Breaking News: Cruising is getting a healthy new image with guests enjoying a blend of the three ‘r’s’ - relaxation, rejuvenation and revitalization.  From the largest liners like Princess Cruises or Royal Caribbean to slim and sleek river cruise ships like A-Rosa or Uniworld, health and wellness is topping the guest priority list.

Waistline Whittling

A broad view of wellness is leading to fewer broad guests – and it all begins at the table. The gain-a-pound-a-day curse of cruising no longer need apply. While it’s still possible to over-indulge (we’re only human …) heart-healthy choices are available at every turn. MSC Cruises' ships, for example, have Vitamin, Tea and Coffee Corners featuring fresh fruit drinks as well as Spa Bars on their Musica and Fantasia-class ships. Guests with cholesterol issues are happy to find that many luxury and premium cruise companies (too many to mention here) offer trans-fat-free menu options, while on Costa ships, guests staying in Samsara spa staterooms can dine at the health food-oriented Ristorante Samsara. Celebrity’s elegant Blu Restaurant, designated for spa travellers accommodated in AquaClass staterooms, has a menu filled with health-conscious cuisine and is hugely popular.

Putting the Aaaaaah in Spaaaaah


Fabulous facilities are another essential part of the wellness experience. Celebrity’s recent partnership with the Canyon Ranch SpaClub® has created a destination spa ambiance. In addition to sumptuous treatments that range from two-by-two massages to organic body wraps, AquaClass® guests also enjoy unlimited access to the luscious Persian Garden, an oasis of heated mosaic lounge chairs and grottos radiating aromatherapy-infused steam and mists. 

Thermal environments are also melting away the stresses of life on Regent Seven Seas Cruises and its sister line, Oceania Cruises (also partnered with Canyon Ranch SpaClub®)in aromatic steam rooms and Finnish saunas, while Royal Caribbean’s Vitality Spas also feature thermal suites with soothing steam vapors, heated beds and showers.    

Holland America’s guests loll on heated, ceramic lounges in the exotic Turkish bath-like grottos and chambers of The Greenhouse Retreat, inhaling aromatherapy mists while  unique hydrotherapy pools are gently warmed to body temperature to re-mineralize tired bodies with trace elements and vitamins.

Spa 2

On many ships, the health and wellness treatments are as exotic as the ports visited. Norwegian’s chic Mandara spa features the Bali Press, a Balinese remedy involving finger, elbow and palm pressure used to stimulate, relax and soothe acupressure points and energy meridians, while The Spa at Seabourn offers the Thai Herbal Poultice Massage during which warm, scented herbal poultices are applied to the body’s pressure points. Windstar Cruises’ O Spa is famed for the Shirodosha™ – a foot bath and polish using aromatic Himalayan salts, a powerful de-stressing Ayurvedic head massage, warm aromatic herbal oils drizzled onto the forehead and a full-body massage with Dosha-specific warm aromatic oils. This is no doubt what inspired the ‘aaaaaaah’ in spaaaaah!

Getting Away From It All

Privacy is key to relaxation and in the poolside cabanas on Holland America ships guests withdraw in delightful solitude to savor healthy treats delivered by soft-voiced attendants. The luxury of alone-ness is also an important element on Seabourn’s Odyssey where treatments are offered in private spa villas on deck, with oversized bathtubs, daybeds, balconies, and living areas. Bliss! Sanctuaries at sea are some of the newest, delightful experiences from many lines including on the new Royal Princess – soothing and peaceful adults-only areas that just add to those blissful moments.  

Celebrity ships’ AquaClass® guests enjoy exclusive spa-like stateroom elements and unlimited Persian Garden access, while Holland America Line guests with spa staterooms can opt for treatments in-suite. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic also has spa staterooms as do many MSC ships while Windstar’s Wind Surf offers spa suites, complimentary treatments and "Spa Under the Stars" events with on-deck samplings of spa treatments.

Looking as Good as You Feel


Does the fresh-faced glow of a friend returning from a cruise make you wonder just how restorative sea air really is? A cruise is a great time to experience anti-aging treatments.
In the Vitality Spas of Royal Caribbean, in Princess’ tranquil Lotus Spas and in Norwegian Cruise Line’s Mandara Spa, to name just a few, wrinkles disappear with the help of trained professionals using FDA-approved medi-spa therapies including Botox, Dysport, Perlane and Restylane. The best news? Not only will any minor swelling have disappeared before that final sail into port, but the costs may even be lower than in spas ashore. 

Revving Up

Activity fuels rejuvenation, and cruise ships offer a wide range of fitness programs and workout facilities. Norwegian Epic’s 31,000 sq. ft. spa and fitness center is reputedly the largest at sea, but even smaller ships like Seabourn's three Odyssey-class vessels boast two-story gym and spa areas. The Spa at Silversea offers innovative body age assessment technology with personal trainers who create lifestyle programs, and Regent and Oceania offer SpaClub® fitness assessments, specialized fitness services and personal training. Crystal hosts several Mind, Body and Spirit-themed cruises every year featuring expert lecturers and instructors in yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and general fitness.

From healthy cuisine to personal fitness assessments and spa experiences extraordinaire, your next cruise could see you sailing into a whole new world of wellness.

Written by Liz Fleming

First published in World Traveler Spring/Summer 2014

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