Q & A: Keeping Kosher and Being Frum on a Cruise. Is it Doable?


Last updated: December 5, 2012

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Question:

Dear YeahThatsKosher,

I'd like to go on a cruise to the Caribbean with my family summer 2012 to celebrate my father's 60th birthday, may he live & be well! I became frum about two years ago, so I'm obviously concerned about getting kosher food, keeping Shabbos, tznius concerns, etc. My parents recently went on a cruise to Alaska, and they said they saw frum people on the boat, so it made them think that I could go on a cruise. I want to consider going on one of those kosher cruises, but I don't want my family to feel uncomfortable. Can you offer any advice?

Thank you!

Answer:

Hi Tznius-Cruiser,

Thanks or submitting your question.

I think your question truly boils down to: is it possible to go on a cruise as a Frum Jew, and have non-Frum family join you on the cruise as well?

The best answer I can give is: it depends. It depends on your views of tzniut and/or appropriateness, but overall it is very doable to be Shomer Kashrut, Shomer Shabbat, etc. on a cruise (in my humble opinion, but this may be a question for your local Orthodox Rabbi – which I am not).

If you're concerned from a tzniut level that there will be people in scantily clad clothing, going on an Alaska cruise is your best bet, but that won't entirely prevent you from seeing people dressed in bathing suits or other inappropriate dress – just less than … say a cruise to the Caribbean.

It is much easier to travel with your non-frum family as long as they're comfortable with the restrictions you will have as someone who is shomer Kashrut and Shabbat.

From a kosher perspective, there are two options that I have seen multiple people take advantage of:

 

  • (1) Going on a Kosher Cruise
  • (2) Bringing Your Own Food / Ordering Pre-Packaged Meals from the Cruise Line

 

  • For (1), there are a small number of reputable Kosher Cruising companies including Eddie's Kosher Travel and Kosherica, both of which are known for serving great food throughout the trip, but also providing minyanim, lectures, etc. for its groups. Let's be realistic though – going on a "Kosher Cruise" will not get you around seeing non-Jews dressed in bathing suits or the like as Kosher Cruises typically take over a small percentage of existing larger cruises. They reserve a set of rooms and a dining area just for the Kosher program, but the rest of the facilities are the same. In fact, you could also eat at the cruise's general dining area, should you prefer their selection of fruits, cereal, and other non-Treif options.

     

    The one downside to this option is cost, as you'll be receiving multiple gourmet kosher meals a day, but for convenience and relaxation's sake, the cost may be worth it.

  • (1a) It is possible for you to participate in the Kosher program, and for your non-frum family to go on the regular part of the cruise and pay less. You'll eat in different dining areas, but you'll save a lot of cash.
  • (2) I've heard of many instances where people both ordered meals from the cruise line (which typically come from Weberman's in Florida, and should be done a month or two in advance) and have more than enough to eat. Read this YeahThatsKosher.com article on this subject on Norwegian Cruise Lines. This option is definitely cheaper, but not nearly as extravagant or decadent. You'll be eating fancy "airplane food" which may not be bad, but if you're on vacation you may want a better experience.

I hope this answered your question.

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  • I’ve been on two NCL cruises since I become kosher and one time had incredible food, the other was so-so. I didn’t even contact the cruise line ahead of time telling them I was kosher. They plan for many kosher travelers on their trips from NY and Florida (not just Orthodox per se, but other Jews, many elderly, that eat glatt meat). Norwegian is well known for being the best option for a kosher traveler. Ask for a Manager in the dining room on your first night and they can offer tips on the kosher menus, how to order, etc.

    • Devorah K.

      Awesome, thanks!

  • desireeepstein

    How was it. We have the same dilemma as my inlaws and family are not frum but want to take us on a cruise (Royal Caribbean perhaps) next August. Please share your feedback as we are not going on a Kosherica Cruise.