by Jayna Richardson

Although FamilyLife’s Love Like You Mean It® (LLYMI) 2021 cruise was cancelled due to COVID-19, that didn’t stop nearly 1,000 couples from hopping aboard the virtual cruise that took its place. Many couples were at first skeptical of the idea of a virtual cruise. Yet as the weekend progressed, minds were changed and hearts were opened as couples reconnected with God and with each other—and had some fun along the way.

The cruise attendees, who represented 49 US states and 12 countries, could choose from among 82 high-quality virtual sessions (pre-recorded and live) covering a wide variety of marriage and parenting topics. Acts of Renewal, a husband-and-wife drama team, provided humor and entertainment through skits that corresponded with several of the sessions.

Numerous entertainment options rounded out the cruise experience. Cruisers could attend concerts, watch an illusionist, learn merengue or tango, take a painting class, enjoy a comedy show, or learn to make pasta from an Italian grandmother and granddaughter. Additional options included worship, morning yoga, devotionals, and a hymn singalong. The cruise culminated in a romantic vow renewal ceremony led by David and Meg Robbins.

Many guests expressed that the virtual cruise was far better than they had expected. Here are some comments from attendees:

“It was a great diversion from regular life and fun to feel like we were having a cruising weekend!”

“Was above and beyond our expectations! The LLYMI Virtual Cruise was a wonderful experience growing closer to God and closer to each other. We laughed, we cried, as we soaked in godly teaching for our marriage.”

“I didn’t realize how hard this last year has been. This ‘cruise’ gave us a chance to really talk, worship, and refocus our hearts. We actually played and had fun! We are so grateful for these moments away with each other, resting in His grace.”

“Over the years, our excitement for the cruise has never decreased. This ministry saved our marriage and continues to strengthen our marriage year after year. We loved renewing our vows; that is always a special time for us.”

“After participating in this Love Like You Mean It weekend, we agree that we want to get back to marriage ministry in order to help out other couples with their relationships with Christ and their relationships with each other.”

“I was excited to do the virtual cruise and reconnect with God and my husband as one again. Like most of us during this pandemic, we seemed to drift apart emotionally with each other. I felt this would help us get back on track with our marriage and bring us back to God as the root of it all. My husband, however, was not so enthusiastic about the virtual part of this before we started. Once we started the cruise sessions and excursions and participated in the events and classes, he opened up and canceled other things outside of this just to be home with me and be present with the event. We are now recommitted to growing both together and individually with God as our center.”

The LLYMI virtual cruise proved that you don’t have to travel to an exotic destination to learn as a couple, grow in Christ, play like tourists, and love like you mean it.

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