The reason I said that the Haven has a clear advantage for the kosher traveller eventhough it's more expensive is :
Kosher dining needs special care. Paper plates and cutlery, the food comes very conspicuously double wrapped and it's messy etc.
The general dining room is very large and bustling. The waters take care of many tables etc.
The haven is a small dining room very refined and the service is very elegant and courteous they made the experience very pleasant.
You certainly don't need to spend the extra money.
BTW, the haven is a lot more than preferred seating. It is a sealed off part of the ship. You dont feel you are on a large cruise.
To Devorahs question
You can bring whatever you want. We supplemented food.
And drinks. They didn't care what we brought. They all were confused by our needs anyways
Re shabbos. As I said. We ate an early Friday night dinner. We later made kiddish and are challah and some fish.
On Thursday night when we ordered the Friday meals we ordered a double main course of a meal we felt refrigerated well (grilled chicken) and put it in our fridge and ate it with challa provided in our room Saturday afternoon
On Saturday night we had told them we want our meals delivers an hour after shabbos finished. ( very late)
Hope this helps
We just returned from a Mediterranean cruise on the Norwegian cruise line Epic. No, we didn't go on Kosherica. We went straight with Norwegian.
Since this a food blog I will limit non food issues.
Suffice to say that we had a great time and the ship was pretty good. Not the best but nice. The stops were good but Europe now leaves a lot to be desired.
Certain places (ie Florence) that we visited 10 years ago are now dumps. IMHO
NCL has a program called "the Haven" which is like a ship within a ship and I highly recommend spending the extra money if u can. But even if not the prices are very reasonable.
We went with NCL because they were able to guarantee us kosher meals (included in price! We also got unlimited beverage! ) we wanted to go with Royal Caribbean but they can only guarantee if u book 6 weeks in advance
But the haven thing makes NCL much better for the kosher consumer.
I would highly recommend as above.
I wanted to book Royal Caribbean because they seem to get kosher food from what used to be Webermans out of Miami. And I heard they were good.
I thought we would get the same on NCL. I didn't know there is more than one company.
So here is the review as it relates to food and the kosher consumer.
We are a highly mehadrin family. Glatt, cholov Yisrael etc.
the food came from an outfit called Elite caterers and was ok Glatt and cholov Yisrael.
Go on their website and they have a complete menu.
Examples- breakfast, pancakes (not good) French toast (delicious) , waffles, eggs, omelettes. (Ok)
Lunch and Dinner- bread, usually Challa but also sometimes cibbeta bread, choice of 3 soups.
Main course is chicken, pasta bolognaise, Salisbury steak, a fish, and hot dogs (very good) and meat burger and turkey burger
Also a dessert. Usually carrot cake (very good) or cinnamon coffee cake. Pecan pie.
We were able to order as much as we wanted. So for example I ordered for myself 2 French toast and pancakes or waffles (that I used as snacks during the day)
And for lunch/ dinner. A soup a fish a burger and a chicken dinner. Or two meat dishes.
Problem with that is that after a few days it became monotonous
The quality was ok. Not bad at all. Very Edible and some were even tasty. But it defiantly tasted reheated at times. But it was highly edible and plentiful. After first day we made sure they really heated it up.
Each night we were able to order from a menu for the next day.
On Thursday night we ordered double for shabbos
We are dinner Friday night well before night. We later made kiddish and ate some challa and fish. And had cold chicken shabbos day that we put in our fridge.
The staff. They Were great. They very prepared and aware. They gave us all paper plates and cutlery and were very courteous and gracious. They were really wonderful.
Any other question I will be happy to answer
Food and Wine in Barcelona
The one new fact I Learned lately here in Spain ( and I thought I knew something if Jewish history ) is that forcible conversions and basic destruction of the Jewish communities in Spain began in 1391 !! A hundred years before the expulsions decreed by Ferdinand and Isabella.
We also went to Palma de Mallorca. a beautiful little place. Our hotel ( can cera. A beautiful little place) is in what was once the Jewish ghetto but no remnant of anything remains.
Food and Wine in Barcelona
I'm actually here in Barcelona now. And was planning on posting when i return.
So I'lol just add a few comments.
Macabi is a great resteraunt. Would be great in any city in the world. And due to the dollar being strong is quite resonable.
Get the lamb it's fabulous.
The schnitzel and the "croquetas" are delicious.
Yea they are open 12-12 although last order is 11:30
Heard that in August there are lines.
Re isamar. It's a joke of a "grocery store" hard to get to. And very little selection.
