Religious Cruises Find a Niche Among Believers
Whatever your Faith, You can Cruise with Fellow Believers
By Kathleen Broadhurst
For many people of faith today, whether Christian or Jewish or New Age, simply going on a cruise leaves something to be desired. Increasingly, travelers have been turning to religious and spiritually minded cruises as an alternative to the party ships that troll between Florida and the Caribbean.
Many people of faith have found that the atmosphere aboard regular cruises is not what they want on their vacations. Often they feel out of place or sometimes can be offended by the language, drinking or loose attitudes of those on board.
One cruiser (kcruisin15), posting on a message board for religious cruises said “My husband and I also get tired of all the crude language, the excessive drinking on cruises. We love to cruise and will keep going – it would just be nice to have conversations with other people who put God first in their lives”
Even for people who don’t identify with organized religion, they want their spirituality to be a bigger part of their vacation experience.
Many cruisers would like to spend their vacation meeting people who share their values, relax along with their kids in a family-friendly space or reconnect with their loved ones and Spirit in a meaningful way without distractions.
Cruising with Christ
Made up of generally one denomination, say, Catholic or Evangelist, Christian cruising offers people of faith the chance to explore the world and themselves in the company of others who share their religious beliefs.
There are cruises for just about every major Christian denomination and within the broader vein of the religious cruise, there are specialty cruises, designed for singles, or families or couples. Some are tailored for people who want to explore the history of an area or to deepen their faith. Other cruises, say for Christian singles, have a more relaxed atmosphere and provide a space where like-minded people can meet.
Many cruises are centered around key-note speakers or preachers and offer workshops on subjects like “ communication in marriage” or “ bringing your spirituality into your everyday life”. On some of the more low key cruises, there are often praise centered bands lined up for the enjoyment of those aboard.
From high-line European cruising to affordable family fun in the Bahamas, Christian cruises are becoming increasingly popular. Attracting high-profile names in entertainment and ministry they aim to please all aspects of the traveler from the social to the spiritual.
Christian cruises may not be mainstream yet but because they often charter out whole cruise ships from famous lines they offer the same amenities that larger cruises do, like bars, nightclubs, entertainment, pools, spas, restaurants and sometimes golfing or rock-climbing.
Christian cruises often have certain advantages that other cruises do not, like unique itineraries, special activities (worshiping under the stars) and a safe, welcoming environment where you know you have at least one thing in common with your fellow travelers, being Christian
Premier Christian Cruises has many cruises on offer, with a fun modern feel. Premier seeks to break out of the mold and reinvigorate Christian travel. Chartering some of the newest liners, their offerings meet a high-quality cruising standard. One of their 2012 offerings is called Love Like You Mean It, a Marriage Cruise designed for couples only.
With many cruises focusing on music and onboard entertainment, they are designed with young hip Christians in mind. They also have many cruises that would appeal to the whole family and all age ranges. Some of their featured cruises include one which is designed for married couples, one for women only and one for families
Premier sails on Carnival Waterworks, Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas and the Norwegian Sky. Their ports of call are in the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico.
The Holy Land and More
Templeton Tours have a complete range of travel options from tours of the Holy Land, Greece, Egypt, to cruises around Alaska the Caribbean and Hawaii. Their cruises travel on well-known lines, and some of the ships are the same as Premier’s. Templeton Tours are more focused on key Christian speakers and workshops than Premier’s an appeal to an older age range.
Templeton Tours sails on Holland America’s M.S Amsterdam, Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas, Carnival Fascination, and Norwegian Dawn. Their ports of call are in The Caribbean as well as Alaska.
Steps of Paul Coastal Cruises brings to life biblical Greece, offering the cruiser the ability to follow in the footsteps of St. Paul as he traveled around Greece. They focus on the history of the Bible and Greece, presenting famous historical, philosophical and artistic sites as well as religious ones.
JRI Christian Cruises excel at excellence and luxury with ports of call in Europe as well as the Caribbean. They are a good choice for the culture-minded cruiser. Starting at $899 (but passengers under 17 are free on the European Cruise) JRI makes an exquisite treat for yourself and loved one. With shore excursions that include walking tours of historic city centers and museums as well as cathedrals, beach walks and dolphin tours you won’t have to try hard to have a good time.
