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Kosher cruising on Royal Caribbean

A year or so ago there was a discussion on Kosher cruising using the regular pre packaged Kosher food and not a Kosherica cruise. I returned 2 weeks ago from a 15 night Transatlantic cruise on the Serenade of the Seas and would like to give a rather detailed update and review of the Kosher meals on this cruise.

Firstly I was the only passenger who ordered Kosher meals so that might have influenced the variety of the pre-packaged meals and service somewhat.

Directly on embarcation I went to the dining room and spoke to the Headwaiter and discussed the procedures for meals. There was no lunch prepared (as I had expected) and was told that they would prepare supper with what they found and that I would get an updated inventory list then.

At supper they gave me a short list of 3 different entrees and said that they would continue looking and two days later they found 8 more types.
Part of the disorganization was due to the fact that they had stuffed the freezers to capacity because of the long cruise and it took them a while to dig through all the cartons in the freezer

In addition to the entrees there was Matzo Ball and Lentil soup, Gefilte fish (served with Moroccan !! sauce which was surprisingly good, but tell them if you want it hot or cold), carrot cake, and apple strudel.

For fish they had Terriyaki Salomon. You could also order double wrapped fresh fish as well as baked potato, sweet potato etc.. For dairy there was cheese lasagna and eggplant parmasan

After about a week they found "Hamburger in a Bun" which was a meat patty cooked inside a closed bun. Very tasty

Everyone has their own level of obseervance but I asked for uncut vegetables such as tomatoes with every meal. The cucumbers were about a foot long and impracticle to eat at one sitting

Meals were served double wrapped with high quality plasticware which made opening the packages relatively easy.

At the Windjammer Buffet, MDR and Park Cafe there were for breakfast, plain bagels, Kellogs cereals and all sorts of Heinz condiments. There was also French Toast and Waffles that had a Hechsher but you had to order it the night before and eat it in the MDR , heated and double wrapped. As it was served in the buffet it would be unacceptable. They also had cinnamon raisen bagels but that came from another supplier in Europe without a Hechsher. The soft serve ice cream did not have a Hechsher while the hard ice cream did.

At the Park Cafe you could also get whole wheat Pita and cut fruit in disposable cups. All other venues have cut fruit with the regular serving dishes and tongs.

The orange and apple juice, ice tea, lemonade and flavored waters all had hechshers and paper cups are available at all the coffee bars. This can be used for drinks, ice cream and cereal, if you are like me and do not use any dishes or cups even for cold items

There is no problem asking the staff at all the venues to check if there is a hechsher. They are used to it and will go look. I found it helpful to give them a card with all the major symbols on it so that they would have something to look for. But just remember suppliers change all the time and what was on this cruise might not be on another cruise or on another ship. You have to check.

Finally the staff. Everyone I came in contact with went out of their way to make me feel as comfortable as possible and as fed as possible. They went that extra mile in looking for additional items, in answering my questions and putting up with the Mishigasim of a strictly Kosher traveller. The food in general was very good, I never felt hungry and in fact I started to skip lunch because I was eating too much.

There were some minor issues which I discussed with the Food and Beverage Manager, who said that they would take it into account in future purchases

My compliments to the entire Serenade and RCCL team and I would have no second thoughts in doing it again. While I am sure that the ambiance and food with Kosherica is better than what I had, there is no way that I could justify adding about $150-200 extra a day for food. But everyone can make their own decision.

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Dec 31, 2013
sja in Kosher

Kosher in seattle

As mentioned the Kosher vegetarian is in the north. It is outside the park where the Tower is located. You can take the monorail to the last stop, walk through the park, enjoy the sites especially the musical fountain if it is working, and then to the restuarant.
On the way back take the monorail to the shopping plaza station, go down with the elevator to the bottom and you can pick up the light rail directly to the airport.

