From yoga to ve­gan cui­sine to on­shore jog­ging, set sail to a health­ier new you, says Jane Archer

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

What hap­pens when you seek health and well­be­ing on the high seas?

It’s an oft-quoted “fact” that cruise pas­sen­gers put on a pound in weight per day. While those de­ter­mined to get their money’s worth can eat non-stop – cooked break­fasts, mid-morn­ing snacks, lunch, af­ter­noon tea, din­ner, late-night nib­bles – the im­age of ships full of over­weight cruis­ers is not en­tirely ac­cu­rate.

With all that in­clu­sive food and drink, a cruise might not seem the best choice if you want to get into shape, but it can be one of the health­i­est hol­i­days around. Menus list low-calo­rie dishes along­side hearty steaks, and lunch can be salad with ev­ery­thing from quinoa to bee-pollen grains and a raft of tasty pro­tein op­tions. Then there are state-of-the-art gyms, fit­ness classes and jog­ging tracks on board, plus hik­ing, cy­cling and kayak­ing ashore. So there’s no ex­cuse for not keep­ing fit on a cruise – ex­cept for the fact that a hol­i­day is meant to be time to re­lax. Here’s how to do both.


Along­side its tra­di­tional plea­sures, cruis­ing now of­fers a path to well­ness


Look­ing af­ter mind, body and soul is a good thing, but a salad-filled, al­co­hol­free trip, plugged into iTunes to while away the hours on a tread­mill, can rapidly ex­tin­guish the hol­i­day spirit. But what if ev­ery­one around you is in the same boat, so to speak, and be­ing ab­stemious when it comes to desserts and glasses of fizz? With com­pan­ions of like mind, sud­denly, the well­ness kick be­comes that bit more en­joy­able.

Yoga cruises on Star Clip­pers’ three tall ships are so pop­u­lar that it has prac­ti­tion­ers on 12 cruises be­tween May and Novem­ber this year. Se­abourn is of­fer­ing free, daily med­i­ta­tion and yoga ses­sions based on the teach­ings of Amer­i­can in­te­gra­tive medicine guru Dr An­drew Weil. He is lec­tur­ing on two voy­ages in Alaska and the Mediter­ranean in June and Oc­to­ber re­spec­tively; at other times com­pli­men­tary ses­sions are hosted by well­ness ex­perts.

Tun­ing into the spirit of the times, Crys­tal Cruises has a 14-night Mind, Body and Spirit-themed voy­age next Oc­to­ber with guest in­struc­tors and speak­ers that fo­cus on yoga, Pi­lates, t’ai chi and gen­eral fit­ness.

We’re tempted by: Hol­land Amer­ica Line’s link with O, The Oprah Mag­a­zine, which is spread­ing health and hap­pi­ness through med­i­ta­tion and t’ai chi on more than 300 cruises in Alaska, Ber­muda, the Car­ib­bean, Mex­ico, Canada and Hawaii.

A seven-night yoga cruise on Star Clip­per with the life coach Al­laya Cooks-Camp­bell on board costs from £1,495pp de­part­ing on Au­gust 25 2018 (0808 231 4798; star­clip­pers. co.uk). Flights cost ex­tra.


Ocea­nia Cruises, Princess Cruises, Cu­nard, Aza­mara and Crys­tal Cruises all of­fer healthy op­tion menus that de­tail fat, carb and calo­rie con­tent. Celebrity Cruises’ ships have a restau­rant called Blu that’s ex­clu­sively for pas­sen­gers in AquaClass spa cab­ins and serves “clean” cui­sine free from heavy sauces and creams.

SeaDream Yacht Club started a ve­gan trend by serv­ing raw food on its two ships: the food is not ac­tu­ally un­cooked, but pre­pared with raw, or­ganic and ve­gan in­gre­di­ents. Ocea­nia Cruises has fol­lowed suit, serv­ing more than 250 ve­gan dishes at break­fast, lunch and din­ner on its ships that in­clude ev­ery­thing from Tus­can-style bean soup to quinoa salad and veg­etable tar­tar.

The MSC Cruises Well­ness Ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes a health check with the ship’s doc­tor and a body anal­y­sis with a per­sonal trainer (see box, right). The price, from £949 per per­son for a seven-night Mediter­ranean voy­age on MSC Mer­av­iglia de­part­ing April 1, in­cludes a keep-fit pro­gramme, com­pli­men­tary laun­der­ing for gym gear, “well­ness” ex­cur­sions ashore and ac­cess to a healthy menu. Vi­ta­min Bars in MSC’s spas sell made-to-or­der fruit and veg­etable drinks to “cleanse, re­lax and detox”.

River cruise op­er­a­tors Tauck and AmaWater­ways both spec­ify al­ler­gens in each dish and high­light healthy op­tions. Uni­world river cruises’ menus have “healthy” starter, main course and dessert op­tions.

We’re tempted by: Avalon Wa­ter­ways of­fers its river cruis­ers a veg­e­tar­ian menu in­cor­po­rat­ing in­gre­di­ents sourced from small farms and pro­duc­ers. It’s called Avalon Fresh.