They have some Israeli turkey packs. Some matza. Chala and some old crackers and some salads. All at very expensive prices. So bring that stuff with u if u need it
El corte ingles in the las corts has some stuff (and cholov Yisrael long lasting milk)! But also limited.
Chabad (the greatest!) offers Friday night meals. Go to their website.
BTW. We went to Girona it was a 40 minute speed train ride each way. And aside from the fact that the train station (sants) is a mess,we missed 2 trains, it is touted as this ancient Jewish city with a Jewish ghetto and synagougue but aside from a very professionally redone museum on a supposedly site of a synagougue. It was really not worth it. At all It does look like a old town etc with a nice shopping street but that's it.
Same for a so called old Jewish synagougue just found in Barcelona even if it was a synagougue it has nothing there they just built a story behind it. But it's only a few minute walk from las ramblas
More when I return
I was referring to the latest kosherica "yeshiva week cruise.
1) all those "chazzanim " you mentioned mustve been years ago. On this one there was hardly anything. Avraham fried did indeed have a concert for an hour, nothing special the other guy Motzen was also nothing special.
2) the price is basically double per person
3) in all fairness, kosherica organizes these programs, and while the point of my post is that it's simply not worth it. It is their program.
If you're the type of guy that needs a minyan so pay kosherica or ask permission (or hope for a sefardi minyan)
otherwise it's wrong to mooch their services.
My 2 cents
Waldorf Jerusalem shabbos day buffet
When I'm in Jerusalem for shabbos I like to splurge ( and stuff myself) on a fine upscale shabbos day buffet.
I started at the plaza, they had quite a spread I then upgraded to the citadel ( last time i was there it was around $125 a oerson(!). But well worth it.
This time we were looking forward to a very upscale ( we were 7 people. - it costed well over a thousand dollars) experience at the new Waldorf Jerusalem.
Here is my report:
Ambience. Very nice. I think the citadel with its view of the wall is much nicer but this is a beautiful lobby etc.
Utterly disappointing. Really sub par.
The fish tasted ( and probably was) jar fish.
The cholent was tasteless. My portion was undercooked. Mainly potatoes.
The meat had no taste. Except for the corned beef and a little lamb on the side. But they ran out of that quickly.
Yerushalmi kugel- tasteless.
The little food I bought at " Heimish Essen" in rechavya tasted much better. ....
They had a small dessert table it was nice and tasty. But nothing like plaza and citadel.
Bottom line I'm very disappointed and won't return unless I hear some real change.
Not every single cruise line offers kosher food. I know that many do and if they do and your price includes meals then yes, the kosher option is available at no extra charge.
Beverages are never included only filtered water
They do sell these "all you can drink" packages starting at only soft drinks ) my kids gorged on them) to alchoholic beverages. If you plan on drinking a lot of soda etc or beer it is definitely worth while.
Here's what I did
They do t really limit your luggage so
I bought a case of bottled water on board and I thought I would be the only one I was wrong and I bought a coke and a beer every day I was more than fine.
Thanks Socal (I'm from socal as well-valley)
I think things changed
There is hardly any entertainment, and it's wrong to expect the well paying guests to do services. When I go away to.a jewish event I'd like a nice service I'm not going on vacation to lead the services and read the Torah.
But that's all besides the main point
I forgot to mention my brother and their friends (on my reccomendation went on the Spain -morroco cruise and it was just horrible the food was terrible
I just think they're past their prime and take it for granted.
I feel if there is a way to post about various cruises that serve kosher food and there were enough observant people to organize services themselves they can have a great time, with decent though not gourmet food and have the best of both worlds
I'm not sure if there is a post re these cruises yet.
But I've been on two of them lately and I'd like to share my experiences and hear from others.
Simply put, kosherica "rents" out a part of a decent (sometimes) cruise line. "Kashers" (one hopes) one kitchen.
Offers 3 meals a day (sometimes more) and adds a room for a minyan and provides a rabbi or lecturer and maybe an entertainer.
For that they charge double or more (sometimes triple) than what the other guests pay.
We are a married highly observant couple with a few kids.
1) we went on their Greek isles cruise. It departed from Venice.
My family and I had a great time.
But it wasn't only because of kosherica it was simply a great trip with great stops
The ship was from the costa line.
Here is my report:
The ship itself was lousy. Very Nice rooms but everything else overcrowded no way to enjoy the mini pools
Everything on the ship was extra. Nothing was included.
No movies, shows, nothing.