It should take about 45 minutes to an hour and is a nice scenic ride

Jul 11, 2013
sja in Kosher

tel Aviv airport lounge

Yes the private airport lounges, Traklin Dan, in concourse B and C have a Teudah from the Rabbi of the Airport. The El AL lounge in Concourse D has one from the El AL rabbi.

The are plenty of restaurants and cafes with a Teudah both pre and post security. For a more quiet atmosphere if you have the time, you could go downstairs to the arrival hall on floor G where there are also some Kosher cafes

Jul 07, 2013
sja in Kosher

Keeping Kosher on a Cruise question: Royal Caribbean vs. Norwegian

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

Dec 22, 2011
sja in Kosher

Kosher Cruising in General and Norwegian Cruise Line specifically

It was very interesting to read your reply. I am an active member of Cruise Critic and read a review there of a "Kosher couple " on a Royal Caribean cruise. They were enthusiastic about the Weberman food and even posted a list of offerings which included pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers which were all available even thru room service. I was very jealous and even began considering RCCL for my next trip instead of NCL as none of these were available on the NCL Pearl

I did get an answer to my letter to guest relations of NCL and they said besides the usual corporate PR mumbo jumbo, that they will look into their contract with Weberman's when it comes up for renewal and will also look into the issue of the plastic cutlery. As we say here in Israel, "Ashrei Ha Ma'amin", Happy are those who believe. Of course I received no answer from Weberman's

FYI, Kosherica does use top of the line ships and even had the same trip to Alaska on the Pearl in July and another one planned for next week. Prices of course are two to three times regular rates.

I too lost a little of my desire to cruise because of the food issue and hope that some change will come. One thing is for sure. Before the next cruise I will stop at Costco for a box of silver plasticware.

Aug 07, 2011
sja in Kosher

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

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

May 28, 2011
sja in Kosher

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

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

May 28, 2011
sja in Kosher

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

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

May 26, 2011
sja in Kosher

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

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

May 26, 2011
sja in Kosher

Kosher Cruising in General and Norwegian Cruise Line specifically

I do not want to give the impression that we did not eat during the week. We did. As I pointed out some of the food was inedible but I quickly discovered which and did not order it again. I learned to order the better items and we never left the table hungry.

This does not mean that we had a gourmet experience, but I did not expect it. Both Weberman's and the cruise line could have and should have a better job. This is the purpose of my post, to try to get the word out so that future cruisers would know to ask for and demand better service.

May 26, 2011
sja in Kosher

Kosher Cruising in General and Norwegian Cruise Line specifically

I just returned from a weeks cruise on the Norwegian Pearl to Alaska and would like to share some of my experiences with those who are considering a cruise independantly and not with an organized Kosher cruise with Kosherica , Suite Life, etc.

A large part of cruising is the food and as can be expected the Kosher cruiser comes up very short in this point. The food served was pre packaged and reheated, from Webermans Foods of Miami (more on that later on) and in no way came close to the level of food served to the regular guests. On a scale of 1 to 10 it probably was a 2. I really did not expect much and knew what I would be getting but still there were many sursprises and not for the better. I will attach below a copy of a letter that I am sending to Weberman's which is self explanatory.

The ship's crew was extremely helpful and in most cases knowlegable of the needs of the Kosher cruiser and things went fairly smoothly. We were presented every evening with a list of items that were on the ship and we picked and made our menus for the following day. The Pearl had two main dining rooms (where the Kosher meals were served) and a few buffets.

We found it better to eat breakfast at the buffet as there were Kellog cereals, Dannone yogurt (OU D), bagels (OU) , orange and apple juice (OU) and milk (the chocolate milk did not have a Hechsher) You can ask for prepackaged Smuckers jelly (OU) to be brought up from the main dining room as the jelly on the buffet is in large bowls

There were prepackaged dairy breakfast dishes available in the formal dining room but we chose to eat it as supper and have a meat lunch instead. It consisted of waffles, cheese blintzes and Vermont style French Toast, all very good There was also two types of omelttes which were not.

