Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Kosher >
May 26, 2011 09:53 AM

Kosher in a non-kosher cruise or hotel - is it even possible?

I have shared some of my frustrations with the way kosher food is served at non-kosher events before

And today we heard about a cruise where the food didn't pan out

Are we expecting the impossible?

I am trying to imagine the position of the cruise company going regularly to Alaska or elsewhere and getting the occassional kosher booking. We will set aside the many committed Jews who eat cooked fish and veggie out, and discuss only those of us (fanatics) who insist on a hechscher. And also set aside hotels in cities with Jewish caterers.

So, is there a solution for the well-meaning cruise operator or hotelier in, say, Banff or the Galapagos? They can't afford prepare anything fresh for just one family. What else can they do except offer frozen meals in boxes.

Is there a better solution?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I wish I could think of a possible solution for people like you who imho are NOT "fanatics" just more observant than me and whom I respect alot more than those who say "Oh I am SOOOO observant" until they are faced with a meal of crakckers and diet coke (both certified) or a meal of non certified kosher food and choose the possibly non kosher food. I appreciate your honesty.

    1. No solution I can think of until we enter the Jetson's age of meals in pill form.

      1. As the poster and the cruiser to Alaska, I would like to clarify that I never expected gourmet and would have been perfectly happy with decent "prepackaged meals"

        In this case Weberman's was capable of making some decent dishes. Unfortunately some were not and they should have known which could make the boat and which couldn't.

        I really don't blame the cruise line as they are serving probably what is the only thing out there, and together with the buffet items with Hechshers, one should not go hungry. I don't expect them to cook anything fresh for me, barring the double wrap salmon for those who want it.

        The blame is squarely on Weberman's for making many inferior and unedible products and then selling it to the cruise line

        1. why don't you go on a kosherica cruise? then you have kosher food available to you and you don't have any concerns. friends of ours have gone on a number of them and have only glowing reports.

          15 Replies
          1. re: smtanen

            They don't go everywhere I want to go. Boats that size can't go into lots of small, interesting ports and straits. And I don't really care for cruises, except as a way of going places that I could not go otherwise.

            I often have tight restrictions on the dates when I can travel.

            Lots of people do.

            1. re: smtanen

              I would love to go on a Kosherica cruise except that their prices are two or three times the regular prices and frankly I can't afford to pay over $200 a day EXTRA for food, no matter how good it may be

              1. re: sja

                Wow! I just looked at the prices. You can see the world for a lot less than this, and use the money for something else. But we all have our own priorities.

                1. re: AdinaA

                  And there's your answer. It all boils down to cost. Unless you're resigned to bringing tuna and Tam Tams for a week's worth of meals you either have to pay a premium or suffer with frozen dinners. There's simply no viable cost-effective option for Kosher travel without limitations.

                  1. re: ferret

                    I think people today feel that they deserve the same as everyone else and if they don't get it, then they feel obliged to complain. Going on a cruise not geared to the kosher consumer (like kosherica), you are not going to get anything close to what the "nonkosher" consumer will get. The world is not set up for the strictly kosher consumer;unfortunate but true. The reason why we get double wrapped kosher food is that this is the easiest way to ensure kashrut is held. Relying on an administrative assistant or the nonkosher caterer to ensure kashrut is foolish. A friend of mine went on a safari and brought his own pan. He told the cook that his food was to be made separately. he awoke to breakfast and the cook said - here is your breakfast-bacon and eggs-don't worry I made yours in your own pan.

                    1. re: koshergourmetmart

                      I don't disagree. But I do feel that when cruise ships offer kosher meals, and considering the price of a cruise, they do have some obligations. The should Procure kosher meals that are of a the best quality possible, under the severe restrictions imposed by having to use boxed, frozen meals. Hermoulis does meals that are significantly above par. It does seem that a lot of hotels, faculty clubs, etc. just stock whatever kosher meal their supplier offers. They might give kosher diners the same courtesy they extend to other guests by seeking the best meals possible under the circumstances.

                      1. re: AdinaA

                        It's both a cost and age thing. Until the late 80s, I cruised and crossed the Atlantic on Cunard Lines ships such as the QE2 that had full kosher kitchens and china, cutlery, etc. Wonderful cooked fresh kosher cuisine served at your table in most dining rooms (not the Queen's Grill) and no additional cost.
                        Now that Cunard is part of the Carnival family (Owned by the Arisons (yordim) the kosher kitchens no longer exist.

                        1. re: bagelman01

                          Interesting. I never knew that existed. I've often wondered if there would be enough demand for Norwegian to offer a kosher restaurant on one of their freestyle ships. You wouldn't have a full list of ships to chose from, but that one ship could change routes to offer a nice variety of options over the course of the year.

