Frequency, nature of religious services such as Mass vary from cruise to cruise Often a priest is among the passengers.


November 21, 1993|By New York Times News Service

Q: Which cruise lines or ships carry a Catholic priest as chaplain so that passengers can go to Mass on board each Sunday?

A: Chaplains are not routinely included on most cruises. But often a priest, minister or rabbi is among the passengers and will hold a service if there is a demand, the lines say. Many companies recruit members of the clergy by paying for their air fare and accommodations.

This selection should be of help:

* Sun Line Cruises: Mass is celebrated every day on Sun Line Cruises' Stella Solaris during its 11 winter and 26 summer sailings. An interdenominational service is also held on Sunday.

More information: Sun Line Cruises, 1 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 315, New York, N.Y. 10020; (212) 397-6400.

* Royal Viking Line: Its 756-passenger ships cruise with three clergymen on board -- a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister and a rabbi -- on trips that fall within Easter, Christmas, Passover and Hanukkah.

They are also included on cruises of more than 50 days.

Next year that will include the 108-day "Voyage to the World's Treasures" world cruise, leaving Fort Lauderdale Jan. 7, and the 50-day "Southern Cross," leaving Fort Lauderdale Nov. 2.

The line's other ship, the 212-passenger Royal Viking Queen, often sails full, and it is not always possible to include a member of the clergy, although qualified passengers often volunteer to hold a service.

More information: Royal Viking Line, 9B Merrick Way, Coral Gables, Fla. 33134; telephone (305) 447-9660.

* Orient Line: During the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays the Orient Lines' 800-passenger Marco Polo will include a Catholic priest and a rabbi as passengers when they leave the United States Dec. 5.

The ship sails from Cape Town, South Africa, Dec. 8, cruises the Antarctic peninsula and goes around Cape Horn before ending the voyage in Puenta Arenas, Chile.

An ecumenical service will be held Christmas Eve, and a Mass will be offered Christmas Day. Mass will also be celebrated Dec. 11 and Dec. 19. A priest will be on board for the ship's seven-day Easter sailing from Christchurch to Auckland, New Zealand. More information: Orient Lines, 1510 Southeast 17th St., Suite 400, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 33316; (800) 333-7300.

* Royal Cruise Line: Catholic priests are included at Easter and Christmas on each of its ships, the Crown Odyssey (Scandinavia and the Mediterranean), the Golden Odyssey (North America), the Royal Odyssey (the Orient, Australia and the Mediterranean) and, from May 1994, the Star Odyssey (North America). On all other cruises a staff member will hold a nondenominational service on Sunday.

More information: Royal Cruise Line, 1 Maritime Plaza, Suite 1400, San Francisco, Calif. 94111; (415) 956-7200.

* Crystal Cruises: A Mass is typically celebrated every day at sea aboard the 960-passenger Crystal Harmony, and the cruise director also holds a nondenominational service on Sunday. On religious holidays a priest, a rabbi and a Protestant minister will usually be on board. The Crystal Harmony will make 29 sailings next year.

More information: Crystal Cruises, 2121 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, Calif. 90067; (310) 785-9300.

Q: I am considering a trip next year to view the aurora borealis displays. Do you know a good place to see them?

A: A destination that has been growing in popularity is Fairbanks, Alaska. Large numbers of visitors from the lower 48 states, the Far East and Europe have made the displays the region's newest attraction, says the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The lights can be seen in Fairbanks itself, but the best viewing is done away from the interference of the city lights. Arrangements can be made through the bureau to be taken to a resort outside the city, spending a few hours watching the lights before being brought back again. It is also possible to combine the viewing with a week or more's stay.

The Chena Hot Springs Resort, 57 miles east of Fairbanks, offers a good viewing location, as well as winter sports and hot pool bathing. Another place free of interference is Chatanika Gold Camp, a historic site with lodgings 26 miles north of Fairbanks.

For information, contact the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau, 550 First Avenue, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701; (800) 327-5774.

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