JRI sails on MSC Fantasia and Holland America Ports of call include Marseilles, Genoa, Barcelona, and Civitavecchia (Rome)
Religious cruising isn’t just for Christians. More and more Jewish cruises are popping up and they are no longer just limited to the Holy Land. Now, observant vacationers can keep kosher on board, enjoy Passover at sea and even have the chance have the Bat Mitzvah they always wanted or missed out on with Adult Bat Mitzvah cruises.
Totally Jewish Travel has listings of cruises as well as overland adventures, hotel reviews, and Kosher travel updates. Their cruises offer lectures and religious services as well as ensuring that all food is prepared Kosher. They welcome all branches of Judaism and sail on Celebrity ships. Their Passover cruise includes a seder ceremony.
Kosherica is one of the leading names in Jewish Kosher travel. Offering cruises to the Caribbean and Alaska as well as Russia the Baltic’s and Scandinavia. Their cruises are sure to inspire anyone looking for a seriously Jewish experience.
With well-known rabbi’s lecturing on important issues of the faith as well as offering many workshops on their cruises, the time you spend aboard will surely be spiritually enriching. Family friendly and kid-accessible, Kosherica sails on Norwegian Cruise Line ships.
Suite Life Kosher Cruises offers the traveler the option of cruising in high style. Sailing on Celebrity ships (with one exception of the Norwegian Gem) Suite Life cruise has exceptional Las Vegas-style shows as well as lectures. They feed not only “your tummy but also your soul.” Their destinations include Bermuda, the Baltics, Alaska, the Mediterranean, and Panama.
Out of the Box onto the Water
Of course, feeling connected to larger forces isn’t limited to people belonging to organized religions. If your views tend more towards spirituality than religion, there are many new age cruises to appeal to you.
Holistic Community has ‘Cruise into Mayan Country’ a week-long adventure into both the water and culture Mexico, from Mayan ruins to hypnotherapy planned for January 2012. This cruise is designed for those who want to consciously awaken their own spiritual power as well as soak up some vitamin D. They sail on Norwegian Spirit.
Yoga Cruise takes the inner voyager out into the beautiful waters of the Turkish Mediterranean for an unforgettable experience onboard a motor sailing yacht. Although not on a traditional cruise ship Yoga Cruise offers the practitioner the chance enjoy yoga as well as visit some spectacular sights, swimming and four-star relaxation all while dining on delicious vegetarian and non-veg.
Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine. They attract an international crowd.
A cruiser (Teresa Cassar)wrote enthusiastically of her time aboard the motor vessel Atlantis:
“I had the most amazing vacation with the yoga cruise group Sept 26 to Oct 3rd. Everything was so great – the yoga, the people, the weather and sights, and of course the food. The boat was beautiful, and the crew was so great – they made the trip so much fun! Honestly, the trip exceeded all
of my expectations, and I truly hope to come back again sometime in the near future. This was one of the best (fun, memorable, relaxing, special) vacations I’ve ever had!”
Know Before You Go
Before planning any cruise it is important to consider your needs and expectations. Who will be traveling with you? What ages are they? Does anybody have dietary restrictions (if so you should let the cruise know as soon as you book)?
What kind of cruise experience are you hoping to have, one that is deeply spiritual, meditative and intense or is you looking to have a fun festive time with people who share your views?
Always research the ship. All of the companies that are listed above charter from well-known and well-established cruise lines. You can check out ship layout and reviews at sites like cruisecritic.com or cruisecomplete.com.
Currently, the most popular ships are the Norwegian Star and Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas. While some cruises do not sail on well known ships it is important to ask the company for details so you know exactly what you are paying for before you book. Often cruises sell out quickly so advanced planning is advised.
If you are looking for a good time, a good environment and some positive spiritual activities along with your rest and relaxation than religious cruising may just be for you. And what better way to enjoy the mysteries of Spirit then out on the ocean with others who believe with you?
Kathleen Broadhurst is a former editorial assistant with GoNOMAD and a recent graduate of UMass Amherst. She travels widely and now lives in Boston MA.
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Kathleen is a writer and photographer based in Boston. She focuses her lens around the globe on issues of sustainability, tourism, and the environment. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @kat_abroad