Served expired food on my honeymoon cruise – am I owed anything?

By | February 25th, 2014

2013-12-11 14.39.11Cruise lines aren’t exactly known for their culinary experiences, but Moshe Wealcatch’s story takes the cake, as they say.

Sure, every now and then you have an outstanding meal on a cruise. I’m thinking of Remy on the Disney Dream which was easily the best meal I had all year. But generally speaking, cruise passengers are fed from buffet lines featuring fried food — and lots of it.

One thing you can count on, though, is that the fare is reasonably fresh. But Wealcatch, who honeymooned on the Norwegian Sky with his wife, Shira, says he discovered you can’t even count on that. In keeping with their religious beliefs, the couple made arrangements months before their departure to have kosher meals.

The food wasn’t what they expected.

The pre-packaged meals were in bad shape, they say. One omelet was so dry that it crumbled when he put a fork in it (see photo). Other items were “completely unrecognizable as food,” says Wealcatch.

“Throughout the cruise, because of our hunger, we tried to eat the meals, despite their terrible taste,” he says. “However, as soon as we ate some of it, our stomachs began to grumble and we knew something was wrong with the food since it tasted spoiled. We attempted to eat each meal, but since it was beginning to make us sick, we did not eat much of it.”

Wealcatch says the staff on board tried to help, bringing them fruits, vegetables and salad. The couple didn’t really eat much on their cruise, as a result.

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Wealcatch took photos of the meals and noted the caterer’s name on the package. And here’s where it gets interesting.

He contacted the caterer to find out why the food tasted so awful. The caterer said he hadn’t done business with NCL for more than two years, according to Wealcatch.

“After some research on his part, he told us that the food we ate was likely from a batch that was brought aboard the Norwegian Sky two years ago and subsequently was left unrefrigerated and it spoiled,” he says. The caterer said he’d specifically instructed NCL to discard all of their food and that they were no longer allowed to serve it.

“Apparently, NCL is still serving it,” he says. “He wondered how we did not become violently ill after eating the food.”

NCL promises a dining experience on its ships, featuring the best food at sea:

Every cruise fare includes beautifully crafted menus in our two main dining rooms, a help-yourself buffet and a variety of casual cafés, grills and on-the-go choices. From fresh-baked breads, desserts and pastries to our chefs’ original dishes made with the freshest ingredients, your dining can be as fine or fun as you want.

However, its ticket contract — the legal agreement between the company and passenger — specifically says it makes no warranties regarding its food.

So yes, NCL can send you out to sea without food, and technically it owes you nothing.

Spoiled food might be another matter. A ship like the Sky must meet the Centers for Disease Control’s vessel sanitation program standards. One of our researchers noted that the expired food might violate either standard 7.3.1.1.1, which states that food must be in sound condition and unadulterated, or standard 7.3.3.2.1 calling for the separation of recalled foods.

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  • LFH0

    The ticket contract, at paragraph 3, states that the fare includes ordinary ship’s food, and to the extent that one demands other than such “ordinary” food there may be little recourse. But once NCL provided “food” there is the question as to whether or not there is any warranty as to its fitness for consumption. While paragraph 5(a) appears to limit NCL’s liability, even a contract that appears to be iron-clad might not be enforced if it is unconscionable or against public policy. A cruise line serving food that it knows to be poisonous food, with the intent of having a passenger consume it, seems to me to fit that bill on an unenforceable provision. (Should it be imputed to the knowledge of a cruise line that food packaged two years ago would become poisonous? Depending on the particular food . . . probably.)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I seriously doubt that the disclaimer is even close to ironclad.

    I can think of half a dozen ways around it. The biggest is that serving food that you know is spoiled (the caterer informed the cruise line) shows a wanton and reckless disregard for the health and safety of the passengers. Thus this is gross negligence which is hard to disclaim. That would be further bolstered by the statutory violation of serving spoiled food, which might itself be a separate action.

    Moreover, many jurisdictions specifically forbid or seriously limit disclaimers of consumer protections. To use an example that everyone is familiar with,employment. Regardless of your contract, you cannot be paid less than the minimum wage, you cannot disclaim any portion of your legally due wages, nor can you disclaim legally entitled meal and rest breaks. The law makes any such disclaimer unenforceable. I suspect that a court would find that knowingly serving spoiled food would breach the warranty.

  • sirwired

    NCL is treating this like a passenger who is complaining that the soup was too salty. A $100 cruise credit is a joke.

    Those who hang out here probably know I don’t say this much, but… I don’t see a full refund as out of line here. Like a place to sleep, basic food would seem to be a pretty important part of what they paid for. And while most food is okay after it “expires” as long as they are kept under the right conditions, two years post-date is unacceptable, unless they were canned goods.

    And cruise contracts are such a joke that even a small-claims judge would laugh at some of those terms and utterly ignore them.

  • Blackadar

    I agree with this. Despite what NCL’s contract says, they can’t send you out to sea without food and let you starve to death. The law doesn’t work that way.

    There’s no doubt you should moderate this. Being served rotten food repeatedly on a cruise is no laughing matter and a $100 credit is a joke. The Wealcatch’s could have been seriously injured. And since NCL took their money on the condition that the Wealcatch’s would be served Kosher food – which has specific requirements about how ALL the food in the kitchen is prepared – just trying to feed them food made from a non-Kosher kitchen isn’t a solution. In essence, they didn’t get what they paid for and as such the Wealcatch’s deserve a substantial partial refund. Who would take a credit and go on another cruise after repeatedly being served two year old spoiled food???

  • Alan Gore

    But does US law even apply on a cruise? Don’t we have to go by the sanitary code of the People’s Republic of Flyspeckia, or wherever else the ship may be registered?

  • John Baker

    I’m not sure where NCL has a leg to stand on in this case. If the caterer will stand behind the statement that they told NCL to discard the food and NCL didn’t, I’m not sure how they defend themselves.

