Remember the midnight buffet? It was a staple of high-end cruising, an epic spread heavy on chocolate and aglitter with melting mermaid ice carvings. Never mind that passengers might have tucked into a killer surf-and-turf dinner only a short time earlier. Today, shipboard dining options are more tempting than ever, and the parade of deck chairs beckons as alluringly as always. But some staunch traditions, such as the celebrated midnight feast, are walking the plank in favor of fresh attitudes about maintaining a healthy lifestyle while sailing. Something beyond, well, eating and sleeping.
A Healthier You
“My favorite trend is the focus on healthier eating at sea,” says Trapper Martin, Dream Vacations franchise owner and vacation specialist. “I love entries such as Celebrity’s AquaSpa Cafe and Royal Caribbean’s Park Cafe, which have daily rotating items that are healthy and creative.” As for spa and fitness facilities, Martin cites the spa on the new Norwegian Bliss for its wide range of well-being offerings, and MSC for “rolling out with Technogym,” praising “ships new and old that are incorporating more technology.”
Personal attention is key with Silversea. The luxury line’s fitness centers provide “a comprehensive and diversified health and fitness program,” points out company spokesman Brad Ball. “With state-of-the-art Technogym equipment, free weights, and complimentary specialty classes, plus personal trainers for individual sessions, training is a five-star experience. Add the best view that guests will ever get while working out, and there are no excuses.”
Fitness enthusiasts will find plentiful options on land as well, notably in shore excursions the likes of Windstar’s Kenai Kayak Tour in Alaska, and hiking with top-trained huskies in Tromso, Norway. New in the mix is an e-bike tour in Moorea, Tahiti, that guides pedaling guests to pineapple plantations and archaeological sites. “A few years ago we added an activity level indicator on our website to clearly mark our shore excursions,” says Steve Simao, Windstar’s v.p. of sales, “and when we say strenuous, we mean it. Yes, you can still do a guided walk or carriage ride, but many of our active guests are ready to go sportfishing, or join a stand-up paddleboarding yoga class.”
It’s hard to upstage the opportunities for outdoor fun when a cruise line claims its own sun-washed private island in the Bahamas. On board or off, you can “whistle while you work out,” notes Shelley Gold-Witiak, Disney’s director, hotel operations and lodging, channeling Snow White. “On the ship, clients can take a few laps around our jogging track, wake up with sunrise yoga, play basketball on our sports deck, and exercise in the fitness center. Outdoors on the line’s private island, “they’ll find an oasis for bike riding, snorkeling, and boating, plus they can participate in our exclusive event, the Castaway Cay 5K!” Disney ships also cater to cruisers who wish to dine on the lighter side, vegan and vegetarian dishes included. Tasty choices range from black bean chipotle cakes to roasted caramelized vegetables.
Mind, Body & Spirit
Crystal, continuing to expand its fleet with not only a new class of ocean ships over the next five years, but sparkling river vessels (most recently with spring christenings of Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel), spotlights the fitness picture with Mind, Body, & Spirit-themed sailings.
“They allow travelers to educate themselves through various presentations by health professionals,” says Carmen Roig, the line’s senior v.p. of marketing and sales. “We offer classes such as mat Pilates, yoga, spinning, circuit training, and tai chi, with expert personal trainers and nutritionists who can tailor individual programs. Modern luxury travelers are increasingly interested in the ability to stay fit while away, continue their daily regimens, and learn something new to take home.”
Oceania, too, rocks fitness and wellness classes across the fleet, along with healthy choices from Canyon Ranch Spa Cuisine. Last year the line debuted an expansive vegan menu, plus a selection of cold-press raw juices. Look for vegan tortilla Espanola, Coco Island juice, and tropical green smoothies.
“Oceania Cruises and Canyon Ranch have established a new benchmark for excellence in the field of wellness,” says Bob Binder, the line’s president and CEO, pointing to new destination experiences offered by a program called Wellness Tours Inspired by Canyon Ranch.
Scenic, set to debut Scenic Eclipse in August, has postponed the event until January 2019 due to construction delays. Once afloat, Eclipse will entice fitness buffs with a well-equipped gym, separate yoga and Pilates studios, and indoor and outdoor pools. Adventures on tap? Kayaking, snorkeling, scuba-diving, e-biking, and snowshoeing.
Meditate on This
Mara Hargarther, Dream Vacations franchise owner and vacation specialist, awards kudos to the fitness host on a recent wellness-themed cruise with AmaWaterways. “It was like having your own personal trainer on board,” Hargarther says. “The host met with passengers to discuss fitness goals and objectives. There was excellent participation and people of all ages in the classes.”
A pioneer in active river cruising, AmaWaterways is expanding its popular Wellness Program, going fleetwide across Europe and Southeast Asia in 2019. Onboard classes take in stretching, core strengthening and resistance-band training, with lectures related to holistic wellness. “From our curated biking and hiking excursions to our healthy menu options,” says Kristin Karst, executive v.p. and co-owner, “we give guests the opportunity to work toward their fitness goals, even while on vacation.”
Also new in 2019, Uniworld will launch a health- and fitness-focused cruise on the Ganges River, with daily activities like sunrise yoga and meditation sessions led by an onboard guru. Plus there are cooking classes, too. Vegan and vegetarian choices are part of the line’s farm-to-ship approach utilizing local spices and vegetables. Points out Ellen Bettridge, president and CEO of Uniworld and U by Uniworld, “We know it is important to our guests to continue their regimens, and we are committed to helping them with onboard classes, certified instructors, and a ‘Traveling Lite’ menu.”
UnCruise schedules several fitness- and yoga-themed itineraries, with onboard hosts who lead groups in circuit training, meditation, and goal-setting. In addition, the line shines when it comes to shore activities. Says CEO Dan Blanchard, “UnCruise is about what’s off the boat. We explore each place deeply—kayaking, hiking, snorkeling. You choose your level of activity and have fun playing outside. It’s a combination of fun active excursions and new adventures.”
Celebrity Cruises: celebritycruises.com
Crystal Cruises: crystalcruises.com
Disney Cruise Line: disneycruise.disney.go.com
MSC Cruises: msccruiseusa.com
Norwegian Cruise Line: ncl.com
Oceania Cruises: oceaniacruises.com
Royal Caribbean International: royalcaribbean.com
Silversea Cruises: silversea.com
UnCruise Adventures: uncruise.com
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection: uniworld.com
Windstar Cruises: windstarcruises.com