Cruise Ship Dilemma

Hi, so here’s my dilemma. This weekend we’re going on a cruise and I just wanted to know whether or not it would be considered a mortal sin if I didn’t get to go to mass. I’ve heard that there are church services in cruise ships, but I tried looking on Carnival’s website and I couldn’t find anything. I was also planning on just attending an online mass, but I really don’t know if that will fulfill my Sunday obligation. Please include reasons why it would/wouldn’t be considered a mortal sin and if I should/shouldn’t go to the cruise at all. Thanks in advance =)

An internet Mass does not fulfill the obligation. Either find out if there is Mass available on the ship or at a port or get a dispensation BEFORE you go. Remember, you are not the first faithful Catholic to go on a cruise. There really is no dilemma.

We went on a cruise in 2010 and had the same problem – at sea all day Sunday, so no chance of even finding mass on shore.

I spoke with my pastor ahead of time and he readily gave me a dispensation from my Sunday obligation. That is, he said to me, “Don’t worry. I’ll give you a dispensation from mass.” And that was it.

But don’t skip the step of talking with your pastor – that is essential!

God bless you!


I’ve been on a lot of cruises and there is normally a Catholic Mass on a Sunday and often a Interdenominational service, too - but they do usually state that somewhere on the company’s website, under the FAQs.

I was under the impression that if there was no physical possibility of getting to a Mass (being, say, in Communist China or hundreds of miles at sea) the obligation ceased in its own right, independent of a pastoral dispensation.

And having cruised a number of times, few if any cruise lines routinely have a priest aboard except at Christmas/Easter. One exception, however, is Holland America, which always has a priest as his presence is contractually mandated for their Filipino crew, and that priest also serves the passengers. Perhaps the 6000+ RC mega-ships do, too - not sure.

When a person knows that that physical possibility exists on a specific future date they are to get a dispensation. That is why there IS a dispensation:shrug:

Some Carnival ships do have a priest on board. I know a priest who was “stationed” on a cruise ship for years. At any rate it sounds like the OP needs to find out some simple information about where the ship will be on Sunday. And if a priest is available. That is as simple as a phone call. Then the OP can get a dispensation from his/her priest.

It is quite simple and not very time consuming at all.:shrug:

Just for the record, here is a list of things I have done since converting 20 years ago. And still managed to fulfill my obligation on Sundays. All Sundays.

Long hunting trips in the wilderness.
Traveling to foreign countries in North America and Europe.
Driving across country
Moving across country
Visiting non religious friends and family
Working unreliable schedules
Caring for children
Caring for a special needs child
Wife in labor/just had baby. (4) times
Ski Vacations
Making a cross country drive in a two day time limit and timing Mass by what city I would be near during the drive (thank God for I phones)

Congratulations. You get a gold star. Now, how does any of that help the OP with her question?

The OPs question has been answered. Quite thoroughly not only in this thread. But in the umpteen other “gee, I can’t go to Mass” threads that permeate these boards.
Get a dispensation and do some research!

Thanks for the gold star. I will put it next to the others in my trophy room in heaven.:wink:

When mass is a priority, we can usually get ourselves there, albeit with some effort at times.

Of course, being on a cruise ship is different from being at your own home, or someone else’s, or even traveling on land. If you are not the one “driving” the ship, you really are at the mercy of the cruise line’s itinerary. And as another poster said, cruise lines do NOT have Catholic priests on board to say Sunday mass for Catholic passengers. There may be one on Christmas and Easter, but the rest of the year, don’t count on it. :sad_yes: Note to Catholics: check your itineraries before booking, and check your ports for times and places to attend mass BEFORE BOOKING. (I learned that one the hard way, but my priest graciously gave us a dispensation.)


All cruises I have been on always had Catholic Masses available…

Carnival rarely has a priest or any other minister on board as part of the crew. So unless one happens to be traveling on the ship as a passenger, you won’t be able to attend Mass on board ship. If you will be at a port on Sunday (or Saturday evening), you could try to find a Mass while on your port leave, but there are no guarantees. That’s what happened to us when we found ourselves on a cruise during All Saints’ Day. We got a dispensation, but we still tried to find a Mass. And we went to confession afterwards as well. Probably overkill, but it made us feel better.

Next time, we’re inviting my brother-in-law (who is a priest) to go with us! :thumbsup:

The Holland America line has priests on all/most of their cruises - as noted above, these priests are to serve the crew as much as the passengers. Royal Caribbean doesn’t have priests every cruise, but do for Christmas and Eastertime. Both lines contract priests via the Apostleship of the Sea’s Cruise Ship Priest Program. Priests participating in the AOS Cruise Ship Program are vetted and certified as Catholic priests in good standing with their home dioceses or religious congregations.

I don’t what other lines use AOS priests or how often – check with the cruise line you’re cruising with.

[Full disclosure: there is a priest in my family who is AOS certified and I went on a Royal Caribbean cruise with him this past Christmas. I served at Midnight Mass and Christmas Day Mass - which were held in the ship’s main theater. We were well received by the passengers and crew and the cruise director did a great job of promoting the daily, Christmas, and Saturday evening Masses.]

No, you needn’t worry. God will know that you tried your best.

However, as a Christian, and a Catholic, it is your obligation to attend mass every Sunday. Ask yourself: is that cruise really necessary? Did Jesus take cruises on the most holy day of the week? Of course not! :slight_smile:

Are you joking? I can’t tell. I hope so… because there no need for the OP to feel guilty especially if he/she follows the advice and gets a dispensation from the Priest.

To the OP: Bon Voyage! Have a great time!!! :tanning:

Except for when He did. He was not a fisherman by trade, but there are several stories of Him on a boat. One story where he was relaxing (sleeping) on a boat…

Nothing in Church teachings prevents cruise vacations, wilderness vacations, trips to remote places where there may be no Catholics at all – provided that the pastoral dispensation is received. By the way, cruise ships hadn’t been invented 2,000 years ago.

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