    On the other side, the CDC program is absolutely toothless. A ship could fail an inspection and the only thing the CDC can do is recommend that it not sail and require that the owners pay for another inspection at a later date (a whole $18000 which is nothing for a ship carrying 4000 people).

    Go get them Chris….

  • Chris Johnson

    I don’t want to laugh at other peoples’ misfortunes, but reading this story did give me a chuckle. No wonder that Norwegian Cruise Lines used to be the “Official Cruise Line of the Comedy Channel”! (the channel is now Comedy Central and I don’t think has an official cruise line anymore)

    $100 credit is a total insult, but forget mediation. I think a tort-type lawyer would be very interested in taking this case on contingency, given that the kosher caterer hadn’t done business with NCL in two years and the food was clearly past its due date. Lawsuit or no lawsuit, this is also a press-worthy story. Unbelievable. The only benefit of the doubt that NCL can be given is the fact that they must not get a lot of passengers on kosher diets, so the kosher meals they buy don’t get eaten and sit in the refrigerators for months or in this case, years.

    At a minimum, these people deserve a full refund. NCL may have no legal obligation to do so under the fine print but it’s the right thing to do. Plus it’s not like these people could negotiate what was in the fine print anyway – like most contracts with large corporations, it’s a matter of take it or leave it.

  • Chris Johnson

    NCL will certainly argue that, but there is a strong chance that a Florida court would assert jurisdiction over the case and refuse to dismiss it, assuming that’s where the ship left from and these people bring the case in Florida. That may be a bit of a hassle for these people if they don’t live there, but it’s better than bringing the case in a foreign court. Ships are mainly registered in other countries for labor-related law reasons anyway; people have won judgments against cruise lines in Florida courts before.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Gee, even when I order a special meal on an international flight – usually low sodium – the meal has the date of preparation – either that day or the day before.
    Please mediate. The $100 credit was truly an insult.

  • commentfromme

    I agree with the comments. Put this abhorent disregard for the customer on the front page of usa today, or the NY times! I do want to say, Chris, that you can get a wonderful meal on a Cruise Ship. Try SeaDream, Seabourn, SilverSea, Regent, and the upscale lines. The dining experience on these ships, and on River and Barge Cruises, is not comparable to
    mass shlepping through our oceans.

  • Mikael Mik

    I think another great comparison is a recall on lettuce tainted with e-coli. A company knowingly serving a recalled product becomes liable if consumers take ill. Therefore, recalls are issued as a matter of public safety.

    The caterer’s testimony of having ceased business two years ago, coupled by instructions to disregard unused portions, equates to a “recall’. All products remaining are unfit for consumption. Therefore, NCL assumes full liability for failing to adhere to a contractual obligations.

    Seems NCL needs a health and safety inspection. 100 dollars is insulting, considering their negligent actions could have resulted in illness or death.

    .P.S. Chris don’t mediate. Here’s a classic case where legal action + bad press are more in line than the services of an ombudsman.

  • BillCCC

    I would wait to hear both sides before commenting on this one. If NCL did indeed provide them with expired meals then they should be on the hook for a substantial settlement. If on the other hand it was a case of the OP not liking the meals that were provided then I am not sure they are owed very much at all.

  • MJonTravel

    I rarely vote “Yes” in these kinds of cases, but I did this time even though your fried food buffet comment is an over-generalization. The experience as described here is not acceptable, nor is the compensation. NCL needs to do better than this.

  • Zod

    Holding Kosher is not an all or nothing deal. If the only food available to eat is NOT Kosher, Jewish law states that eating the available food is preferable to starving to death. In every case, preservation of self overrides a personal or religious preference. So really…if the Kosher food they were served was as bad as they state, they were only harming themselves by not eating the available food.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    That’s just gross. And I’m having a tough time figuring out how this could even happen on a ship that deals with tons (literally) of food and must get a fair amount of special dietary requests. There would have to be some sort of master list of what was on board or else they wouldn’t have even known they had anything to serve these people. And even if it hadn’t gotten thawed and spoiled it should have been written off and disposed of in less than 2 years. Frankly, I’m amazed that kosher is such a rare request that they wouldn’t need a steady supply.

  • JenniferFinger

    Regardless of what’s promised in NCL’s contract, offering inedible two-year-old spoiled food, and then offering a form apology and a $100 cruise credit when they will probably never cruise with NCL again is no one’s idea of good customer “service” at all. Moderate it, Chris.

  • FQTVLR

    Mediate this. Most cruises I have been on say they do not offer kosher meals, but describe them as kosher-like meals. But a cruise line, restaurant, etc., offering kosher or other special request meals is obligated to at least serve unexpired, unspoiled food. The taste of a meal is arbitrary–what I find good someone else might think is atrocious. But serving expired, spoiled food is legal and health concern and should be explored further through mediation. They are at least due back the portion of the cruise cost that covered their meals.

  • emanon256

    I’m voting yes and I normally vote no on food complaints. First off, did the OP pay extra for the Kosher meals, if so, I believe they are due a 100% refund of what they paid, as well as something for good will as they were served spoiled food their whole trip. I understand the contract makes no guarantees about the food, but the cruise line reserved notice that they could not serve this food, and still did, I believe that becomes negligence. How much should they give the OP? I ahve no clue, but a $100 credit seems unreasonable to me.

    I always say that people (my self and family included) who have special dietary restrictions should bring their own food. But on a cruise it’s not really feasible to bring your own food for that many meals over a length of time. The fact that the cruise line offers Kosher meals and didn’t deliver is a failure on their part. If they didn’t offer Kosher meals to begin with, I would be voting differently.

  • sirwired

    NCL is based in Miami, so they are subject to US jurisdiction. Maritime law probably wouldn’t cover it, but simple contract and consumer law would.

