Category Archives: Travel

Where to meet single Catholics off-line

“Where do I go to find someone normal and still single?” That’s the recurring theme I have heard from countless single Catholics for fifteen years. The bar scene is undesirable to most, and once you have exhausted scoping the pews at Mass and the singles groups at Church, you’re kind of left to hope for the best in normal circumstances of life, like at work, school, among friends.

Of course, since I run an online dating service, I am a proponent of single Catholics turning to the Internet in a concentrated forum like a dating website. But unless you can move your online interaction to an in-person experience in a reasonable amount of time, the online experience can be frustrating. I always recommend that people not waste their time in prolonged communication online, and to get together in person as soon and as often as possible, or you might both waste your time.

Ten years ago, I was approached with the idea of having a cruise for Ave Maria Singles. I thought that was a terrible idea, and such a waste of my time. Catholics don’t cruise, I thought. That’s for old people, decadent people, affluent people, people who have run out of ideas on how to vacation. Single Catholics have no money, no time to go on a cruise, and no interest in that kind of vacation.

Boy, was I wrong. Catholics not only enjoy cruising, they sure know how to take advantage of a ship and its ports. We starting cruising the Caribbean with Norwegian Cruise Line in 2003, and it’s become a yearly escape. For many it’s a reunion, for many more it is an introduction to tons of new people who feel like old friends from the first day of sailing.

Some have called it a floating retreat, because we have spiritual talks, daily Mass and rosary, evening exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and opportunities for Confession and spiritual direction. (Other passengers on the ship are often thrown for a loop whenever they stumble upon these activities of our group.)

Some have called our cruises their essential yearly vacation. “Where else can you take a week off and go where it’s warm and beautiful, eat like royalty any time of day or night, dance till you drop every night, have daily Mass and group rosaries, and be with a group of people that share my Catholic faith, know how to have fun, and provide me with some of the most wonderful and inspiring conversations I’ve ever had in my life? Nowhere except Ave Maria!” (This is a direct quote, by the way, not a blurb created by the marketing department)

Okay, so I was wrong. Having a cruise for single Catholics was a great idea. Pat Baker, I really thank you for approaching me about it and for proving me wrong.

But that’s not all. What about actually meeting someone special and getting married? Would that happen on a cruise? Once again, I highly doubted it. But I really didn’t have a good reason why. I just doubted it because I didn’t want to let anyone down if I got their hopes up by say “Oh sure, yes, absolutely, there is a good possibility of meeting the person you will end marrying while on our cruise.” So best to play it safe and say “Well, maybe it could happen, but let’s just have a great vacation, huh?”

Um…again….wrong. Donald and Linda were on our first cruise in 2003. He lived in New York, she in California. They took their meeting on the cruise to a post-cruise relationship and eventually married. They later brought their children to our Jamaica trip some years after. Ever since then, every cruise has had at least one couple come out of it, and we have a couple dozen cruise couples now married. (The smaller group we took to Alaska in 2005 for some reason produced four marriages, including Matt and Lillian, but I can’t talk about Alaska cruises right now, sorry.)

I think we’ve really created something special as an answer to “Where do I go to find someone normal and still single?” You can go on a cruise with Ave Maria Trips, that’s where. And though we always have most of our group being single, we find more and more people traveling with their family or friends who are married, as well as our married members attending as well. It’s just an incredible way to take a week of your vacation time and have an all-around enjoyable and spiritually uplifting experience.

This year is our diamond anniversary Caribbean cruise. I’m really making this 10th anniversary special with special guest speaker, Dr. Peter Damgaard-Hansen, joining Fr. Tom Morrow and myself. Dr. Peter is graciously making himself available a great deal of this trip, and believe me, you will want to take advantage of him. He is a brilliant man, solid Catholic, and his approach to his field of psychology is exceptional, and thoroughly Catholic.

People are joining this 10th anniversary cruise at a record rate. We already have 60 people registered coming from 5 different countries, with people in their 20s to 60s. Such a special cruise has special planning involved, so there is not much time to register. Spots are going really quick and space in our group is limited. Yes, that was definitely more of a marketing pitch. But it’s sincere, and no less true. You can find full information about the trip here. Spots are going quickly, and space is limited, so please, sign up before it’s too late.

Our cruises are one of the best places to meet someone who shares your faith. And at the very least, it will be one of the best (if not the best) vacation you will ever have. Our groups are what make the trips every time. Be one of our group and have a beautiful impact on the others as they certainly will have on you.

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Join me in Italy this October

This is one of those rare times that I am using my blog to share something I believe many of you will want to know about. It’s about going to Italy this October. Who doesn’t want to go to Italy?  I think you will find this opportunity to be unique and affordable.  Here are the bullet points of the trip:
  • The trip is October 13-23.
  • It’s a bus tour round trip from Rome through Southern Italy lead by our tour guide, Patrizia, whom everyone on our 2009 Italy trip loved. She is friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive.
  • We’ll visit the town where Padre Pio spent his life, San Giovanni Rotondo (which is renowned for the medical research he founded), the Shrine of Padre Pio, the Sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel, and of course, ROME! 
  • We’ll spend time in some of the most beautiful places in Southern Italy, including Pompeii and the coast of Capri (which includes a boat tour -really amazing. The best way to see Capri is by boat!).   We’ll also spend time in Sorrento and the Almafi coast.
  • We’ll eat! There is nothing quite like the food in Italy, and I am a big fan of the concept of eating your way through Italy.
  • You’ll be with a great group of people who share your Catholic faith and are fun to be with.

You can get the full information here. This trip is filling up fast, and the deadline for registering is March 31.  So if you are inspired to come with us, register soon. I hope you can come.  I will enjoy meeting and traveling with you.