IN SHIP SHAPE
Cruise lines are increasingly focused on wellness, providing dietary-specific food, spa treatments and tailored fitness programs. Healthy cruising provides the chance to reboot and come back feeling recharged. And at a cost that’s comparable to a health retreat, you’ll get many activities, onboard entertainment, enjoy beautiful ocean panoramas while you exercise and explore far-flung destinations.
As Shalini the massage therapist flicked the switch to activate electric currents across my neck as part of my “age-defying facial”, she told me she had a loyal following of passengers who cruise just for the treatments. And I believe her – the plumping, toning and hydrating provided a more youthful appearance.
I was at Celebrity Solstice’s Canyon Ranch Spa, which offers massages and beauty treatments and is also found on Cunard and Oceania Cruises. Other spas include Princess Cruises’ Lotus Spa, Viking Cruises’ Liv Nordic Spa, Silversea’s House of Elemis and the Spa at Seabourn.
With interest in veganism growing, many cruise lines have expanded menus to suit. On Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, menu options for vegetarians and vegans are extensive, including chickpea and spinach fritters, and coconut curry with almond rice.
When I commented on salads labelled vegan but dressed with Worcestershire sauce, Cunard food and beverage manager David Lea said staff were trained in special diets.
“The sauce has anchovies,” he said. “I should know, my ancestors started the company back in 1837!”
Oceania Cruises, renowned for the finest cuisine at sea, offers 250 dishes for vegans and vegetarians. Unable to decide between mains, I generally opted for a sampler plate, my favourite being gnocchi, mushroom risotto and pumpkin dumplings.
Bernhard Klotz of Oceania Cruises said the Canyon Ranch Spa cuisine, gourmet vegetarian and vegan menus, and raw juices have proved popular, with everything made fresh to order. Other cruise lines to cater for special-diet cruisers include Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Silversea and Princess Cruises.
If you have a dietary requirement, notify the cruise line well ahead of time and it should ensure a troublefree cruise, but not always. Some cruise lines are a work in progress.
On one cruise, my vegan entree was lettuce with four cherry tomatoes. Not to be upstaged, the main was the same again. After two weeks, I cornered the head chef, saying: “I don’t mean to cause a problem, but I need food.”
“Your last night will be memorable,” he promised, and while the lights of Hong Kong harbour twinkled, I waited for two hours, reassured my special dinner was coming.
It arrived – the head chef presented a large bowl of cold cocoa “soup”.
With fitness now becoming a focus of cruising, I joined daily group fitness classes on board Celebrity Solstice, including yoga, pilates, Zumba and meditation. I also attended wellness lectures on healthy ageing, and eat more to weigh less (very popular).
Cruise ships have decked out gyms with state-of-the art equipment and it’s a great way to give everything a try.
Fitness instructors can provide a personal consultation and develop a wellness training plan. Walking around the promenade deck or making use of the jogging track also help develop a healthy routine that can be continued back home.
If you’d prefer adrenalin-charged fitness, Royal Caribbean offers surfing, ice skating, zip-lines, rockclimbing walls and roller skating, while Carnival and Norwegian have sports courts and obstacle courses.
Themed cruises centred on fitness, wellness and nutrition are offered by UnCruise Adventures, Oceania Cruises, Hapag Lloyd, and Uniworld, with classes on yoga, meditation, cooking healthy cuisines and lectures by experts on better health.
Enjoy stunning ocean vistas with a morning stretch.