  • Harry Baxter

    I doubt that the customer will get any satisfaction from Norwegian in this case, whether he deserved compensation or not. The best advice I can give him is that he shouldn’t book with this line in the future. I’ve taken about 50 cruises with Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Princes and even Carnival, and while I’ve had meals that were only ordinary, I’ve NEVER experienced meals that were this bad. Be sure to tell your Friends about this experience.

  • sirwired

    The thing is, the maximum damages in this case would probably be a cruise fare refund, and that’s not really worth enough to make it worth a lawyer’s time.

  • sirwired

    Well, the detail about the caterer saying they haven’t done business with NCL in two years would seem to be a pretty convincing bit of evidence that the meals weren’t exactly fresh from the Kosher Food Factory.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Flyspeckia. :-) Got a chuckle out of that.

  • Jayne Bailey Holland

    I have Ceilac, and I get really SICK if I eat food contaminated with gluten, spelt or many other grains.
    I sail on at least two cruises a year. HA provides me with gluten free and dairy free choices. BUT I always bring my own food to have as a back up. Messages about passengers allergies, are often lost in translation. I know Kosher food is a lot more complicated than that. In the end, you have to take responsibility for your dietary needs. Maybe they had a fairy tale wedding, but it’s time to join the real world. Stuff happens. Did either of them ever contact the Restaurant Manager, Front Office, or the Hotel Manager to complain before they got off the ship?

  • BillCCC

    I would rather wait for actual evidence rather than hearsay, I haven’t seen the name of the caterer or a picture of a label. A lot more detail is required before I am willing to hang NCL.

  • Travel Girl

    All cruise lines offer Kosher meals and they are always the prepackaged junk. The OP’s travel agent should have suggested they bring their own food. But until there is real proof that the food was indeed spoiled, and that NCL knew it was spoiled, I’d leave it alone. Just because it may have been 2 years old doesn’t automatically equate to spoiled. I think the Sky only does 3 and 4 night cruises so no one was going to “starve to death”, especially with all the fruits, veggies and salads available. I have 26 cruises behind me and have always found enough to eat. I feel sorry for the couple but I don’t think this requires mediation.

  • AJPeabody

    שאַנד

  • omgstfualready

    Extra monies paid for the ‘food’ should be returned but no more. It is not unreasonable to think their requests, that they paid for, would have been met satisfactorily so they should get their money back. I do not want to blame them for this problem, the meal requests are standard, however not bringing their own food just to be on the safe side was naive.
    And their god, according to their own rules, would insist they eat anything in order to survive, and they ate pareve it seems, but could have eaten nonkosher if it came to survival. They were hungry but lived, which is their law. So get the money back for the breech of that contract (goods for service) but nothing more.

  • omgstfualready

    Why extra for good will? I don’t grasp that. They should get back what they paid since the other half of the contract was broken, but they could have eaten non kosher. Why should one party come out ahead? The jewish law is clear they could have eaten non kosher but they chose to stay with only pareve and if they suffered physically from it, well then they broke their god’s laws. Irony.

  • Daddydo

    Since NCL got into the big time cruise business, they have been noted for their high quality of cruise ships. They have been rated in many legitimate rating services as the lousiest food at sea. They sold off their Norway to make room for the bigger and not so better. That was my last NCL cruise. I was docked beside the Breakaway in Nov and their clients were thrilled with the new ship. I interogated at least 2 dozen people and they all said that the food stunk. Did Wealcatch use a travel agency that would have advised them of their limited choices on some lines. Carnival, RCCL, NCL and Princess probably would have said no. But MSC, Oceania, Azamara, may have had the ability to handle their dietary needs. International cruise vessles are far more aware of diets.

  • “they could have eaten non kosher”
    I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect someone to violate their deeply held religious beliefs (something that is protected in the US). And if they are taking extra steps to eat kosher then their religious beliefs ARE deeply held.

    What bothers me is that the crew knew there was a problem – they were bringing them fruit and salad. So why didn’t the cruise line attempt to remedy the situation at one of the ports of call?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    So, how do you suppose the OP found out who Norwegian’s caterer was 2 years ago unless he’d been served the food? It’s doubtful anybody on the ship would even have had that info.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Let’s say they’d served spoiled food on the buffet for the entire cruise. Nobody would have paid extra for that, but wouldn’t some sort of reparation be due?

    If they’d wanted to eat non-kosher they wouldn’t have paid extra for kosher. If they were vegetarians would they have been expected to eat meat if that was all that was available? I’d have had no problem if the cruise had simply told them there were no kosher options ahead of time. But if you’re going to offer the option, then you need to fulfill that obligation.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I think the maximum damages could be substantially more that a cruise refund, depending on whether the jury feels that the actions of NCL were so egregious that punitive damages are appropriate.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Question? Is that interpretation held across the various religious subgroups with Judaism?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Providing enough food for yourself for an entire cruise? How exactly would one go about that? And bringing that much food along would effectively defeat the purpose of paying extra for the cruise line to feed you.

    And by your logic, if McDonalds got caught selling spoiled food people would be due back $0.79 for the hamburger since that was all they paid for the item.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I concur. It appears that the OP’s religious views don’t permit eating non-Kosher foods, even under these circumstances.

  • bodega3

    “Am I owed anything”. Really? Yes, a big selfish kick in the butt for being so selfish. Now had you written to Chris asking for help with the cruise line with their kosher meals so nobody else encounters this, would have been a better way to go than thinking solely of yourselves. To typical of many of today’s self centered travelers.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Just because it may have been 2 years old doesn’t automatically equate to spoiled

    Perhaps. But…

    After some research on his part, he told us that the food we ate was
    likely from a batch that was brought aboard the Norwegian Sky two years
    ago and subsequently was left unrefrigerated and it spoiled,” he says.
    The caterer said he’d specifically instructed NCL to discard all of
    their food and that they were no longer allowed to serve it.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Ummm. What about for knowingly being served spoiled food which made them sick?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    How is it self centered to be upset that you were poisoned on a cruise ship?

