Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why "Catholic Cruises" are not a good idea.

I'm shocked to see Catholic news and apologetics outlets have started to advertise "Catholic Cruises" these last few years. This just seems wrong. It seems too much like the American Protestant approach to Christianity, where a congregation is built around a business-entertainment model. That model is the opposite of what Catholicism is supposed to be based upon. While going on a Cruise is not intrinsically immoral, it still seems to me that Cruises are a not a good thing, especially when formally united to a Catholic event.

I can see Protestants having Cruises, there is some logic there. In most Protestantism (not all), there is no sanctuary and entertainment is a key factor in bringing in the crowds, so a Cruise makes sense. Plus, with the contraceptive and divorce mindset firmly implanted, a Cruise is great for those couples who are holding off having kids so they can see the world first, as well as a great place to find a second spouse. And with Christians in general not too far removed from the mainstream Paganism, it seems a Cruise is a venue all Americans should be up for. And that's why Catholics should not be following behind.

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the mention of a Cruise is that of hedonism at sea. That is, after all, the business model of the modern Cruise Ship industry. It's to get people away from home where they can party hard, meaning lewd dancing, fornicating, drinking, etc. While you often do get to sight-see, there is still a lot of "free time" to do those other things when you're captive at sea. This is why Cruises regularly feature activities like hot-tubbing, gay-friendly evens, casual dating, night clubs, gambling, etc. They know people want that stuff, so they offer it. Even regular things like swimming routinely involve women in bikini swimsuits (which I've talked about HERE) and dancing that can involve inappropriate moves and music. I'd strongly bet they even keep a large supply of contraceptives readily available. So the nature of the "boat" is not that of a Christian friendly environment. And it is these very boats that Christian groups pay to rent, which continue their "regularly scheduled activities" after the Christian tours are finished!

Given this, it seems wrong to dress things up so that it will be acceptable for good Catholics to board. While things like fornication and lewd dancing might be out of the question for Catholic Cruises, there are things like irresponsible drinking and bikinis that could very well be allowed to slide since there will be no way to really block them. Also, it's not like this is the context in which to engage in Mass and Adoration, since they're to be done in solemnity in consecrated areas, not some dance floor that's temporarily converted into a make-shift chapel by adding a few rows of chairs and a table.

And what about the cost? The Cruise that one otherwise very good and traditional Catholic media outlet is recently hosting is $1,100 per person, up to $2,900 per person for more luxurious cabins. And this is not including airfare, which is going to be no cheaper than $500. So every individual who goes on this Cruise will be spending $1,600 minimum, and double that if they're taking their wife. This is not exactly chump change, as $1,600 is more than a typical family monthly mortgage payment. In fact, that can easily be a month's mortgage and a month's groceries for a family. To just earn that amount a person making $25 per hour would take about 80 hours (2 weeks) of work to afford this, and 160 hours (1 month) of work if they're taking their wife. That just sounds like irresponsible spending and not to be encouraged. And since the above costs are not including children, this means there are more hidden costs to account for (e.g. childcare), unless the father or mother leaves their spouse and kids at home (which isn't responsible either). Vacations should be about family time, and there are many great options a whole family can do for $1,000 or less.

This raises the question then about who really is able to go on such Cruises. It seems the only people this is really feasible for are singles who are in their mid-20s and those who never married. But is that the audience Catholic outlets are supposed to be focusing on, alienating a much wider audience? It comes of as very insensitive when I turn on Catholic shows after they've returned from their fun and hearing them talking about how great and fun the trip was, despite the fact such an event was totally out of reach for the great majority of their audience. Such things are horrible ways of getting financial support for their apostolate, since if viewers think the apostolate has all this money to blow, there's no good reason to give them your hard earned money to do it. And to make matters even worse, such Cruises often involve increasing the real cost of a cabin so that the Catholic celebrities and their staff and family end up getting their vacation paid for by those who payed to attend.

To conclude, I'm not saying a Catholic should never go on a Cruise. There very well could be good deals, great sights, and wholesome activities. But I think it's wrong to do this within the context of promoting Catholicism, given what I've said above. What should really be promoted is parishes or a group of local Catholics just pay to have the Catholic celebrity come speak, which is a much more responsible use of finances and allows more Catholics to share in the fun. I could go on a tangent about the obscene costs that some (not all) Catholic celebrities charge, but I'll leave that for another time. All I'll say is that Catholicism and the business-entertainment model do not mix.


Devin Rose said...

Good points, Nick. They are an odd thing and definitely not the best idea Catholics have had.

Restless Pilgrim said...

I don't begrudge Catholic organizations doing cruises, but year, it always did strike me as a bit of an odd thing to do...

Anil Wang said...

Cruises are like parties. Just because some parties are wild drug induced orgies, it doesn't mean that all parties are such. There are such things as family birthday parties and Gala Balls.

