JSinglesCruise delivered on its slogan with two marriages in its first year of operations. Onboard, singles partake in speed-dating, elaborate glatt kosher meals and a "potential romantic week that can culminate in the start of a beautiful relationship," says Roxan Hupert, who is scheduled to take her third JSinglesCruise next January. "It is worth it even without meeting Mr. Right because cruising is a great way to see the world."
JSinglesCruise (JSinglesCruise.com) sails in tandem with its parent company, Kosherica Cruises, making it easy for families and singles to vacation together. Voyages have included Caribbean and Alaska itineraries. There are plans for a Mediterranean or Baltic cruise.
The leaves have turned, the days are shorter and Chanukah, the holiday of lights, glimmers ahead. With the winter looming, juicy possibilities await, with plenty of exotic, warm weather options. So go ahead and plan your first big escape of 2006. Or surprise a loved one by booking a post-Chanukah adventure. This might just be the trip of a lifetime.
For singles preferring a little more advance notice and a kosher meal plan, the five-star Celebrity Infinity sets off from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for a Caribbean cruise with JSinglesCruise.com. The voyage features group parties; nightly shows with dancers, comedians, singers; Jewish entertainment; daily minyanim and Talmud study, and lectures, as well as the extravagant dining traditional to luxury cruises.
In addition, JSinglesCruise features daily mixers for singles in two groups, 20s-40s and 40s-60s, with special on-board guest Tova Weinberg, a SawYouAtSinai matchmaker who has made 90 matches. Confirmed bookings also include a 20-minute free precruise coaching session by phone with an experienced life coach.
The ship drops anchor in three ports: San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. John, Antigua, and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Like all leading cruise ships, Infinity offers an array of options for group excursions, including guided shopping, city tours, sightseeing, parties and sports. Most excursions last two to four hours and are available for purchase online up to 10 days prior to departure or during the cruise.
Maritime Kosher International supervises Celebrity's glatt kosher, award-winning gourmet cuisine. The menu, guided by world-renowned master chef Michel Roux, includes three daily sit-down meals, afternoon tea and midnight nosh.
Prices include accommodations, meals and on-board activities. Spa services, excursions and flight to Fort Lauderdale are extra.
Dates: Jan. 22-29
For reservations, call (917) 952-4033 or (323) 640-7230, or visit JSinglesCruise.com.
Kosherica Cruises, which is known for its tradition of on-board concerts with Dudu Fisher, Mordechai Ben David and other performers, offers families opportunities to travel on the same ship as JSinglesCruisers. Activities include lectures with renowned speakers, such as Rabbi Maurice Lamm, as well as Israeli folk dance classes for women led by Dassie Schuster.
Additional upcoming itineraries for 2006 include the Panama Canal in February to exploring the Baltic in August and Australia and New Zealand next December. During the course of the year, Kosherica will also cruise South America.
For more information, visit Kosherica.com or call (877) 724-5567.
Marathon Sunday in New York City was sunny and warm, with temperatures reaching 68 degrees. As the marathon (an obvious metaphor for New York's infamous rat race) ran, no one could believe it was November. But the moments of light were themselves fleet-footed; by 4:47 pm, we watched helplessly, as the sun slipped away, abandoning us to the post-daylight-saving time darkness.
In autumn and winter, it's a literal challenge to find light. Those of us bound to a typical office environment arrive in morning light, luck out if we snag a few sunny minutes midday, and then, after disengaging from desk-side doldrums, commute home in darkness. It is no accident that winter's holidays — Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa — all center on themes and images relating to illumination. And it is no surprise that people, especially singles, might take the external darkness and internalize it emotionally.
“Since human beings can be emotionally responsive to changes in nature and climate,” Janice Bennett, of DoctorLoveCoach.com says, “the lack of natural light during these same months can exacerbate depressive tendencies.” In some cases, those tendencies can become Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
The National Mental Health Association defines SAD as “a mood disorder associated with depression episodes and related to seasonal variations of light; symptoms may include all of the traditional signs of depression (weight gain, excessive eating or sleeping), and a craving for starchy and sugary foods.” Add the season's social expectations, Bennett says, and you pile on pressure to be partnered. “Singles look at their social calendar for the coming months and cringe,” Bennett says, pointing to Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Year's as times when singles constantly ask themselves, “Do I need a date for this?”
Bennett, a clinical psychologist and personal coach, cites some remedies for the “winter blues,” as recommended by Norman E. Rosenthal, the doctor who literally wrote the book on SAD (“Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder: What It Is and How to Overcome It”). Rosenthal suggests that SAD patients be outdoors as much as possible, try to work near a window and exercise, preferably outside.
Figuratively and literally, the cure for darkness is to find light. Can't see in the dark? Turn on the light. Suffering the loss of daylight in winter? Sign yourself up for sun. As Rosenthal notes, moving to a warmer climate or, at least, taking a mid-winter vacation to some place sunny and warm, might help.
