AOS-USA: The Professional Association of Catholic Seafarers & Maritime Ministers

Apostleship of the Sea of the United States of America


home >Thinking about becoming a Cruise Ship Priest?

Cruise Ship Priest Program

  • Screen and approve Roman Catholic priests for ministry onboard cruise ships.
  • Provide cruise passengers validly ordained and accredited priests to serve onboard.
  • Ensure cruise lines are assigned approved and trained priests in good standing.
  • Accessing Priest Resources
  • AOS USA removes the headaches of the application and screening processes from the Cruise Line Clergy Assignment Agents. Contracted cruise lines have access to priests from the secured database of Cruise Ship Priests who have been vetted and trained for the ministry onboard.
  • AOS USA provides all assignment services for you.

It is a simple process and gets quick results!


79.8% of the American population is Christian. (Percentage from Wikipedia) The Cruise Shp Priest is trained to serve passengers and crew of all Christian and non-Christian faiths.

26% of the American population is Catholic. (Percentage from Wikipedia) This is a largely untapped demographic population in the cruise industry, as traditionally, Catholics have not cruised due to Sunday Mass obligation.

90% positive response to seagoing priests on the part of seafarers and ship crew. (Seafarer’s International Research Centre at Cardiff University)

AOS USA now places more clergy on board ship than any other placement organization:

  • AOS USA served 59 ships and over 600 cruises in 2011
  • AOS USA retains a database from 600-700 approved priests from 15 countries.

We are promoting this ministry to all priests in the US (over 44,000).

We have an agreement with AOS Canada to promote to their priests.

The international network of the Catholic Church and the Apostleship of the Sea allows us to provide priests for Cruises with special language and/or cultural needs. It also enables us to staff last minute sailings in other areas of the world quickly.

Catholic Travel Agents and passengers frequently ask which cruise lines have Catholic Priests onboard. The next question is whether or not these priests are in good standing.

Catholic families wishing to cruise, prefer cruises with priests onboard.

Basic Services provided by the Cruise Ship Priest:

  • Daily Mass for Cruise Passengers
  • Weekly Mass for the crew
  • Ecumenical or Interfaith services for non-Catholic Passengers
  • Pastoral care and visitation to the infirmed for all passengers and crew
  • Other religious and spiritual responsibilities as requested

The onboard Priest brings additional value to the cruise experience:

AOS USA Cruise Ship Priests are also available to serve onboard as Lecturers. We have authors and experts in many areas. We currently provide a special Priest/Rabbi Lecture Series onboard Holy Land Cruises for a major cruise line. Counseling and Pastoral Care during unexpected times of tragedy (passenger or crew deaths onboard, accidents during excursions, etc.)

Access to Religious Services and Pastoral Care during economically challenging times, times of homeland security scares, piracy, war, etc, brings a “value added” service to your passengers and crew. The presence of a Priest during such times, can bring a sense of calm to passengers, staff and crew. The onboard priest brings in additional revenue:

The priest receives his room and basic meals courtesy of the cruise line. However, he also pays gratuities, purchases excursions, and buys items onboard. On average, most priests spend $1,000 or more onboard each cruise. Most priests prefer to travel with a guest, who also purchases excursions and items onboard. Many families and friends of priests will purchase a cruise ticket, once they know their priest will be the onboard chaplain. When given a choice, Catholic travelers will often chose to travel onboard a cruise with a priest. They will often pay more in order to take a cruise, which provides access to Religious Services. AOS USA encourages Catholics to sail with those cruise lines that place approved priests onboard. In short, we advertise for you in a niche market!

The onboard priest provides additional Value Added Services for both passengers and crew. In the current economy, all companies are working harder than ever to retain employees with little or no ability to increase wages or benefits. AOS USA Cruise Ship Priests are not just “Catholic Priests”, these are men who are highly skilled in counseling services for all people regardless of religious views or affiliation. When a cruise line has AOS USA Priests onboard, the cruise line can provide additional services for their crew as well as their passengers: Confidential Counseling Relationship & Marriage Counseling (especially for female staff and crew onboard.) Spiritual Guidance These services lead to: Stress Reduction for Employees Reduction in employee turn-over Improved Employee Moral - If the crew is not happy this projects out to the passengers. Participation in the Cruise Ship Priest Program acknowledges the religious and pastoral care needs of passengers and crew desiring quality care onboard ship. In Partnering with AOS USA, the cruise line easily accommodates these spiritual needs by providing approved and trained priests, and benefits by reinforcing the all inclusive cruise experience.

AOS-USA appreciates our Priests’ service onboard for the Spiritual and Pastoral Care of the People of the Sea. Once you are an AOS-USA Cruise Ship Priest, yours is NOT a “free cruise”. You are onboard for service and ministry. This is a unique ministry of the Catholic Church, and one which we take seriously.

We expect each priest to read the AOS-USA Cruise Ship Priest Manual for more in-depth instruction. Cruise Ship Priest Manual Revised Oct. 2017Cruise Ship Priest Manual Revised Oct 2017. In addition, we encourage you to attend the annual conference of the AOS-USA which is held during April or May of each year. Each of these conferences is an opportunity for further education and growth in Maritime Ministry.

Click here to join now.