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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.

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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 some 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.
Dream CruisesMuslim religious services available on halal-friendly cruises.Muslim religious services available on halal-friendly cruises.
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.

Frequently asked questions

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 attended religious services on a cruise ship? Or have you taken a cruise that didn’t have any worship service? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!