  • nateisfunny

    I find this revolting. How is it even debatable that they cannot serve expired food? Second, the couple specifically arranged the dietary needs months before. If, at that time, NCL couldn’t accomodate that, they shouldn’t have said they could or would. Lastly, a cruise credit is just the ultimate insult. I enjoy cruising and don’t always think “store credit” is a bad deal, but here, these people would have to be insane to step foot on another cruise and run the risk of being served from the same spoiled pile of “kosher” food.

    I like the comment below that suggests NCL doesn’t even deserve mediation. They deserve news outlet coverage and a law suit.

  • bodega3

    There is no proof that they were poisoned. Yes, they can be disappointed in the food that they were served. But to ask for what they can get out of it? Selfish! Now ask how they can help, so this situation doesn’t happen again and assist the cruise line with better food, THAT would be the road to take by a good person!

  • BillCCC

    I don’t know, perhaps an employee mentioned a company but was wrong. I see a picture of a random dinner but none of the packaging. All I have said it that I would wait for more information before laying blame. It appears that most posters here are thinking differently.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I’m going to ask you a question, and I really hope you won’t take offense.

    If these people had been your travel clients, came back and reported this to you, how would you have handled it on behalf of your clients?

    The reason I ask is that if they were your clients, I’m not so sure that you would have sought a remedy for all future travelers, but for the people right there in front of you (metaphorically or literally). I agree that this should never ever happen again to anyone, but I still think your first instincts would be to take care of your clients, based on my “read” of your personality over the past few years.

  • Chris Johnson

    If it was a long enough cruise in an expensive enough cabin and the cruise line wants to settle quickly, it might be. But yes, you have a point there.

  • bodega3

    I would have worked with the cruise line before they traveled to set up their needs. I would have found out how the kosher meals were handled, who they speak with once on board should they need additional assistance. If I set it up, and the clients come back with concerns, I would address the concerns with the cruise line. I don’t ask for money for clients or vouchers. I present the issue and ask the hotel/cruise line/rental car company/airline to assist with finding out what happened. If the company comes back with something, that is extra, that is their doing, but for clients or my self I NEVER ask for something for anything except assistance in figuring out what went awry and how to prevent this from happening to someone else.

  • bodega3

    Where is a copy of letter the company sent to the cruise line? He said, they said as of now.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I suspect that most of the posters are taking the position that we assume that the article is accurate, except for those items which set of the BS meter, and comment accordingly. That’s the framework that I use when commenting. Of course, if it turns out that the OPs information was wrong then that changes the situation. But since we will probably never know, then we take the OP at his word since his scenario is very reasonable and at least partially corroborated.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    We also don’t have proof that he wasn’t, thus my strong objection.

    What we do know is that the OP believes that he and his wife were food poisoned and are proceeding under that assumption, which is the very definition of reasonableness.

    I submit that selfishness results from improper motives, which are not present here.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Thanks for the response.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Help me out. I got food poisoning in Brussels at my hotel. I was there for 4 days and I was violently ill, basically incapacitated, for 2 days. I couldn’t leave my room. I wanted a refund of those two days. I know you. You would have moved heaven and earth to get me a partial refund.

  • omgstfualready

    McD’s isn’t food so I’ll blow past that……..I am saying the kosher vs nonkosher – they did not HAVE to not eat. They chose it. Their religion instructs them to eat to survive. They chose to not eat.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Actually, NCL hasn’t commented one way or the other, so we don’t have that. But in reality, this is something that would be fairly easy to establish if it came to that.

    But I don’t think that’s the point. In deciding to mediate, I submit that it’s appropriate for Chris to take the OP at his word unless something doesn’t ring true or is simply impossible to verify. Neither is the case here.

    If I were litigating this, I would obtain the records from NCL to see the ordering and disposal history for Kosher meals

  • omgstfualready

    Was it knowingly? I know what the food vendor told the OP per the OP’s post. Do I know that is that what happened? Did the staff bother to read the dates (ignorant/negligent) or read it and shrug it off (gross negligent). We don’t know. Big difference though.

  • bodega3

    Am I owned anything? That isn’t a selfish motive?

  • bodega3

    Where is the letter that the Kosher company sent to NCL? They tell the OP something, but what proof it there that this actually was instructed?

  • omgstfualready

    THeir religion is clear. They are told to do what is needed to live. Life is above all in that religion. In fact you are doing wrong by not taking care of yourself. If you fast during the high holy days and you are frail/sick you are in violation of that god’s will.
    I don’t think getting kosher at a port of call is going to cut it. It is not like vegetarian or vegan. They made a religious decision in direct conflict with the torah’s teachings.

  • omgstfualready

    No, Judiasm values life above all. You are permitted, in fact demanded, to do anything and everything to live. Doing otherwise is against that god.

  • bodega3

    You made use of your room for the stay, so why the refund? Did you get medical care and the tests proved you had food poisoning? Are you saying you ate at the hotel and that is where you assume your digestive issues came from?

    If I had made those arrangements for you and was requested to contact the company I booked your room through, I would. I am your advocate, and I would ask for assistance looking into your concern. I have had replies with ‘something’ being passed on to my clients from a vendor as a thank you for bringing an issue to their attention.

  • Not when you made arrangements for a product and it wasn’t provided. That’s not selfish – it’s expecting a company to provide what was promised. If they can’t then at a minimum a refund is expected.

  • omgstfualready

    I dn’t expect to come out ahead. I had spoiled meals served to me on planes (twice). I was offered new meals. I didn’t want them. I have no interest in getting anything more from them.
    I recognize they didn’t want to eat non kosher but at that time it wasn’t an option so move on. Again, any Jew on here knows that the OPs are demanded to eat what they need to live, including non kosher if they must. They chose otherwise. Why pay them more?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Fair question. Wanton and recklessness is roughly equivalently with knowingly. ( I don’t recall my law school technical details). But if the circumstances are as the OP and caterer believe, then NCL needed to discard the food 2 years ago as per the caterer’s instructions. Failing to do so would be either gross negligence or worse. That’s beyond incredible.

