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Review: St John Port Wedding while on 7-nt Cruise


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~~~ Due to the transition of CruiseCritic to the new boards and the fact that the older information will only be available a short time (on the old boards), I am pasting my wedding review here on these new CC boards for future brides to be able to reference. The websites referenced in the review are still active websites/businesses at this current point in time. It had to be shortened to meet the new limitations with CruiseCritic (email me if you would like a Word document with the full review). ~~~

Photos: [url]http://www.cmgoddard.com/pages/3/index.htm[/url]

TOPIC: Wedding on St John (US Virgin Islands) while onboard NCL S/S Norway Cruise 3/16-3/23 (2003)

This review represents only my own personal experiences and opinions.

Sections:
~ Background of Bride and Groom
~ Reasons for selecting St. John, USVI
~ Reasons for choosing the cruise ship S/S Norway (NCL)
~ Factors in contracting with wedding coordinator (Ceremonies of St. John)
~ Legalities handled prior to arrival
The wedding day:
~ From ship to St. John
~ Clearing immigration
~ Transportation from Cruz Bay to wedding location (Hawksnest Beach)
The wedding itself:
~ Choosing the site on the beach
~ Overall wedding
~ Photographer (Sonya Melescu)
~ Videographer (YouMayNow.com)
~ Minister (Rev Emmanuel Jaggernauth)
Reception:
~ Choosing the reception catamaran (Calypso)
~ Wedding cake (Chef Mulcare)
After the wedding:
~ Tour in St. Thomas (Godfrey)
~ Returning to Ship
About NCL S/S Norway Staff the week of our wedding
Overall comments and prices


Background of Bride and Groom

Curt and Mandy first cruised the NCL Sky in December 2000 and fell in love with cruising. This 2003 wedding cruise took a total of 19 people including the Bride and Groom. Of the 19, 11 were first-time cruisers. Cruise departed Miami.

Reasons for selecting St. John, USVI

We researched various ports of call where we could easily marry barefoot on the beach but not be required to spend too many hours on the land ahead of time. The two easiest places in the Caribbean we found were the USVI and Caymans. After researching how many cruises miss Grand Cayman as a port of call, we settled on the USVI.

Reasons for choosing the cruise ship S/S Norway

(1) Affordability during Spring Break (I am a teacher); (2) S/S Norway was the only cruise ship sailing from Florida during my Spring Break where we could go directly from the ship to St. John; (3) We wanted to learn of the S/S Norway’s history.
(The Norway is now out of commission due to an explosion 2 months after our wedding.)

Factors in contracting with wedding coordinator (Ceremonies of St. John – Stacy Mulcare)

[url]www.usviwedding.com[/url]

Originally, I thought I could do this myself and save the 18% wedding coordinator mark-up, but as I began emailing questions to various people in the area, I sometimes could not get immediate feedback. I assumed that it would be well worth my money to utilize a wedding coordinator, especially due to the “what-ifs” that can happen while cruising.

Legalities handled prior to arrival

We took care of all legalities (including swearing in) during our trip to St John Nov 2002 and had our minister pick up the marriage license from the courthouse the week of the wedding. We did not have to go to the courthouse the day of our wedding.

The wedding day:

From ship to St. John:

The concierge secured our $8 ferry tickets, arranged for our group to meet in a separate part of the ship in a nice waiting area, escorted us to the awaiting ferry (at the ship), and had those NCL staff on board the ferry know to let the ‘wedding party’ off first.
These USVI ferries have an indoor, air-conditioned area. My Maid of Honor and I carried our dresses. We were at the ferry dock on St. John by 7:30AM.

Clearing immigration

After 9/11, new laws have gone into effect. Because we were in St. Martin the day before and were re-entering a US Territory, the entire ship had to clear immigration (done by 7:45AM).

Transportation from Cruz Bay to wedding location (Hawksnest Beach)

We had rolled the private taxi transportation into our wedding contract with Stacy– same posted rates as normal plus tip – and plus the wedding coordinator 18%. Stacy secured a taxi to take 17 to Hawksnest, and the Maid of Honor and I rode with Stacy in her AC Jeep Cherokee. The place Stacy secured for us to changes clothes was at the restroom of Mongoose Junction shopping area. Anita & I merely had to slip into our dresses, as our hair and makeup were already done.

The wedding itself:

Choosing the site on the beach

Our photographer & videographer were on the 8:00 ferry from Red Hook, and our minister was picking them up in Cruz Bay. We waited for Sonya to arrive to choose the exact location, as she would know best for photography lighting. The site on the beach was selected, Stacy scattered rose petals to form an aisle on the beach.
~ Note: Although Trunk Bay is definitely gorgeous, ALL of the cruise ship passengers on our ferry were going to Trunk Bay. I certainly didn’t want to share my wedding with 500 of my closest strangers. Curt and I chose Hawksnest because of low crowds, proximity to Cruz Bay, and beauty.

