Kosher Disney Cruising Part 1 – Overview

The Disney Wonder in Port

Some of us remember the old world where Disney cruising meant renting out a “Big Red Boat” for Disney use.  That all changed in 1998, with the launch of the Disney Magic, and soon thereafter her sister ship the Wonder.  Now Disney touts 4 ships with 2 more on the way by 2025.  Disney ships also have something called rotational dining which, unlike other cruise lines, allows you to experience different dining experiences and menus with no extra charge.  If you have ever been on a cruise you will know that food is one of the biggest draws of the experience.  All you can eat, all day, every day, every hour, every second…unless you keep kosher.  There are kosher cruises out there and although we have never personally been on any of them, we hear the food is on par with other cruises.  The cost is pretty high, but if you are interested there are plenty of options out there to explore.

Having been on quite a few Disney cruises over a number of years we have to give Disney credit, they have significantly stepped up their game over the years.  The original offerings were literally kosher for Pesach, in January.  Now almost all of food is of the “Table Service” quality from the parks, which is a nice step up even if it’s not the same quality as what your co-cruisers are eating. And although your co-cruisers will be see their menus change, your kosher choices will remain the same.  It is also worth noting that Disney cruises have at least one premium dining experience  called Palo.  While the atmosphere at Palo may be one that you are interested in experiencing, you will have to pay extra for the privilege and your kosher options remain the same. So, you will be paying for the experience itself and nothing more.  The Dream and Fantasy also include an even more premium (and pricey) experience called Remy. Personally we have not found the investment worth it.

The most important thing you can do in advance of the cruise is make sure your special dietary needs are outlined in your reservation.  This of course includes kosher, but if you have other special requests make sure those are noted on the reservation together. (E.g. my wife is vegetarian, that means NO fish either.  If you eat fish you are a pescetarian, not a vegetarian! Sorry, sore subject.) Personally, because of how picky my kids are, and my wife’s aversion to anything that breathes, I go out of my way to confirm with Disney a few months in advance, and then a month in advance to ensure our preferences are on the reservation.

Once you arrive on your well-deserved vacation, the actual way meals are handled has varied from cruise to cruise and can even vary by time of year.  During “yeshiva break” in January the staff is well aware of the number of kosher passengers on the cruise due to the number of meals ordered (on our last voyage we were told they had over 300 individual requests for kosher meals).  Armed with that knowledge, the crew has tried a variety of different ways to best handle the many special requests, some with success and some with less success.  The most recent, and hopefully the method going forward, includes one of your servers checking in with you at dinner the night before to ask for your requests for the next day, with all options being available.

Generally, cruise ships are held to very strict health code standards and in many cases make different types of food in different kitchens.  So, depending on what you are willing to eat, in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables you can request a potato or fish double wrapped in tin foil, which can also add variety to your meal. Additionally, you can ask for cut up/whole vegetables.[1]  On a Disney cruise your servers follow you from restaurant to restaurant every night so they really get to know you (unless you eat at Remy or Palo).  The meals Disney provides are Webermans meals which are double wrapped in plastic.  The waiters usually have scissors readily available to cut open any packages that are hard to open (it is about 50/50 in terms of whether it will be difficult or not).

[1] Please check with your ROC on these items and whether you can rely on this situation since there are a variety of opinions and options including how the knives are handled, special marking on the double wrapping, etc.

Continue here for part 2

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