Keeping Kosher on a Cruise question: Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian
We are being treated to a cruise and we have to choose between Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines. We will be leaving out of Miami this January. Has anyone cruised recently and had experience keeping kosher on one of these lines? Much of what I come across on the web is a few years old.
We have not cruised with Norwegian cruise lines so I all my comments relate to our experiences on Royal Caribbean. We have cruised 2 years in a row with our daughter and son-in-law. We requested kosher food when we made our reservation. One of the best sites for info on kosher cruising is cruise critic. If you select the line you are interested in then do a search relating to kosher cruising you will find a wealth of info. You can bring any food you would like with you. There is a small fridge in your room where you can store items that need to be refrigerated. When we boarded we met with the head maitre d' to make sure everything was in place. We had requested a table for 4 so we would not feel uncomfortable sitting with others eating treif food. The second time we went we brought much less supplemental food. At the first meal we requested that they set up our table with disposable products only. We also arranged that paper products be available in the buffet style restaurant. Each evening we selected, from a list of what was available, what we would be eating the next day for all 3 meals. Whatever we wanted, smoked salmon, cream cheese, bagels, was all set on paper plates for us - it was just difficult finding someone who knew where they were. 'All the main meals come from Florida from a company called Webberman. Everything is double wrapped in a thick plastic. Make sure to bring an exacto type knife otherwise you'll be really struggling. If you would like a baked potato, baked vegetables, fresh baked fish, they double wrap it. For salads you can ask for whole vegetables and cut them yourself. Each night they brought us out a new gallon jar of dressing and opened it at the table. They poured it into a paper plate - a little awkward but it worked. You could not arrange with the cruise line or Webberman what meals you wanted in advance - it was pot luck as to what they had in their freezers. I had requested a birthday cake but it never materialized. The dining staff felt bad that non had been sent so they made one - but of course it wasn't kosher ! The meals are 1/2 step up from the old fashioned airline meals. For lunch we usually had some of the dairy choices. The pizza wasn't bad and I think there was an eggplant choice. In the evening there was some sort of BBQ beef that we like. You can order more than one meal each if you'd like. Most days we sorta shared them. The chicken soup was good but very hard to open and not spill while doing it. You have to order rolls for each meal if you want them. They also come shrink wrapped. There weren't many dessert choices. The two we liked the best were molten chocolate and an apple one. I will post more later about shabbat and all that it entails. Hope this helps.
Thank you for an informative post. I as of late, am having a battle of the "bulge" and have had to distance myself from most kosher venues since I have no will power. Every time I want to book something I always wind up saying - Oy, I will come back 10 ponds heavier. Then someone told me about cruises. Some of them are quite reasonable and leave from Manhattan and are dirt cheap (from what I see on Expedia and Orbitz). By restricting myself to "airline food" and what kosher, or non-tref items that I can scrounge from a primarily non-kosher selection will assure that I will not overdue it. Besides that, it looks like fun!
Another thing to consider is that RC cruises are usually quite a lot more expensive then Norwegian. I haven't been on either but I suspect is because you get what you pay for. On our cruises we have only managed to eat the Webberman meals a couple of times. We then have the ship double wrap fish and vegies for us. Also keep in mind that much of the food is prepared on the ship but a lot isn't. We have found the bagels, lox, cream cheese, peanut butter, tuna, jelly, ice cream, cereal, crackers, condiments etc are all brought from the outside and have good hechsers. Lastly there is the option to eat rice cooked in rice cooking machine or eggs boiled in a egg boiling machine i.e. machine is used solely for one purpose.
I was on the NCL pearl to Alaska in May on reported about my experiences in depth in previous posts, which you could look up for details.
