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Presence of chaplain on board ship can reduce crew illness by half

 The presence of a chaplain on board ship can improve moral among seafarers so much that visits to the doctor are reduced by half - one ship's doctor observed recently. He was quoted on Wednesday at a meeting of cruise ship chaplains deployed by the Apostleship of the Sea (AOS). Thirty-five priests from across England and Wales gathered for a training day in London, the first of its kind which looked into how they can better meet the needs of passengers and crew in the booming industry. These priests, deployed by AOS on cruise ships free of charge, are released from full-time pastoral work in parishes for a week or two each year to undertake a cruise. During their trip they have their work cut out as they provide support to passengers and crew on board, celebrate the sacraments and offer a listening ear to all. Far from being a holiday, many priests find serving to thousands of crew members and passengers a great pastoral challenge. Those who work on cruise ships, especially the 'below decks' staff, are often recruited from poorer countries and are separated from family and loved ones many miles away. John Green, Director of Development at AOS, said: "Cruise ship crew and staff are, without a doubt, one of the critical success factors for a safe and smooth cruise voyage. Happy, professional crew not only enhance the passengers' experience, but also promote the safe and efficient operation of the vessel. "That said, being a member of crew on a cruise ship can be stressful at the best of times. Factors such as prolonged separation from family and the proximity of so many people living and working together can exacerbate the effects on crew members of stress. Outlets and opportunities to talk and be heard for crew are important for their wellbeing so that they can continue to work and live in a professional and happy environment. "The impact of a chaplain is tangible. A ship's doctor observed recently that the presence of a chaplain had improved crew morale to such an extent that visits to his office by crew members had fallen by half." AOS was also one of the exhibitors at a major cruise industry expo in London's Docklands last week, promoting the need to address the spiritual and emotional welfare of crew on board cruise ships. For more information see: www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk Source: AOS