Kosher cruises are trips on cruise ships that cater specifically to the needs of Jewish travelers. All meals and snacks on these trips are prepared according to the strict kosher dietary laws, or kashrut, under the supervision of qualified personnel, including a rabbi. Kosher cruises often offer other amenities for Jewish travelers as well, including religious observances, lectures on Jewish topics of interest, and excursions to relevant cultural destinations. In addition to these activities, members of the kosher cruise group are able to participate in all of the typical cruise activities the ship offers.
Usually, kosher cruises are arranged as a sort of "cruise within a cruise" for a group of Jewish travelers. The members of the group travel together on board a traditional cruise ship along with many other passengers. They dine in separate areas on food that is prepared especially for them following the appropriate practices. They also have specific activities that are available just for their group along with all of the other experiences the cruise offers.
One of the most important features of any cruise is the food. The food on kosher cruises must be prepared following strict kosher dietary guidelines, called kashrut; in order to ensure that this is done correctly, preparation is supervised by a rabbi and completed by a group of trained personnel called mashgichim. A few examples of these rules include the forbidding of eating pork or shellfish and not being allowed to prepare or consume milk and meat together. The prohibition of mixing meat and dairy products requires maintaining separate sets of cookware, dishes and utensils. Certain foods must be prepared by a Jewish person in order to be considered kosher, such as cheese or wine from grapes.
On kosher cruises, the rules for food preparation are followed precisely, yet the staff does their best to ensure the passengers are still receiving gourmet food. Elaborate buffet displays are prepared and the service is the same as the non-kosher travelers receive. The participating travelers often eat in separate areas to ensure that mealtime remains a kosher experience, including a separate area of the main dining room for dinner aboard the ship. Aside from mealtime, kosher snacks are available for Jewish passengers throughout the day.
Another feature of kosher cruises is the availability of experiences that are customized to the needs of the Jewish traveler. This includes religious observances such as daily minyan prayer and weekly Shabbat, or Sabbath, services. There are also lectures on religious topics, called shiurim, and shore excursions to sites that have cultural or historical significance to Jewish travelers. In addition to participating in the activities planned just for them, kosher cruise participants are also able to enjoy all of the other cruise experiences, such as shows and swimming.