P&O Cruises - first British line to offer same-sex marriages at sea

Same-sex marriage cake

It goes without saying that getting married is one of the most important and happiest occasions for any couple. Since the turn of the millennium, more and more cruise lines have begun offering holiday-makers the unique opportunity to get married on board the ship. In 2017, many cruise lines are able to offer a variety of packages to ensure each wedding ceremony is specific to each bride and groom’s specific desires and requirements.

In order to get to where we are now, however, cruise lines have had to jump a number of hurdles. As things currently stand, UK law forbids the notion of getting married at sea, but cruise lines have managed to find a way around this. Each vessel of the P&O Cruises fleet sails under the Bermudan flag – a flag of convenience that enables the line to avoid British laws. On the special day, couples are issued with a Bermudan marriage certificate.

While many would consider this to be an unfortunate switch, it has provided many couples with unforgettable days at sea on their wedding day. Bermudan law has permitted couples to get married at sea since 1976 and British passengers have been highly appreciative. From January 2018, this law will, for the first time, extend to same-sex couples, after Bermuda’s Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex weddings. The first ceremonies to take place will be on board Azura as she embarks on a sailing around the Caribbean in the new year.

Paul Ludlow, who is Senior Vice President for P&O Cruises, said: “I am delighted that following this much-anticipated change in the legalities we are now the first British cruise line to be able to arrange same sex weddings on board.”

“Weddings at sea are very romantic and getting married by the Captain in the middle of the ocean is an unforgettable experience.” Each wedding ceremony on board will be conducted by the captain, unless they are unavailable, in which case it will be conducted by the Deputy Captain.

Britannia, which launched in 2015 and became the fleet’s new flagship, is the only P&O Cruises vessel to maintain the British flag of registry as a nod to the line’s history and heritage. This, unfortunately, means that no passengers are currently able to get married on board the ship.

Other lines with British heritage, including Cunard and Princess Cruises, with vessels sailing under the Bermudan flag, will also follow suit in offering same-sex marriage ceremonies on board their ships.

Cruising continues to evolve to meet the individual needs of passengers, with new amenities, facilities and services being offered across the industry. This has collectively led to cruising becoming one of the most diverse and accessible methods of holiday travel in the 21st century.

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