The hard ice cream served at the buffet was OU as were the cones ( I asked the server to lift up the drums and to see the original box for the cones) There is also soft ice cream in two machines in the buffet . The Maitre D at the buffet was Mr. Mark Evelyn who when asked went into the store room and brought me the boxes from the soft ice cream mix and arranged with the chef to let us have whole uncut fruits such as pineapple and melons

Of course one should always check the current Hechshers as suppliers can change.

Of special mention is the Maitre D in the Summer Palace main dining room, Mr. Adonis Perez, who went out of his way throughout the week to see to it that we enjoyed as much as possible our "culinary experience" He also offered to have double wrapped fresh salmon prepared for us.

There were of course a few negative points. The plastic cutlery given was of the lowest possible quality something which really shames the image of NCL. I took this up onboard with the Hotel Director and the Head of Food and Beverage Service and they said that they would look into it. (He sent me a bottle of Maneshewitz wine to my cabin, maybe as a peace offering)

Additionally a few times the wait from when we sat down until when the food was served was close to 20 to 30 minutes. You should be prepared for this and we sometimes sent one person down to get a table and get the "ball rolling" and the rest came later. Most times however the wait was about 10-15 minutes

All in all the cruise line tried to be accomodating and since the purpose of the trip was to go to Alaska and not necessarily eat my way there, I can sum up, subject to my following letter to Webermans, that it was a pleasant experience

May 26, ‏2011

Weberman’s Food

Miami, Florida

Gentlemen;

I have just returned from a weeks cruise on the Norwegian Pearl where your food was served.

I must write and say how disappointed I was with the food especially after looking at your website before the cruise and expecting to be served what I saw there.

As an experienced traveler I know that frozen, defrosted and reheated food suffers along the food chain but still it is possible to present a good tasting and maybe even more important, a good looking meal. One only has to look at Hermolis of London or Regal/Borenstein of New York to see that it can be done. My Regal meal on Delta on the way home was far and away better than anything I was served on the ship

Sadly this is not what I was served by NCL. The food ranged from inedible to fair and nothing really above that. Certain foods to do not take well to this type of handling and should not be served . Of special mention in this category is the eggs rolls and croquettes. Other dishes like the lamb stew and roulade, while edible were not pleasant to look at.

Do you have a quality control department? Do you test the meals to see what they look like and taste like when served on a cruise ship?

Of special mention is the packaging of the soups. While they were tasty they were impossible to open and to transfer to a disposable bowl or cup. How is one expected to do it? We had soup spilling and squirting out in all directions. The only normal packaging was the Matzoh Ball soup. Why couldn’t all the soups be packaged like that?

Additionally no bread or rolls were served all week. Is this standard or just that NCL did not order it?

If after eating twenty one meals over the course of a week, all I can say is that the best food item that I can think of is the apple strussel cake, then I think that you have to improve your game tremendously. On the Kosher Chowhound board and the Cruise Critic board I gave your meals a rating of 2 out of 10. Is this the message that you want to be out on the internet?

I would appreciate receiving your reply to this letter with the hope that improvements will be made.

Sincerely yours

May 26, 2011
sja in Kosher

found OU-D tootsie pops

I found it today at Walgreens in Teaneck NJ at the branch of Teaneck Road corner of NewBridge Road
It is mixed in with all the regular Pops. It is very hard to see the OU as it is printed on the back next to the comment box in light silver ink. But you can see it if you really look.
Can't figure out why they didn't make it more prominent like on the Tootsie Rolls where it is on the front and large.

May 06, 2011
sja in Kosher

cruise on Shabbat - Kosher food

We will go with Webermans

You did not answer the question regarding Shabbat warm up and that is what I am really interested in
I am not a wine drinker so I will be bringing grape juice which has no problem

Dec 23, 2010
sja in Kosher

cruise on Shabbat - Kosher food

I know that some of you have been on regular cruises (not dedicated Kosher cruises) where prepackaged food was served.

