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Is there a priest on my cruise?


That is the question often asked by Catholics who are going on a cruise.  The answer depends upon which cruise line you are using and when you are going.  Only two cruise lines promise a priest on every cruise:  Holland America and Costa Cruises.  Some others do offer a priest on select cruises, mainly Christmas, Easter and re-positioning cruises.  For a complete list of cruise lines that have a priest on board click here.

Mass with the crew on board
Fr. Jack Treacy after Crew Mass onboard the Celebrity Mercury. Crew members often spend weeks or months at sea without the opportunity to attend Mass, so having a priest on board is a real blessing.

My first inclination when looking for a cruise with a priest aboard is: “this is great, a priest all to myself for the entire cruise”.  But equally important, maybe more, is that a priest onboard helps to provide for the spiritual needs of the crew members.     Often from predominantly Catholic countries such as the Philippines, crew members spend months at sea without the opportunity to attend Mass, go to confession, or receive spiritual guidance. 

Fr. McCarthy on a Holland America cruise.
Fr McCarthy with a group on Holland America’s Veendam. A great experience for priest and parishoners alike.

If you find a cruise that you love, but the cruise line does not offer a priest on board, then we encourage you to consider taking a priest along with you. Often times you find a group of friends who want to cruise together and you can all chip in a bit, pay for the priest’s cabin and not only have the benefit of Mass daily but also be doing a good deed for the priest who probably could use a bit of relaxation himself.  

And finally, make your preferences known to the cruise line. There are probably 25% of cruisers who are Catholic.  If enough people let the cruise line know that having a priest on board would impact their decision on which line to choose, it can make a difference.   

So if you had a priest on board be sure to write the home office and thank them.  If you did not, be sure to indicate that you would have preferred to have a priest on board and that may enter your buying decision next time around.  You will no doubt get some sort of form letter or email in return, but you can bet if they get enough of these they will start to pay attention.

Photos courtesy of Apostleship of the Sea.