In short, the Weberman meals on NCL are mostly decent and above but definately not even close to gourmet. There are always things on the buffet with hechschers like ice cream and cones, cereals, bagels etc but you must ask to see the packaging as suppliers can change. Additionally a lot of things like cream cheese, jam, lox etc are served in open plates which can be a problem as there is absolutely no seperation of any utensils as the thongs for the hot bacon or pork chops can be used for bread or lox at anytime
I never tried RCCL but other posters mentioned that snack foods like pizza , burgers , fries and hot dogs were available, something which NCL did not have.
The bottom line is as always money and itinerary. I liked NCL's Freestyle as we could eat in the dining room at anytime and then hit the buffets . All things being equal I would probably try RCCL for my next cruise just to see the difference but you won't go hungry at NCL and the staff on the Pearl really went out of their way to be accomodating
Went on a Carnival cruise ( very very inexpensive) a few years ago- Took our own meals & it worked great- With the travel bag restrictions now it is inpossible to take frozen meals in luggage -
SO - We booked NCL Sky for January break - Pricing for family room for 4 was $1370.00 from Monday - Friday & We know alot of the Buffet Items have a supervision-
FYI - The following is the email that was sent to our group Re : Kosher Food
The reservation mentioned below can be notated with the request for Kosher Meals and the ship be advised of the request as well. Please review the following information with regards to the Kosher Meals on board. Please advise the guest of this information.
All Kosher meals are served in the main dining room.
Menus are provided on board.
For further assistance, guests can contact the Restaurant Manager by having him paged at the reception desk which is located on deck 5.
The information below is a sample menu of the items available to guests. Guests cannot pre-choose from this menu prior to the sail date as not all items are guaranteed to be available during the cruise.
For further assistance, guests can contact our vendor through its website, www.webermanfoods.com.
46021 Kosher Beef Bourguignon Buttered Noodles
46207 Kosher Chicken Roast Hot Entree Lunch Dinner
46051 Kosher Turkey Sliced Breast Gravy Sweet Potato 46210 Kosher Breakfast Omelet Plain With Veg Patty
46061 Kosher Roasted Chicken Sweet Noodle Kuge
46211 Kosher Gefilte Fish Bits
46071 Kosher Meatloaf Brown Gravy Mashed Potatoes 46212 Kosher Breakfast Omelet Cheese With Home Fries
46081 Kosher Fish Croquette Red Skin Potato
46213 Kosher Turkey Schnitzel Hot Entree Lunch Dinner
46101 Kosher Steak Salisbury Grilled Onions Mushrooms 46214 Kosher Breakfast French Toast
46111 Kosher Lamb Stew Minted Potatoes Quiche
46216 Kosher Breakfast Blintzes Cheese With Hash Browns
46141 Kosher Veal Roulade Spinach Soufle
46237 Kosher Cabbage Stuffed Bed Of Egg Barley Appetizer
46161 Kosher Vegetable Cutlet Green Beans Almandin 46239 Kosher Crepe Mushroom Bed With Mushrooms Sauce
46201 Kosher Beef Brisket Gravy Oven Brown Potatoes 46240 Kosher Mousaka
46202 Kosher Filet Of Salmon Baked Carrots Rice Medley
Norwegian Cruise Line ®
7665 Corporate Center Drive | Miami FL 33126
Freestyle Cruising ®
Yum, sounds good. I still am a bit overwhelmed seeing prices anywhere from $349 to $650 p/p for a 7-10 day cruise from NY to the Caribbean/Bahamas. True I wont be hearing Yaakov Shwekey in concert and wont have a 24 hr tea room at my disposal - but give me a break !0 days on a lovely ship with stops in:
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
St. John's, Antigua
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Road Town, Tortola, B.V.I.
I get the impression that the kosher ones begin at $2,500 and up.
hmmm...not yum to me. :(
I can't justify paying anything to be on a ship filled with all kinds of wonderful looking food and happy diners only to end up with coach airline-style meatloaf in order to visit another place that doesn't have any kosher restaurants. My sister tried that and her family ended up hungry with just avocados and baked potatoes to eat.