It is pretty unlikely that you will find a priest on a river cruise. At least, we don’t know of any river cruise lines that place a priest on their cruises. You might get lucky and find some folks who have paid for their priest to accompany them and they will undoubtedly ask you to join them. If they have done some advance planning they may have a Mass scheduled at various churches along the way. It is possible that Mass could be held on the boat, it just depends upon the circumstances.
The difference between river cruises and ocean cruises, as we have pointed out before, is the amount of time on land. Almost no days are “sea days” since you are just cruising along the river. This has tremendous appeal for those who want to explore the local culture and history rather than just entertain themselves on board the ship. Many of these stop include places of interest to Catholics as well.
And, in fact, many river cruise lines aim particularly at this market. A year or so ago the chairman of Viking River Cruises,Torstein Hagen, created a bit of a stir when he pointed out that he wanted to cater to a well-healed, English-speaking, over-50 crowd with no children on board. Some took offense at this (seems like nowadays people are eager to be offended by something or someone) but the fact is he clearly stated his demographic and it makes perfect sense to us. River cruises are almost all conducted in English and there is not much for children (or adults for that matter) to do to keep them occupied while on board the ship. But there are not normally any “sea days”, most activities are off the ship anyway.
Now that Viking has expanded from river cruising to ocean cruising beginning in 2015, we still expect the same group of passengers. Their new ocean-cruising ships are much smaller than other cruise lines (928 passengers on the new Viking Star versus 4,000 passengers on some of the newer ocean ships).