The one main kosherica employee was a "rabbi" who used to live in Mexico now in Israel who was somewhat knowledgable in kashrut couldn't speak, daven or do anything other than advise on certain laws Etc
The "mashgich" were a coupe of yeshiva boys. I doubt they knew anything about kashrut.
The stops were amazing.
Now to the main event:
The food. Was spectacular. I will give credit where it's due
Great breakfasts lunches and dinner.
At each meal there was a chef making something fresh. Omelettes pasta or etc.
the dinners were delicious.
I have absolutely no complaints re the food.
The "Jewish" services were sorely lacking.
No Shabbat Chazan, no lectures nothing. They tried to get the guests (me) to do everything
But the food was great.
All in all even though the ship and the rabbi was lousy. The food and the islands more than compensated.
2) based on our experience of the Greek cruise 2 years ago we went on the "main" cruise of kosherica.
This is the one on January during yeshiva break that leaves from ft laudederdale.
The ship was huge a royal Caribbean I think one of the biggest in their line.
There were around 350 kosherica participants but there were around 1000 other Jews. There was also a sefardic contingent.
The rabbi was a modern orthodox guy who was "eh!" There was another guy who was something of a Chazan. But you got the impression that they didn't really put any effort in the "Jewish " stuff. They relied on the religious people there to do everything.
There was one guy a chabadnik who had a yartzait and he did everything
Another big lecturer spoke just twice.
I wasn't impressed at all.
A big singer a Freid had a "concert " he sang some songs for an hour and that's it.
Could've done with out it. My kids were let down
Breakfast and lunch were highly disappointing no fresh stations everything was pre cooked.
I can't say the food was bad. It wasn't, but it was nothing special.
Dinners however were excellent. Like going every night to the most upscale gourmet restaurant in New York. It was that good.
Prime rib, veal, sea bass the works with appetizers and dessert.
Here is the kicker
I saw a friend and assumed he was part of the kosherica program.
He came on the same cruise. Paid a third what we paid. Got a suite and had kosher meals ( a step up from airline food. He said they were not gourmet but very tasty) made by the same caterer and he suprlemented with stuff he brought and he was fine. He went to the sedarfic minyan who posted a sign that "all are welcome" and he had a great time
That's not for me. But I wasn't too happy.
I dont feel we got our money's worth. I went to a kosher cruise for the package and while I got some great dinners I don't think I got much else
And the owner of the program was on this tour gave the impression of being a grouchy guy. Certainly didn't give the impression of being a Gracious host. There were some embarrassing incidents
It was nice but not worth the thousands extra.
I'm considering doing another cruise just with my wife and using the savings to upgrade to an ultra suite. I'll bring a Torah and hope for the best....
Hope you will respond with your experiences
Passover 2015 Hotel Reviews
I heard the KMR was over the top. Best ever.
The items and events they had were amazing.
Chocolate store. Grocery store. Cigar store. Etc. all included.
Of course price was around 13-14k a person so 25-28k a room. So if you had let's say 2 rooms for you and your family. And another 2 rooms for your 2 recently married children (one with a baby)
That's 4 rooms. = 100k. Maybe they"l discount a bit.
Plus airfare etc. pushing 100k
And believe me they were sold out. Quick.
They didn't even have a place on January....
Lots of wealthy people out there.
So I guess they get what they pay for....
Even the "lesser"programs are in the 15k minimum range a room so the above realistic scenario is 60k
And people complain about tuition.
The programs Marty reminisces about don't exist anymore because the year round hotels don't exist.and, as some commentors suggested with the changes in kashrut standards today there is no way those "programs"would fly.
I spoke to a friend who supplies thee many programs with food and you all have no idea what is spent on food on these programs.
So go rob a bank and enjoy!
Thanksgiving weekend NY?
Hi, Coming with the family to NY for thanksgiving, was wondering if anyone knows of a Glatt, decent weekend program?
Great Jewish food a neccesity
Breakfast in manhattan
Can anyone reccomend some delicious chalav Yisrael breakfast/brunch places in midtown manhattan?
I'm going to be in NY this year for shabbos Nachmu
I would love to go to a heimish program ( dare I ask a la KMR) with decent hotel, great food and some nice baalei Tfilla
I see the Arachim program but I'm totally not interested in that type of venue
Need info- Hong Kong and Shanghai
I am going, for the first time to the orient, I see there is kosher in Hong kong so i would appreciate some guidance;
1) Any updates on kosher in hong kong and shanghai?