If I'm “SAD,” I'm clinically undiagnosed; still, I miss the daylight and my tank of energy feels like it has sprung a leak. And having publicly committed to the concept of change for the coming year, I'm making a major departure. At the end of January, I shall overcome thoughts of Titanic and spend seven days of sun at sea aboard a JSinglesCruise. Only a few Caribbean ports short of The Beach Boys' “Kokomo,” the cruise promises endless food and recreation (which I hope to balance healthfully), carefree relaxation and hopefully, new people to meet aboard a five-star ocean liner named Infinity. I am taking the limitlessness of the ship's name as an extremely good sign.
No singles trip can promise romance, but JSinglesCruise's Web site (JSinglescruise.com) does boast of three couples (two married, one engaged) from previous sailings. Cruise owner Edelstein is proud that lasting romantic and platonic relationships form aboard her cruises, and attributes it to cruising's unique ability to relax participants.
“The darkness that singles can feel in winter can stand in the way of everything,” says Edelstein. “People can feel dark about their prospects and can't get into a good space, an attitude that affects everything. It's important to find some sort of light. With a cruise, they can leave their stress at home. They feel the tension of winter melt away, they always have a place to sleep and fabulous meals to eat; they can be catered to all day in a Jewish vacation environment surrounded by great people and not have to worry about anything.” (My big worry? Too much food. But if I don't get to the Infinity's fitness center, I've only myself to blame.) .
This may not be the Jewish Love Boat, with my bashert waiting for me on the Lido Deck after post-Shabbat shuffleboard. Would it be nice (bordering on miraculous) to meet someone special? Sure. But this trip is more about a great vacation, leaving routine behind to embrace new people and experiences, and getting my sunshine in the dead of winter.
Esther D. Kustanowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Esther D. Kustanowitz writes The First Person Singular column, which appears every other week. She can be reached at email@example.com.
With the winter chill starting to set in along with short, dark days, how do Fort Lauderdale, Puerto Rico, Antigua and St. Maarten sound?
Jsingles Cruise, a fairly new outfit that boasts two weddings to its credit, is offering a voyage combining those four sunny destinations during the week of Jan. 22.
It's among the warm-weather escapes being offered in the increasingly popular midwinter option of cruising. The variety of voyages has mushroomed so much in recent years that even the avowed cruise-averse might want to take another look.
There are cruises for Jewish singles, lovers of sports and kosher noshers. Those who seek their bliss under the Caribbean sun surely have their choice, as do the adventurous who wish to explore the Far East. And they fit just about every budget.
While escorted land tours tend to be pricey and a cheap safari is an oxymoron, cruise operators like full boats, so deals abound. You can pay as little as $800 for a wintertime Caribbean cruise; of course, you could spend 10 times as much, too.
The glatt kosher JSingles cruise in January is aimed at singles in two age groups — 20s to 40s and 40s to 60s — and includes a dating coach, an on-board matchmaker and activities like speed dating and mixer games. Full packages begin at $1,500 but are selling out fast. For information, visit www.jsinglescruise.com or call (323) 640-7230.
You can take your pick of warm-weather destinations with Kosherica Enterprises, which offers three Caribbean cruises this winter: two in late January to the eastern Caribbean, with stops in St. Maarten, Antigua and Puerto Rico, and one in early February to the Panama Canal, stopping at Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico.
The name tells you what kind of food you'll get on board; the cuisine is glatt kosher, cholov yisroel and pas yisroel. But what really makes these trips distinctive is the entertainment: performances by top performers of Jewish music like Dudu Fisher, Hadassah Schuster, Mordechai Ben David and Alberto Mizrahi.
Many categories are sold out, but spots are still available on all three cruises. Rates begin at about $1,500 for the eastern Caribbean and $2,450 for the Panama Canal. Information is at www.kosherica.com or (877) 724-5567.
LOS ANGELES, May 1, 2005 -- Thrilling shore excursions, singles parties, breathtaking scenery, five-star luxury, kosher gourmet dining - these are all on the itinerary when www.JSinglesCruise.com embarks on its annual summer getaway to Alaska, August 19 - 26, 2005.
This Jewish singles vacation aboard Celebrity Cruises' highly rated, five-star ship, Mercury, features a huge array of group activities both on and off-board, as well as the extravagant dining always central to the cruise experience.
JSinglesCruise founder and president Helit Edelstein describes her getaways as departures from the typical singles "meet market." "JSinglesCruise allows Jewish singles to branch out and connect with people from all over," Edelstein says. "Not only do romantic relationships form, but strong friendships, too." According to Edelstein, she and her JSinglesCruise staff consider the creation of a friendly atmosphere a top priority. "Our quality singles bond with one another through the excitement and fun of the cruise experience," she explains. "On our previous sailings, people have become the closest of friends and have continued to stay in touch long after the voyage's end."