                          1. re: avitrek

                            Or, they could do it the way some university dining halls do. With a dairy section of the general dining hall that offers pizza, quiche, etc. It's supervised and kosher, but any student can fill a tray there and the observant students can fill their trays and eat dinner with anyone they choose.

                            1. re: AdinaA

                              If you are visiting Israel, combine your vacation to Israel with a Mediterranean cruise. There are very reasonably priced Sun-Thurs cruises, that are completely kosher for the entire ship. They stop at Crete and other Greek islands, and used to stop in Turkey also.

                              1. re: AdinaA

                                I assumed anyone would be able to eat there. But I doubt they would accept the added cost of kosher cheese. You'd be more likely to convince them to add culturally Jewish cusine, deli, pickles, brisket, etc... or maybe Israeli/middle eastern.

                                1. re: avitrek

                                  If you are replying to jdh11 about the cruises out of Israel, then you should know that the Sunday-Thursday cruises offered by Magic 1 and Iris (at least during the 2010 season) are strictly Kosher with fresh cooked food supervised by on onboard Rabbi and team of Mashgichim.
                                  I was on the Magic1 in October and there are 3 buffet style all you can eat meals a day.
                                  Additionally there was davening morning and night and shiurim

                                  However the ship in no way comes close to anything offered by any mainline cruise line out there. It is basically a floating bedroom, dining room and casino, and a way to get to Cyprus or Rhodes, and not much more

                                2. re: AdinaA

                                  having a kosher supervised dairy section would not be a cost effective option for the cruise line if there are only 1-2 families aboard. They would have to pay a mashgiach, spend time cleaning a separate kitchen (if they even have one). For pizza, they would have to buy kosher cheese (which is significantly more expensive than non certified mozzarella). If a group of 10+ families booked with them perhaps then they would do something differently. While its true that in a unviersity dining hall any student can eat in the kosher section but you are charged extra and the difference is deducted from your card (ex. lunch at non kosher hall costs $5.00/kosher dining all-$6.00 at kosher) Here is info about john jay kosher food at columbia where it says "Any student who participates in any meal plan (whether it’s a first-year plan or an upperclass, GS or graduate student plan) can elect to enroll in Columbia's kosher meal plan for an additional 10% fee."

                                  at barnard, Meal Plan Points are included with both Standard and Kosher meal plans. These points are "dollars" that are part of your meal plan and can be used like cash at any dining location at Barnard. You may use these points to purchase à la carte meals and snacks for guests and friends but here too kosher food costs more so you use your meal plan points quicker.

                                  1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                    What I suspect Adina was referring to was the Barnard cafeteria where the standard Pizza that everyone ate was kosher. Anyone eating at the cafeteria ate the kosher pizza, even if they were just paying the standard non-kosher rate. Of course there are a lot more kosher students at CU/BC than there are on any cruise ship.

                              2. re: bagelman01

                                Cunard stopped the Kosher kitchen on the QE2 way before the Arisons took over for strictly financial reasons. THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH DEMAND TO JUSTIFY ITS OPERATION. That was the answer Cunard gave me when I inquired about my 25th anniversary cruise

                                As to you "comment" regarding the Arisons, I am SURE that you are aware that Ted Arison returned to live in Israel until his death and that his daughter Sherry lives in Israel and owns Israel's largest bank, Bank Hapoalim

                                Yes I know that his son Mickey, who supervises the shipping operations lives in Miami

                  2. Hello I just read your comments and of course my company offer fresh kosher food in Galapagos, we take all supplies from the continent. Only the chicken provided by Orthodox Rabbi is frozen due to Galapagos regulations, you can email us to and we can answer all your questions

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: AlexandraBS

                      Frozen food can be fine if it's decent quality (I've had some of the American stuff and am not rushing to repeat the experience!) and I did a European cruise with good Hermolis meals. They're based in London but used to ship all over the world and I think they still do, so check them out!

                      1. re: Subtletea

                        My in-laws did a boat trip to the Galapagos and I'm guessing they used that company (would there be more than one?). THey said the food was good. The crew onboard had difficulty with something about the meals, but luckily they went to my in-laws to figure it out and eventually they just took over heating their own meals. This meant they weren't eating any of their snack supply due to some sort of well-intentioned mistake.

                        1. re: CloggieGirl

                          I am the company who started the kosher service in Ecuador and the Galápagos, there are some companies who offer and really don´t give real kosher, the boat will not stop preparing pork or sea food and never they will accept any client inside the kitchen. What my company do is in case of boat we rent the whole boat for 14 clients and all is kosher or the other option we do land based with daily navigations. In these case all the supplies for the kitchen and most of the food is brought from the continent. To enter Galapagos is not permited food we need not only the Ecuadorian certification of health, also the aproval of the National Park. In our case we bring all to the Islands and the Rabbi also travel, we will be glad to help anybody comming to our country and doing the Galapagos our web is