2) most important, I'm extremely confused re which area in Hong Kong to stay in order not to be too far from the kosher stuff
any help would, as always, be appreciated and reciprocated
26 (West LA) - Horrible experience, and Jeffs saves day
1) Their menu (and price) says Kobe Beef Burger
2) Wasn't Ahi Tuna, and wasn't meant to be raw, The guy who ordered it requested cooked
3) Seating is usually a problem for first few minutes, I guess its because the food is good
We didnt plan on casual dining, it was supposed to be an evening out, we were simply hungry and went to Jeffs to eat.
4) Tierra Del Sur is truly a treat but it is (at least) 90 mins from west LA
26 (West LA) - Horrible experience, and Jeffs saves day
unfortunately, Burgers bar has already closed down
26 (West LA) - Horrible experience, and Jeffs saves day
I (and many friends) have already learned to avoid Shilo's a so-called upscale restaurant on famed Pico Blvd in LA's westside at all costs. Too many screw-ups on overpriced and bland food together with mediocre service leads me to take my substantial business associates and family elsewhere.
The last time I was there, I tried their "famous" kobe Beef Burger, which tasted a little better than cardboard. I am friendly with their meat supplier and next time I met him I mentioned that I had the Kobe Burger, He looked incredulous and said "they're selling Kobe beef?? they don't buy Kobe beef!!
So tonight, when a few family members and friends wanted to celebrate a recent birthday at their sister (dairy) restaurant 26, I hesitated, but their pleading looks led me there anyways. It is the Nine days and choices are thought to be limited (They're not- every restaurant now has a nine day menu)
We got there early, and ordered some pasta dishes, sometime later the other guests arrived and ordered some fish entrees. The fish arrived 40 minutes later, the Tuna was raw inside (not rare, raw) and the Chilean sea bass was barely decent
After an hour I started asking for our Pasta dishes, nobody bothered to answer, so I called over the perpetually smiling French owner and politely told him we are waiting over an hour, 15 minutes goes by and no food, Waiter doesn't respond, owner is just continuing to wait on other tables, I told waiter to cancel my order he was clueless and after a few sharp words to the owner I left.
went straight to Jeffs, had the most delicious fish Tacos I've ever tasted, then some salmon wraps and texted my hapless relatives stuck at 26 how the food is, they hadn't received it yet ....
Avoid at all costs.
what kosher options (and sights?) are there in Baltimore?
I was in Brooklyn lately and ate at two known places, I'd like to share my experience:
1) Basil - 2nd time there, totally underwhelmed, real lousy coffee, even after a fresh pot, Had their basic Pizza, Eh! nothing special, would've rather had a good slice at some of the regular Pizza shops we all like.Ok ambiance.
2) Pardess- Probably one of my best dining experiences ever! Guys I were with know I love food and ordered me one of everything! then when I eyed the burger and sliced meat sandwich ( with fake bacon) at another table, They brought those over as well.
Tongue - out of this world, so soft and delicious
Ox hearts - ok
Burger and beef sandwich - amazing (wish thry would have baguette buns...)
Lamb, veal etc - delicious
meat pizza - ok
They had this squash coconut soup that was phenomenal
Desserts were so so, but loved the unique Cammomille ice cream
Beers were amazing, nice wine selection,
Prices were incredibly reasonable, Service was great (loved the head waiter) My only regret is I didnt ask to meet the owner. Next time!
Pesach HOTELS 2012
Stayed Home this year. (was great!) Heard first hand;
KMR: Packed, Unorganized first night, but went fine from there, great food. Cold.
Lake Las Vegas (Dorothy S.) Nice Hotel, mediocre food, sometimes not enough, NO Shmurah Matza after first days (!!!) Lower cost, so "you got what you paid for" Some people very upset, seems this not the first time food was sub par
I'm going to be in Orlando next week. Can I get an update on kosher food? Is there a resteraunt? Deli etc.??
There was a post a long while ago with a Jerusalem rental website Thanks again
Dear fellow Chowhounders;
You've all been helpful in the past, so here goes:
I am going with my family to Israel (Jerusalem mainly) for Sukkot. and i can use your assistance.
I recall some posts from a while back with some excellent resources to rent a nice apt.
I am looking to stay in the Rechavia, Mussara or ? area
Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
I am Mehadrin Glatt so I would need an Apt that accommodates that, also a Sukka.
I also would appreciate referrals for a caterer that would prepare holiday food and deliver
and finally any good dairy and meat rests with a sukka (mehadrin only please).
Thanking you all in advance!!