Overall wedding

Beautiful. I cannot describe it, and my words would never do it justice. Curt had never seen me cry before, but when the minister began speaking and I was listening to the waves gently rolling in, the tears just started. Those darn tears would not stop. Curt’s lip started quivering. The beauty of the location, having our family and close friends with us, living our dream wedding – it all hit us at once. I was so thankful when the minister finally had us join hands – I about squeezed poor Curt’s hands in two. Our family continued to take pictures throughout the ceremony, so we have various pictures from many angles. The most touching part to me was when Curt reached up to wipe a tear from my right cheek during the ceremony.

Photographer (Sonya Melescu [url]http://www.virginislandsphoto.com/[/url])

Sonya was terrific and great to work with. After comparing snapshots our guests took to Sonya’s snapshots during the ceremony, I can see why lighting and angles are so important.
~ Point to note: We did not use Sonya for our engagement photos 11/2002 due to price.

Videographer ([url]http://www.YouMayNow.com[/url])

He was great! He interviewed all of our guests, videotaped the wedding, and did some great shots afterwards. It had music, opening/closing captions, and a lot of great characteristics. This cost was $350, and worth every penny.

Minister (Rev Emmanuel Jaggernauth- Cruz Bay Baptist Church [url]http://www.usviwedding.com/vows.htm[/url])

We really enjoyed this minister and he spoke very clearly and precisely. If I understand correctly, he is the only fully ordained minister on St. John (meaning he really went through Theological school and did not obtain his degree by mail-order of off the internet).

Flowers [url]http://www.eastendflowershop.net/[/url]

We only ordered a fresh bridal bouquet and boutonnière for the Groom. Our wedding cake was topped with fresh flowers (cost $40 extra) and matched our wedding flowers. We were very pleased with the flowers.

Reception:

Choosing the reception catamaran [url]http://www.adventurervi.com/[/url]

We booked the 40-foot Calypso catamaran for the reception. We had to guarantee 15 guests for this and it would accommodate up to 25. The crew of 3 were great. It had an open bar, champagne, hors devours, shaded seating, sunning area. To get from wedding beach to catamaran, we were transported by hard-bottom dinghy. It could carry 6 passengers at once. We sailed along the north shore of St John, and ended up at Red Hook dock at 11:30. For a 90-min charter, this cost $50 per person plus the boat company’s 20% service charge (plus wedding coordinator’s 18%). During the sail, we had the Best Man do a champagne toast, we cut the cake, listened to Caribbean music on the CD player, and enjoyed the views. The crew onboard took care of us.

Wedding cake
[url]http://www.stjohnchef.com/[/url]

This was delicious. The wedding cake was made of genoise, iced in butter cream and topped with fresh flowers for up to fourteen guests (we saved money by cutting smaller slices, and we also knew we could not take it back to the US). The wedding cake was topped with fresh flowers matching the bridal bouquet and was displayed/served on the catamaran. Cost of wedding cake including flowers on top: $155 (+ 18%)

After the wedding:

Tour in St. Thomas (Godfrey Renal of [url]http://www.godfreytoursvi.com/[/url])
After departing the catamaran Calypso in Red Hook at the dock at 11:30ish, I had prearranged Godfrey Renal for a three-hour tour of St. Thomas. Of our group of 19, 12 of us did this tour. It was well worth it.

Returning to Ship
Tender back to S/S Norway was no problem, but pretty hot by 3:00.

About NCL S/S Norway Staff the week of our wedding
I cannot speak highly enough of the NCL S/S Norway staff on board. They definitely exceeded our expectations. (Yes, the customer service department you deal with prior to getting to Miami needs a lot of help, but the staff on board was terrific.)

Overall thoughts:
We would highly recommend getting married in port while on a cruise, particularly on St. Thomas or St. John (remember the courthouse though).
Our total costs of wedding/reception/engagement photos package: $2997.00
Wedding coordinator 18%: $540.00
Total contracted cost: $3537.00 (plus the $50 for marriage license and $152 for ferry tickets purchased through the cruise to get us all to St. John)
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  • 11 months later...
Mandy, Thanks for the great review and pictures. This is truly an inspiration!! My fiancee and I have cruised exclusively on Norwegian, but are considering using royal caribbean for our wedding and getting married in the Bahamas. (A shorter itinerary means less cost for our families and friends... something that NCL no longer offers.)

Either way, I think that this was a beautiful day and I love the fact that you had a catamaran cruise after! How fun! Definitely more memorable than a typical reception. :)
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[color=darkorchid]Thanks, Carrie! That was actually the shortened version due to CC guidelines. ;) In fact, we just disembarked the NCL Sun this morning (Alaska). :( Great cruise, but now suffering from the beginnings of Post Cruise Depression. [b]Congrats to you and your sweetie![/b] I totally understand the shortened length/costs. We had contemplated that, but in the end, decided that since everyone was flying at least 1000 miles, we'd do the entire week. Have fun planning your wedding - it is fun!!:) [/color]
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Glad to hear you had fun on your trip! Coming back certainly is hard, isn't it? I loved sailing on the Sun! (Especially the food at East Meets West.. yum!)

Both our families seem pretty receptive to this idea so it looks like the planning is about to begin! :-D
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