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A nautical backdrop

Throughout the Tampa Bay area, brides grooms are singing "Get me to the yacht on time."

Weddings on board boats have special appeal according to an article in an issue of Motor Boating & Sailing, and they take place wherever there's a puddle of water on which to float a boat.

Florida seems to be the on-the-water wedding capital, where temperate climate makes such weddings a natural.

Princess Xanadu, docked at the St. Petersburg Pier, is the site of about 60 weddings per year, according to Michael Fryer, president of cruise management services. "We perform at least one wedding every weekend and sometimes two when there is a wedding on a Sunday, " he says.

The Admiral Dinner Dance Boat in Clearwater Beach has an estimated 150 weddings per year, averaging three to four weddings per week.

"For the last two to three years, business has been booming," says Tonya Cate, director of sales and marketing for the Admiral. "When you have your wedding on the boat, you get everything for one price instead of having to pay for the hall, pay for the caterer, etc."

Fryer says the appeal of a boat wedding is simple. "Being out on the water, being private. It's a unique experience the couple shares with guests," he says. "It's not an observation _ guests are a big part of the party."

Nautical nuptials have their drawbacks, however. Here are a few that might scuttle the ceremony:

Space limits. Most boats require the guest list to be kept to well under 100. There are megayachts available for charter in many places, however. Christie Brinkley and Billy Joel were married in New York Harbor aboard a floating ballroom of a yacht that can hold up to 300 people.

Time limits. Party charters generally run only three to four hours.

Missing the boat. Wedding invitations may bend the rules of etiquette with engraved threats: "Guest may board at 6:45 p.m. The boat leaves the dock promptly at 7 p.m.

Foul weather. A squall might put a damper on the day, but most charter yachts have canvas above and plenty of room in the cabin below.

Seasickness. Although most nautical weddings take place in calm waters, cautious brides might want to pass out anti-seasick pills as party favors.

Following is a list of some of the boat charters that offer wedding ceremonies in the Bay area.

Starlite Princess

Docked: 401 Second St., Indian Rocks Beach (Hamlins Landing)

Reservations: Call 595-1212.

Cost: Two wedding packages are available. The afternoon wedding package is $21.50 per person. The dinner wedding package is $31.45 per person. This authentic paddle-wheel excursion boat can accomodate from two to 230 people for a sit-down dinner and up to 350 for a reception party.

The Infinity

Docked: Harbor Island in Tampa, but can make arrangements for pick up in various docking locations throughout Pinellas County.

Reservations: Great Water Yachts, 221-1236.

Cost: The rate for the yacht before 3 p.m. Monday through Sunday is $895 for a three hour charter. After 3 p.m. it is $1695 for a three hour charter. Neither of these charters includes food or beverage. The yacht holds a maximum of 150 people. A sit down dinner can seat 66 people; a buffet is available for more guests. The yacht is only available from November to April 19.

Princess Xanadau

Docked: the Vinoy Basin on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier

Reservations: Roalty Yacht Charters, 220 First Ave. N, 898-0100.

Cost: For a party of 30 people it is $1700. Each group of 10 people thereafter, up to a 60 maxiumn is $75.

Europa Sun and Europa Jet

Docked: Europa Sun is docked at John's Pass in Maderia Beach and the Europa Jet ship is docked at the St. Petersburg Pier

Reservations: Call 800-688-7529

Cost: The fee for the captain to perform the ceremony is $60. To receive group rates there must be a minimum of 15 people. Under 15 people will be charged on an individual basis. The rates for each cruise vary, call for information.

The 300-passenger Europa Sun ship is a six hour cruise. The 500-passenger Europa Jet is a seven-and-one-half hour cruise. Both ships offer entertainment, dancing, dining and gambling in their own casinos.

Almost Heaven Wedding Service and Sailing Charters

Docked: 806 N Oceola, Clearwater Bay Marina.

Reservations: 443-0039

Cost: Two wedding packages are available on a 35 foot sailboat for up to six people. For $195, couples receive a two hour sailboat charter and wedding ceremony. For $395, couples receive 24 photos in an album, a video of the event, flowers, cake and the ceremony.

Egret Cruising Co

Docked: at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina at Demon's landing behind the Bayfront Center.

Reservations: Call Captain Harry Williams at 360-8957.

Cost: $75 for dockside service, $185 for a 2 hour trip in the Gulf of Mexico, $300 for a five-and-a-half hour trip. The boat is a 52 Ft. Ketch Gulf Star that holds a maximum of six people

Admiral Dinner Dance Boat

Docked: Clearwater Beach Marina, 25 Causeway Blvd., Clearwater Beach (at the west end of SR 60)

Reservations: Call 462-2628 or 1-(800)-444-4812

Cost: The boat does not go out on Monday. The rate for Tuesday through Friday and Sunday is $23.50 per person for a three hour cruise. Saturday is $24.60 per person for a three-and-one-half-hour cruise. The bride and groom are free with 25 paid guests. The wedding party can include from two to 300 people.

Dolphin Landings Charter Boat Center

Docked: St. Petersburg Beach (behind Dolphin Village Shopping Center)

Reservations: Call 360-7411

Cost: Wedding fees vary according to the number of people and the services required. Custom weddings for two to 100 people aboard a sailboat or motor yacht offered.

Show Queen Cruises

Docked: Clearwater Beach Marina, Dock slip number 18.

Reservations: Call owner Elaine Cremer at 461-3113

Cost: It is $20 to $25 per person with a minimum of 60 people needed for a private wedding party. The vessel is a 149-passenger riverboat with three decks (two of them enclosed).

Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise

Docked: Clearwater Beach Marina, 25 Causeway Blvd., Dock No. 3

Reservations: Call 446-2587.

Cost: This 49-passenger authentic-looking pirate ship offers three wedding packages. One package is a pre-cruise wedding where the couple gets married in a private ceremony before the cruise, $50 for the ceremony and $25 per person. The second padckage is a one-hour cruise for up to 30 people for $260. The third package includes a ceremony performed on the water exactly at sunset for 30 people at $700.

- staff writer Pamela Davis-Diaz contributed to this story

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