I found a document on the Vatican's web site that is of great significance for all cruisers who are members of the Catholic Church. The primary thrust of the motu proprio Stella maris
is a reorganization of the maritime apostolate, which coordinates the assignment of Catholic chaplains to the maritime community, including chaplains aboard the ships of some cruise lines. Nonetheless, Section 2 of the document grants special canonical privileges to everybody who has ever taken a cruise vacation
. Unfortunately, I don't know many pastors who are aware of this. In fact, I was so surprised by the broadness of the document's definition of the term "seafarers" ("those actually on board merchant ships or fishing vessels, and all who for whatever reason have undertaken a voyage by ship
" -- emphasis added) that I took the precaution of verifying it with a canon lawyer before posting this information! Note, also, that all "seafarers" are automatically "maritime personnel" and "people of the sea" as defined therein.
After defining these terms, Section 2 of this document goes on to grant the following special privileges.
1. If you have ever been on a cruise vacation, you may fulfill your "Easter Duty" at any time of year. (And many of us will continue to do so at the Easter Vigil....)
2. If you have ever been on a cruise vacation, you are not bound by the laws of fast and abstinance. The document does, however, "advise" (1) substitution of another work of piety when taking advantage of this dispensation and (2) observance of both, as far as possible, on Good Friday in memory of the Lord's passion.
3. On 02 August, you may obtain a plenary indulgence, either for the living or the deceased, by praying the Lord's prayer and the Creed for the intentions of the Bishop of Rome in an established oratory (chapel) aboard ship or, aboard a ship that does not have an established oratory, before a sacred image such as a crucifix, an icon, or a statue or picture of a saint.
4. On 02 November, you may obtain a plenary indulgence for the deceased in the same manner.
Unfortunately, many chaplains assigned to cruise ships also are not aware of this.