Some have become very, very close -- JSinglesCruise is thrilled to announce its first marriage! Julie Ramelson of New York and Danny Goldberg of London were total strangers when they boarded JSinglesCruise's 2004 week-long Jewish singles cruise to Alaska. Amidst towering glaciers and spouting humpback whales, Ramelson and Goldberg began a relationship that culminated in an engagement and a glorious Central Park wedding in March, 2005.
"These two singles, separated by the Atlantic Ocean, came together on the Pacific," Edelstein says. "Their marriage, and two additional engagements that resulted from our January, 2005 Caribbean Adventure, prove that there are terrific Jewish singles out there, and that JSinglesCruise is their ideal matchmaker!"
On August 19, Mercury will depart from Seattle. The cruise includes several days at sea, plying the calm summer waters of Alaska's famous Inside Passage. Spectacular ports of call include: Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The ship also visits the stunning and world famous Hubbard Glacier.
In Juneau, Alaska's capi tal city, for example, the many possible shore excursions include once-in-a-lifetime tours to the Mendenhall Glacier. You can visit these alien landscapes by bus, kayak, boat or helicopter - and on the latter, land on the ice for a walking tour or even a dogsled adventure. Those desiring a more sedate excursion can visit the Alaska State Museum which houses a renowned collection documenting the history of the state from its days as a Russian settlement through to the Gold Rush and the modern era. Or take the Mt. Roberts Tramway for a mountaintop view of Juneau and its surroundings.
Mercury, the newest of Celebrity's Century-class of ships, is impressive not just in terms of visual appeal, but also in the vast array of world-class amenities and services she offers. These include: the AquaSpa, a health club and gym facility which offers treatments inspired by rituals from exotic cultures. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools are adjacent. The Navigator Club, whose floor-to-ceiling windows allow you to enjoy relaxed conversation as you float past the ocean scenery. Online@Celebrity offers 24/7 internet connectivity aboard ship. Fortunes Casino offers non-stop gaming action, and the Pavilion Nightclub hosts quality lounge entertainment. The Celebrity Theater is the venue for live Broadway-style entertainment, stand-up comedy, magic shows and concerts. Mercury also has an onboard cinema, library, and conference facilities. The huge international crew operates at the highest level of professionalism, and - a must in today's environment - works diligently to provide a safe and secure voyage.
In addition, all JSinglesCruise guests are offered a complimentary session with Life Coach and dating advisor Sheryl Giffis.
Mercury`s dramatic two-story, white linen restaurant serves up ocean views with glatt kosher, award-winning gourmet cuisine.
For more information and reservations, call (917) 952-4033 / 323-640-7230 or visit www.JSinglesCruise.com.
A few weeks ago, I accepted one of my most unusual freelance gigs: a singles' cruise. Yes, I am unattached. But I was on assignment. I went strictly for research. Really.
Organized by JSinglesCruise.com, this cruise within a cruise was scheduled to set sail from Ft. Lauderdale for seven days in the eastern Caribbean, complete with a handful of maritime mashgichim, midnight buffets and even Shabbat services aboard the five-star Celebrity Millennium luxury liner. With 100 singles, mixers and other activities, it sounded like it could be wonderful. Or it could be a nightmarish, week-long singles event with a life jacket I might actually need.
Still, I had an assignment to complete and, with JSinglesCruise's three-part slogan, I had three tasks at hand: "Have fun. See the world. Meet your bashert."
Mission Number One: "Have Fun" As we boarded the ship and headed to a festive welcome lunch, I was surrounded by familiar faces. Like a retrospective of previous writing gigs, there were two New Yorkers I met at last year's spirituality conference in Maui, the guy I met when covering Kosher Club Med in Mexico, a few friends from Isralight retreats and another female adventure traveler I met in Florida. At a minimum, I would be in good company.
Even better, our cruise director, Helit Edelstein, who spun JSinglesCruise off from her family's Kosherica cruise company, had carefully planned the entire week, even our dining companions. At each table, the same women were seated together every evening, with different men rotating between us, literally boy-girl-boy-girl. Rather than feeling randomly stuck together, we women became a sort of "Sex in the City" foursome (without the skimpy outfit s and near-total hedonistic abandon).
We were all religious to varying degrees. Some of us knew each other prior to the cruise. And during each dinner, as the men came and (sometimes) went, we stayed put, sincerely enjoying our camaraderie.
That's when I realized the four of us were the anchor for this article. But only I had agreed to use my real name. They hadn't. So I invited them to create their own aliases. "Sarah" is the size of the show's narrator, Carrie Bradshaw. "Katherine" is a blonde like Samantha. And like a somewhat quirky Miranda, when "Taika" was given an option to create a new identity, she chose "something exotic." While my dark hair resembles that of the on-screen Charlotte, my role was 100% Carrie, toting along my laptop and keeping my assignment in mind.
