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Legally marry gay on land…honeymoon at sea!

In honor of Brazil granting civil unions to GLBT people this week, you might be interested to know that Brazil joins a growing list of countries (currently just over 20) to offer some sort of legal unions for gay people.

But what if you want to really get married? Here are the countries where you can currently do it (although some impose restrictions which prevent average tourists from marrying—Canada is your best bet*), along with their major cruise ports:

  • ARGENTINA. Gay marriage became legal in 2010. The country is an amazing place for gay travel, especially Buenos Aires where you can even take gay tango lessons.
    • Major cruise port: Buenos Aires is the main port. Rent an apartment (it’s easy and relatively inexpensive, I used this agency) and stay a while.
    • Perfect time to get married: December 2011, then you can honeymoon on the first all-gay cruise organized by Argentinos themselves. Check it out.
    • Residency Restrictions: Yes. One of you needs to be a resident, but you can work that out. You will need to speak good Spanish or hire an interpreter to help you sort the legalese.
  • BELGIUM. Gay  marriage became legal in 2003. They were the 2nd country to legalise, following The Netherlands.
    • Major cruise ports: Ships call on Antwerp and Zeebrugge (for Brugge and Brussels).
    • Residency Restrictions: Yes, at least one of you will need to have resided (and registered) in Belgium for three months; if you’ve got the time you could learn to make Belgian chocolate to ice your wedding cake.
  • CANADA. Gay marriage became legal in 2005. For most North American MMOB members, this is the place where marriage makes sense. Anyone can be married in Canada, regardless of citizenship or residency. Rules for getting it done vary slightly by province.
    • Canada’s major cruise ports (city links will take you to provincial marriage rules):
    • Vancouver: Among the world’s most visually stunning port cities with a thriving gay community. Weddings on the beach are popular, but true cruise fans should get married on a privately arranged harbor cruise! Click here for suggested Vancouver cruise hotels.
    • Montreal: Fun, very romantic place. Get married there and you may feel like the whole city is celebrating your love. Click here for suggested Montreal cruise hotels.
    • Halifax: On Canada’s far eastern shores, many cruises stop here between the U.S. Northeast and Montreal.
    • Residency Restrictions: No.
  • ICELAND. Gay marriage became legal in 2010. Iceland is well-known for it’s welcoming of gay travelers. A few cruises touch its shores, including transatlantic crossings by the major lines.
    • Major cruise port: Reykjavik.
    • Residency Restrictions: No.
  • THE NETHERLANDS. The first country in the world to legalize gay marriage (2001) is, of course, home to one of the all-time great port cities.
    • Major cruise port: Amsterdam.
    • Residency Restrictions: Yes. If one of you is not a Dutch national, don’t bother. Gaining residency is a lengthy process.
  • MEXICO. Another easy choice for North Americans as two non-Mexicans can easily arrange their marriage. Gay marriages are currently performed only in Mexico City, but recognized nationally…so you won’t be able to get married on the beaches of P.V. or Cancun!
    • Major cruise ports (closest to Mexico City):
      • Acapulco (west coast)
      • Veracruz (east coast), few ships currently stop here
    • Residency Restrictions: No.
  • NORWAY. No surprise that always-progressive Norway offers gay marriage (2009). Practically the whole country is a cruise destination, and Norwegian line Hurtigruten runs coastal cruises year-round. The winter itineraries are supposed to be magical.
    • Major cruise port: Oslo
    • Residency Restrictions: No, but a bit of paperwork is required. Start in advance from home…then get married and sail Norway!
  • PORTUGAL. Legal since 2010…Spain’s gorgeous next door neighbour is now on board the trend.
    • Major cruise ports:
      • Funchal, Madeira—great island destination in the Atlantic…you may have forgotten it’s Portuguese!
      • Lisbon, Porto
    • Residency Restrictions: Yes, but only requires you to be in-country (and register that in-country time with the government so they know you’re legit) for 30 days prior to the wedding.
  • SOUTH AFRICA. In 2006 the southernmost country in Africa made global headlines—becoming the only country on the often homophobic continent to legalize gay marriage.
    • Major cruise port: Capetown
    • Residency Restrictions: No…go get married and then jump on board a Cunard world cruise!
  • SPAIN. Gay-popular Spain, thought to be a conservative-religious stronghold, surprised us all when they legalized gay marriage in 2005—the world’s 4th country to do so.
    • Major cruise ports: Barcelona, Malaga. Many cruises on our gay cruise calendar stop in Spain! Check it out now.
    • Residency Restrictions: Yes. Get married in Canada, then head to your Mediterranean cruise!
  • SWEDEN. Ah, the Swedes…all blond and beautiful. At least that’s what it seemed like to me! Sweden is wonderfully gay-friendly, and adopted gay marriage in 2009. Look for the term “Baltic” on our Cruise Calendar and you’ll likely find cruises stopping in Sweden.
    • Major Cruise Port: Stockholm
    • Residency Requirement: No, but some paperwork involved.

What do you think? Are you legally married? Did you honeymoon on a cruise? Comment below now!

*Note: While I’ve done lots of research on these destinations, I’m not a lawyer or immigration expert: before planning a wedding in another country, do extensive homework to make sure you qualify under their laws.


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  • David Galban

    You let out of the list Colombia (South America). I got married with my partner in Bogota last year

  • http://www.meetmeonboard.com Randall Shirley

    Thanks for that, David. According to my research, Columbia doesn’t actually call it “marriage,” even though it equates marriage just as it does in many other places. What led you guys to choose Columbia to seal the deal?

  • http://www.BearCruiseUSA.com Arno

    I am organizing a Bear Cruise out of Malaga Spain in October to Portugal and the Canary Islands. A wonderful trip on Royal Caribbean. With a few days before the cruise in Torremolinos where you can get legally married. Check out http://www.BearCruiseUSA.com for more Information.

  • Todd

    Jeff and I were married in 2006 onboard the Dawn Princess while docked at Canada Place. After our ceremony and paperwork our marriage officiant left the ship before we set sail for an overnight cruise with 50 of our closest friends and family members.

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