A New Kind of Hydrotherapy: Wellness Cruise Vacations
It’s early morning on the Crystal Symphony. With the sun still low on the horizon, the sea air fresh and invigorating, and a slight wind as the ship plows through the Andaman Sea somewhere between Thailand and Myanmar on this 14-day wellness cruise, it’s the perfect time of day for taking advantage of the ship’s new outdoor Fitness Garden. Installed late last year, the “garden” is a collection of workout equipment positioned on several decks and offering passengers a full-circuit workout overlooking the open sea.
Cruises were not always considered a good bet for wellness vacations – not with offerings like midnight buffets, overly-generous servings and meal-sized desserts – but times have changed. More cruise companies, like their land-based resort equivalents, have adopted elements of wellness living.
Crystal Cruises has been one of the industry leaders in introducing wellness options.
In keeping with the healthier practice of eating dinner earlier rather than later, the company has moved beyond the standard early and late “seatings” to allow guests to make reservations, not just in the main dining room but in several other restaurants. Meal portions have been reduced in size, and passengers, according to F & B Director Norbert Tesar, have been applauding the move. Additionally, the salad portion of buffets has doubled, fish or seafood is a choice offered with every meal including breakfast, and (in the main dining room) a daily, healthy-focused Modern Cuisine menu is now offered side-by-side along with the ship’s traditional Classics.
There are also good-for-the-mind-and-soul learning opportunities. On this particular Crystal Symphony itinerary – along with a handful of destination-related lectures and wellness presentations including those on acupuncture, nutrition, and posture – California artist Randy Sprout was onboard to offer inspiring watercolor classes.
A state-of-the-art Technogym, plus eight daily fitness classes per day including yoga, Pilates, and stretch – allow any passenger the opportunity to maintain a fitness routine or kick-start one with the help of two onboard fitness instructors.
And, elsewhere in the cruise world, cruise expert Deb Fogarty of Fort Lauderdale-based Be Well Travel, says many of her clients are now looking at cruise options for wellness getaways “since cruise lines are introducing more wellness-friendly features and products.” She sites Royal Caribbean’s healthy dining options including Biggest Loser chef Devin Alexander on The Quantam of the Seas as an example. She adds that Celebrity Cruises is SPE Certified for gluten-free dining. Gluten-free and other special dietary offerings including lactose-free, low fat, low sodium and others, have also been introduced on menus by Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and other cruise lines in an effort to cater to the demands of their wellness-minded passengers.
On the spa scene, Canyon Ranch at Sea is aligned with several cruise companies including Celebrity Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, and Oceana Cruises, and other full-service spas are now offered on most luxury ships including the Crystal Symphony.
New partnerships between cruise lines and wellness-focused companies continue to grow. For instance, Fogarty is in the process of creating a 2016 yoga cruise aboard Royal Caribbean. And on the Crystal Cruises September 2015 Istanbul to Rome itinerary, Canada-based Shaping Purpose is offering a program designed to move participants towards a greater sense of well-being by helping them identify goals and the actions that could be taken to achieve them.
Stopping my routine for just a moment to take a breath and imbibe the inspirational view – that orange globe heralding the day and water as far as the eye can see – I know, first hand, that cruising can indeed be the ultimate hydro-therapy.
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