A seven-day Mediter­ranean cruise on SeaDream 1 costs from $4,626 (£3,420) per per­son de­part­ing Oc­to­ber 13 2018. Flights ex­tra (0800 783 1373; seadream.com).


Cruise lines spend mil­lions build­ing lux­ury spas that are run in part­ner­ship with lead­ing health com­pa­nies such as Steiner and Canyon Ranch. It’s not all about mas­sage – there are fa­cials, and more, for men and women that pam­per and pol­ish and help pas­sen­gers un­wind and detox. The first Champ­neys Health Spa at sea sets sail on Marella Ex­plorer, the ship join­ing Marella Cruises’ (for­merly Tui) fleet in May. The com­pre­hen­sive treat­ment menu in­cludes a spe­cial Ocean Spa Face and Body ther­apy ex­clu­sive to this ship. Ex­pect to pay from £55 to £189 for 25 to 80 min­utes (in line with prices in Champ­neys’ land-based spas, ac­cord­ing to Tui).

Re­gent Seven Seas Ex­plorer has one of the best spas at sea. It’s run by Canyon Ranch and the vast menu of­fers ev­ery­thing from or­ganic wraps and scrubs to a gem­stone anti-age­ing treat­ment and a high-per­for­mance men’s fa­cial. A hot-stone mas­sage costs $272.

River cruise com­pany, A-Rosa has spas on all its ves­sels. A-Rosa Donna, which sails the Danube, has two saunas, a re­lax­ation area, a mas­sage shower and treat­ments in­clud­ing fa­cials, body, leg and foot mas­sages, and a Car­ib­bean body scrub.

In­ter­est­ingly, as spas en­ter the main­stream, some cruise lines have be­gun build­ing them closer to the main pub­lic ar­eas, rather than hid­ing them away on top decks. The Canyon Ranch SpaClub on Re­gent’s ul­tra-lux­ury Seven Seas Ex­plorer is on deck five by the cof­fee bar, and on P&O Cruises’ Bri­tan­nia it is next to re­cep­tion where it is far more likely to at­tract a ca­sual visit.

We’re tempted by: A spa suite on Aza­mara Jour­ney or Aza­mara Quest, which comes with a com­pli­men­tary evening of cham­pagne, canapés and din­ner served by a but­ler fol­lowed by a night un­der the stars on the spa’s Sanc­tum Ter­race (avail­able to pas­sen­gers in other cab­ins for a fee of $395).

A seven-night High­lights of the Mediter­ranean cruise on Marella Ex­plorer costs from £874 per per­son de­part­ing Oc­to­ber 13 2018 (020 3451 2682; tui.co.uk).


In line with th­ese lux­u­ri­ous spas treat­ments, too, con­tinue to evolve. Celebrity Cruises has sea­weed peat wraps to help drain tox­ins while spa-go­ers on Cruise and Mar­itime’s Colum­bus can be mas­saged with seashells and in­dulge in a caviar fa­cial (45 min­utes for £68). Fred Olsen Cruise Lines of­fers a 30-minute “ab­dom­i­nal detox.” Vik­ing Cruises’ ships have a Scan­di­na­vian feel that ex­tends to their LivNordic spas. Th­ese have a snow room, where real flakes fall each night. River cruise line Scenic has salt rooms on ves­sels sail­ing the Rhône in France and the Garonne, Gironde and Dor­dogne Rivers from Bordeaux. The salt is on the floors and walls; sit in­side for 30 min­utes and re­peat each day to im­prove res­pi­ra­tory func­tion. Many spas in­cor­po­rate a medi-sec­tion of­fer­ing Bo­tox and other anti-age­ing treat­ments. Anti-age­ing elec­tro­po­ra­tion on MSC’s Mer­av­iglia tar­gets wrin­kles and fine lines; it costs €219 (£194) for three ses­sions, while three 60-minute ses­sions aimed at elim­i­nat­ing stretch marks cost €249. An acupunc­ture ses­sion on board P&O Cruises’ Bri­tan­nia is priced from £93.

We’re tempted by: The warm and invit­ing tha­las­sother­apy pool on Vik­ing Ocean is filled with sea­wa­ter and jets of var­i­ous in­ten­sity and looks on to a re­lax­ing real-fire fea­ture (with pre­tend flames). Hygge guar­an­teed. An eight-night Bordeaux Af­fair cruise on Scenic Di­a­mond costs from £2,870 per per­son de­part­ing April 21 2018 (0161 236 2444; scenic.co.uk).


Most ships have gyms with state-ofthe-art tread­mills, ex­er­cise bikes, weights, Ki­ne­sis train­ers and the lat­est TRX Sus­pen­sion equip­ment. They’re gen­er­ally open from early morn­ing un­til late at night and are free to use. And if you want to in­hale the sea air, use the jog­ging tracks found on the top deck of many ships. Even river­cruise lines, with their stream­lined ships, fac­tor in fit­ness ar­eas on board. AmaWater­ways, Scenic, Tauck, Avalon Wa­ter­ways, A-Rosa and Uni­world all have them. The fit­ness-shy might be tempted by the two-storey gym with river views on the 180-pas­sen­ger ship, Amadeus Sil­ver (amadeusriv­er­cruises. co.uk).

