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.
Amazing Journeys offers a last-minute solution for single travelers in their 20s, 30s and 40s looking to ring in 2006 abroad. Sponsored in conjunction with the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, the program brings together Jewish singles Dec. 24 aboard a seven-night voyage on Celebrity Cruise's Constellation from San Juan, Puerto Rico. The trip concludes with a bonus night and New Year's Eve party at the El San Juan Resort. Ports of call include Aruba, Dominica and Curacao.
Price includes all meals (nonkosher), accommodations, gratuities, port charges and exclusive Amazing Journeys onboard events. An additional two-night, precruise stay at the Wyndam Condado Plaza Hotel and Casino starts at $369, tax and gratuity included.
Dates: Dec. 24-Jan. 1
Cost: $1,999 (double occupancy)
For more information, visit AmazingJourneys.net or call (800) 734-0493.
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 Shuster.
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.
Club Kosher offers an all-inclusive glatt kosher vacation for singles, couples and families at the four-star Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa in Ocho Rios. The getaway boasts picturesque beaches, windsurfing, sailing, snorkeling and kayaking.
A professionally staffed children's club and teen program include a variety of free activities, including boating, waterskiing classes, nature hikes, story-telling, treasure hunts, face-painting, line dancing, arts and crafts and swimming. Baby-sitting is also available.
Costs include all meals, beverages and alcohol. Kosher supervision under Rabbi Moshe Avila and Koach Kosher includes daily minyanim and Shabbat services.
Dates: Jan. 19-29
Cost: $1,599-$1,899 (children's rates vary from free to $1,499)
For more information, visit ClubKosher.com or call (866) 567-4372.
Combine the beauty of Torah study with a tropical paradise during the third annual Kol Echad study program on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Kol Echad, a nondenominational community education program "without boundaries," is teaming up with the Jewish Congregation of Maui for a weeklong Torah study intensive. No prior knowledge is necessary.
Instructors include Rabbi Yitzhak Schwartz of Jerusalem, founder of the Paradise Principal Institute, who will be teaching a course titled, "10 Sefirot -- The Tree of Life: Accessing Our Own Divine Energy," kabbalah-based techniques for personal growth. Rabbi Jonathan Feldman, associate director of Manhattan Jewish Experience, will present "Kabbalah of Bereshit: Biblical Personalities as Paradigms for Personal Quest."
Most classes are held daily for about an hour and a half , with free time available for popular Maui attractions, such as scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, hiking, golf, tennis and bike-riding the 10,000-foot Haleakala crater.
Donation includes a kosher Shabbat dinner, one meal daily, whale watch, guided beachside meditation, singles mixer and a cocktail reception showcasing the work of local Jewish artists.
Dates: Feb. 19-26
Cost: $630 (singles), $900 (couples) suggested donation for program.
For more information and assistance with flight and accommodations, which are booked independently, visit KolEchad.org or call (512) 797-7010.