Cruise Chaplaincy

Apostleship of the Sea cruise chaplains provide cruise companies with a spiritual and pastoral service for both passengers and crew. This ministry varies according to the particular ship and the needs of those on board.

The demand for AoS cruise chaplains continues to grow each year. Cruise lines are realising that having a chaplain on board a ship can be of great benefit to both crew and passengers. The cruise chaplains also provide a link to our chaplains who work in many of the world’s ports. When a cruise ship is in port, our chaplains there are available to assist the members of the crew in any way they can. Cruise chaplaincy is part of AoS’s broader work of supporting seafarers working on merchant and fishing vessels and also their families back home.

Who we work with
■ Azamara Club Cruises
■ Celebrity Cruises
■ Costa Cruises
■ Holland America Line
■ Iberocruceros
■ Norwegian Cruise Line
■ P & O Cruises
■ Royal Caribbean International
■ RCCL Pullmantur Cruises
■ Star Cruises


A lovely thank you gift from a  grateful ship's company  to Fr Aidan Cannon, one of our cruise chaplains who spent time onboard the Oriana ministering to the crew before and during Christmas. On the day before he left the ship, Fr Aidan was asked to join in the Crew Presentation Ceremony, when the captain presents certificates to crew for their exceptional work.

Imagine his surprise when at the end of the ceremony, the captain called Fr Aidan and presented him with a plaque from the entire ship's company with the inscription "Presented by a very grateful Ship's Company to Father Aidan Cannon.  MV ORIANA January 6th 2014."  Fr Aidan says, "I was overwhelmed by this presentation and found it very difficult to hold back my tears as I thanked the captain and the ship's company for honouring me in this way."

Fr Aidan Cannon gets an award from the Oriana's master Captain David Pembridge

Fr Aidan receives his plaque. With him is the Oriana's master Captain David Pembridge.

Our cruise chaplains were busy during the Christmas and New Year celebrations providing pastoral and practical support to crewmembers onboard cruiseships. Many crew were grateful for their ministry, especially those who were affected by the Philippines Typhoon. Below is an excerpt from an email sent by a crewmember to one of our cruise chaplains. It truly highlights the value of the cruise chaplaincy ministry that AoS provides.

On behalf of the crew on board we would like to thank you all for the support given to us crew on board ships…in times our country of Philippines needed support morally and spiritually.  We seldom have the chance to hear Mass when we are on board. It would be nice to have a priest all the time on board to support our faith requirement and comfort us in times of need as things do happen at home. Crew tend to turn to alcohol and other vices for comfort instead of prayers and proper guidance. It helps better if we could have regular faith support from the company, they hire crew of different religion, I wish they also support each faith requirement. Fr. Peter Geldard supported us during the Christmas cruise in every request for Mass and prayer session required. Fr. Angelo is also very supportive and Fr. Joseph from Spain is very supportive and very pro crew. We thank you all for spending time with us.”

Fr John Seddon celebrated Mass with the crew of the cruise ship Fr Aidan O'Connor with officers and crew of a cruiseship

Our cruise chaplains were deployed across the world to support crewmembers of cruiseships affected by the recent Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Below, two of our chaplains share their experiences;

At the request of Carnival UK, a major cruise operator, AoS has to date deployed 20 cruise chaplains onboard nine cruise ships worldwide to assist crewmembers. Its chaplains have been helping crew deal with missing relatives and destroyed homes, as well as providing practical support such as phone cards. 

Southampton chaplain Reverend Roger Stone (in picture below) who sailed on two cruise ships says he spent a lot of time listening and comforting crew. “One man lost many members of his family. Several were anxiously waiting to learn whether their parents, siblings and children were alive. One female seafarer is still waiting to speak to her mother and daughter although she now knows they are alive. Crew are staying on board to earn money to pay for food and repair their homes. The cost of everything has gone up so they need to do this more than ever,” he said, adding he had provided many with free phone cards, internet access and money to send to their families. 

Another cruise chaplain, Father Paul Fitzpatrick, was on board a vessel with around 200 Filipino crew. “The crew are like family and have a close bond between them. All of them have to a greater or lesser degree been affected by the typhoon and Filipino crew.” 

Reverend Roger Stone provides support to Filipino cruiseship crew

At the cruise chaplaincy briefing in September 2013, former Costa cruiseship crewmember Jo Utteridge (below) shared her experience of working onboard. She stressed how chaplains played an important role in the lives of crew. You can download her sharing here.

Jo Utteridge

To read our latest Cruise Chaplaincy Review then click here to download the pdf document.