Cruise Considerations: FAQ

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Halachos Related to Going on a Cruise

Frequently Asked Questions

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

Q: Can I eat from the sealed Kosher meals that were heated for me on Shabbos?

A: It is prohibited to explicitly ask a non-Jew to heat food for you on shabbos.  If a non-Jew on their own heated solid foods without liquid, they may be eaten.  If the non-Jew heated liquids, they should only be consumed once they have cooled significantly and the benefit of having been heated is gone.[1]


Q: Can I eat a baked potato that was double wrapped in silver foil and brought to me as such?

A: A raw potato is obviously kosher.  It can be cooked in a non-kosher oven by double wrapping it in silver foil.  Since bishul akum is a concern, you should arrange to put the potato in the oven yourself. 


Q: Can I eat a piece of salmon that was double wrapped in silver foil?  What about other fish?

A:  It is only permissible to eat fish when you have seen the fins and scales and confirm its kosher status.  A clean knife should be used to fillet the fish on clean paper.  Salmon is the only fish that is kosher even once filleted since it is distinguished by its color.  The fish should be double wrapped in silver foil, and you must place it in the oven to avoid bishul akum.


Q: Can I eat hard boiled eggs that were prepared in a non-kosher pot?

A: The taste from the non-kosher pot is transferred and the eggs are not kosher.


Q: Can I eat cold cereal and milk in a non-Kosher bowl with a non-kosher spoon?

A: Yes, but care should be taken to confirm that the cutlery and utensils are clean.


Q: Can I eat freshly cut up fruit and/or vegetables?

A:  Yes, with exception of onions and radishes.[2]  Please be aware that some vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower require inspection to make sure there are no insects.


Q: When the cruise is complete, is birchas ha’gomel recited?

A: Yes, preferably within three days [3]


Shabbos Considerations:


Q: Does it make a difference what day of the week the cruise begins?

A: There is no concern with a cruise that begins on Sunday – Wednesday.  Due to the potential for sea sickness, combined with the possibility of Shabbos violation, Chazal decreed[4] that it is forbidden to set sail within three days of Shabbos.[5]  While a minority opinion[6] suggests that today large ships are stable and eliminate the necessity to adjust, most opinions[7] require us to observe the original decree.  Therefore, you should not book a cruise that sets sail Thursday or Friday.[8]


Q: If the cruise docks on Shabbos, can I disembark?

A: There is no prohibition in disembarking on Shabbos, but there are a few halachic considerations you must be careful about.  Since there is no eruv binding the ship to the dock and its adjacent area, carrying is forbidden.  You must check your pockets, etc. before disembarking.  Furthermore, there is a limitation in how far you can travel on shabbos outside of a residential area.  The techum (boundary) begins at the dock and extends approximately 7/10 of a mile.  Care must be taken not to walk too far and many believe out of caution, one shouldn’t disembark from a ship that docked on Shabbos.


Q: The ship has a metal detector, can I pass through it when re-boarding the ship on Shabbos?

A: You may pass through the detector assuming you are not carrying or wearing anything that may set it off. 


Q: My cabin has an electronic door lock, what should I do on shabbos?

A: You must leave your key at the front desk or with security and let them know that you will be asking them over shabbos to open your door for you.[9]


Q: The doors throughout the ship are electronic and open based on a sensor.  What should I do?

A: If there are manual doors available, it is preferable to use them.  If not, wait for a non-Jew to trigger the sensor and open the door and follow closely behind them.


Q: Can I carry on the ship; does it need an eruv or eruv chatzeiros?

A: Carrying on the ship is permissible as it is an inherently closed space.  No eruv chatzeiros is necessary.[10]


Q: Where should I light Shabbos candles? Can I use electric lights?

A: It is preferable to light candles in the dining room within proximity to where the Shabbos meals will take place.  If that is not possible, they can be lit in the cabin where you will sleep.  In most cases, candles are not allowed on the ship, so the mitzvah should be fulfilled by turning on an incandescent light bulb or flashlight; a beracha should be recited.[11]


Q: I don’t have kosher grape juice or kosher wine, how do I make Kiddush?

A: If there is no kosher grape juice or wine, Kiddush should be recited over bread.[12]


Q: I didn’t bring a havdallah set, what should I do?

A: Beer or juice can be used in place of wine.[13]  Any spice that has a fragrance can be used as besamim.[14] Two candles held together can be used as the havdallah candle.  If only one candle is available, the beracha may be recited. If candles are not permitted on the ship, one may use an electric incandescent light in place of a Havdalah candle.


Listen to a 3-part series on these halachos:

Cruise Considerations: What You Need to Know (Part 2)

Cruise Considerations: What You Need to Know (Part 3)

[1] Biur Halacha 253: d”h dino k’shachach

[2] Taz, Yoreh Deah 91:2

[3] Shulchan Aruch o.c. 219

[4] Shabbos 19a, Shulchan Aruch o.c. 248.  The decree is limited to a recreational journey.  A journey for a mitzvah is not subject to this limitation.

[5] According to the Vilna Gaon, the three days include Shabbos and therefore, Wednesday is permissible to journey

[6] Menuchas Ahava (1:2) by Rabbi Moshe Halevi (1961-2001)

[7] Tzitz Eliezer 1:21 and Yalkut Yosef Shabbos 1:248:note 1

[8] If a cruise that begins Thursday or Friday was already booked and is non-refundable, please ask your local Orthodox Rabbi

[9] Operating the electronic door mechanism is a Rabbinic prohibition thereby rendering asking a non-Jew to open it a shvus d’shvus b’makom mitzvah (oneg Shabbos).  Even if it were prohibited from the Torah, amirah l’akum on a psik reisha is permissible.

[10] Igros Moshe o.c.1:141

[11] Shemiras Shabbas K’Hilchasa ch. 43 note 22

[12] Shulchan Aruch o.c. 272:9

[13] O.c. 296:2

[14] Mishna Berura 297:10