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Q & A: Ask the Rabbi

Traveling on a Cruise Ship over Shabbat

May one travel on a cruise ship over Shabbat? Can one get off a ship that has docked on Shabbat?

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Question
 
Shalom, Just wanted to know if I’m allowed to be on a cruise that starts before Shabbat and ends on Shabbat morning? Thanks
 
Answer

Your question includes four different questions in halacha:
 
1. Can one go on a ship that will continue to sail on Shabbat?

Answer: Sunday,Monday, Tuesday it is permissible. Once it begins Wednesday (Tuesday evening) it is prohibited to go on such a ship before Shabbat. (Source: Shulchan Aruch Harav, Orach Chaim, 248:1).
 
2. Can one go on a ship that will continue to sail on Shabbat, when the majority of the passengers are Jewish?

Answer: One may not go on such a ship even during the first three days of the week, unless the workers on the ship are all non-Jewish and the majority of the passangers are non-Jewish. (Source: Shulchan Aruch Harav, Orach Chaim, 248:1).
 
3. For the sake of a mitzvah, can one go on such a ship whose crew is non-Jewish and the majority of passengers are non-Jewish, even on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday?

Answer: For the sake of a mitzvah one may sail on such a ship even within three days of Shabbat. (Source: Yalkut Yosef, Hilchot Shabbat 248).
 
4. Can one get off a ship that has docked on Shabbat?

One may not get off the ship that has docked on Shabbat until Motzei Shabbat, since his travels on the ship have led him to go outside of the permitted distance (tchum) on Shabbat. If the ship will be continuing to sail onward in Shabbat and he has no choice, he may get off and remain only in the port itself until Motzei Shabbat. He is allowed to give his passport to a non-Jewish officer to have it signed so that he will be allowed entrance into the port. (Source: Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Shabbat, Volume 1, pg. 52). 
 
With Blessings, 
Rav Nachum