When it came to the real test of this category, having fun, Sarah, Katherine, Taika and I knocked this one off no problem. Frum yes, but as we soon discovered, we also know how to get funky. Like sudden mascots of the show's "girls just wanna have fun" club, we held what you might call a "tznius all-girl boogie" in the ship's 11th floor disco, appropriately named Cosmos (a cranberry martini), every night but Shabbat. Our universal verdict: "off da hook."
With our easy dinner/disco rapport, we had no problem extending that to a fabulous time during daylight hours. On our first full day at sea, Sarah and I attended a Dudu Fisher concert arranged by Edelstein's father, Yehuda Schifman, the owner of Kosherica, which always sails in tandem with JSingles, making it easy for families and singles to travel together. In the ship's cavernous theater, we clapped along to Fischer's Elvis-inspired "Lecha Dodi."
We also enjoyed exploring the rest the ship, including the expansive women's sauna with a massive porthole, spa, reading and listening libraries, cinema, as well as a bunch of JSingles group activities, including speed-dating, games and even finger painting.
I admit, was fun.And then, there were the "drinks of the day." As Katherine and Taika soon realized, Sarah and I tread lightly when it comes to cocktails. So we demurred to the other half of our foursome when it came to re-enacting this aspect of the legendary television series. From their on-deck chaise lounges and elsewhere on ship, Katherine and Taika sipped pina coladas, green apple martinis, frozen margaritas, Tom Collins and Hashem only knows what else.
With extensive glatt kosher buffets at each breakfast and lunch, and a nightly five-course, sit-down dinner, there were plenty of other calories easily within reach. So many in fact that Katherine and I, who often met up in the ocean-view fitness center, joked our work-outs were so intense that we had to make sure we consumed enough calories to avoid losing weight on the ship. Lest we disembark as waifs, we dutifully enjoyed sampling nearly everything available. Soon, our handsome Slavic dinner waiter was serving up plates of curly fries from the kids' menu without our even asking.
Mission Number Two: "See the World" Few vacations offer the opportunity of going to sleep in one country and safely waking up in another without an assist from the black market. On Day Three, in our first port, Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, I joined a rigorous kayaking excursion through a wide river surrounded by lush, tropical foliage. I returned to the ship spent, definitely requiring a second dessert at dinner.
The next day, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sarah went off to visit an old friend. Taika went horseback riding. And Katherine and I headed to the lush rain forest that lived up to its name with a sudden downpour. The terrain was so gorgeous, we would have gladly kept hiking. But our driver insisted we quickly wrap up our tour. Somehow, it seemed, he knew of our weight maintenance program and the urgency to return to the ship for immediate five-star nourishment.
My favorite port was St. Thomas, where I spent the afternoon exploring town and the historic synagogue and the morning hiking and snorkeling in a protected biosphere. Amidst red mangrove trees, we spotted yellow-and-black-striped sergeant majors, tiny bright damselfish, barracuda, graceful (harmless) jellyfish, one magnificent green moray eel and many other fantastic creatures. But none of them were appropriate males on two legs, which leads me to the final frontier...
Mission Number Three: "Meet your Bashert" At Friday lunch, we all received a party favor: a fist-sized squishable globe with green land masses punctuating bright blue seas. Under the JSinglesCruise.com logo, the ball featured the company's three-part slogan. I held it up for our foursome over all-you-can-eat sushi.
"Have fun," I said, making a virtual check with my forefinger. "See the World." Another check. "Meet Your Bashert." I stopped speaking and put the ball down.
I would have never imagined I would ever go on a love boat, let alone actually describe the experience in public. But this was great. There were eligible men in our group. And some women actually met them. Still, I had a fabulous vacation, I mean assignment. And instead of suffering one horrible, seven-day singles' party, it was more like camp, but with nightly turndown service and requiring a valid passport. Sure, there were plenty of couples taking shape, but there were also lots of folks without sweethearts enjoying each other's company, fantastic ports of call and an endless supply of curly fries.
Besides, it's not all about me... Sarah, Katherine or even Taika. On the August, 2004 cruise, a woman from New York City met a man from London. They're getting married in March. And on our sailing, one on-board couple had been dating for more than a year before they joined the cruise. On Saturday night, a great commotion broke out in the dining room somewhere between the entr e and dessert. As the cameras flashed, a cake was brought to their table as everyone sang a rousing "siman tov u'mazal tov." As the bride explained, the cruise had sealed the deal.
JSinglesCruise.com sets sail twice yearly. The next cruise is scheduled for Alaska, August 19-26.