Similarly, there are family cruises, and even pilgrimage cruises and tours that stop off at holy sites. Such cruises can be more convenient than equivalent bus or train tours...especially for families.

That being said, a cruise just for the sake of a cruise does seem like a pointless and expensive venue for Catholic events and seems about as appropriate as having a Catholic retreat at Walt Disney World. You can do it, but why would you want to?

De Maria said...

Psalm 133:
King James Version (KJV)
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;

That is why its a good idea. When did anyone get the impression that God is against parties? Were not Jesus and Mary participants in the wedding celebration at Cana?


De Maria

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

I'm not against 'Catholic cruises' myself, but I fail to see how a deep spiritual experience can take place on a cruise ship with so many secular distractions. If a cruise is offered, it should be on a vessel where the atmosphere can and should be 100% Catholic.

De Maria said...

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...
I'm not against 'Catholic cruises' myself, but I fail to see

The key words there are "I fail to see". God works in mysterious ways which few of us can see.

how a deep spiritual experience can take place on a cruise ship with so many secular distractions.

There are secular distractions everywhere. Yet that doesn't seem to deter the Holy Spirit from producing Spiritual experiences everywhere.

If a cruise is offered, it should be on a vessel where the atmosphere can and should be 100% Catholic.

That sounds like a personal preference. And if that is what you prefer, there is no one stopping you from pursuing that ideal. But, where two or three are gathered in Christ's name, there He is amongst them. Therefore, it doesn't matter how small a group of Catholics are gathered. They can make a good Catholic Cruise if they so choose.

Of course, no one in their right mind would advise a Catholic Cruise in a gay/lesbian party ship. Or such like.

But what's wrong with the cruises offered by Catholic Answers and Steve Ray?

Throughout the years I've met people who have gone on secular Cruises which took them to Holy Sites all over the world. I fail to see anything wrong with those. I'm sure they would have had a better experience had they been 100% Catholic. But that is an ideal which is not always possible.

I'm at a loss to understand what Nick has against Cruises. The word "cruise" is not synonymous with "fornication". And women's styles are such that they no longer need to undress to show their bodies. Even in Church. Is it the assumption that everyone who goes on a cruise has some sort of mischief in mind?

De Maria said...

Perhaps Nick is not aware that on Catholic cruises, at least the ones my friends have gone on, there are generally priests along to give daily Mass and many daily prayers are scheduled.

Anyway, those are the ones my friends have attended. I believe what they have told me. I've never been on a Catholic cruise or any other. But I see nothing wrong with gathering like minded faithful people anywhere to enjoy themselves and practice and discuss their faith.


De Maria

Anonymous said...

If the cruise is having daily mass and the rosary, I think that it would kill all the secular fun that everyone would be having. At least it would for me. Then if there was a priest on the ship that would definitely put a damper on all of the sins cruisegoers usually plan on commiting.

Anonymous said...

Cruises are great for someone as me who is a widow, nearly 80 years old and not in the best of health. To be Catholic sponsored is a bonus I believe.

Anonymous said...

Has the author ever been on a cruise? Yes, Carnival ships are exactly what he stated, however, we have been on 9 cruises, Holland America, Mass is available every day, met the priests, actually a former Pastor would go once or twice a year. No, evangilizing is not going to happen, but what is wrong with a group seeing the sights with the common fellowship of being Catholic so that when they walk into a beautiful Cathedral, they can feel the Holy Spirit and not just the works of art that many have no idea what they mean, IE, the Pieta.
The only problem with Catholic cruises is they cost more than what you could pay individually, do not know why as the leader usually goes for free.

Laura@MarisStellaTravel said...

I came across this interesting post while doing some AdWords research. I agree with the last "Anonymous" poster - certainly there are some (not most) cruises that are morally reprehensible, but many (especially Holland America and Crystal) are very supportive of the Catholic faith. Many cruises (though not necessarily the Catholic-themed ones) are the most value-oriented way to see certain sites (e.g. Mediterranean, Alaskan and Holy Land ports). I would encourage potential cruisers to work with a reputable travel agent to ensure the availability of Mass on the cruise and to avoid any offensive themed cruise.

Niki T said...

Hi, I may be in the complete minority to this post, however I 100% agree with idea of a Catholic Cruise and Tour site. I have looked this site over and feel as a family this is a nice Catholic family opportunity. I am 28, married for nearly 9 years, we have 2 children 6 and about to be 10. Yes, that was read correctly, I gave birth to our oldest child out of wedlock, right out of high school. However we have been a couple for 13 years and during our marriage I have stood beside him during 4 combat deployments. It isn't against Catholic's to have fun and cut loose, life is meant to be lived and celebrated.

