The world's largest cruise line and RCMA joined to conduct the first “education at sea” seminar for religious meeting planners.

Sailing aboard the 70,000 ton-Carnival Cruise Lines ship Elation from Galveston in October, the denominational planners learned about the advantages, logistics, and procedures for meetings aboard cruise ships.

Several of the RCMA participants already are involved in making sailing arrangements for groups ranging in size from 100 to more than 1,000 church members. They have found that being at sea leads to a sense of fellowship and camaraderie that is sometimes not as achievable on land.

The popularity of cruising among religious groups is growing each year, with some chartering an entire ship complete with daily Bible studies, spiritual addresses by noted clergy and scholars, special educational features on cabin TVs, and customized teambuilding programs.

More ships today offer a range of facilities to accommodate meetings and conferences of various sizes, up to 2,900 passengers. They also offer customized shore excursions, so the faithful can visit spiritual sites and programs related to their denomination in foreign countries.

Research has proven that cruising has the highest satisfaction rating of all travel alternatives. Cruises have the added benefit of having attendance at all services, meetings, and events be extremely high.

Britton Taylor, convention coordinator, United Church of God, Keller, Texas, said he was very impressed with the seminar and with the possibility of using a Carnival ship as a meeting site.

“It has very good potential,” Taylor said, adding that being able to have 1,000 meeting attendees gather for meals and activities together is very exciting. The convenience of having all activities in proximity to each other is also an important selling point, Taylor said, as are the tours that are available at ports of call.