JSingles Cruises was launched this summer to cater a five star experience for the Jewish single looking for adventure. The company specializes in top of the line, five star, cruises on the upscale Celebrity cruise line visiting interesting and exotic destinations such as Alaska, The Greek Isles, and Puerto Rico. The tours have been growing steadily and Helit Edelstein, Director of Jsingles Cruises, says that within the last few years they wanted to branch out and do something special for the singles community.
JSingles Cruises will take over a portion of the ship with their Mashgaichs, cutlery, and dishes and make a kosher space for themselves at sea. Besides providing great, five star gourmet food with specialties such as chicken cordon blue, grilled churrasco steak (an Argentinean delicacy), the best sushi and specialties for vegetarians at every meal, JSingles Cruises brings in their own Rabbis to lead services three times daily. There are also fun things to do like casino gambling, deck sports, volleyball, speed dating, board games, and fabulous entertainment. Their upcoming tour, which is scheduled to leave Ft. Lauderdale January 16th, through January 23, 2005 is heading towards sunny Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and The Dominican Republic.
This past summer on August 15th was the launching of JSingles. The 8 Day tour went to Alaska making port calls in Sitka, Juneau and Vancouver. The program is designed to be highly accessible to singles and facilitate meetings and networking. What makes their tours unique is the selectivity of the program. Jsingles makes sure that there are an equal number of males and females. Most other cruises like this might have about 25 people, while JSingles has over 100 people, from America, England, Italy, Canada and other parts of the globe.
When you sign up for the winter cruise you get a free hour session with Sheryl Giffis who runs Luminous Life Coaching, a business that specializes in coaching people on how to improve their relationships and become the right person as opposed to finding the right person. With several pre-cruise sessions Sheryl gives you the tools to focus your trip and tune in and discover who you are and what makes you unique so you can shine while meeting new people.
JSingles is open to singles ages 20-60, but is most popular with a focus on the 20-40 year old group. Bracha Lieberman, a Westsider, who went on the summer inauguration trip, raved about the program. "JSingles was made so sweet by connecting with Helit. She was very knowledgable and decided herself about the travel routes that they run. I've been waiting to go to Alaska forever and even though I'm not a cruise person I fulfilled a dream and had a lot of fun and adventures along the way." Currently the cruise line has seen several singles walk away as couples or at least "more than just friends". They are waiting to announce their first shidduch. If you are adventurous, like traveling, and meeting Jewish people from all over the world, than Jsingles Cruises is for you. Tours start at $999.00 Call (917) 952-4033 or (323) 640-7230 to sign up for the Winter Cruise or visit www.jsinglescruise.com.
Celebrity Cruises is the luxurious venue for a kosher Caribbean cruise for singles Jan. 16-23 organized by JSinglesCruise.com. Experienced cruisers will delight in the five-star Millennium, a ship I recommend based on my experiences on its (general audience) maiden voyage of the Baltic Sea in 2000.
The upcoming voyage features group parties as well as the usual extravagant dining traditional to the cruise industry. In addition, special on-board guest Sheryl Giffis, a professional life coach, is offering a complimentary one-hour session to singles.
The ship departs from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and includes several days at sea as well as international ports of call. These include Caso De Campo in the Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas; and Nassau in the Bahamas. Guests explore ports independently or book group excursions.
Like all leading cruise ships, Millennium offers an array of options, including guided shopping, city tours, sightseeing, parties and sports. Most excursions last two to four hours.
In Casa De Campo, the many possible shore excursions include a catamaran “Sail and Snorkel” ($54); skeet and trap shooting ($88) and horseback riding ($60); countryside tour ($45), 4-by-4 “Cane Adventure” ($59); and a “Water Eco Adventure” ($64). The Water Eco Adventure begins with a bus ride to the beach, where speedboats shuttle guests to Palmilla at the entrance of Catuano channel. Aboard wooden boats, guests explore among the mangroves — amazing structures that grow amid a rich variety of fauna. Wooden oars allow you to explore this home to red-breasted frigate birds and jellyfish.
Guests depart via motorboat to a natural swimming pool, where guides dive to collect starfish. A Dominican band serenades aboard while guests swim in shallow waters or relax on deck with complimentary soft drinks, beer and rum.
The second port of call, San Juan, offers such excursions as the “Bioluminescent Bay Kayak Tour” ($77) at the Bioluminescent Lagoon of the Las Cabezas Preserve in Fajardo, about an hour and a half outside of San Juan. Kayaking here offers up-close glimpses of wildlife, including the stunning, glowing effect of microorganisms.
These and other excursions are available for purchase online up to 10 days prior to departure. After that date, excursions may be purchased on board.
For kosher cruises, Millennium’s dramatic two-story, white linen restaurant serves up ocean views with glatt kosher, cholov yisroel, award-winning gourmet cuisine prepared under the strict supervision of Maritime Kosher International and guided by world-renowned master chef Michel Roux. An extensive breakfast buffet is served in a special dining room area reserved especially for guests of JSinglesCruise.com. And like any great sailing, the cruise also includes afternoon tea as well as “midnight nosh.”
