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Honeymoon in the sun

Luxury cruises, outdoor adventures and gourmet kosher dining on the romantic trip of a lifetime

by Lisa Alcalay Klug

April 19, 2007 | 8:00 pm

Sunny climes are made for honeymoons. Whether you opt for a kosher cruise, a getaway to Costa Rica, a retreat to Hawaii or another warm locale, juicy possibilities await with plenty of exotic, warm weather options. So take a look and pencil something in. You may soon decide it looks better in ink.

Or surprise your betrothed, your adult child or grandchild or another loved one with the honeymoon of a lifetime. Chances are it will be a gift to remember.

At Sea

Kosherica's name leaves no doubt about the meal plan. Aboard its international cruises, everything is glatt kosher.

Maritime Kosher International supervises the ship's glatt kosher, award-winning gourmet cuisine. The menu includes three daily sit-down meals, afternoon tea and midnight nosh. In addition to the extravagant dining traditional to luxury cruises, each voyage features nightly shows with dancers, comedians, singers; Jewish entertainment, as well as daily minyanim, Talmud study and lectures.

Like all leading cruise ships, these also offer 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.

Winter is the traditional time for Kosherica's Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings aboard the Costa Fortuna, with seven-day itineraries from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., slated for Jan. 20, Jan. 27 and Feb. 3, 2008. Prices begin at $999 per person, double occupancy, and include accommodations, meals and onboard activities. Port charges, taxes, gratuities, spa services, excursions and flight are extra.

If you're set on a summer departure, one of the Costa Cruise Line's newest ships, the Concordia, the largest and longest ship in the fleet, sets sail from Barcelona on Aug. 14. Its 13 decks boast an equal number of bars, more than 500 cabins with balconies, four swimming pools (two with retractable roofs), as well as a sauna, Turkish bath and extensive spa and fitness services. The ship drops anchor in Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Tunis, Tunisia; La Valleta, Malta; Palermo, Sicily; Civitavecchia/Rome and Savona, Italy, before returning to Barcelona. Prices start at $2,750 per person, double occupancy.

Another warm-weather option is a seven-night Greek Isles adventure departing Aug. 27. Roundtrip from Venice, Italy, the ship docks in Bari, Italy, and four Greek destinations: Katakolon/Olympia, Santorini, Mykonos and Rhodes, as well as Dubrovnik, Croatia. Prices start at $2,369 per person, double occupancy. Looking for more summer-time cruising options? Additional upcoming itineraries include a Baltic 12-night sailing aboard Holland America's five-star MS Rotterdam on Aug. 10. Ports include St. Petersburg, Russia; Estonia; Sweden; Finland, and Denmark. Alaskan departures are also slated for July 29, Aug. 5 and Aug. 12.

For more information, visit www.kosherica.com. or call (877) 724-5567.

Tropical Eco-Adventure

Imagine soaking in a natural hot spring, watching bright lava burn against the dead of night and learning about the remarkable biodiversity of a tropical rain forest. Costa Rican Adventure offers customized itineraries for honeymooners.

These trips combine visits to a national park, a coastal hike through wildlife refuge -- home to monkeys, parrots, sloths, toucans and more -- and opportunities to snorkel amid a tropical reef. Other highlights include white-water rafting through a virgin rain forest and mountain gorges, an evening in a jungle lodge surrounded by the sounds of the forest, a visit to an organic farm that serves up lunch and a night-time viewing of Costa Rica's most active volcano.

Travelers should be in reasonably good shape for a moderately challenging outdoor experience. The cost varies, from rustic to luxury, starting at $2,200 each, including accommodations, most meals, ground transportation, activities for an eight-day trip for two, based on double occupancy. Airfare, tax, tip and gratuities are not included. Shabbat observers are welcome, and kosher meals are usually available with advance notice. Vegetarian meals and other dietary restrictions should also be requested well in advance.

For more information, call (800) 551-7887 or visit www.costaricanadventures.com.

Dominican Republic

Club Kosher offers all-inclusive glatt kosher vacations at the five-star Meliá Caribe Tropical Dec. 20-27, 2007, and Jan. 17-27, 2008. The getaway boasts picturesque beaches, catamaran sailing, snorkeling and kayaking, as well as spas, casino, golf, tennis and aerobics. All meals, beverages and alcohol are included. Glatt kosher supervision.

For more information, visit www.clubkosher.com. or call (866) 567-4372.

Shaloha!

Hawaiian Jews are fond of saying, "Shaloha," a blend of Shalom and Aloha. As a honeymooner, you'll likely feel the expression of both greetings in Maui, which offers romantic luxury getaways, indulgent spas, kosher beachside dinners and memorable adventures.

The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa is an ideal honeymoon destination. As the largest spa in the Hawaiian Islands, its Spa Grande is aptly named. Treatments incorporate local ingredients, as well as Thai, Indian, Japanese and European influences. You can pair a romantic room minutes from the beach with specialty treatments, visits to the spa's Terme Wailea Hydrotherapy, a series of five aromatic baths, a waterfall massage, eucalyptus steam and other indulgences.

For more information, visit www.grandwailearesort.com. or call (808) 875-1234, ext. 4949.

When it comes to fine kosher dining on the island, Five Palms Beach Grill is owned by a member of the local shul, Beit Shalom, the Jewish Congregation of Maui. Thankfully, the chef is well-trained in preparing delicious meals of kosher fish, double-wrapped in foil and indigenous fragrant leaves, and scrumptious Okinawa purple sweet potatoes and edamame. It is all served up within earshot of the waves breaking under fire-lit torches on a small private beach.

Five Palms Beach Grill is located at 2960 S. Kihei Road at the Mana Kai Resort. Call in advance for special meal requests, (808) 879-2607. Beit Shalom, The Jewish Congregation of Maui, is located at 634 Alulike St., Kihei, Maui; (808) 874-5397; www.mauijews.org.
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