No matter how many alternative restaurants with added service charges there are on today’s new mega ships, the one thing you could count on was that the food in the main dining room always was included in your fare.

Well you can’t count on that any longer.

And maybe that’s the start of an unfortunate trend – another item in the growing list of a la carte add-ons that could run up the tab for your cruise vacation.

Adding a la carte menu items began last year when Royal Caribbean tacked $15 on to your dinning bill if you wanted New York strip steak served in Allure of the Seas’ main dining room. Regrettably, now Celebrity Cruises is following suit of its parent company by adding new menu options that will carry a rather hefty surcharge.  On all ships in Celebrity’s fleet, you’ll find Kosher menu options that will lighten your wallet anywhere from $5 to 20.

Currently, all cruise lines offer kosher food, which usually is listed in the category of “Special Dietary Needs,” along with special preparations for those who prefer vegetarian, Indian, low cholesterol, salt-free, low-fat or allergen-free dining choices.  The big difference is Celebrity is the first to charge extra for kosher food.  Celebrity’s new “premium” kosher meals are Glatt Kosher certified and provided by the same outside source Carnival Cruise Lines uses for its kosher cuisine, where it is available at no extra charge.  In both instances you must notify the cruise line a month before departure if you request kosher meals.

In order to justify the extra charge, Celebrity labels its Kosher food “premium.”    Entrees include roasted salmon, BBQ quartered chicken, beef brisket and glazed chicken breasts and are priced at $19.    Kosher breakfast items include lox and bagels, Belgian waffles, omelets or pancakes priced at $13, while baked goods carry an extra $3 charge.   For lunch you may dine on corn beef, roast beef and pastrami sandwiches (on a baguette) for $15 per meal and add soup for $5.00 extra.

For now, Royal Caribbean/Celebrity are the only cruise lines charging extra for food served in the dining rooms of its ships.    Let’s hope it stays that way.