Prices start at $1,110 for an inside stateroom based on double occupancy. Cabin and meals are included; spa services, excursions and flight to Fort Lauderdale are not. For reservations, call (917) 952-4033 or visit JSinglesCruise.com. To learn more about Giffis, visit Luminarious Life Coaching at www.luminarious.com.
Fabulous shore excursions, singles parties and glatt kosher gourmet meals are all on the menu when JSinglesCruise.com embarks on its annual winter getaway, January 16-23, 2005. Destination: the Caribbean.
This upcoming Modern Orthodox, singles vacation aboard Celebrity Cruises' highly rated, five-star ship, Millennium, features group activities on and off-board, as well as the usual extravagant dining traditional to the cruise industry. In addition, special guest Sheryl Giffis, a professional life coach, is offering a complimentary one-hour session to all singles cruise participants.
JSinglesCruise owner Helit Edelstein describes her getaways as a departure from the typical New York "meet market." JSinglesCruise allows Modern Orthodox singles to branch out and connect with people from all over. Not only are male-female relationships formed but strong friendships as well. There are people who get together on email groups daily and who have become the closest of friends.
And more! JSinglesCruise announces its first official engagement. She lives in the United States. And he is from the United Kingdom. When Julie Ramelson and Danny Goldberg boarded a week-long Jewish singles cruise to Alaska in August, they didn't know each other. But amidst looming glaciers and spouting humpback whales, Ramelson and Goldberg began a relationship that recently culminated in planning their upcoming wedding.
The only way they could meet was on the ocean, on a boat that connects their two worlds, Edelstein says. This is proof once again that there are terrific singles out there.
The ship will depart from Ft. Lauderdale and the cruise includes several days at sea as well as international ports of call. These include Caso De Campo in the Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Nassau, Bahamas. Guests can explore ports independently or book group excursions. Like all leading cruise ships, Millennium offers a staggering variety of options, including guided shopping, city tours, sightseeing, parties and sports. Most excursions are usually two to four hours in duration.
In Casa De Campo, the many possible shore excursions include a catamaran Sail & Snorkel ($54), skeet and trap shooting ($88), horseback riding ($60), a countryside tour ($45),a 4 x 4 Cane Adventure ($59) and a Water Eco Adventure ($64). The latter begins with a bus ride to a beach. There, speedboats shuttle guests to Palmilla, located at the entrance of Catuano Channel. Aboard wooden boats, guests explore among the mangroves. These amazing structures grow amidst a rich variety of fauna. Wooden oars allow visitors to explore this home to red-breasted frigate birds and jellyfish.
Next up, guests depart via motorboat to a natural swimming pool, where guides dive to collect starfishes. A Dominican band serenades aboard while guests swim in shallow waters or relax on deck with complimentary soft drinks, beer and rum.
The second port of call, San Juan, also offers a variety of excursions. Guests may opt for the Bioluminescent Bay Kayak Tour ($77) at the Bioluminescent Lagoon of the Las Cabezas Preserve in Fajardo, about 90 minutes outside of San Juan. Kayaking here offers up close glimpses of wildlife, including the stunning, glowing effect of microorganisms.
These and other excursions are available for purchase online up to 10 days prior to departure. After that date, excursions may be purchased onboard.
For kosher cruises, Millennium`s dramatic two-story, white linen restaurant serves up ocean views with glatt kosher, cholov Yisrael, award-winning gourmet cuisine prepared under the strict supervision of Maritime Kosher International and under the guidance of world renowned master chef Michel Roux. An extensive breakfast buffet will be served in a special dining room area reserved especially for guests of JSinglesCruise.com. And like any great sailing, the cruise also includes afternoon tea as well as midnight noshing.
Prices start at $1,110 for an inside stateroom, based on double occupancy. Cabin and all meals are included. Spa services, excursions and flight to Ft. Lauderdale are additional costs.
For more information and reservations, call (917) 952-4033 or visit www.JSinglesCruise.com.
...And for the marrieds:
Couples and families explore the Caribbean with Kosherica, the leaders in family cruising. Send your single loved ones to the JSinglesCruise division and your little ones to the Fun Factory, while you soak up the sun and tranquility of the Caribbean with Kosherica`s legendary five-star hospitality. Kosherica, which accompanies every JSinglesCruise voyage, offers headline cantorial entertainment with Dudu Fisher, Shlomo Simcha, Benzion Miller and Yehuda Shifman. Of course, there are all the minyanim, Daf Yomi shiurim and highly regarded speakers you have come to expect with Kosherica, as well as private movie screenings and a wide variety of non-stop family activities. There are also fitness classes, spa treatments and a rainbow of shore excursions in tropical destinations throughout the Caribbean. And it is all complemented by gourmet Glatt kosher meals galore and cholov Yisrael, for an unforgettable vacation. For more information and reservations, contact Kosherica at (877) 724-5567, or visit www.Kosherica.com.
