A Caribbean Cruise for Enjoyment and Soul Renewal

Like many people, my husband and I have been working hard, shouldering many responsibilities and completing long list of tasks. For good or ill, we are also news junkies and have watched and listened to the heartbreaking reports of the Israeli hostages still held in Gaza while accusations fly that Israel is committing genocide (Who else wages war and then uses their own citizens as human shields?). The combination of our monotonous routine and demoralizing news stories was leaving us exhausted and demoralized, so my husband decided to take action. He booked us an 11-day Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean, and since it was yeshiva week, he made an additional payment for kosher food.

We obviously can’t change the world, but we needed to take steps to renew our spirits.

The vacation was expensive but it was well worth it.

Not only did we visit five Caribbean islands but we also joined a community of other observant Jews on the ship, mostly from the New York- New Jersey area. We live in a town with no kosher conveniences and are always on the run and pressed for time. I often end up eating dry cereal and milk for meals, so the three daily gourmet kosher meals were heavenly. There was always a wide array of delicious dishes to choose from. We agreed it was like going to a five-star restaurant every day. My favorite time was Friday morning breakfast when the women and girls gathered around a giant challah and each took out a portion of dough and recited the blessing. At home I pick up store-bought challah so I appreciated having the time to perform the mitzvah. Then we took turns reciting the names of anyone needing a refuah shalamah (healing) or a shidduch (finding a spouse). At the end we said aloud the names of the remaining hostages in Gaza and prayed for their safe return.

The daily minyamin (prayer) and Shabbas services infused our relaxing vacation with spiritual energy. We met wonderful, like-minded people from all walks of life –something we rarely do in our busy lives.

And the islands! Our excursions included a day trip to a festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico; a visit to a beach with clear blue water in St. John’s, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands; a bus tour of St. Maartin’s mountainous countryside; walking around and buying gifts at the shops in the St. Lucia port; and enjoying another exceptional beach with more shopping in St. Kitts (We’re just starting to get the bills now, and oh boy! We can’t do this too often).

A lot of fun, right? But that’s not all.

I haven’t even mentioned the events aboard the ship. Daily musical concerts, dance performances, and other shows like an illusionist and a comedian. We particularly enjoyed a guitarist who flawlessly performed the work of Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page, among others. We worked out in the gym, played ping pong and rode bumper cars.  My husband played basketball. I always need a book on Shabbos and the ship provided a library. And the cruise had many more activities (too long to list all of them).

The vacation was over in no time but the good memories will stay with us as we re-acclimate to our everyday routine. I highly recommend taking a cruise vacation or any vacation to get a break from worries, work, and stress. There is more to life and every once in a while, even adults need to feel like kids again and just enjoy.

And as observant Jews, the kosher accommodations added to our ease, enjoyment, and spiritual renewal.

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