News From : DagangHalal.com (31 Mar 2011)
For years, Muslim communities across the country have held “Muslim day” at amusement parks, paintball fields and ice rinks, but for the first time ever, a group of young American Muslims from Atlanta, GA are attempting to charter an entire cruise ship reserved just for Muslims.
The project, known as Salaam Cruise, is taking reservations for a 2,600-capacity cruise ship for a three-day long trip to the Bahamas that will feature a Muslim-friendly environment – no alcohol, no gambling, a full Halal menu and possibly a women-only swimming pool. Imagine a typical Caribbean cruise experience, minus the haram bits.
Shuaib Hanief, founder of the Salaam Cruise project, said his friend Faisal had gone on a few cruises before. “People in the community were shocked that he had gone on a cruise and even more shocked that he had fun,” said Hanief, who added many Muslims in his Atlanta community wanted to go on a cruise if a halal environment could be guaranteed.
So for the whole of last year, Hanief and three other volunteers have been working to get quotes from major cruise lines and have looked to other religious-themed cruises for inspiration.
“We had to figure this out,” Hanief said after putting out a survey to the wider Muslim community and getting a positive response. “It’s just an intense experience.”
And now they’ve gotten some scholars to back up their plans. Yasir Qadhi, the dean of academic affairs for Al-Maghrib institute, recently endorsed the project on his Facebook page.
“I had wanted to take my kids on a holiday (Allah knows they have definitely earned one because of my constant travelling!!),” Qadhi posted on his page last week. “This seems like an ideal vacation: a family cruise.”
The cruise will set sail from Miami on Jan. 27 of next year, come to port the next day in Nassau, Bahamas and return to Miami Jan. 30. The cruise will offer Islamic lectures, poetry mic nights, calligraphy classes, game shows, comedians, matrimonial mixers as well as children’s programs.
And of course the cruise features a full halal menu. Hanief said they are working on the logistics of providing halal meat to the crusie kitchen staff, who will prepare the food on their own.
People have requested “desi food, arab foods – we’re basically saying we haven’t gotten to that stage,” said Hanief adding that “all those spices are not a great idea, you don’t want to be on the ship with a bad stomach.”
Prices range from US$500 to US$1,000 per person, depending on the size and location of the cabin and how many people stay in each room.
Hanief said the prices are a little higher than the usual introductory rates for similar cruises, but he said the cruise companies quote a higher rate because they know they won’t be making money from alcohol sales or casinos. “One of the things that we’re really proud of is that we’re affordable,’ Hanief said.
They are taking US$25 per person deposits until March 17 to get an estimate of the interest in the community. Organizers say if they don’t have at least 2,500 people sign up for the early registration, they may have to cancel the cruise. After that the remaining balance will be due for each person.
Once they have enough people registered, they can sign a contract with the cruise company. Hanief said they have a quote from Carnival Cruise lines, but they cannot sign the contract unless they pay the entire charter fee upfront. Check out the details of the trip here or Like their Facebook page.
By Mariam Jukaku, InFocusNews