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How to Become a Cruise Ship Chaplain?

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If you feel called to a ministry of service and are looking for a way to balance that call with you desire to see the world, becoming a cruise ship chaplain might be the perfect career path for you. Cruise ship chaplains accompany crews and passengers on ships and conduct daily worship services. They also make themselves available for ministry and council on any number of issues that a person aboard the ship might have. In the process, they get to explore the areas to which their ship travels and experience many cultures around the globe. While it takes many years of training to become a cruise ship chaplain, it might be well worth it if it combines your desire to fulfill God's call in your life with your own desire to explore our diverse planet.

Earn your B.A. in religion or a related field. While this is not entirely necessary, developing a solid foundation in your area of study will help you when you go to graduate school. Make sure to keep your grades high so that you can get into a good graduate school.

Attend seminary and earn your Master of Divinity degree, preferably with a focus in pastoral counseling. Pastoral counseling involves the study of both theology and psychology. In offering pastoral care to people aboard cruise ships, you will need a solid background in both of these areas of study.

Participate in Clinical Pastoral Education through your seminary. You will be placed in field settings where you get to be in ministry with others. Periodically, you will meet with a group of you peers and a supervisor in order to hone your ministry skills in preparation for working on your own.

Become ordained in your church denomination. In order to work on a cruise ship, you will need to be an ordained minister in a major denomination.

Work for three to five years in traditional ministry settings. You might choose to gain your experience by working as pastor of a church or chaplain at a school or hospital. Cruise ships generally like to hire chaplains with experience, as you will often be working alone when you are at sea.

Gather recommendations from colleagues and your school transcripts. It is then that you are ready to apply for employment with several cruise lines. Some cruise lines may be offering full-time employment, while others offer only contracted part-time employment. Be sure the terms of the position you are applying for suits you and your career goals.

Complete the interview process with your cruise lines of choice and wait for offers to come rolling in. With any luck, you should be able to choose between more than one cruise line for employment. Chaplains are usually in demand because of the great amount of education and experience required to obtain the position on a ship.


Anne Kinsey is a writer, business woman, minister and coach who is passionate about inspiring others to walk out their career dreams and believe in possibilities. She resides in rural North Carolina with her husband and three children, where they enjoy the great outdoors and serve at-risk youth together.

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