What did you do on Shabbat in terms of warming the food or is it cold food for the entire 25 hours?

Do they have gefilte fish on the selection or is better to bring my own?

Also how do you get around the problem of card keys for the doors?

I am planning on an NCL cruise

Thanks

Dec 23, 2010
sja in Kosher

grape juice/ wine on cruise

I called NCL reservations and they said that NO food or drink of any kind can be brought aboard, this includes even pretzels and potato chips etc.

I asked about bringing "sacremental wine or grape juice" and they said yes but there is a $15 corkage fee to drink it in the dining room

I am not really sure that the person I spoke to really had the correct answer as she did contradict herself, so I will call again and see what they say. The best is to speak to someone in the Special Needs department but I can' t find a way of geting through to them. There is no email address That is why asked if someone has specific NCL experience

Nov 21, 2010
sja in Kosher

grape juice/ wine on cruise

Does anyone have any experience about bringing a bottle of wine or grapejuice aboard a cruise ship especially Norwegian Cruise Lines

Nov 20, 2010
sja in Kosher

Five Star Caterers at Keter Torah

You just put the whole Kosher Wedding scene into perspective and probably didn't even realize it. We have all gone overboard with these mega events and monsterous smorgs etc. which are more than a meal in itself. Who can honestly say that they are hungry when it is meal time. A lot of us just eat and stuff it in beacuse it is there and it's not nice to leave it on the plate.

Maybe it is time to make a different game plan and change the whole style of the wedding and with the money we save give the young couple a fighting chance in making it in this crazy economy.

Or give the money to Tzedekah. In anycase the Kehilla will be a better place without another Prime Rib Au Jus

Oct 28, 2010
sja in Kosher

When travelling how do you find kosher stablishments -

I have found www.totallyjewishtravel.com to be very good as well as Chabad

Oct 22, 2010
sja in Kosher

Edinburgh- Scotland

I was in Edinburgh last sumer during festival time. As you are probably aware by now there are no Kosher eating establishments. But plenty of Kosher food can be bought in the local supermarket providing you know what you are looking for or have a copy of the latest London Beit Din guide, as most products DO NOT have a symbol like in the US.

I stayed in the University dorms, which turns out is only a few minutes walk from the Orthodox Shul (which is closed during the week). The rooms are plain, clean and very cheap compared to the inner city which is about a 20 minute bus ride away. There have an included breakfast buffet which is strictly traif for the most part, but there is a huge choice of Kellog cereals, fresh fruit and juices. You definately won't go hungry but remember to bring disposable plates and cutlery if you need it.

Sep 05, 2010
sja in Kosher

New York One Day

According to the Lieberman website they are open 7 days a week and there is no mention of who if anyone gives a Hashgacha. So this might be a non starter for you

My personal favorite is Mr Broadway on 38th and Broadway in Manhattan which combines a tradional deli, steakhouse, chinese restaurant and Israeli grill

May 12, 2010
sja in Kosher

Is Cous Cous ok for Passover?

Real Cous Cous is as I said above steamed semolina served over vegetables

The "pasta cous cous" is just a marketing name for the small round shaped beads of pasta which have a slight resemblace because of shape.

As to the original question , both are not acceptable for Pesach

Mar 29, 2010
sja in Kosher

Is Cous Cous ok for Passover?

The real Cous Cous is not Pasta but Semalina flour which is cooked and then served with a broth over cooke vegetables, which would make it not acceptable for Pesach,

There is a Pasta called Cous Cous which is small round or barrel shaped cut pasta and that too is a no no for Pesach

Chak Kasher Ve Sameach

Mar 28, 2010
sja in Kosher

does anyone have an easy but tasty baked chicken recipe??

I have a simple recipe that I have been using for years and it has never failed and has been received with accolades every time

Cut the chicken into pieces (thighs, legs. wings, back. neck, but no breast)

In a bag mix bread crumbs (golden are best) sweet paprika and salt

Wash and clean the pieces and put them slightly wet, one by one in the bag.