  • amystery726

    They may not have done business in two years, but can one verify that they didn’t purchase the food thru a secondary vendor? And, Kosher pre-packaged food – I have had this on planes – is not necessarily the tastiest. If one expects the same level of food given religious dietary restrictions, it is not likely to happen. There are things one can eat without a problem and still be religious and utensils, plates (glass, paper, plastic) can be used.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Not if the answer is yes. My client didn’t receive his wages. He asked me “Am I owed anything”. The answer was yes. Nothing remotely selfish about it.

  • Jayne Bailey Holland

    I am somewhat familiar with Kosher requirements, by no means expert. But keeping Kosher requires different plates for different food items, and food has to be prepared under supervision of a Rabbi. I just don’t see how keeping strictly Kosher could happen, (except in prepackaged foods served sealed to the consumer) on a cruise.
    In hotels in my city Orthodox Jews often vacation. They take over the entire hotel, and a team comes in advance to reclean everything in the kitchen. Only their people are allowed in the kitchen for the entire legnth of their stay. They do their own cooking, serving and cleaning. They ship all their own food in advance. None of the local staff are allowed back until they leave. Before I get a nasty, letter I said I am no expert. If his couple were Orthodox, it seems they would not have picked a cruise for a vacation. I would love to hear from someone on the list who knows better than I. Was every single meal served to to them this terrible, or did they give up after the first breakfast? If the crew was trying to help, there were NO alternatives for them? Did they go any higher up than room service attendant? Or did they explain their exact needs to anyone on board? If it was this bad, I would have called my travel agent at the first port, and asked to have airfare home. By staying onboard, didn’t they use a lot of the product they purchased?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    It’s fun being an attorney. I established to the hotel’s grudging satisfaction that it was them.

    Specifically, I received medical attention which established both the instance of food poisoning as well as a most likely time frame which placed it at a meal eaten at the hotel approximately at midnight.

    Moreover, in chatting with a guest in the executive lounge, the gentlemen had identical symptoms with the same time frame. Because of the corroborating evidence, the hotel refunded both of us two nights.

    Why the refund. The hotel was liable for serving me bad food. That robbed me of of vacation. I could have gotten far more, but I wasn’t interested in squeezing them.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    As I stated, that is easily established. The testimony of the caterer, a presumably independent witness, his business records, NCLs business records, etc.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    One minor point. In law, the court’s won’t try to interpret a religion, but simply the sincerity of the OPs beliefs.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I wouldn’t presume to articulate the tenets of Judaism. But at least in this case, that is doesn’t not appear to be what the OP believes.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    No, most posters are just going off the data that is available. You seem to be going out of your way to come up with unusual scenarios in which the OP would be wrong about basic facts. Like they were served bad food for an entire cruise (during which time packaging would have been available on the ship) but somehow got the wrong catering company…only by wild chance it happened to be a company who actually had been the supplier for the cruise line in the past. That’d be an amazing coincidence. Seems far more reasonable to assume he was served old food.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Well, it’s been a while since McDonalds has been in the news for making anybody sick…which puts them ahead of Norwegian Cruise Lines.

    The kosher part is just a side point to the main facts which are A) They paid extra for special food and B) They were served spoiled, out-of-date food. Their religion has no real impact. Again, you would have had a vegetarian eat meat on this cruise because they don’t REALLY have to eat vegetarian? That’s an awfully harsh stance to take.

  • bodega3

    They didn’t like what they got. Big difference. Everyone these days feels entitled to something back if a bump in the experience is felt. Sad, sad statement of American greed.

  • Mark Carrara

    To be kosher it more than just the food. The equipment must also be kosher, you just can’t cook kosher food in a non kosher pot and call it kosher. One one cooking show I saw the cook had seperate refigerators for meat and dairy.

  • AH

    oops, i voted up before i read the last paragraph… minus 1!

  • Ira Rosen

    For Orthodox Jews, eating non-kosher is only an option in the case of starvation/illness/imminent death – no just being hungry with no other food around (and there was other food – fresh fruit and vegetables). One can go days without proper meals and survive (some of us have due to religious beliefs), but the point is not that they were able to survive, the point is that they made arrangements, and the cruise line provided inappropriate food. Those of us who keep kosher don’t simply “move on” as you suggest, we try to address our situation with the available resources (which the OP apparently did). This doesn’t excuse the 2 year old food.

  • Ira Rosen

    Plenty of Orthodox folks go on cruises and arrange for food to be provided (as the OP did), The meals are typically airline type fare that is kept sealed while being heated and provided with their own utensils. Hardly haute cuisine, but serviceable. Most of your other questions are answered in the article (they took pictures of the meals – plural, and the crew offered fruit and vegetables as alternatives – they didn’t eat “much” so they must have eaten something). If I had paid for a cruise and received my choice of two year old meals or a selection of raw fruits/vegetables, I’m not sure what I would have done. If they had left, the cruise line could argue that they didn’t give them a chance to resolve the issue, having stayed, the OP is being second-guessed. Bottom line, if the food served was 2 years old and the cruise line had been told to discard it, that’s pretty gross.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Well, they had kosher food on board that would have been acceptable to the OP had it not been bad. Why couldn’t that food be replaced, e.g go to a Kosher restaurant, market, whatever?

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    sounds like a few “porky pies” are being told here, as suppliers don’t normally talk to end customers.

  • omgstfualready

    Agreed if it was done purposefully.

  • omgstfualready

    Everyone gets sick at McD’s – it can’t be a news story, lol. I get a craving now and then for their fries and I know I’ll suffer for it about 2 hours later.

