One of the most frequent searches we get are from Catholic cruisers who are wondering about attending mass while on a cruise. This is certainly a concern if the cruise is taking place over a weekend, as most do. At one time several major cruise lines did offer to have a priest on board but I suppose due to political correctness or just lack of interest many of those lines no longer do. There was quite a bit of fuss on some Catholic forums back in 2010 when Celebrity Cruises announced that they would no longer have priests on board their ships. Now only two cruise lines have priests on board every cruise: Holland America and Costa. Several other cruise lines promise to have priests on board for special cruises such as Christmas, Easter or re-positioning cruises.
The rationale for have a Catholic priest on board is different from other Christians in that Catholics are required to attend Mass on Sunday unless there are very unusual circumstances. Being on a cruise…or en-route somewhere…can be a valid reason for missing Mass but still many people want to make this part of their week regardless.
Many crew members of these ships come from predominantly Catholic countries such as the Philippines and are gone for months at a time. Since the ships are rarely in port for more than a day they have very limited opportunity to attend Mass. We would like to see Catholics stand up not only for themselves as customers of the cruise line but also for these crew members by letting the cruise lines know that the presence of a priest on board will enter into their decision whether to cruise with them or not. It would not take many people to get the message across, but if we don’t stand up and express our opinion with our money then nothing will change. Naturally that cannot be the only deciding factor but it can be one of the reasons you choose a particular line. You can then make your vacation part of your vocation, which is to evangelize.