Church-based Theme Cruises Thriving (part 2)

| August 11, 2008

Now you can have "church" even while on a cruise -- faith-based cruising offers a way to solidify the congregation by cruising together on the high seas.

Local Churches The bonding that happens on these cruises often contributes greatly to that integral feeling of community so important to a neighborhood church. One man who understands this concept extremely well is Dan Green, a member of the Everlasting Waters Church near Philadelphia.

"I've been organizing group trips for all sorts of secular organizations going on about ten years now," he told me. "Then one day I got the idea, why not put together a trip for the members of our own church? Our pastor is pretty popular in this area, and just about everyone in our congregation goes on a summer vacation. Wouldn't it be great to have a vacation option where we could take our Christian values with us? That's when I came up with the idea for a cruise. It seemed like the perfect venue. I talked to our pastor and got him onboard, and then I got to work with the cruise lines."

Green's first cruise, back in 2003, filled over 40 cabins. "I could have filled more, but we waited too long to begin planning that first one, and couldn't get enough cabins from the cruise line," Dan said.

Dan started planning for the church's following year's cruise the week after that first cruise was over. "In 2004, we had over a 100 cabins filled, not counting the ones we were able to give away free to the group's organizers."

Dan's second cruise was much more elaborate because he had the luxury of time to organize everything. "We brought along part of the worship band, and our youth pastor, in addition to the regular pastoral staff," Dan continued. "We focused the cruise on a family theme -- our own family, our church family, and the family of Christ. We had special activities for the children; their own services, so to speak, that supplemented the activities offered by the onboard children's program. Our pastor put together a special teaching series for the cruise, which he presented over several days. We had a couple of sunrise services, and even some praise services at night led by our worship band. Everyone came back from that cruise wanting to know when we were going to do it again. They didn't want to wait another year. I told them they had to, simply because I was just worn out," Dan laughed.

Cruising every year, the Everlasting Waters group has grown from 40 cabins on the first year's cruise to over 200 cabins on the upcoming cruise scheduled for Thanksgiving week, November 2008. "Our reputation for good, wholesome family travel has grown, and we even get people from other churches joining us now," Dan told me. This just goes to show that even local churches can get in on the Christian cruising boom.

Today most of Dan Green's travel business focuses on Christian travel, both group and individual, and plans are underway for a visit to the Holy Land in 2009 in addition to another cruise for Everlasting Waters.

National Ministries Most practicing Christians have heard the names Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, Greg Laurie, and Max Lucado. Each is a well-known pastor with large congregations and national radio and television ministries. In the United States they are considered Christian household names. Many Christian musical groups have attained the same status. It didn't take long for some of the larger Christian travel operators to get the idea of specializing in organizing group cruises built around the popularity of these names.

Premier Christian Travel Premier Christian Travel is one of the biggest names in the Christian travel industry. They run a variety of cruises throughout the year, many of them full ship charters. Teaming up with K-Love, a network of Christian radio stations across the country, Premier Christian Cruises is planning one of their most ambitious group cruises yet, the K-Love Friends and Family Music Cruise. They will take over the Carnival Destiny on January 22-26, 2009 for a cruise featuring such well-known artists as Third Day and comedian Matthew West. Popular Christian-theme speakers will also be onboard to conduct services and bible studies, and even well-known Christian fiction writer Karen Kingsbury will be on hand to speak and sign books.

The cruise is being marketed as having something for everybody -- special singles mingles, dedicated children's programs, teen activities, and of course lots of fellowship and networking. The ship is already over 70% booked and rapidly filling up.

Premier Christian Travel has other cruises on tap too:

  • "Live2Love Couples Cruise on the Carnival Inspiration, February 1-7, with special guests Dr. Gary Smalley and Steve Arterburn, relationship experts.
  • Crossroads Couples Cruise on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas, February 1-7. This cruise is hosted by Ron and Ann Mainse, who will also be bringing along a group of relationship experts and Christian marriage counselors. The cruise is designed as a marriage encounter at sea, with a Christian perspective.
  • Girl's Getaway Cruise on the Carnival Holiday, February 5-9. This cruise is for the ladies and it includes worship services, special workshops with Christian speakers such as world-renowned Christian author Karen Kingsbury, and Christian concerts. This cruise is close to selling out the entire ship.
  • The Music Boat Cruise, which is a salute to Christian music and the artists who create it. Taking place on Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas, the sailing will run May 4-8. A full slate of Christian artists will be onboard, including MercyMe, tobyMac, David Crowder Band, Audio Adrenaline Talks, Pillar, Katinas, Matthew West, Hawk Nelson, FEE and many others.

Continue Article >> Inspiration Cruises and Tours (Part 3)

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