VOYAGES devised around hobbies or special interests - from
gardening and golf to film and finance - give cruisers the chance
to meet and mingle with like-minded people.
A cruise with a particular purpose can be a rewarding
experience for passengers, said Anne Campbell, editor of America
Online's Cruise Critic. And when a sailing's activities center on
one's religious or ethnic affiliation, that may be especially true.
Many such cruises are afloat these days. For instance, you can
follow the flock on a Catholic Cruise Conference/Retreat. Billed as
a voyage of discovery into the Catholic faith, the cruise is set
for Feb. 9-16 aboard the Costa Victoria. It will offer participants
an overall view of Catholicism, from creation to eternity.
The ship will have six conference speakers aboard, including
Monsignor Miceal Ledwith, 17-year member of the Vatican's
International Theological Commission. He also is past president and
rector of Ireland's Maynooth University/Seminary, an institution
that for two centuries has educated and ordained thousands of
priests and bishops dispersed throughout the world.
Also aboard will be 22-year-old Matthew Kelly, who has talked
about Catholicism in many countries, and Josyp Terelya, whose faith
sustained him while in a Russian prison. David Parkes, who will be
the host during the cruise, is a professional singer and soccer
player who claims his faith healed him of Crohn's disease.
The ship also will be something of a floating church to
spiritually buoy its passengers, who even can go to confession. And
while the 1,950-passenger Costa Victoria has its own small, 30-seat
interdenominational chapel, organizers of this cruise retreat hope
to attract enough passengers to warrant using the ship's large
auditorium for meetings and prayer.
The cruise sails from Fort Lauderdale, visiting Key West; Playa
del Carmen and Cozumel, Mexico; Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and Grand
Cayman, the Bahamas. At each stop, local priests will welcome the
group's passengers with rallies, music, masses and talks. The Key
West visit coincides with the 150th anniversary of that city's
oldest parish, which has served worshipers since 1846. In Ocho
Rios, where a Valentine's Day welcome Mass is scheduled, cruise
organizers also hope to help the needy. They are encouraging
passengers to offer such things for donation as canned goods of
fish and beef; shoes and light clothing; and educational supplies
such as pens, pencils and notebooks. …