Shake and place over lightly seasoned potatoes and sweet potatoes in a well greased pyrex pan

Bake covered with foil in medium to high heat for 1 3/4 hours, remove the foil for 15 minutes and enjoy

This is also good for Shabbat Lunch just keep uncovered when warming

Mar 25, 2010
sja in Kosher

Saturday Night Kosher Las Vegas

Is this a Kosher establishment under supervision or just a place to get pre packaged cakes with a hechscher?

Nov 11, 2009
sja in Kosher

Are all Dunkin Donut stores kosher? Or must they have a hechsher?

Are you sure that Chicago is the first. The one in the Five Towns (Lawrence NY) has a Hechsher for about 30 years. I can't go to JFK on my way home to Israel without picking up 2 dozen

Oct 27, 2009
sja in Kosher

Scotland

I was in Edinburgh this summer. There are no Kosher establishments in the city. I am sure there are Kosher products available in the supermarkets but you have to know that many Kosher products do not have any markings but appear on the Kosher List of the London Beit Din. It is very hard to navigate if you don't know the system.

There is one Orthodox shul, the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, but they usually only have a minyan on Shabbat and Chag. You can look them up to get more info. They have some arrangement with a Bakery for some Kosher products

Bottom line--- bring your own food

Oct 14, 2009
sja in Kosher

Filet of Fish Sandwich

It is possible that this is not a widely offered dish because according to Sephardi tradtion, fish is not eaten with milk, and the restaurants want to offer dishes to the widest audience possible.

Oct 06, 2009
sja in Kosher

eating out on a cruise and other traif places

Your clarification about the bagels, etc. was exactly the point that I was trying to make. You acted correctly and asked to see the packaging and then ate. That is the correct way of doing it. Don't assume that something is Kosher, check it out. The staff will never refuse to show you the packaging.

Oct 03, 2009
sja in Kosher

eating out on a cruise and other traif places

I have looked in to the Kosher options for cruises quite extensively and woud like to offer my help.

As stated below, practically all, but not all, cruise lines will be glad to serve frozen "airline" meals, but this has to be ordered in advance. You of course can take anything additional from the buffets as you desire.
If you speak to the purser or chef at the beginning of the cruise, most will try to expand the menu by going the "tin foil" route.

Kosher cruise runs by Kosherica, Suite Life or Lasko allow you to eat normally with lavish meals throughout the day but the price is up to 3 times as expensive and there are no last minute deals.
As to last minute deals on regular cruises, it might be difficult to order Kosher frozen meals as the lines usually want 30 days notice.

I do not wish to get into a discussion on the levels of Kashrut, but for the strictly observant, your comment that, "Bagels, lox, cottage cheese, cream cheese and tuna are all kosher", is simply not correct. All these items can be Kosher or not Kosher and recognized certification is needed to make it Kosher. Blanket assumptions are wrong and misleading.

In any case I hope that you have a pleasant and "filling" trip.

Oct 01, 2009
sja in Kosher

Kosher Wine on Ship

Thank you for your very detailed reply.
Even with paying for the food it seems that it comes out a lot cheaper then joining the Kosherica or Suite Life cruises which are terribly expensive. The price may be justified because of the costs involved but still it's a fortune.
The verdict seems to be out about Webermans as you seem to be against it and the next poster "RICHARDGEE" seems to say it is okay.

I would assume that they would have the Webermans on hand in any case if you ordered Kosher, something which would give you extra choices and quantity.

How much in advance do you have to let the Special needs people of your private food delivery? It seems that your method is a great way to take advantage of the many last minute deals poping up all over especially since the "regular " Kosher needs at least a month in advance, thus no last minute deals

Lastly how do you get in touch with Sam's Deli?

Thanks for your help

Jun 18, 2009
sja in Kosher