Q. 1. My fiance and I want to get married on a cruise ship, just like in the movies. How do we go about organizing that?
A. 1. On February 9, 2010, the Regional directors of the Apostleship of the Sea held a meeting at the Vatican. At the meeting, it ratified a document to clarify the role of chaplains who serve on board cruise ships.
Among its provisions, the document stipulated that priests should not celebrate Catholic weddings on a cruise. But they should be available to offer blessings for newlyweds or couples celebrating wedding anniversaries. It also stated that priests should offer daily and Sunday Masses, as well as ecumenical prayer services when required.
Chaplains should make themselves available for pastoral care and counseling not only with passengers but also the crew, hotel staff and even the entertainers aboard ship, the guidelines said. Chaplains are also encouraged to attend staff and employee meetings during a cruise to better understand the issues and concern of the people working on board.
The new guidelines asked cruise ship companies to provide chaplains with a private cabin and all standard meals. They are also asked to provide everything necessary to celebrate Mass, including vestments and chalices, and to advertise all the public activities of the chaplain while on board.
It should be noted that a Catholic marriage is a Sacrament that should be celebrated at the Church where at least one of the two Catholics to be married is a registered member as a parishioner. It is a spiritual event that draws the faith community together.
Because of the lifetime commitment that comes with this Sacrament, the couple is expected to participate in Marriage Preparation classes that will prepare them for this gift from God.
There are other benefits as to why Catholic marriages should take place at one's local parish. Documents are readily available to support that both parties were baptized, confirmed, participated in Marriage Preparation classes and are active Church members in good standing.