CRUISING TO GOOD HEALTH
A LUXURY SPA CRUISE CAN SPELL DISASTER FOR WEIGHT WATCHERS, BUT SALONI PURI SWIMS AGAINST THE TIDE IN SOUTH AMERICA.
My suitcase lay open as I stared at it with trepidation. Loose or fitting? The decision to pick which size of clothes to pack for the next 14 days as I sailed around Cape Horn, South America, on board luxury cruise ship Celebrity Infinity, was haunting me. I had been warned that one pound a day was the normal weight gain on board a cruise such as this and having recently put myself through a gruelling diet to keep my midlife-midriff in check, the anticipation of the impending adventure was overpowered by the apprehension of my weak will power.
Besides the rugged beauty of the Latin coastline, I pictured four-course meals washed down with crab martinis and finished off with crème brulee; specialty restaurants serving goat cheese flambé, Chilean salmon and New York steaks.
But I boarded this 90-ton, 2000 passenger, 1000 crew, 11 decks floating five star extravaganza in Buenos Aires with my ocean farer’s commandment in place, “Thou Shall Not Put On Weight!” Was I planning to stay in a diet dungeon? No way, af-
ter all this was a sumptuous vacation, not a fat farm.
While walking around the ship on a familiarisation tour I was introduced to a very tall, very athletic, very golden haired Nordic gentleman—kris—the ship’s on board wellness manager. Kris could inspire any woman to invest in fitness. As he showed me around the 25,000 square foot Aqua Spa— a sprawling complex-featuring state of the art gym machines, floor space for fitness classes, a health food cafe, a thalasso-therapy pool, and a beauty shop with bay windows overlooking endless blue horizons, I felt the first stirrings of hope. Maybe the welcome champagne cocktail, caviar canapés and pastries that I had already gulped down could be balanced out after all. This cruise would be a wellness vacation for me.
The days offshore were far easier on the midriff—the hours flew by in exploration of the amazing ports of call-Puerto Madryn in Argentina, Montevideo in Uruguay, Punta Arenas in Chile- filled with adventures; treks in search of penguins and volcanoes, walks through national forest reserves, strolls along quaint seaside boulevards and quays all kept the nibbles at bay. The only temptation was the dark South American chocolate, but I staved off cravings and headed to the spa instead. ‘Renew’ is the Celebrity Cruise line’s new name for the spa and health aspect of life at sea. It combines fitness classes, spa treatments and wellness seminars to help travellers “feel better, live longer and look younger.” I renewed my fitness vow, laced up my trainers and climbed aboard the body sculpting boot camp.
The body sculpting class entailed lifting heavy weights
and fit its military moniker to the T exactly–a boot camp. I was sweating and moaning before the first class was through but, in the ship’s parlance, I was determined to ‘stay the course.’ The next morning as the sun rose majestically over the Chilean fjords I headed for Deck 11. Sprawled there lay a jogging track encircling a ship aglow with the morning’s first sun-kissed rays. The wind was strong but nothing could beat the experience of coursing laps with a golden orb rising over the horizon. I felt hooked to this early morning jog with just silence and the sea for company.
Motivated and recharged I headed straight for the healthy menu available at the Aqua spa café. Mouthwatering egg white omlettes with spinach and mushrooms, freshly squeezed orange juice, gluten free bread to boot, granola and yoghurt- the spa café quickly became my watering hole, my refuge in distress.
The Aqua spa also includes youth-enhancing medi-spa cosmetic services with licensed doctors, including the popular Restylane(r) for that sexy pout, and Botox for all the familiar uses. Anti-aging facials, acupuncture, yoga and tai chi are all available to help those in search of their beauty on waves of the high seas.
Exercise apart, Blu, the contemporary specialty restaurant, promises low calorie meals for those with an eye on their waists. There’s always a low-cal salad and leaner option on the menu and it takes some restraint not to pass it over in favour of the more substantial gnocchi’s, lobster bisques, and shrimp cocktails.
Towards the end of the trip, we received a surprise invitation to the captain’s bridge to view the crossing around Cape of Horn on an unbelievably clear, sunny day. The rare sighting of cavorting Minki whales from there was the perfect antidote to my rough workouts. On to Ushuaia, the icy cold, desolate, and unimaginably beautiful entry port into Antarctica. We spent the day exploring ancient Tierra Del Fuego forests and penguin watching around the Magellan Straits on a catamaran. Frozen stiff, I returned to treat myself to yet another spa treatment called the bamboo massage, where bamboo shoots are rolled and used to massage tired muscles.
The daily pilates classes with Kris were working magic on my tummy and my abs began to tighten. As we set sail towards our last port, I took stock. I had navigated myself away from carbohydrate avalanches, cruised towards sensible food choices, docked at the gym and descended in Valparaiso, Chile, in top shape. Instead of gaining a pound a day I stepped off the floating palace back onto dry land a whole two kilos lighter. Now, where is my golden Nordic hunk?
ENJOY YOUR DAILY RUN ON BOARD THE CRUISE SHIP ON A TREADMILL THAT OFFERS AN INFINITE VIEW OF THE SEA
THE LOW CALORIE SALADS PREPARED BY THE CHEF ON BOARD CATER TO HEALTH CONSCIOUS TRAVELLERS WATCHING THEIR WEIGHT