Friday, November 29, 2013

Keeping halal on a cruise.

Like many Muslims, I have been skeptical about cruising and the ability to keep halal.
In fact when i told my friends i would be cruising to the Bahamas, I received many scoffs "HOW? Isnt everyone on the ship drunk?" "What about the food? How do you know it isn't cooked with pork?"
All valid questions and concerns that I was also worried about, but I have never been one to turn down an adventure so away I sailed with my good friend Amanda on the Carnival Sensation!

As soon as we boarded the ship my heart kinda sank. Right away we were bombarded with servers carrying trays of bright colored fruity cocktails. Before we could make it to our room at least 6 people asked us to buy a alcoholic beverage.  After I politely declined the offer and educated the server that I was Muslim and do not drink alcoholic, that particular server never asked me again and understood. They were very nice about it and that raised my hopes again. After the initial offer I never felt like I was being pressured.

As we made our way threw the ship in search of our room we came across many of the ships employees and other guests, all of which were smiling and happy, totally at ease with  seeing a covered Muslim woman.
Now, let me explain why I am even telling you this part. If you're a covered Muslim lady, you already understand. If you arnt, imagine walking into the grocery dressed like Micky Mouse, every head in the store will turn and stare like you have lost your mind....  That is what it is like sometimes for us. I have long learned to ignore it, smile and keep going. But on vacation, you really  don't want to have to deal with that so I was SO happy to not get a second look, to just be another person sharing an experience. It was a great feeling.

Our room was lovely and VERY clean. Plenty of room to pray before we set sail.
The rooms seemed to be very well insulated or we just had really quiet neighbors. The entire cruise I don't recall hearing anyone, and that definitely a plus.

Now to the food. There was no "halal slaughtered" meats or chicken. This could be a problem for some fellow Muslims but I have never had the luxury of always having halal slaughtered meats so for me it was fine.
The selection of food was great. Plenty of options for vegetarians, lots of fish, beef and chicken. I had no problem at all keeping clear of haram food items.  Food on the buffet was clearly labeled, and there were plenty of attentive servers and cooks who were more then willing to explain the ingredients and to my surprise some were even Muslim too! I was so thrilled!
In the dinning rooms the selection was equally as great and well labeled, also with a terrific staff.

Speaking of the staff, I can't say enough about how wonderful they are. Before our first day at sea was over, I had the pleasure of meeting many of them.  As I said above, quite a few were Muslim, and I loved that. It was lovely to be walking threw a hallway and hear a "Salam alekome". I really enjoyed taking a moment to speak to them, learn where they were from and exchange names.
The housekeeping staff were great at remembering my name. No matter where on the ship I was or even in port, if I came across one of them I always heard a "HEY MEGAN!"

Now with all the alcohol pumped into the ship you would think people would be stumbling around trashed.  I know I was expecting it and I am sure it has happened but on this cruise, I never saw even 1 person being belligerent or obviously drunk. Yes, people were drink, and a lot at that but it was very pg 13.
There were plenty of activities on the ship to keep occupied so people didn't have to just sit and drink non stop.

So, overall it was wonderful and YES! You can keep halal on a cruise. I am really excited about going on another ASAP and this time with the hubby and kid. I hope more of my Muslim friends take the opportunity to cruise. It's a great affordable and family friendly vacation. I have only been on one and it was a Carnival cruise so I can only vouch for them, Im definitely singing their praises!

If you're Muslim and been on a cruise, I would love to hear your experience! Please feel free to comment. . 

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