I spent most of my life struggling to balance out two seemingly impossible and contradictory tendencies: I love traveling in fabulous style, enjoying gourmet food and great entertainment. I am also an Orthodox Jewess, for whom kashrut and yiddishkeit are pillars of my existence. So you can imagine how my appetite left me every time I had to unwrap those unsavory, defrosted tin foiled portions on my previous cruise experiences. In addition, often I could not participate in cruise events since they involved immodest activities. Today, this is no longer the case. The observant traveler is now catered and sought after by the travel industry.
The cruise industry has experienced a boom in the last 10 years. They are seeing a new traveler, the frum traveler. To accommodate this latest consumer, cruises are going all out by providing Jewish passengers with gourmet glatt kosher meals, minyanim, rabbinical lectures, world famous cantorial concerts, separate swimming, etc. The cruise industry has always been very secular, but thanks to specialty cruise companies, it's now truly accessible to all.
Last year I discovered heaven on earth, when I booked passage for my family on a Kosherica Cruise to Alaska. No longer is vacation a tin foil experience but rather, a superb glatt kosher dining experience, with fine china and elegant service. We were fed some of the most memorable meals, prepared by a gifted Michelin five-star rated chef. Our day would start with incredible breakfast and lunch buffets, then an afternoon nosh and then dinner. The hardest part was choosing what not to eat. Shall I have the churrasco steak, rack of veal, chicken, fresh fish or a vegetarian option? So many decisions, so little time. I usually had a bit of each and justified it by walking off a few calories to the midnight buffet.
The food was wonderful, but the worldclass entertainment was the real icing on the cake. It made the whole experience especially superb. Typical cruises offer Broadway-style shows and entertainers, which often include scantily dressed women, immodest dancing or singing, and off-color comedic entertainment inappropriate for children. But on the Kosherica cruise, this frum traveler has the option of hearing Dudu Fisher (star of Les Miserable on Broadway) perform live. His Jewish Elvis medley far surpassed the secular Broadway version.
The Shabbat service was no longer a semi-religious prayer gathering, but rather a sectioned off Orthodox service preformed by renowned chazzanim. On this particular cruise, we listened to Shlomo Simcha and Benzion Miller daven while sailing past ancient, majestic glaciers. It's amazing how much your prayers improve once you're surrounded by evidence of G-d's powers. The experience brought a greater appreciation for the beauty of the world that Hashem created.
Who would have thought that I would be off to Alaska with Dudu Fisher, Benzion Miller and Shlomo Simcha. One minute I'm hearing an unbelievable Lecha Dodi rendition and the next we are cruising past a stunning glacier. Cantorial giants among nature's giants. The exquisite beauty of it all made me say a silent prayer to be merit all of this cornucopia.
Rather than just going to ice carving classes, we had daf yomis that inspired our lives. It was wonderful to hear Rabbi Lamm talk about the power of hope while looking out the window and witnessing a whale swimming in the wake of the boat. Our group even had separate swimming in the mornings and separate Israeli dance classes every afternoon.
JSinglesCruise, a singles division of Kosherica, was also onboard with its group of over 100 Jewish singles. It was enchanting to see single Jewish people connecting and finally finding a no-pressure environment designed to bring them closer. It was also a perfect way for single members of a family to join the family cruise and also have time to meet and mingle with other Jewish singles.
I had a wonderful opportunity to bond with my family. Together, we met interesting people from around the world. We went on a helicopter ride in the Misty Fjords, whale watching, dogsleding on glaciers, and took city tours at every port. But we really became close during Shabbos when we realized how blessed we were that we were experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in a heimishe environment.
Kosherica embarks on its summer getaways to Alaska, July 10-17, 2005 and August 19-26, 2005. It features Dudu Fisher, Mordechai Ben David, Shlomo Simcha, Yeedle Wirdiger, Michael Schnitzler and Benzion Miller, Daniel Gildar, Heshi Kuhnreich, Shai Bachar and Yehuda Shifman. In addition, there are all the minyanim, Daf Yomi shiurim and highly regarded speakers. For more information call 877-724- 5567 or visit www.Kosherica.com. Singles can call 917- 952-4033/ 323-640-7230 or visit www.JSingles Cruise.com.
Performing cantors, adventurous shore excursions and all-you-can-eat sushi are on the menu when Kosherica sets sail. The company's most recent run, departing Ft. Lauderdale for seven days in the Eastern Caribbean, was no exception. Dudu Fisher inaugurated a string of shows, well supported by a handful of maritime mashgichim, midnight buffets and even Shabbat services aboard the five-star Celebrity Millennium luxury liner.
