Some cruise lines regularly provide religious services for passengers, while others only have services when volunteer clergy is aboard. Find out what each cruise line offers for daily and holiday worship services.
I’m often asked if there are church services on cruise ships, and my answer is always—it depends! Some cruise lines cater to a more traditional crowd, and those cruises are more likely to have religious services available regularly.
Others have services available only on major holidays, and usually only if a volunteer clergy member is available for that sailing.
I’ve compiled a list of many of the major cruise lines and what worship services they generally offer, so you can plan a cruise that suits your needs.
Be sure to read to the end to find out the answers to some other frequently asked questions about religious services on a cruise!
What larger cruise lines offer for religious services
The following chart shows what each of the larger cruise lines offers for religious services on a daily or weekly basis, as well as during religious holidays.
Policies are subject to change, so reach out to your travel agent or the cruise line before booking for up-to-date information for your specific cruise sailing.
Links to each cruise line’s religious services information page are in the left column (if available).
|Cruise Line||Sunday (or daily) Services||Holiday Services|
|Carnival||Services provided if volunteer clergy is on board.||Holiday services provided if volunteer clergy is on board.|
|Celebrity||Services provided if volunteer clergy is on board.||Holiday services provided for Easter, Hanukkah, and Passover.|
|Cunard||An interdenominational religious service is held every Sunday sea day. A Catholic priest sails permanently on Queen Mary 2.||Catholic and/or Protestant services held at Christmas and Easter. Midnight Mass held during the Christmas season.|
|Disney||No scheduled services||Holiday services provided if volunteer clergy is on board.|
|Fred. Olsen||On Sunday sea days, the Cruise Director or Deputy Cruise Director leads prayers and readings.||An interdenominational service is held on Easter and Christmas.|
|Holland America||Daily Catholic Mass held. Interdenominational Sunday service and Sabbath Eve service each week.||Catholic, Jewish, and interdenominational services held at major holidays.|
|MSC||No scheduled services||Services provided if volunteer clergy is on board.|
|Norwegian||Services provided if volunteer clergy is on board.||Holiday services provided if volunteer clergy is on board.|
|P & O (Aus)||No scheduled services||Catholic and Protestant services held for Easter, Anzac Day, and Christmas.|
|Princess||Services provided if volunteer clergy is on board.||Passover Seder service (including Passover meal) and Hanukkah service held onboard.|
|Regent Seven Seas||Nondenominational services offered when possible.||Nondenominational services offered when possible.|
|Royal Caribbean||One interdenominational service per voyage. If there is a volunteer priest onboard, a daily Catholic Mass is held.||Holiday services provided if volunteer clergy is on board. Seder service on the first night of Passover.|
|Silversea||Non-denominational services are held on Sundays.||Catholic, Protestant and/or Jewish clergy will hold services during select holidays, when possible.|
How to find religious services on a cruise
The best way to find religious services on a cruise—whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or from any other faith community—is to watch your cruise’s daily planner.
Your cruise line will offer a paper planner that shows up in your cabin each evening, a smartphone app, or the option of both. This is the best place to find out about religious services and gatherings during your voyage!
Even if you don’t see a worship service or gathering in the official planner, you might still have the opportunity to meet up with others who share your faith.
Some cruise ships have a Community Board where like-minded people can post get-togethers, like Bible study groups or worship groups led by a layperson. Ask your cruise director or Guest Services if your ship has one of these informal bulletin boards.
I’ve even seen cruisers post open invites to faith-based gatherings on their stateroom doors! Just keep an eye out as you walk around the ship.
Frequently asked questions about religious services on a cruise
Some cruise ships have a small chapel on board that’s used for religious services, weddings, vow renewals, and silent reflection or prayer. Other ships use another quiet place (often the library, conference room, or lounge) for worship services.
Religious services on cruise ships are sometimes led by the ship’s chaplain or other volunteer clergy members. Sometimes, the captain, cruise director, or other staff member leads the cruise ship’s worship services.
Or, the cruise line will ask for layperson volunteers to lead a religious gathering, such as a Passover Seder.
Some cruise lines offer a complimentary sailing (or charge a nominal fee, around $50 a day) for clergy who agree to work as the ship’s chaplain. A chaplain leads worship services for both guests and crew, and provides pastoral care to anyone who requests it.
On other cruise lines, you might find clergy members who are paying guests and volunteer to lead a service or two.
Some clergy members are sponsored by an outside organization, such as Apostleship of the Sea. These groups raise money to place clergy on cruise ships to serve as chaplains.
On many cruises, you’ll see a Bible study group listed in the daily program. If you don’t see one scheduled and would like to host, ask your cruise director if you can schedule a Bible study group that’s open to all passengers.
Or, join a cruise roll call (they have them on Cruise Critic, ShipMate, and Facebook) before your sailing and ask if any of your fellow passengers would be interested.
Have you ever attended religious services on a cruise ship? Or have you taken a cruise that didn’t have any worship service at all? Do you think that cruise lines should offer more worship services? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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