  • omgstfualready

    I am more than familiar with the laws and ‘move on’ is the best solution once traced to the end. Get your money back for what was not delivered. Learn.

  • omgstfualready

    I wish our courts didn’t involve religion….another topic for another time but an hour of reading on the FFRF site will make your head explode. Figuratively.

  • omgstfualready

    Agreed on the OP’s believe but their actions were out of whack with what the torah instructs. Actions vs words transcend all boundaries! I think this posting has us going overboard with comments! Pun TOTALLY intended. I am going to dinner and hope to not get sick and need Chris’ help to get my money back!!!! ;-)

  • Mikael Mik

    Hear me out before passing judgment.

    I usually vote Chris mediates an issue so we’re all given a relatively happy ending. However, NCL’s actions are heinous and a total disregard for passenger well being. Not only was the OP’s health and safety put in harm’s way, but NCL did it with full knowledge of their actions. The caterer told the cruise line to toss out the food two years prior and NCL balked at the request. NCL passed the spoiled food off onto the OP without second thought.

    You do realize the seriousness of their actions, right? I have a compromised immune system due to ongoing health concerns. A stunt like NCL’s could have landed me in the hospital with more than an “upset stomach”. So I EMPATHIZE 100% with the OP. NCL’s offer of $100 is insulting and minimizes their actions. A genuine apology doesn’t call for legal action. NCL doesn’t appear to give a rat’s behind. Time to call the lawyers and press.

  • Mikael Mik

    Hasidic Jews are very regimented over their dietary restrictions. I assume the Op is either Conservative or Hasidic. None the less, Zod is correct that self preservation takes precedence. On Yom Kippur, Jews forgo eating for 24 hours. Jews who are infirm or in poor health are exempt from the requirement. Thus, leading me to believe that if the Kosher food were spoiled, alternatives were lacking, the Op could “legally” eat whatever was available. Seems the OP and Husband chose to eat fruit instead. Their choice and no one faults either party for sticking to their belief. Just pointing out there are exceptions.

  • Mikael Mik

    Omg is simply pointing out “rabbinical law” and Western Law. Rabbinical Law (Judaism) allows exception for health and well being. Young, unwell, and infirm are exempt from fasting on Yom Kippur. Fasting might cause undue harm and Judaism forbids actions that harm one’s self. The OP had “options”, but not ones that fit into their OWN PERSONAL view.
    Now judicially, I think you pointed out the courts look at the conviction of the OP’s belief. Apparently, they’re committed to keeping Kosher. Op Wins.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    My concern is that apparently the OP doesn’t agree with that interpretation (I don’t know if he is Hasidic or Conservative) and at least one other poster agrees with the OP’s interpretation. I cannot speak for Judaism, but in my own religion, there are so many different flavors that speaking authoritatively about a given tenet requires numerous qualifications and disclaimers to be meaningful.

    But the point isn’t whether the OPs interpretation of Kosher is correct. The point is whether the OP is sincere in his belief and acts accordingly and takes the appropriate precautions.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    OMG may be correct. But at the end of the day, religion is personal. It’s not for me to tell someone that their interpretation of a religious tenet is right or wrong. For all I know, the OP may belong to some small off-shoot of Judaism and his belief is consistent with his sect.

  • Mikael Mik

    Mixing Meat and Dairy is strictly forbidden. Not my cup of tea, but to each their own.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    What a FFRF?

  • Mikael Mik

    Religion has NO PLACE in our courts, schools, or government establishments. Preach to the choice, but save some breath, because America is deep rooted in its faith. Logical or not, old practices die hard.

  • Mikael Mik

    Rabbinical text (Jewish Law) is very clear cut about no causing harm to one’s self. Now the OP can choose to ignore the text and proceed as one chooses. It’s America and by god, America loves its religion. So the courts merely have to decide the genuineness of the OP’s actions (per your words). Appears, OP takes a hardline approach and that’s fine.

    I’m merely pointing out a belief that’s held across the board. Doesn’t mean OP personally agrees. Even though you’d be hard pressed to find a Rabbi willing to support the OP’s view.

  • Mikael Mik

    Kosher food requires strict preparation, rabbinical supervision, and blessing. So while an “Apple” might be Kosher, unless prepared properly, the food remains a forbidden fruit.

    Not judging the OP’s actions, even if they’re outside the realm of normalcy. Merely explaining why you can’t just substitute food.

    Religion is nuts… Settle for that one Carver.

  • Mikael Mik

    Agreed. I believe the Flying Spaghetti Monster shall bestow upon me ample bowls of pasta. I want Spaghetti. Maybe other’s believe in Fettuccini is the proper meal of choice. Fact of the matter stands, it’s America and faith be damned. People are entitled to their beliefs…..So You are correct. Maybe the OP belongs to some small offshoot that doesn’t adhere to Judicial law. Their prerogative.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Yes, I understand. I worked for a Kosher law firm for a year. NCL sourced a Kosher meal that was otherwise acceptable to the OP. That food was presumably stored in a non-Kosher kitchen aboard a non-Kosher ship, etc. Thus if NCL obtains a Kosher meal, they have the means of storing/preparing/serving, that are acceptable to the OP.

    My contention is that all they are changing are the suppliers. Find a local Kosher caterer and obtain food from it. The remaining procedures and operational logistics remain the same as for the original food that was served

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    To be clear, the court makes a point of not ruling on the merits of one religion, or no religion over the other. For example, the discussion about religion is truly irrelevant beyond the fact that some folks don’t approve of or agree with the OP’s religious beliefs.

    The dispassionate analysis is that 1) the OP did not receive what was promised and 2) what they received was quite possibly poisonous. Religion per se has no bearing on this matter.

    Replace Kosher with vegetarian, vegans, gluten free, flying spaghetti monster compliant meals, the analysis remains the same. Religion is a red herring.

