It's been nearly three decades since July 29, 1981, when a worldwide audience of over 750 million television viewers watched as Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana Spencer were married in a "Fairytale Wedding." However, seeing the nuptials live while at sea simply wasn't an option. Most cruise ship staterooms didn't have a television back then and, if they did, the programs aired were mostly old movies or activities taped on board.
Times have changed and when Charles and Diana's eldest son Prince William and his bride Kate Middleton are wed on April 29, 2011 in Westminster Abbey, London, passengers at sea on at least two British passenger lines will be able to watch the event live.
Guests on board Cunard’s three ships–Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth-on April 29, 2011, the day of the Royal Wedding, need have no fear of missing one second of the historic union of the future King and Kate Middleton. Each of the three ships feature Royal Court Theatres–West End in style and West End in size–where the wedding ceremony will be broadcast live.
Queen Mary 2’s Royal Court Theatre seats over 1,000 guests, who will be able to watch events unfold in plush cinema comfort as the ship sails between New York and Southampton, on a 7-night Transatlantic Crossing (April 26–May 2).
“If demand for seats exceeds supply we are able to use our Planetarium and lecture room, Illuminations, which seats a further 450 passengers,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard.
The Royal Court Theatres on the smaller Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria seat over 800 passengers, and they too will be used to screen the Royal nuptials live. At the time Queen Elizabeth will be at sea heading for Southampton, and Queen Victoria will be at sea in the Mediterranean.
“Cunard is a company with an enviable heritage and unparalleled links to the Royal family–our ships were named either by Her Majesty The Queen or by her apparent successor, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall,” Shanks continued. “It follows then that our passengers are likely to have an above average interest in the pageantry of a Royal wedding. We intend to cater for that and ensure they do not miss one minute. Royal weddings don’t happen that often and with our impeccable Royal connections we intend to ensure that our red ensign ships lead the British merchant marine in marking this momentous day.”
The day will also be one of celebration on all ships, with that evening’s dinner featuring a commemorative menu and a champagne toast.
Passengers on board any of the seven ships in the P&O Cruises fleet on Friday April 29, 2011 need not worry about missing out on the Royal wedding as the ceremony from Westminster Abbey will be shown live on board.
Managing director, Carol Marlow, said: "The whole nation will be gripped on April 29th as the Royal wedding takes place at Westminster Abbey. As Britain's favorite cruise line it is only fitting that our passengers should have a front row seat from unique locations around the globe. It will certainly be a grand celebration with almost 14,000 passengers sailing with us at this time."
• Arcadia: 2,000 passengers watching as they finish their transit of the Panama Canal and head towards Puntarenas, Costa Rica
• Aurora: 1,800 passengers watching as they cross the Atlantic heading home from Barbados, next stop Madeira
• Azura: 3,100 passengers watching on the giant SeaScreen by the pool, from Palma
• Oceana: 2,000 passengers watching from the open sea en route to Southampton from Gibraltar
• Ventura: potentially 3,100 passengers watching from Southampton (turnaround day)
• Oriana: 1,800 passengers watching from Palma
Up to three lucky couples can share their wedding day with the Royals, and be married by the ships Captain on board Aurora as they sail across the Atlantic from the Caribbean. The P&O Cruises Weddings at Sea program provides an affordable and stress free way to get married and wedding certificates feature the nautical coordinates of their wedding location.
As Ventura is in her home port, Southampton, passengers sailing on that date will be able to join in with a special Royal sailaway party, with flag waving, champagne, and a celebratory atmosphere.