WASHINGTON, March 29, 2012—As worldwide interest in faith travel increases, the number of opportunities to sail into pilgrimage and go heritage touring are rising.
Want to visit Greek’s island of Patmos, the site where the Apostle John received the End Times vision that he recorded in the Book of Revelation? Or perhaps an Alaska cruise with a leading Bible teacher or musical entertainer would be your this-year’s choice.
Several new Christian cruises are available this season, and takers have the choice of voyages organized by a leading pastor like Charles Stanley or Chuck Swindoll - cruises filled with gospel music, Bible teaching, and casino-free entertainment - or by commercial cruise lines, which sprinkle some heritage stops into their itineraries in Europe and the Mediterranean.
One of the newest faith-float players is Crystal Cruises, which is offering its new Christian Heritage Tours. Travelers have the choice of nine new opportunities, which include pilgrimage, mass, voluntourism (contributions to charitable works) and tours of architecture at ancient sites of religious renown.
“This program expansion builds upon our incredibly popular Jewish heritage tours offered around the world,” says John Stoll, vice president of land and port operations. “Religious-related shore excursions are just one more way our guests can experience the unique history and culture of a destination and perhaps even connect with their own personal ancestry as well.”
Through December of this year, there are some Crystal adventures to consider:
Dubrovnik, Croatia: A pilgrimage to Bosnia, where reported visions of the Virgin Mary have made Medjugorhe’s Apparition Hill an important sacred site for Catholic pilgrims.
Barcelona, Spain: Attend private mass with Crystal’s onboard priest at Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Familia.
Lenes/Lofoten, Norway: Choose from three trips to see the 18th century wooden Russian-style Flakstad Church.
Sorrento, Italy: Assist the 400 year-old charity brotherhood of Pio Monte della Misericordia via a complimentary “You Care, We Care” voluntourism excursion.
La Coruna, Spain: View the UNESCO World Heritage town of Santiago de Compostela from the rooftop of the largest Romanesque church in Spain.
Southampton/London, England: See the carved, canopied choir stalls of the almost 1,000 year-old Winchester Cathedral, once the seat of Anglo-Saxon and Norman royal power.
Globus Faith Travel has several religious programs for 2012, including a Footsteps of St. Paul itinerary that includes Greek island cruises. As one of the world’s most experienced travel companies, Globus offers religious travel which the company describes as “an enriching experience filled with fellowship, outreach, enhanced personal faith and divine memories.”
Royal Caribbean (RCL) is offering cruise itineraries that touch heritage sites such as the medieval castle of St. Peter in Bodrum, Turkey where a museum of underwater archaeology is a feature. RCL’s cruise roster also offers excursions in Scandinavia that include a visit to an ancient Nordic-style church where artifacts date back millennia.
Dr. Charles Stanley, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Atlanta, is doing his 25th annual Alaska cruise in July with Templeton Tours that includes major sites, Christian speakers and entertainers. The ship is Holland America’s ms Amsterdam. Among other cruises of interest to faith travelers is Premier Christian Cruises’ November Music Boat cruise in the Caribbean with entertainment by top Christian artists.
Read more about faith travel ideas in Ruth Hill’s Contemporary Christian Travel columns in the Washington Times Communities.
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