it was $15 to upgrade my bouquet while each of the bridesmaids cost $35. I ordered the flowers for around the cake ($5) and flowers for each girl's hair ($12) at the same time through the wedding coordinator.


Hope this helps!

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