    If I were litigating it, I would be mindful of the religious tenor in the locale and perhaps downplay the religious aspects.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    No, they don’t. As I mentioned earlier, this case is not about religion. Replace it with vegan, etc. and the analysis remains the same.

  • Mikael Mik

    NCL acted in poor faith. I don’t think a single person stands here defending their actions. OP, stemming from personal or religious conviction, didn’t budge.

    NCL promised the OP edible Kosher meals. Didn’t deliver, nor attempt to deliver, and now here we stand.

    I’m against Chris intervening. Speaking from the standpoint of a person with a compromised immune system, NCL’s actions were less than a WOOPSY. Had I been the OP and eaten these meals, I might be sitting in the ER with far more than gastrointestinal distress (upset stomach).

    NCL’s actions went beyond spoiled food into sheer negligence. If OP has the caterer testify that the contract was terminated two years prior with instruction to disregard food, NCL is screwed.

    You’d think they would give more than an “EMPTY APOLOGY”.

  • Mikael Mik

    Understood. I was pointing out why the OP was in “error” though what might be mainstream and practiced aren’t always one in the same.
    None the less, the legal system (you stated) looks at one’s convictions in determining the outcome. Here, the OP is steadfast that Kosher food is the ONLY ACCEPTABLE meal.

  • Fedor Pikus

    It is a very ancient part of rabbinic law, going back to at least Talmud times, and based directly on the Torah (Jews are commanded to keep the mitzvot and to “live by them”, rabbis put emphasis on “live”). From other places it is derived that only three sins are so grave that they cannot be committed even to save a life: idolatry, incest, and murder.
    While there are many subgroups with their own interpretations, the older laws in general take precedence over the more recent ones, and this is a very old law. Now, what exactly constitutes harm or danger to life, on that there is significant variety of interpretations. The leading orthodox rabbis, including hassidim, take a fairly broad definition of harm, i.e. one does not need to be certain that death will be a direct result of the [in]action to disregard the commandment, only that it puts life in danger. There are very radical sects that hold much more extreme views.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I’m the snarky one of the group, so I gotta say this:
    If your life choices (this includes religion) dictate that you must consume a certain diet, and you expect public establishments that generally don’t cater to you to do so, you kinda gotta take what you get.

    I mean, if you’re a vegan eating in a steakhouse and the only thing you can touch is a baked potato, you really don’t have much room to complain in my book.

    Now, allergies, I’m SLIGHTLY more sympathetic to, but as someone with a seafood allergy (before food allergies and “gluten free” were cool), you still must be proactive. I’m not going to go to a seafood restaurant and bitch that I can’t eat the lobster, y’know?

  • Raven_Altosk

    I’ve been waiting to use this jpg for awhile. I want to imagine Carver “objecting” in this pose… :)

  • Raven_Altosk

    Religion is a sham.
    Therefore, I would like to start a religion that dictates I eat only Chocolate Cake and Single Malt Scotch on Mondays and every restaurant on a cruise line must accommodate this–at no extra charge.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Bwahahaha

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    They were proactive. They made arrangements for Kosher meals to be served to them. If they hadn’t made arrangements, I would be 100% with you. It seems reasonable to me that if I’m a vegan, I call ahead to the steakhouse and they assure me they have vegan meals, I am properly upset if turns out they don’t

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I see what you mean.

  • emanon256

    In the rare cases when gross negligence comes into play, and cause an additional problem for people, I do believe good will compensation is the right thing to do. And not being able to find Kosher food is not an open door for a free for all (can’t think of a term for eating mass amount of treif that doesn’t sound inappropriate). Basically, the OP can eat enough treif that they don’t starve to death, but are still going to be in a miserable place.

  • Mikael Mik

    Glad we’re on the same page. Time and place for mitigation was before NCL became insulting, downplayed the seriousness of their offense, and trivialized the OP’s plight with a $100 dollar voucher. Now, I think the proper course is legal action and bad press. Will a lawyer pick up the case? If the cater will testify, there’s a possibility. I guess you’re more versed on answering the legal merit of the case.

  • emanon256

    I would like to convert to Ravenism. BTW, I purchased the 18 year Oban on your recommendation on this very site and it is absolutely amazing!

  • Mikael Mik

    I see more issue here than just spoiled food. I hope the Op wasn’t made ill. I mentioned to Carver below, I have a compromised immune system. Healthy people walk away and bounce back. If I were the OP, recovery might have been less than pleasant. Therefore, due to the amount of gross negligence on NCL’s part, I see more than simple whining taking place.

  • emanon256

    Agreed.

  • Mikael Mik

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster is NOT a sham. The decline of pirates directly correlates to global warming. Plus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s flock receives an abundance of tasty meals. Entrees include Spaghetti, Fettuccini, and all pasta related dishes.

    Disagreement arises over which Pasta Dish is the most sacred. Scholars are working to find out an answer, but remain puzzled.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Excellent! One of my favorite pours of all time.

  • omgstfualready

    rAmen

  • omgstfualready

    Oh, you had me at ‘may be correct’. <3 And for the record, I'm a she (whoo hoo) and I was raised Jewish and still identify as one but I'm firmly atheist.

  • omgstfualready

    Freedom From Religion Foundation. They work tirelessly to protect those that don’t want religion from having it imposed upon them. Public spaces, schools, trying to get churches of all faiths to pay taxes, etc. etc. etc. It is not to deny those that choose faith (any faith) but it is to ensure the constitution is upheld.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Lol. I know you’re a she. The “his” was the OP.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The problem with excising religion from public spaces is that it makes those folks second class citizens. Consider: KKK, Aryan Nation, and the like can promote their ideas in the public spaces with few limitations. The solution is more speech. Let the opposition speech and let the more persuasive ideas prevail. Surely religious people deserve the same rights as everyone else.

