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Do Cruise Ships Have Religious Services?

Do Cruise Ships Have Religious Services?

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.

The Hearts & Minds Chapel on Princess Cruises (shown here aboard Crown Princess) hosts religious services at sea

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 LineSunday (or daily) ServicesHoliday Services
CarnivalServices provided if volunteer clergy is on board.Holiday services provided if volunteer clergy is on board.
CelebrityServices provided if volunteer clergy is on board.Holiday services provided for Easter, Hanukkah, and Passover.
CunardAn 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.
DisneyNo scheduled servicesHoliday services provided if volunteer clergy is on board.
Fred. OlsenOn Sunday sea days, the Cruise Director or Deputy Cruise Director leads prayers and readings.An interdenominational service is held on Easter and Christmas.
Holland AmericaDaily Catholic Mass held. Interdenominational Sunday service and Sabbath Eve service each week.Catholic, Jewish, and interdenominational services held at major holidays.
MSCNo scheduled servicesServices provided if volunteer clergy is on board.
NorwegianServices provided if volunteer clergy is on board.Holiday services provided if volunteer clergy is on board.
P & O (Aus)No scheduled servicesCatholic and Protestant services held for Easter, Anzac Day, and Christmas.
PrincessServices provided if volunteer clergy is on board.Passover Seder service (including Passover meal) and Hanukkah service held onboard.
Regent Seven SeasNondenominational services offered when possible.Nondenominational services offered when possible.
Royal CaribbeanOne 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.
SilverseaNon-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.

Here’s an example of an informal invite to Christian worship service and Bible study meetups I saw on a recent Carnival cruise

Frequently asked questions about religious services on a cruise

Where are religious services held on cruise ships?

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.

Who leads the religious services on a cruise?

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.

Do clergy members sail for free on cruise ships?

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.

Is there a Bible study group on cruise ships?

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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Carrie Ann Karstunen


Tuesday 21st of March 2023

In having gone on some 30 cruises or so, my wife and I have mostly cruised with Royal Caribbean. They will almost always list a Catholic Mass, and I have seen a Jewish service listed. A number of times a non-denominational Christian service has been listed. On one extended cruise that took place over a Sunday, and not seeing any listing for such a service, I went to the main desk a few days before Sunday and asked if they would consider listing one and I would volunteer to lead. They agreed and so we had a very nice non-denominational service in one of the main lounges and I led. They did have some song books and we all sang together. I am not a minister by profession, but I have led a number of services at senior rest homes as well as school chapels as well as occasionally when our church pastor was ill. It really was a great opportunity to meet fellow Christians from around the world and use a gift the Lord has entrusted to me.

Carrie Ann

Wednesday 22nd of March 2023

Hi Dr. Devries, thanks so much for sharing your experience with religious services on Royal Caribbean! Like RCI, most cruise lines will let guests list gatherings and meetups whether faith-based or devoted to a special interest or hobby. Thanks for stopping by and happy cruising!

Holly Plake

Monday 6th of March 2023

Does anyone know if Viking cruise line offers a church service on board? My dad and I are going on a cruise in October on the Viking Mars.

Carrie Ann

Monday 6th of March 2023

Hi Holly, excellent question. Viking doesn't publish any official info about religious services on board, but I have heard from several cruisers that the cruise line organizes services on major Christian and Jewish holidays, as well as when a clergy member is aboard to volunteer. Given that your cruise is in October, church services would likely only be held if there's a volunteer. Enjoy your sailing!

Jack Parker

Monday 27th of June 2022

Thank you for this article. I enjoyed reading it and appreciate you sharing so much of what you've learned with us. With how accommodating cruise ships are known to be, it seems odd to me that the only time any clergy will be found is on their own volunteer basis. On the other hand, that's also a reassuring point to know that the clergy are there because they WANT to be there, not just for a paycheck. I'll be sure to research this topic as I get closer to planning my cruise. I've never been on one and hope to really splurge and go on a long one with a nice room with a view! The hard part for me is that I don't want a room near loud drunks and partiers.

I love those British TV reality shows about Cruises where you get to know passengers and crew as you're along for the ride! Some people are VERY demanding! I guess I understand that but it seems like I'll be the easiest passenger to please. I understand that the crew can't control the weather, and that sometimes life just happens and it's nobody's fault. I also can't imagine being catered to like a "Rock Star" or a celebrity! That doesn't appeal to me at all! If I need something, I have no problems asking, but to have a crew member constantly worried if I'm happy is completely unnecessary! I don't need/want the game show host treatment and constantly complimented. I'm happy when people are just being honest and real. I don't even need a housekeeper every day. It's wonderful enough to have all of my meals prepared for me without having to cook or clean up! THAT'S luxury I wouldn't take for granted!

Then again, I've always been considered the odd duck when compared to most people. I enjoy living very simply. I'm perfectly content reading a book, swimming, having a good meal, doing some sight seeing, and meeting people. I don't need bars, casinos, lounge acts, or exercise classes. At most, if they're having a theatre play, I'd enjoy that. Forgive me for babbling. You can remove my post if you like. It was just fun to think out loud! Thank you again for the article!

Jack Parker

Wednesday 29th of June 2022

Carrie Ann, I found your site while searching to answer a question out of curiosity. After browsing (and bookmarking) your site, it got me seriously looking for the right cruise for me.

To be honest, I never thought the right cruise existed for me since they all appear to be geared towards partiers or families with kids. I still wanted that 'big ship' feel but more low key and casual. I was shocked to find exactly what I was looking for! Oceania Cruises on the Insignia!

It's more upscale but not formal. ("Country Casual" dress code.) I searched your site for information on them but didn't see any. I still plan to keep your site bookmarked because just browsing around I've learned enough to be smart about getting the most out of my experience in the smartest way. Thanks again!

Carrie Ann

Tuesday 28th of June 2022

Hi Jack, I'm so glad that you stopped by to learn about religious services on cruise ships. Since a large number of cruisers don't attend services, it makes sense not to charge everyone to host clergy on board. I like your point that the clergy who are there want to be there!

I also love the rest of your questions and observations! Cruising isn't just for those super-outgoing party people. Today's cruise ships have lots of quiet places, and you can absolutely let your room steward know about your preferences. Thanks for reading, and happy cruising :)