DETROIT, Mich. – We have all undoubtedly heard of places where miraculous spiritual events have occurred – sacred sites that have drawn pilgrims from all corners of the globe since time immemorial. Such locales are very significant for people seeking a spiritual or life-changing experience, and they are also a common thread throughout the great religions. These are places where the faithful can go for healing, guidance or divine inspiration.
The significance of these sacred sites cannot be expressed in words or pictures – one must actually visit these locations to fully feel and comprehend the sense of awe, peace and majesty they convey. While many of these sacred sites are inaccessible to all but the hardiest of travelers, some locales are within surprisingly easy reach via the cruising experience. In fact, a large number of cruise ships allow access to these wonders firsthand – without the hardship of arduous travel.
1. Paris, France, Mont-St.-Michael. Gaze across the waters off the beaches of Normandy toward a granite island and Abbey that is accessible by a 2–mile pilgrimage across the tidal flat. Thousands cross its waters every year on September 29th at Michaelmas to draw strength from the archangel Michael.
2. Delhi, India, Rishikesh. This city is known as the center of yoga and Ayurvedik healing. It is also the site of the annual International Yoga Festival. Riskikesh became famous worldwide in 1967 following a visit from the Beatles. This trip is best made pre- or post-cruise, as it requires a 6-7 hour car ride from the port of Delhi.
3. Copacabana, South America, Islands of the Sun and Moon. Located on the expanse of Lake Titicaca, Isla Del Sol and Isla Del La Luna are ancient holy sites of the Inca. Yumani, Isla del Sol’s main town, is home to the “Fountain of Youth.”
Sacred places one may visit via cruise ship are:
Asia/Far East Cruises Visit:
4. Beijing, China, Hanging Monastery. A gravity–defying monastery built into the side of a sheer cliff.
5. Beppu, Japan, Beppu Onsen. Geothermal region with reputed medicinal powers.
6. Delhi, India, Taj Mahal. Shaj Jahan’s magnificently beautiful tribute to his wife, who died in childbirth.
7. Delhi, India, Rishikesh. Center of yoga and Ayurvedic healing and site of the annual International Yoga Festival.
8. Hiroshima, Japan, Peace Memorial Park. World peace monument, dedicated to a young girl who died of radiation poisoning from the bombing of Hiroshima.
9. Kanyakumari, India, Ghandi Memorial. Three oceans unite here, and the Ghandi Memorial was constructed where his ashes were on display before being cast out to sea.
10. Mumbai, India, Ajanta and Ellora caves. Ornate temples cut from hillside rock by followers of three faiths, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
11. Qingdao, Tai Shan, China, Tai Shan Dai Mai Complex. Follow in Confucius’ footsteps by climbing 6,000+ stone steps to the mountain home of Yu Ti, Taoist king of heaven.
12. Shanghai, South Korea, Lotus Lantern Festival. A three-day festival where South Korea’s capital, Seoul, hosts a birthday party for Buddha every year.
13. Shimizu, Japan, Mt Fuji. This Mountain is sacred in Shintoism and Buddhism and every year more than 200,000 hike to the top.
14. Taipei, China/Taiwan, Wenwu Temple. This temple is sacred to Taoists and Confucianists and sits over the waters of Sun Moon Lake.
15. Yangon, Myanman, Bagan. In the midst of the jungle, 2000 temples and pagodas from the Burmese empire, built over 1000 years ago.
Caribbean Cruises Visit:
16. Bridgetown, Trinidad and Tobago, Diwali. National Hindu street festival (the Festival of Light) that takes place annually in October or November.
Europe Cruises Visit:
17. Bordeaux, France, Lourdes. Site of the Virgin Mary’s reported apparitions, a pilgrimage site for over 150 years.
18. Bucharest, Romania, Hurezi Monastery. A monastery that was built only at night to avoid alerting the Ottomans – its guest rooms that have hosted the Prince of Wales.