Each day you have the options to choose right from wrong, it's your beliefs that help you choose. And I feel you should live your life everyday as if God is watching, amazing how that is... He does. You shouldn't have to change how you act in public on a cruise to how you act in your everyday life. There are priests on board that perform mass each day as well as go on spiritual retreats throughout the time of the cruise. If this isn't what you are looking for, choose a specific cruise line that is geared towards your interests. As a mom, I do not want people flaunting their lifestyle choices in front of MY children, when I do not agree to that around my kids.

As far as the price concern, it is a matter of saving for what is right for your family needs. There are some cruises that are appx $1100, per pair for roughly 8 days. That isn't overly eccentric for 2 people. Travel by plane from East Coast to West Coast is appx. $500 per person. That is JUST for travel. I think the value of what your getting doesn't exceed the financial cost.

I am interested into looking more into this cruise website in order to see what is the daily agenda as well as events for the children and family bonding time.

Nick said...


It sounds to me like what you're advocating for is not so much a Catholic Cruse, but rather a good old fashion family vacation. I think family vacations are (at least in theory) a great idea and leave good memories.

That said, I think the principles I originally laid out still hold. The Catholic Cruise does not come off as a "fun for the whole family". Cruse Ships are designed to have the children in child care while the parents are off enjoying themselves. That's not much of a family vacation. And the cost also doesn't seem cheap either, since 2 parents and 2 kids will have to register at around $3k minimum, which isn't chump change these days.

Celebrity Cruise Lines said...

I am really impressed with the attitude expressed on this site for being simple, open, honest, caring, hardworking and sincere, qualities that go together in activities

Anonymous said...

dude. i want to go to europe and i want to see the catholic sites. i'm a single woman and i want to be i a safe environment. and i am too lazy to write an itinerary.
CATHOLIC CRUISE is what i googled

Anonymous said...

I found this blog to be very helpful and informative. Question: There is a Catholic Answers cruise that is scheduled for 10/6 thru 10/17/2014 (11 days), on Celebrity Reflections. It is a Mediterranean cruise including Rome, Instanbul, Greece, and Ephesus among other stops. The cost is about $2,700 per person. I think this is quite high, and frankly I was shocked that the fare is not "per cabin" rather than "per person."

It had not occurred to me that I might be paying for the fares of cruise hosts and guest speakers!

Besides the cost/value, however, in light of some of the issues you have raised I'm now wondering about the appropriateness of such a cruise.

Anonymous said...

Now the minimum rates are double that of last time, standing today at about $2,750. The website says that airfare and other things are extra.

Helena said...

My 2 cents:
Has it ever occurred to you that just maybe these cruises attract a different audience... lets say older retired people who have the disposable income for a vacation whereby they only need to unpack once to see the sites and the BONUS is that they can go on vacation without leaving God behind? They can attend daily mass and have an opportunity for confession, formation if there are speakers, and even a bit of spiritual direction. I have also noticed that the cruise companies picked are the more "mature" cruise lines - not the hedonistic Carnival type cruises. So next time to rant on cruises, do some research - they are not all the same.
If you want a Catholic Family vacation, like what you seem to have described, consider Catholic Familyland, run by the Apostolate for Family Consecration. Affordable and totally backed by the Vatican itself. Check it out.
God Bless - All 4 JMJ

Anonymous said...

I consider myself a wonderful Catholic and taking a cruise is so much fun.

Perhaps we should not go to the Mall or the beach.

Geezeeee I would expect this comment from Baptists who think all things fun is being a heathen...but remember God's beauty of this world, it's history and of course our free will to dance ????

Paul Rodriguez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Rodriguez said...

Like most pilgrimages, there are many different flavors. Some more traditional, some less so. Some more loud, some more quiet. Etc...

Our recent pilgrimage was a "Footprints of St. Paul" trip with Steve and Janet Ray through Turkey and Greece. We were 150 pilgrims on a "small" ship that held 600. Most of the other passengers were with different religious groups also.

We had our Bishop and 6 priests with us. The Bishop celebrated Mass daily usually outdoors at a religious site. We had Holy Mass at the banks of the river of Lydia's baptism, right by Mary's house in Ephesus and right by John's cave of revelation in Patmos. Every night we had a presentation on a topic of our faith by the Bishop, a priest, or Steve.

Around 8 pm on the first night many pilgrims gathered together to say the rosary on deck. Afterwards we broke up into small groups to discuss what we had experienced and learned that day. This usually lasted until 10 pm or later. By the 3rd night we had at least 100 people on deck saying the rosary. I even had the staff turn off the overhead music, which no other passengers opposed. Imagine that experience to other passengers...

Nick, I suspect all "Catholic Pilgrim Cruises" aren't similar. But, know that some are a great spiritual and educational experience.

Regarding your comments on expense and pilgrim make-up. We had around 150 people that ranged in age from late 20s to retired folks. One couple brought their children. Two of the boys served every Mass. The cost is obviously not cheap. But, if folks in charge of these things are charging fair prices with reasonable profits; it hardly seems a reason to condemn them.

