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A Shipboard Honeymoon

by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

It all started with the Love Boat, playing the "television" waters. The program, which aired from 1977 to 1986, introduced a new generation to cruising. Now twenty years later, Americans are still infatuated with the romance of a shipboard vacation.

Statistically, only a very small percentage of North Americans have taken a cruise, so there's certainly room for growth. Accordingly, the boom in cruise ship construction shows no signs of slowing down.

If you're seeking a honeymoon where you can visit different ports of call, but unpack only once, a cruise could be for you. Cruises offer other major advantages for honeymooners. You'll have no worries about the cost of your meals, a wide variety of optional excursions and freedom to do everything or nothing. When compared on a day-by-day basis, cruises offer good value for your travel dollar.

The Spirit, the 15th and newest ship in the Carnival line, took her inaugural voyage in April of 2001. I had the good fortune to be aboard. Elizabeth Dole, wife of former presidential candidate Bob Dole, was on hand to act as Godmother for the vessel. It was her job to make a short speech and break the champagne bottle against the hull...yes they really do christen new ships in that fashion...just like in the movies! We stood silently as the minister blessed the ship, also a long-standing tradition for mariners. Soon, she left the port of Miami and there was great excitement in the air.

With each new vessel, Carnival learns from past experience, improving and adapting their overall design. From small innovations, such as the placement of the hair dryer to a total re-location of the ship's galley, Carnival is always striving for excellence. The Spirit features Carnival's first wedding chapel, a large conference center, a outdoor wrap around promenade, a reservations-only supper club and the highest percentage of ocean-view and balconied staterooms aboard any "Fun Ship."

Like all the Carnival Ships, the interior designs on the Spirit are breathtaking, particularly the nine-deck high atrium and lobby. Unlike other vessels it's located in the middle, rather than forward. From your first look skyward, you can't help but be impressed. The soaring open space and glass elevators are exceptional. Another favorite is the Pharaoh's Palace, the main show lounge, where the style is Egyptian Revival. Icons used throughout the room are faithful reproductions of actual Egyptian statuary and art.

From art nouveau to postmodern to funky to Egyptian, the public rooms on the Spirit celebrate a wide variety of architectural styles. Interior architect for the Fun Ships fleet, Joe Farcus, gave a personal tour during the inaugural voyage. He commented, "Although the central idea for this ship could be called noteworthy decor styles, it's really a very abstract unifying theme. There is a main decorative style used in each of the public rooms-Chinese for one, art deco in another for example. However, the styles are not necessarily executed in a traditional manner, but rather are more interpretive."

For additional information on Carnival's wedding program and "Weddings at Sea" packages, call the line's Bon Voyage Department at 1-800-933-4968. The Spirit will have itineraries in the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii and the Panama Canal. For more information see your travel agent or go to www.carnival.com.

In addition, Carnival Cruise Lines is now offering a financing program so you can pay for your cruise in monthly installments. Payments begin as low as $14 per month.

First time cruisers should make note of the following:

1) Every passenger is required to participate in a life-boat drill, wearing their life jacket.

2) Allow enough cash for tipping your cabin steward, waiter, etc.

3) If you have a dining preference, (first or second seating) tell your travel agent in advance.

Silly (but true) stats: During an average week on the Spirit, guests will consume...

15,000 pounds of shrimp

1000 pounds of pasta

7000 pizzas

20,000 Danish pastries

1,100 gallons of iced tea


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