  • Bill___A

    Why I don’t go on cruise ships, chapter gazillion.

  • omgstfualready

    Freedom of speech is treasured. Not allowing a permanent Christian cross or a nativity in a space funded by public funds does not make for 2nd class treatment. Not allowing American Atheists a table at CPAC does make atheists 2nd class. Upholding the law founding our country should not be such an ordeal. Trying to explain that our money never had god on it until the 1950s and our ‘pledge’ as well is so sad. People know so little of our country and its history and why things came into being today. For every cross you see in a public space imagine it is a crescent. Suddenly you are not so free from that religion. And before the moderator says anything I’ll stop here. :-)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    LOL. You’ve made my point. Everyone should have the SAME access to public spaces, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim,or atheist. We shouldn’t carve out a special exception, one way or the other.

    For example, at UCLA School of every club was given office space except the purely religious clubs. Unfair, as we were singled out for second class treatment although we paid the SAME dues as everyone else did. Equal access for everyone is my simple point.

  • omgstfualready

    Agreed. Equal. Atheists are not allowed much of anything. Non-Christians aren’t allowed much more than atheists. But we do agree!

  • Lindabator

    But in some cases, they don’t have a contract, so do not order the large numbers, but a chef might just order a couple meals, and that may be the case – I find it unusual they did NOT state they saw an expiration date on these.

  • Lindabator

    No – they did not pay extra – they requested Kosher, that is all. I just wonder where they got the info about that caterer. In some cases, they cancel contracts, but if they get a small amount of requests, may just order a few meals. Or there are other vendors they use he may not have been aware of. Just not enough information to really get to the truth here.

  • Lindabator

    In the middle of the ocean? Not usually available in the Caribbean, either. But wonder if they just harped on not liking it, rather than it not being edible at all.

  • Lindabator

    Don’t see where you got they PAID extra at all – they merely requested a certain meal type (just like I request vegetarian when I fly). No extra charges invloved.

  • Lindabator

    And ASSUMING these were from them, and from that batch – I know lines which cancel the big contract, but still may buy a few meals here and there as needed, and the guys taking care of large contracts are clueless as to those sales.

  • Lindabator

    That was my point – WAY too many assumptions – feels like they didn’t bother to query the proper people at the cruise line about the food, and are jumping to a lot of conclusions. Ever see a ship’s galley? They can’t AFFORD to leave stuff just sitting around for 2 years taking up necessary space. I really had trouble swallowing this story (sorry for the pun!)

  • TonyA_says

    I think Weberman’s is the go-to Kosher meal provider of cruise lines. If the OP wanted anything more, then he should have booked with Kosherica.
    I would assume the kitchen would keep the food frozen or refrigerated until they were needed.

  • TonyA_says

    Frozen food keeps indefinitely. The quality might deteriorate but the food is still safe to eat. That said, for as long as the kosher caterer delivered clean food and the cruise line kept it frozen, then safety was not the issue since it was not spoiled food. It might taste like crap but it would not kill you :-) 

  • TonyA_says

    Caterer instructed NCL to destroy or discard the food?
    Really? Why? NCL can freeze it.This makes no sense at all unless the caterer delivered rotten or tainted food in the first place.

  • TonyA_says

    Carver, do you have any proof the food was spoiled? Lousy food is not necessarily spoiled.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I assume that’s what happened. Basically it delivered food from a tainted batch, which was subject to the catering equivalent of “Recall” and informed NCL and other vendors accordingly.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Like every article, comments are based upon the representations in the story. We chose whom we believe based on any number of factors.. If you and I having proof was required, there would be no comments section in any story where the OP claims to be a percipient witness to events.

    I could qualify the language with conditional language, but it would kill readability.

  • TonyA_says

    But it is not normal to make assertions like this – he told us that the food we ate was likely from a batch that was brought aboard the Norwegian Sky two years ago and subsequently was left unrefrigerated and it spoiled – without presenting more facts or evidence.
    While many people like me are critical of cruise lines, I would not accuse them of deliberately poisoning their customers. Sorry but my BS meter is high on this one.

  • TonyA_says

    Jeanne,
    In my experience many travel companies will show some empathy but that’s it. The usual answer plus a certficate or coupon.
    This case is way too blown up. The OP did not even get food poisoning. The food sucked, though. So what?

    Just finished an escorted tour with more than 70 people (2 buses) in Kyoto and Nagoya. Food was marvelous :-)

  • Mark Cuban

    Bad food on a cruise. Go figure.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Have you been sick on a vacation? Call the HURT line. Our team of lawyers will get you the settlement you deserve!

    Medical injuries are like slam dunks for lawyers. Costs, pain and suffering, and easier to prove than other claims.

  • Name

    Shame on the cruiseline. But it’s the OP whose trip was ruined. My trips, esp cruises, are very special to me and I wouldn’t want someone else to be responsible for special food. Good cruiselines serve varied, delicious food, hundreds of choices; if they didn’t the word would soon be out on CruiseCritic and people would book another ship. Seems to me that if your eating requirements are this far out, you’d better bring your own food. Otherwise, your hard-earned trip is ruined and you can never get that back … unless you enjoy arguing, frustration and litigation.

  • mythsayer

    I agree, that’s wrong.

  • AH

    i do realize the serious of NCL’s error, and you’re very right, it could have been a lot worse.
    i just think that chris’s mediation could be a first step towards NCL properly compensating the OP, and bringing the issue to light.
    certainly if OP wants to pursue legal action, they are well within their rights to do so, but it just sounds like they don’t want to go to that length, and just want some resolution from NCL.

  • Mikael Mik

    Legal action is an option, and might not be one the OP pursues. Id be phoning one myself here, but because I know how sick I’d become here. Op might not have gotten ill nor wants hassle. Sounds fine and Chris might drum up a better offer. NCL’s response still minimizes seriousness of actions.