The Catholic Travel Guide
The Apostleship of the Sea (AOS): providing Catholic priests in good standing to cruise lines
Conceived in Scotland in 1920, this Apostolate of the Catholic Church was founded in an effort to minister to the many mariners who often spent months away from their families and had no one to provide them spiritual guidance.
Recognized and encouraged by Pope Pius XI in 1922, it grew to have branches in many seaports around the world. This, of course, was in a time before leisure cruising became popular.
Perhaps of greater interest to you as Catholic travelers is their program to provide Catholic Chaplains on cruises. These cruise ship priests are assigned by their respective national AOS ministries or here in the United States, by the Association of the Christian faithful Apostleship of the Sea of the United States of America (AOS-USA).
Both the national AOS ministries (Italy, Great Britain, Spain and France) and AOS-USA certify that the priests assigned on their respective cruises are in good standing with their dioceses or religious communities.
There have been past incidences where cruise lines used "rent-a-priests" (yes, there is actually such a website) who were not necessarily priests in good standing and it was later discovered by the passengers that these priests had left the Church to get married, or for various other reasons, and therefore were not priests in good standing. The Apostleship of the Sea helps to combat such abuses (although these have thankfully become less frequent in recent years).
1. AOS-USA, Port Arthur, Texas.
photo courtesy AOS