I was on an assignment, laptop in tow, with a brutal job ahead. So I gritted my teeth, boarded the ship and immediately got to work. Well, maybe not immediately. After reaching my cabin, my first stop was the festive glatt kosher welcome lunch. Suddenly, I was surrounded by familiar faces. Like a retrospective of previous writing gigs, there were two New Yorkers I met at last year's spirituality conference in Maui, the guy I met when covering Kosher Club Med in Mexico, a few friends from Isralight retreats and another female adventure traveler I met in Florida. At a minimum, I would be in good company.
Even better, our cruise director, Yehuda Schifman, had carefully planned the entire week as a cruise within a cruise. Our first full day at sea, a friend and I attended a concert with cantor extraordinaire, Dudu Fisher, who retold his stories about performing in "Les Miserables," first in Hebrew in Israel, and then in English on Broadway. In the ship's cavernous theater, we clapped along to Fischer's hits, including his Elvis-inspired "Lecha Dodi. "
It was the beginning of a jam-packed week with several more cantorial concerts and lots of exploring the rest of the ship, including the expansive sauna with a massive porthole (one for men, one for women), spa, reading and listening libraries, and the cinema, which showed Jewish films all week. There were also events scheduled for JSinglesCruise.com, which Schifman's daughter, Helit Edelstein, coordinates in conjunction with two Kosherica sailings each year. The combination makes it easy for families and singles to travel together. JSingles group activities include SpeedDating, games and even a workshop with a life coach, who also offers dating advice via telephone pre-cruise. The formula seems to be working. JSingles has celebrated one marriage and one engagement since its inauguration last August.
With extensive glatt kosher buffets at each breakfast and lunch, including Friday's all-you-can-eat sushi and nightly five-course, sit-down dinner, this cruise was no different from any other, with plenty of calories easily within reach. During kosher cruises, Millennium's dramatic two-story, white-linen restaurant serves up ocean views with award-winning glatt kosher (cholov yisroel) gourmet cuisine prepared under the guidance of world-renowned master chef Michel Roux and supervised by Maritime Kosher International. Like any great sailing, our cruise also included afternoon tea as well as "midnight nosh."
The food was so abundant that a friend and I, who often met up in the ocean-view fitness center, joked our workouts were so intense that we had to make sure we consumed enough calories to avoid losing weight on the ship. Lest we disembark as waifs, we dutifully enjoyed sampling nearly everything available. Soon, our handsome Slavic dinner waiter was serving up plates of curly fries from the kids menu without our even asking.
Few vacations offer the opportunity of going to sleep in one country and safely waking up in another without an assist from the black market. Our itinerary included several days at sea as well as international ports of call. These included Caso De Campo in the Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Nassau, Bahamas. Guests were free to explore ports independently or book group excursions. Like all leading cruise ships, Millennium offers a staggering variety of options, including guided shopping, city tours, sightseeing, parties and sports. Most excursions are typically two to four hours in duration.
In our first port, Casa de Campo, I joined a rigorous kayaking excursion through a wide river surrounded by lush, tropical foliage. I returned to the ship spent, definitely requiring a second dessert at dinner.
The next day in San Juan, a friend and I headed to the lush rain forest that lived up to its name with a sudden downpour. The terrain was so gorgeous we would have gladly kept hiking. But our driver insisted we quickly wrap up our tour. Somehow, it seemed, he knew of our weight maintenance program and the urgency to return to the ship for immediate five-star nourishment.
My favorite port was St. Thomas, where I spent the afternoon exploring the town and its historic synagogue and the morning hiking and snorkeling in a protected biosphere. Amid red mangrove trees, we spotted yellow-and-black-striped sergeant majors, tiny bright damselfish, barracuda, graceful (harmless) jellyfish, one magnificent green moray eel and many other fantastic creatures.
All in all, I had a fabulous vacation - I mean assignment. It was a lot like camp, but with nightly turndown service and the need for a valid passport. There were many couples and families on board. There were also plenty of singles and groups of friends enjoying each other's company, fantastic ports of call and an endless supply of curly fries. Not to mention the celebratory Saturday night farewell dinner, complete with a surprise parade of baked Alaska en flamb! Our final send-off: lox and bagels just in time for disembarkation.
Kosherica's upcoming sailings are scheduled for July 10 and Aug. 19 in Alaska's majestic Inside Passage. The itinerary begins in Vancouver, Canada; with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau and Sitka, Alaska. The ship will also cruise the Inside Passage and the Hubbard Glacier. Prices start at $1,750 per person, double occupancy. Caribbean sailings are also slated for Jan. 15 and 22, 2006. For more information and reservations, visit Kosherica Cruises or call (305) 695-2700 or (877) 724-5567 (Eastern time).
JSinglesCruise.com sets sail twice yearly. The next cruise is scheduled for Alaska, Aug. 19-26. Excursions are an additional cost. For more information, call (917) 952-4033 (Pacific time).