Who is a Mission Cruise for?
Families, couples, singles, senior citizens, pastors, lay leaders, adult sunday school classes, and Bible study groups. Anyone willing to serve the Lord.
Is the Mission Cruise group limited to a certain number of people?
We limit the group size to about 50 people and we are just a small group on a cruise ship of many passengers. Our group size is effective for ministry as we typically divide into smaller teams (of 6-12 people) for going out and doing the various ministry projects each day in port. We strive to make this a meaningful ministry experience for each individual.
I would like to bring my family on the Mission Cruise. Is there an age limit for children?
Don Shire Ministries has had people participate from 1 to 83 years old! This is an excellent opportunity for families as it exposes you to several cultures and ministry opportunities from the safety and comfort of a cruise ship. Although we have not set any age limits for participants, we suggest that you bring children that can benefit from or have a part in this type of ministry. We have found that children from age 8 typically do very well. We do ask that you be responsible for your children. While in port, we ask that children under the age of 16 are with a parent or another responsible adult.
Can I bring along items to donate to the local people?
Yes. We have many opportunities to give items to the local people. If you desire to do this we would suggest the following items: Bibles (English and Spanish), Bible study materials, Tracts, Devotional Books, Personal items (toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, soap, washcloths, combs, white socks, etc.), School supplies (pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks, etc.), Toys (matchbox cars, jacks, large bouncy balls, jumpropes, beach balls, barrettes, bubbles), Hard candy, Bibles on MP3 players - Call for specifics.
I've noticed that this Mission Cruise seems to be priced a little higher that what I've seen advertised for the same cruise in the my local paper. Why is that?
Many times the prices you see advertised as sales in the paper are for last minute cruises and the inventory of cabins they offer is usually limited. The advertised price is always for the lowest category cabin and many times they sell out very quickly. In addition to the price of the advertised cruise, you need to pay taxes, port fees, and tips. Our prices include those fees as well as the other costs involved in operating a Mission Cruise such as transportation while in port, supplies, and fees we pay our local contacts for the work they do in helping us orchestrate this ministry. There are some administrative costs that are covered by the cruise fee we charge but our Mission Cruise staff all volunteer their time for this ministry. Most of our participants find that after the tax write off, the cost of our Mission Cruise becomes less than what would be spent for the same cruise booked through a travel agency, especially when you consider the fact that most excursions can cost over $100 per person per day.
Can I book a cruise on the same ship during the same week through another means and join your group once I am on the ship?
When we book the cruise for our participants, we are booking it through the 'groups' department. This is different than doing it as an idividual. As a group, they are giving us group privileges such as meeting space, a block of tables in the dining room, and special disembarkation privileges upon arriving in port. This is based on the number of people that we book in our group. We also set up the ministry in the ports and cover the expenses based on the people in our group. Therefore, we limit our ministry experiences to those that book the Mission Cruise through Don Shire Ministries.
Besides the cost of the Mission Cruise, what other expenses will I have relating to this trip?
You will be responsible for transportation to and from the Port of Miami (or whatever port we depart from). This may include airfare and transfers or a taxi (and tips to drivers and/or porters) from the airport. If you drive to the port, you will be responsible for the cost of parking your vehicle. Any cost for nights in a hotel before or after the cruise is your responsibility. Once on the ship, all your expenses are covered except any personal purchases, services, etc. In ports, all ministry related expenses and transportation are covered.
Can I really write of the cost of this trip on my tax return?
Yes. The cost of the Mission Cruise is considered a contribution to Don Shire Ministries, Inc. and you will get a tax receipt for the full amount of what you paid.
Can I write off the other expenses I incur with regard to the Mission Cruise such as airfare and hotel?
Yes, other travel expenses relating to the Mission Cruise such as airfare, hotel, and mileage are tax deductable. Keep all your receipts and check with an accountant or tax professional if you have questions regarding how to take the deduction.
Will these other related items need to be booked through Don Shire Ministries to get a tax deduction?
You do not have to book other related items through Don Shire Ministries in order to take the tax deduction. We prefer to focus on orchestrating the details of the Mission Cruise and have chosen not to play the role of a travel agency.
Can I pay for the Mission Cruise with a credit card?
We strive to keep the price for the Mission Cruise as low as possible and therefore have chosen not to build in the cost of the transaction fees that banks charge for using credit cards. Please call if you would like to pay using a credit card and we will inform you of the transaction fee.
I don't have a room mate. Can I still go on the Mission Cruise?
We will do our best to connect you with a room mate but please call prior to sending in your registration. You can request a single room, however, the cruise lines charges a higher fee if there is only 1 person in a cabin.
I would like to take a day in one of the ports to do an excursion offered by the cruise line. Will I be able to do this?
Absolutely. We understand that this may be a once in a lifetime trip for you or your family and we want you to get the most out of it. Just let us know so that we won't be waiting for you anywhere.
I heard that there are a lot of things to do and enjoy while on a cruise ship. Will I be able to take advantage of these things?
Traveling via a cruise ship offers some of the finest accommodations available and we want you to be able to take full advantage of what the cruise line can offer. We have done our best to plan our meetings and activities around meal and entertainment times. Although we typically expect our team to attend the scheduled meetings, we do understand if there is a reason that you may have to miss a meeting.
What is a typical schedule of a day in port?
Our days are scheduled around the arrival and departure times of the cruise ship in port. These times can and do vary, but on average we are in port from morning to late afternoon. The day starts with a morning devotional and time of prayer as well as any instructions for disembarking the ship and getting out to the various places of ministry (schools, nursing homes, work projects, etc.). We typically get off the ship as a group then split up into our smaller teams to go out to the various places of ministry. All transportation is pre-arranged. When the ministry work is done, we are brought back to the ship. We aim to get all teams back to the ship at least 1 hour prior to the departure time. Once back to the dock, you are free to shop or explore as long as you get back on the ship before the departure time. For our evening dinner, we typically have a block of tables for our group so if you choose to enjoy dinner in the dining room, you can also enjoy fellowship with others in the group. We usually have a short meeting in the evening as a time of worship and praise as well as to reflect on the activities of the day. We then talk about the opportunities for the next day and sign up for the different ministries.