Francisco Vargas was nervous on his wedding day. But he wasn’t just nervous because he was about to commit himself to one person for the rest of his life; he was nervous because he was about to make history.
In a momentous wedding celebrated in January 2018, Francisco Vargas and Benjamin Gray became the first-ever same-sex couple to be legally married on a major cruise line. The wedding, which took place on board Celebrity Cruises’ 2,850-passenger Celebrity Equinox, came in the wake of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Malta. Because a majority of the Celebrity fleet is registered in the Mediterranean archipelago, this groundbreaking referendum finally allowed Celebrity to legally recognize same-sex marriages performed aboard its vessels while at sea.
Vargas, who was born in Nicaragua, and his partner Gray, raised in New England, have been together since they first met in 2008. “When we first started off, it wasn’t legal nationwide for us to marry,” Gray said. “I didn’t think we’d get to the stage where we could get married at sea, or even at all, really.” So when Vargas, who works for the travel agency, Cruise Planners, and Gray were presented with the unique opportunity to participate in the ceremony, they jumped at the chance. “It’s an honor and something that I cherish, because we’ve seen what happens to couples when they don’t have the same rights as others,” Gray continued.
The intimate ceremony—which was officiated by the Celebrity Equinox captain Dimitrios Manetas—marks a new era in more ways than one. Among them: All kinds of couples can now enjoy legally-recognized weddings aboard Celebrity Cruise vessels as part of the line’s all-inclusive Celebrity Wedding Cruise program.
“Words cannot express how proud I am to congratulate Francisco and Benjamin at this truly historic moment, both for them and for Celebrity. It’s a true privilege to know that the ceremony performed onboard Celebrity Equinox has made history as the first legal same-sex marriage at sea,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises. “Together we are paving the way for couples around the world to know that their love and commitment is to be celebrated equally.”
“Celebrity has chosen to treat our community with respect and embrace us—it’s an honor and a victory for us,” Vargas said. “Love is love. And we feel loved.”
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