Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Halachos of Going on a Cruise

Halachos of Going on a Cruise
Frequently Asked Questions

Guest post by R. Efrem Goldberg

Scheduling the Cruise

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[1] that it is forbidden to set sail within three days of Shabbos.[2] While a minority opinion[3] suggests that today large ships are stable and eliminate the necessity to adjust, most opinions[4] require us to observe the original decree. Therefore, you should not book a cruise that sets sail Thursday or Friday.[5]

Click here to read moreShabbos

Q: If the cruise docks on Shabbos, can I disembark?
A: There is no prohibition in disembarking on Shabbos, but there are a few halachik 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.

Q: If I need ID to disembark and re-enter the Ship and there is no Eruv, is there a way to pin it or wear it?
A: “Wearing” ID would be very complicated halachically. Instead, arrangements should be made with the Ships staff.

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.[6]

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 or its balconies is permissible as it is an inherently closed space. No eruv chatzeiros is necessary.[7]

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. If candles are not allowed on the ship, the mitzvah can be fulfilled by turning on an incandescent light bulb; however a beracha should not be recited.[8]

Q: I didn’t bring a Kiddush cup, what should I use?
A: Kiddush requires a dignified cup. It is preferable to use a glass. If only plastic or paper cups are available, they should be doubled up.[9]

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.[10]

Q: I didn’t bring a havdallah set, what should I do?
A: Beer or juice can be used in place of wine.[11] Any spice that has a fragrance can be used as besamim.[12] Two candles held together can be used as the havdallah candle. If only one candle is available, the beracha may be recited.

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 in an oven. If a non Jew on their own heated solid foods without liquid, they may be eaten.[13] If there are choices of meals, orders should be placed before Shabbos and nothing with liquid should be ordered for Shabbos day.


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 consideration, you should arrange to put the potato in the oven yourself.[14]

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 should place it in the oven to avoid bishul akum.[15]

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.[16]

Q: Can I eat freshly cut up fruit and/or vegetables?
A: Yes, with the exception of onions and radishes.[17] Please be aware that some vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower require inspection to make sure there are no insects. Furthermore not everything on the salad bar is automatically kosher.[18]

Q: Can I drink coffee or tea in the ship’s china? Can I mix it with the ship’s cutlery?
A: The china and cutlery are washed together with non kosher food and therefore should not be used for hot beverages. Ask for a paper or styrofoam cup and mix with a plastic spoon.

Q: When the cruise is complete, is birchas ha’gomel recited?
A: Yes, preferably within three days.[19]

[1] 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.
[2] According to the Vilna Gaon, the three days include Shabbos and therefore, Wednesday is permissible to journey.
[3] Menuhat Ahava (1:2) by Rabbi Moshe Halevi (1961-2001)
[4] Tzitz Eliezer 1:21 and Yalkut Yosef Shabbos 1:248:note 1
[5] If a cruise that begins Thursday or Friday was already booked and is non-refundable, please ask your local Orthodox Rabbi
[6] 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.
[7] Igros Moshe o.c.1:141
[8] Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata ch. 43 note 22
[9] Igros Moshe o.c. 3:39
[10] Shulchan Aruch o.c. 272:9
[11] O.c. 296:2
[12] Mishna Berura 297:10
[13] Biur Halacha 253: d”h dino k’shachach
[14] Today, potatoes can be prepared in a manner suitable for a State dinner or wedding.
[15] Not all fish is suitable to be eaten raw, only Sushi grade fish.
[16] Shach, y.d. 91
[17] Taz, Yoreh Deah 91:2
[18] For example, baby corn requires a hashgacha
[19] Shulchan Aruch o.c. 219

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