Whatever your faith there is no doubt you will find a faith-based cruise or tour very uplifting and rewarding. These tours are put together by some of the big tour companies as well as some not that are not so well known but have been in the tour industry for many years.
Religious travel, though not new, is a growing segment of the travel industry. Many church groups find these trips not just awe-inspiring, but good for allowing the collective group to relive what they have been studying in their faith gatherings. Travel agencies help the church leaders find the one tour or trip that fits the needs of their particular group whether it is a tour that follows the Footsteps of St. Paul, a visit to the ancient Holy Land or a tour of the world's oldest churches and shrines.
Of course, many folks who have visited some of the ancient cities on regular tours or visits such as Rome would probably have visited the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. However, with a religious tour you will get the in-depth tour with only those in your own group that includes historical details pertaining to the sight. Many offer morning presentation during breakfast so that you will have an idea of what to expect during the day of sight seeing. This gives you an idea of what to look for and to be ready with questions for the guide if necessary.
Sometimes, they will show a video of what may have taken place in ancient times and when you get to the sight you have more of a feeling of what occurred hundreds of years ago. Very powerful.
There are numerous options for these types of trips; here are some being offered for 2011 (some may have to be adjusted due to the unrest in Egypt).
Journey Through the Holy Land: In Israel you visit the many biblical sights in Bethlehem, Valley of Elah, Jaffa, Caesarea, Carmel Mountains, Cana, Galilee, Nazareth, kibbutzim, the Mount of Beatitudes, Sea of Galilee, and along the Dead Sea.
Footsteps of St. Paul: Greece and Turkey. Visit sights from the New Testament in Athens, Thessalonika, Veria, Kalambaka, Meteora, then step aboard the cruise vessel in Pireaus for a three-night cruise to Mikonos, Kusadai, Heraklion, and Santorini.
Italy Pilgrimage Tour: Visiting the cities of Milan, Turin, Padua, Florence, Assisi, Cascia, and Rome. Highlights include the Holy Shroud Museum, Basilica of St. Anthony, Ponte Vecchio, Coliseum, Imperial Forum, St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican.
In the Footsteps of the Popes - John Paul II and Benedict XVI: Visiting sights in Munich, Freising, Altotting, Marktl (birth place of Benedict), Passau, Deggendorf, Regenspurg, Prague, Krakow, Auschwitz, and Warsaw.
Additionally, The Steps of St. Paul Pilgrimage Cruises have various themed cruises and cruise-tours designed specifically for the spiritual traveler. Aboard each cruise there are lectures on what the next port will bring and the history of the various sights cruisers will be visiting. This company also has a great fundraising program for church groups. Each one set up specifically for each group - a wonderful way to spend time with members from your own congregation all the while you are raising funds for your church or ministry.
Maybe it is time to take a spiritual journey! Get your church involved and make it a fundraiser!
Patty Toppa is a travel consultant with Gadabout Travel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.cruisetraveltours.com.