19. Cologne, Germany, Aachen Cathedral. Aachen is Europe’s oldest cathedral, and 32 holy Roman emperors were crowned here. It is also home to Charlemagne’s throne. Cologne also houses the Shrine of the Three Kings, where the sarcophagus is rumored to hold the remains of Mechoir, Balthazar and Caspar, the three wise men who traveled to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.
20. Dublin, Ireland, Newgrange– Megalithic mound, 5300 years old, believed to be burial ground for pagan rulers. It is older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids.
21. Holyhead, Holywell, Wales, St Winefride’s Well. This holy well, built around 1500, is legendary for healing.
22. Lisbon, Portugal, Our Lady of Fatima. Almost 100 years ago, in 1917, apparitions of the Virgin Mary appeared to three children here.
23. Madrid, Spain, Mezquita. Hundreds of stone columns, “Europe’s most magnificent Muslim monument.”
24. Beaches of Normandy, France, Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. D-Day Memorial to fallen soldiers.
25. Paris, France, Chartres Cathedral. Legendary home of the Sancta Camisa (part of Mary’s shawl worn at Jesus’ birth.). This cathedral also has 28,000 feet of stained glass.
26. Paris, France, Mont–St.–Michael. Site of a two-mile pilgrimage across a tidal flat, done to draw strength from Archangel Michael.
27. Southampton, England, Stonehenge. Sacred stone site in England. It’s true purpose remains unknown
Mediterranean Cruises Visit:
28. Cairo, Sinai Peninsula, Mt Sinai/St. Catherine’s Monastery. Where Moses is reputed to have received the 10 Commandments.
29. Haifa, Nazareth / Galilee (Haifa), Israel, Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberius). The site where Jesus chose his apostles and performed miracles.
30. Istanbul, Turkey, Blue Mosque. A mosque built in 1609 with more than 20,000 tiles and 260 stained glass windows.
31. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Cave of the Nativity. Said to be Jesus’ birthplace, this cave (the former barn and manger) hosts the Altar of the Nativity.
32. Jerusalem, Israel, Western Wall. One of Judaism’s sacred sites, it was built in 515 B.C., and was intended as the final resting place of the Ark.
33. Jerusalem, Israel, Holy Sepulchre Church. This church is known as the place Jesus’ body was prepared for burial.
34. Jerusalem, Israel, Yad Veshem. This site hosts a cluster of museums and monuments in remembrance of the Holocaust.
35. Livorno, Italy, Chapel of the Stigmata. Site where St Francis received his stigmata – Mount La Verna.
36. Luxor, Egypt, Valley of the Kings. Home to Tombs of Pharaohs of the New Kingdom (i.e., Tutankhamun).
37. Rhodes, Greece, the Cave of the Apocalypse. St John allegedly wrote the book of Revelation here.
38. Rome, Italy, Abbazia Di San Galgano. Tuscan medieval abbey from 1218 (Ruins), and site of a “Sword in the Stone” left by Galgano.
39. Rome, Italy, St. Peter’s Basilica. Home of Michelangelo’s Pieta. The Pope delivers the Angelus blessing every Sunday at St. Peter’s square.
Middle East Cruises Visit:
40. Aqaba, Jordan, Petra. A 2000-year-old city carved out of sandstone.
North America Cruises Visit:
41. Baltimore, Virginia, Arlington National Cemetery. Resting place for 300,000 American servicemen and servicewomen.
42. Huatulco, Mexico, Day of the Dead. This is Mexico’s three-day “death” festival – a celebration of life.
43. New York, New York, Ground Zero– Memorial museum on the ruins of the World Trade Center.
South America Cruises Visit:
44. Copacabana, South America, Islands of the Sun and Moon. Isla Del Sol and Isla Del La Luna are ancient holy sites of the Inca; and home to the “Fountain of Youth.”
45. Easter Island, South Pacific, Easter Island. Famed rock carvings in various stages of completion.
46. Lima, Peru, Machu Picchu/ Sacred Valley of the Inca. Sacred Incan city and valley in the Andes.