Honeymoons at sea

/ Source: CruiseCritic.com

Is there any vacation in life that's more romantic than a honeymoon? A cruise is a great choice -- it's easy to plan, you get to see a variety of places (how's that for bang-for-your-buck) and you get to travel without packing up your lacy things and schlepping them around. Most lines offer an array of perks to honeymooners, from those coveted tables for two to a slot at the late-dinner seating. Don't be shy about letting the cruise line know it's a honeymoon trip and make sure to let the airline know you're honeymooners, too. You could be put on a standby list for a business-class upgrade.

Perks are nice, but don't expect too much. You probably won't get first choice of shore excursions or pre-boarding -- most ships carry too many honeymooners to be that generous. But even those lines that don't have any freebies (or provide any special packages), may still offer flowers and wine that you can order before you arrive and have waiting in your cabin to surprise your sweetie. Want some specifics? Here's a selection of what cruise ships offer and sell newlyweds to make their cruise a little sweeter.

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival gives all newlyweds a wedding cake at dinner on their first night. (You were too busy at the wedding to enjoy yours anyway, right?) Plus, for $35 you can arrange for the line to decorate your room with "Congratulations" banners, Mylar balloons, and a cake. (Though, like we said, you'll get the cake anyway.) For $45 you can pre-order a dozen red roses, so that they're waiting in your cabin when you arrive. And, for $75, you'll get the "High Seas Honeymoon" package, which includes T-shirts, visors, a camera, coupons for drinks and an onboard portrait, and a bottle of Korbel champagne with flutes.

Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity's signature honeymoon package includes breakfast in bed (which, let's be honest, you'd get anyway), a bottle of Michel Roux Champagne with two engraved glasses, flowers, plush cotton bath robes, and candy for $169. Or, as always, you can choose to order from the à la carte menu instead.

Crystal Cruises
This luxury line is one of the last to offer free champagne and flowers on arrival to their honeymoon passengers, making them a great choice for any husband and wife, especially those 35 and over.

Cunard Line
Cunard doesn't get many honeymooners - though they get plenty of couples who come aboard to renew their vows. Those honeymooners who do choose the QEII for a long, quiet crossing will get a cake after dinner the first night.

Disney Cruise Line
True, you don't have to be a honeymooner to book Disney's "Romantic Escape at Sea package" - but it's certainly appropriate. For $299 per couple, you'll get a one-hour couples' massage, and fresh flowers in your cabin.

Holland America Line
There are no freebies here, but they sure have put together some nice packages. The "Celebrations" package ($79) includes flowers and sparkling wine in your stateroom upon arrival, a special dessert presentation in the dining room, and a photograph in an engraved frame. Or, splurge on the $410 "Just For Us" package. You'll get a dozen red roses, champagne, a pair of terrycloth robes, an in-room dessert served with champagne one evening, a couples massage, a framed 8x10 photo, chocolates, and a guaranteed table for two in the dining room. And, as with Celebrity, you can always just order à la carte.

Norwegian Cruise Line
Again, they host too many honeymooners to give away costly freebies. But you can book one of four packages, including the "Deluxe Celebration" package for $329. You'll get Champagne and strawberries, a couples massage, a body wrap for her, breakfast in bed and in-cabin tea service (which you'd get anyway), a bridge tour, a formal portrait, and dinner for two in the Bistro with wine.

Princess Cruises
Just call them the cheerleader of the cruise industry. This upbeat line decorates honeymooner's cabin doors with streamers and balloons, free. They also offer a cake after dinner on the first night of the trip. And, if you want more goodies, you can purchase one of two packages. The "Honeymoon Experience," which costs $140, includes a bottle of Champagne with a pair of engraved glasses and two long-stemmed red roses on arrival, a framed formal portrait, and chocolate-dipped strawberries delivered to your stateroom the first evening your board. Or, for $420 per couple, you can book the "Princess Honeymoon Experience," which includes all that plus two terrycloth robes, a 30-minute massage each, canapes or petit fours each evening, a bridge tour, and a half-bottle of champagne delivered with breakfast one morning.

Royal Caribbean Line
Check out the "Classic Romance" package. For $99, you get a bottle of Domaine Chandon sparkling wine and canapes for two, pre-dinner canapes and after-dinner sweets on the first formal night, and an 8 x 10 portrait in a silver-plated frame. Or, you can upgrade to the "Grand Romance" package for $250. This gets you Veuve Cliquot and canapes, flowers, two waffle woven robes, pre-dinner canapes and after-dinner sweets on two formal nights, and an 8 x 10 portrait in a silver-plated frame.

Silversea Cruises
This is the jackpot of honeymoon cruises. First of all, since Moet & Chandon Champagne is included in the cost of the cruise, they'll not only have a chilled bottle waiting in your cabin on the first night, but you can ask to have one iced every night (and sent with your breakfast every morning). You'll also get a box of Godiva chocolates on arrival, and you'll find fresh flowers in your room. Don't feel too special-they're in every room. But, while you knew you'd get these perks when you booked your cruise, they do manage to surprise you. You'll find canapes in your cabin most nights before dinner and, on the first night of your cruise, you'll return to your cabin to find a sweet lemon mousse with the message, "Happy Honeymoon" in chocolate.

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