The Captain officiates at a wedding at sea on Royal Clipper off the coast of Sicily in Italy.
The Captain officiates at a wedding at sea on Royal Clipper off the Italian coastline.

EVER been tempted to kiss a frozen fish or have your face slathered with a cream-topped custard tart on a cruise ship crossing the equator?

Or is the intention to marry the love of your life on at sea with family and friends joining the wedding party, or maybe renew marriage vows on a romantic sea-going holiday? dressed as a mermaid when crossing the equator on a cruise ship while still a teenager, and has enjoyed many quirky ceremonies at sea since then.

Crossing the equator

The ceremony is conducted by King Neptune (the Roman God of the oceans)  and his royal retinue –  usually cruise ship’s officers join the fun by taking on these roles while crossing the equator.

This centuries-old naval rite was originally seen as a test by seasoned sailors to make sure  new shipmates were  able to handle rough times at sea.

Today, passengers and crew members who have crossed the Equator by ship on past voyages are nicknamed “shellbacks” and those who have not made the crossing before are known as “pollywogs”.

Frozen festivities

In Antarctica or in Arctic waters passengers on expedition ships add ice from those oceans to cocktails to celebrate their arrival in the frozen wilderness. Quark Expeditions’ ships hold a special ceremony at 90N of the North Pole when passengers and crew form a circle on the ice, have a champagne toast, wave national flags, and enjoy a warming BBQ,

Weddings at sea

By all accounts, the most popular wedding venue at sea is on the very traditional Cunard liner Queen Mary 2  (, while on a transatlantic voyage from New York to Southampton. Nonetheless,  most cruise ships hold weddings at sea or in port on embarkation day.

However, before sailing into the sunset it is always wise for those with a romantic union  in mind to check with the intended cruise line as wedding plans can be fraught with complications. Sometimes the legality of a marriage may even depend on where the ship is registered.





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