Shilo's (L.A.) major disappointment
An old favorite of mine,Shilo's on Pico Blvd, has, sorry to say, gone somewhat downhill lately, although still immensely popular, with the crowds (and crowded it surely is...).
for the second time, I've taken important business clients out to, what I billed as the premier kosher dining experience only to suffer major embarrassment
One guest ordered the mushroom egg rolls and they were dry, overcooked and practically tasteless. Contrast them to the scrumptious Avocado egg rolls at La gondola and there is no comparison, these were simply reheated and overcooked at that. In addition the sides were all wrong.
Another ordered a medium 28 oz steak and it came back well done and dry, he sent it back (the waiter was very gracious and apologetic) and instead brought back a rib eye a third the size, not wanting to make a fuss, he dug in only to find it- literally- raw inside, it had been seared on the outside and uncooked on the inside.
He sent it back and asked me to take him somewhere else, as he was taking a long flight and needed to eat, My Friend was so upset he refused a free entree he wanted out
Every establishment is entitled to make a mistake, I just sense a lowering of standards of what was once a great eating place.
On the other hand, due to some unfortunate illnesses in the Family, I began frequenting la Gondola at its new (relatively) location on Wilshire Blvd. and i must say the food is excellent from the aforementioned egg rolls, to the spring rolls, to the steaks and turkey burgers it was delicious
I guess its like a wheel they go up and down.
Israel - Family trip. Help!!
I cant tell you all, how much I appreciate all your advice. Thanks
Reviews of Passover Hotel Programs?
While we decided not to go out this Pesach, I feel very close to this topic, as I started the original post about my experience at the Chevrah a few years ago, that engendered all these reviews.
Here is what I picked up form relatives and close friends who's opinion I respect.
KMR, was only OK, I'm a bit surprised because I know them to be a quality program.
The weather was cool, and the food was ok, getting better as it went. The caterer, Scharf, who works for Shick, is a whacko, and a kind of tyrannical "my way or the highway" type of guy, and he just didn't perform up to par this year.
The tea room and the wine list etc. were under par. although the guest list was stellar.The grounds were simply amazing though, pity they could'nt really put it together, it was the place to be.
The Chevrah was ok, no disasters there although they lost their shine. They are not the place to go anymore, especially now that they're in Arizona.
Bookie in Aruba was great, he runs a good program. but the crowd was mixed.
Any other resorts will just be hearsay, and i'd rather not do that.
Israel - Family trip. Help!!
My fellow Chowhounds.
I am finally taking my entire family on the big Israel trip. we will be there G-d willing around the Shavuot holiday for 3 weeks. I've been to Israel many many times and I know some of my favorite haunts, but this time I'm going with my kids (ages 9,8,6) and i need some better and current info.
We are planning on being for an extended period of time in Jerusalem (of course) and
and Tel Aviv area.
with side trips along the way (dead sea, masada)
and a 2 day trip to Eilat.
I request accurate, up to date info on Glatt Mehadrin (only) places in the above cities. I think I'm covered for Jerusalem, or I'll look at previous posts, especially the ones about best breakfast places and Papagayo... i'm mainly concerned about Tzfas, Tveria, Tel Aviv and Eilat. but i'll take any thoughts you have to make the experience better.
Specifically re Eilat, are there any mehadrin hotels or restaurants?
We will be in Tzfas for Shabbat, besides Rimonim hotel, any other recommendations?
Is there a shabbat eatery (prepaid) in the old city if Jerusalem?
Also, if anyone can give me some ideas of something special to do with the kids, I'm looking for a unique Israeli Jewish experience (ie diaspora museum, camel rides etc.) I would greatly appreciate it.
I realize i'm asking a lot, but, who else can i turn to but all you hounds here, and hopefully I have earned your help.
In Addition, as we are coming into the Summer travel season, perhaps this can be of assistance to others that will be going.
My heartfelt thanks.
Reviews of Passover Hotel Programs?
great let me know. Say hi to "Liel" he'll take care of u
Good burger in L.A.
Sorry, Shilohs, is a great rest. MUCH better than Le Merais and Much Much better (on the similar stuff, cuz Shilohs doesnt have deli) than wolf, although wolf has gotten better lately.
You must've had a bad experience it happens. I eat there often and take many (often non Jewish) clients, they cant stop raving.
They have a cowboy steak and a steak with "cheese" thats amazing.
Reviews of Passover Hotel Programs?
Most of these guys could care less, and the crowd forgets year to year. Although in all honesty, I heard Smilow tried to place, or at least find locations for, his guests at other places. and it wasnt 2 weeks, this happened around a month ago so it was six weeks before Peasach, plenty of time to get screwed by the Chevrah and such, just imagine the desperation.