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A Blue Honeymoon

"Can the Captain Marry Us"

By John Martin

It was New Year’s Eve and a distraught prospective bride had turned up at the reception desk. A full bridal party with the prospective groom and a large attendant group of families had booked the cruise, on the strength of having been married at one of Florida’s wedding chapels.

They were from out of state and needed appropriate documentation from their home state that proved that both bride and groom were entitled to be married. It appears the marriage license they had been granted from their home state did not meet the officiating officer’s requirement for Florida at the booked chapel and were refused the wedding. They had not realised that the requirements for a marriage license differed between states. Hence a tearful woman at the desk.

The priest that was still on board who had led the Christmas service was approached. Although he could not officiate, yes, in theory with the wedding licence they had, they could be married once out of Florida’s jurisdiction – and if certified by the captain that a marriage ceremony had taken place, the home state could issue the relevant marriage certificate. The priest was happy to write up an appropriate ceremony that could be used. Captain Chilas was asked if he would be willing to officiate. He relished the idea.

Premier's 'Starship Atlantic' - Wedding took place on the aft deck.

The Hotel Manager and team swung into action. Extra flowers were ordered from the florist to arrive before sailing. A ship’s photographer was put on standby to record the event. The Bars Manager set up the ‘bubbly’. Housekeeping set up a suitably dressed table on the afterdeck, along with the flowers, at which the nuptials were to be performed. The Chief Steward ordered another couple of trays of canapes and an extra Honeymooners Cake – used as part of a regular post-sailing event. We had a lot of honeymooners on this sailing. A band member was asked to set up a keyboard in the area.

After sailing, and once the second sitting in the main dining room was over, the ceremony was scheduled for 10.30 pm, in time for it to be over before the New Year’s festivities were to begin in the main lounges. The Hotel Manager escorted the bride out onto the deck with her maids of honour to the tune of ‘Here comes the bride’. The groom and best man were waiting with the captain. He managed the brief script very well – and then the bottles were popped, glasses filled, the cake cut, all under a Full Moon.

During the celebrations, I suggested to the bride that she could not have arranged a better wedding celebration – even if she had time to plan it. Especially as it had been under a ‘Blue Moon’, being the second Full Moon of the month.

The cutting of the Honeymoon Cake.

New Year’s Eve in Funchal Madeira brushed off covid worries. The grand firework display over the harbour went ahead as normal. No fewer than thirteen cruise ships were berthed or anchored off the bay to watch the spectacular display.

Fred Olsten had both of their new ships Bolette & Borealis there to enjoy the display along with

  • Sea Cloud Spirit

  • Marella Explorer

  • Bolette

  • Borealis

  • AIDAmar

  • AIDAsol

  • AIDAnova

  • Vasco da Gama

  • Amadea

  • Amera

  • Queen Elizabeth

  • Mein Schiff 3

  • Mein Schiff Herz

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