Maybe you went on a past pilgrimage cruise and had a bad experience; or heard of a bad experience from another. If you are able and willing, I would suggest going on a pilgrimage cruise that comes with strong recommendations. You can then judge for yourself:

God Bless,

Anonymous said...

I get where you are going with this in which I would wholeheartedly agree. However, Catholic cruises are just a way of traveling with some fellowship and being able to attend Mass. Kinda like a retreat. Not some crazy concert and party as the actual worship.

Janet Westforth said...

As a Catholic and a sinner (we all are) remember Jesus was born, suffered, died and was buried but rose again to free us from sin. That is something you must decide to believe or not. Our Lord traveled among the sinners not the believers to let him hear him speak and allow them the opportunity to hear his words as Catholic's do at mass, praying the rosary, reading the Bible or meeting a stranger that could change our life for the better. We must have faith and strength in our belief in God to continue the right path. I did not always choose the right path. It took me many years to find my way back to God. If you truly believe, you know God is a forgiving God. It is not just the Catholic's but any Christian and for that matter I believe our Lord will look upon anyone that believes in their faith as long as it doesn't believe the taking of another human life is acceptable to their belief. Remember anything is possible and do not judge people are trying modern ways to bring people together.

Cheryl Romano said...

Hello Brothers and Sisters,

I am a psychologist, but was a travel agent for over 25 years. I have been on numerous cruises and tours. Like the world, or in a tour situation, the businesses around the hotels, there are bars, restaurants, places to drink, dance and party. This would be the same if a Catholic were to go to almost any large city in the world and stay in a hotel. The Catholic "chooses" where he or her goes. Having the businesses in a town would not make a person not want to go there. If that was the case, nobody would go to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, etc. And, nobody would cruise or tour to anyplace in the world, except the conservative places that have these things banned (usually a Muslim country or Utah, but SLC still has these things). I took a Christian travel club of 250 people to Hawaii to stay in a hotel on the North Shore. The hotel was very remote, so we did have most of it to ourselves. I took over 500 people on a cruise, and because we were a group (especially a large group), we made our own experience. We had our own parties, concerns, talks, worship, shore excursions, and took over the second seating in the dining room. We were very separate. I believe we were a witness to the people on the cruise, as thy stood at the door of our functions and wanted to come in (we invited many in also!). The cruise line was pretty upset after we got off the ship and told my friend who was the representative for the cruise line, and had given us the cruise price, "we would have charged more if we had know that nearly 500 people were not going to drink alcohol or gamble! Their earnings for the week had gone down substantially in those "worldly" areas because our group was for the most part, not using them. Like in a city, just because it is there doesn't mean you have to walk in. The dining staff nicknamed our second seating at dinner "The Last Supper" because they said we were always praying before eating, and having chats during dinner about religious things, and few drank during dinner. Now, you and I know that many in the church like a little alcohol now and then, just not overindulging. But our group did not overindulge, and didn't drink much period, other than soda, coffee and tea.

Catholic Answers, if you read the information, is the only cruise line that has a priest stationed on her 24/7. She has a room that Mass takes place in, so that is a consecrated space. The priest has The Host there. The fact that they choose Holland America exclusively shows their wisdom in picking a cruise.

I don't know if you have gone on a cruise. You can see people overindulging, drinking to excess, and acting up. We are not in this world to avoid people who have these types of behaviors. We are called to be witnesses to these individuals. How better a way to witness than to be on a cruise and be a committed practicing Catholic? Our presence plants seeds in places we have no idea, like the wind blows the seeds from the ground in one spot, to another. Please do not judge in matters that you "believe" are spiritually unacceptable. That is what the Jewish Pharisees did when they saw Jesus sitting with the tax collectors and thieves. In this case though, there are probably almost as many practicing Catholics working on these ships. Otherwise there would be no need for a 24/7 priest. I know on Holland America that the Catholic crew also attends the services.

Peace be with you, and blessing from Our Lord

Cheryl Romano said...

Hi all, I will make one more comment because I thought about it after I clicked on "post". I am a single woman, 57 years old. I have been single all my adult life. I love to go on cruises because I feel safer. One can put their wallet in the safe, and walk around with a little card to make purchases. There is very little crime because the offender has no place to go! I can go to a broadway type musical, or a movie, and not feel awkward. I don't have to worry about the risk of going to unknown areas for food. No taxi's unless I get one on shore, but even then, if I choose a shore excursion I still have no risk of being taken off someplace in a strange land unless I wonder away from the group. The shore excursion leaders count the clients going in and out of the bus at places they visit.

Next, what Catholic would not want to go with their brothers and sisters on vacation? We can talk Catholic 24/7 if we want!