Fit­ness classes, yoga, pi­lates and in­door cy­cling are com­pli­men­tary on lux­ury cruise lines such as Re­gent Seven Seas Cruises, Se­abourn and Ocea­nia Cruises. Other com­pa­nies might charge. NCL charges $20 per ses­sion for RYDE spin classes and TRX Sus­pen­sion train­ing. Four Boot Camp ses­sions on its Nor­we­gian Es­cape cruise ship cost $120, in­clud­ing

a free in­Body com­po­si­tion anal­y­sis.

Those who seek pro­fes­sional ad­vice and en­cour­age­ment can pay for a body anal­y­sis and per­sonal trainer. P&O Cruises of­fers this ser­vice for £59 and £47 re­spec­tively for 60-minute ses­sions on both but the ser­vices are of­fered by most cruise com­pa­nies.

We’re tempted by: A spin around the ice on the rink’s on board Royal Car­ib­bean’s Voy­age, Free­dom and Oa­sis-class ships.

A 14-night Mediter­ranean cruise on P&O Cruises’ Bri­tan­nia costs from £1,339 per per­son de­part­ing Septem­ber 16 2018 (0843 374 0111; pocruises.co.uk).


If you like the idea of ex­er­cise but not nec­es­sar­ily within the con­fines of a gym, why not keep ac­tive ashore?

It’s not as dif­fi­cult as your might

think; Crys­tal Cruises for ex­am­ple pro­vides jog­ging ex­cur­sions in ports in­clud­ing Ber­gen, Liver­pool, Bordeaux, Bar Har­bor, Sa­van­nah, Monte Carlo and Greenock in Scot­land. In Am­s­ter­dam, a one-hour jog takes run­ners along canals, past key sights such as the Ri­jksmu­seum, Van Gogh Mu­seum and Anne Frank House, and in­cludes a stop at the Water­looplein flea mar­ket. All for $69 per per­son.

Avalon’s new eight-day Ac­tive Rhine itin­er­ary pairs hikes and guided cy­cle rides with a run­ning tour of Am­s­ter­dam. Or cruise the Rhine be­tween Am­s­ter­dam and Basel with AmaWater­ways to join a five-mile (8km) hike up Holy Moun­tain in Hei­del­berg

and a 22-mile (35km) guided bike ride from Mannheim.

There are guided walks in Gre­nada, Car­cas­sonne and Girona for pas­sen­gers on Saga Cruises’ 17-night Mediter­ranean Ad­ven­ture on Saga Pearl II this year. On board, Mr Mo­ti­va­tor (aka Der­rick Evans) will be of­fer­ing ad­vice and pas­sen­gers can pick up healthy cook­ing tips from celebrity chef Kevin Wood­ford. The cruise sails from Portsmouth on April 28, 2018; from £3,014 per per­son. We’re tempted by: A guided cy­cle ride through Aus­tria’s pic­turesque Wachau Val­ley on Vik­ing River Cruises’ Danube Waltz cruise.

An eight-day Ac­tive Dis­cov­ery on the Rhine cruise with Avalon Wa­ter­ways costs from £2,465 per per­son de­part­ing July 15 (0800 668 1843; aval­on­cruises.co.uk).


Crys­tal has Tour de Spin (a posh name for spin­ning), pi­lates and t’ai chi classes – all free. It also has the in­spired Walk-On-Wa­ter fit­ness pro­gramme where par­tic­i­pants trot around the deck wear­ing weighted vests (weights are be­tween two

and 16 pounds and can be in­creased in half-pound in­cre­ments).

New this year, AmaWater­ways has fit­ness in­struc­tors on six of its Euro­pean river ships. They will hold stretch­ing, yoga and other classes ev­ery morn­ing and af­ter­noon and give talks on healthy eat­ing and re­lax­ation tech­niques. By 2019 they will be on the en­tire Euro­pean fleet.

We’re tempted by: Daily – and free – yoga on the sun­deck or a sand­bank while cruis­ing the Brahma­pu­tra in As­sam be­tween Ni­mati and Guwa­hati on Far Hori­zons’ river ship Ma­habaahu.

A seven-day Coastal Clas­sics and Balearic cruise on Crys­tal Seren­ity costs from £2,362 per per­son de­part­ing Au­gust 12 2018. Flights ex­tra (020 7399 7601; crys­tal­cruises.co.uk).


Ac­tive travel com­pany But­ter­field & Robin­son has river cruise-and-bike hol­i­days on the Rhone, Danube and, new for this year, the Rhine, in Ger­many. The cruises are run in con­junc­tion with Uni­world. On the eight-day cruise from Basel in Switzer­land to Am­s­ter­dam daily cy­cling ex­cur­sions head into Ger­many’s Black For­est and along the Neckar River to Hei­del­berg.

But­ter­field & Robin­son also has new one-week river cruise-and-bike hol­i­days on the Mekong in Viet­nam and Cam­bo­dia this year, with bou­tique cruise line, Aqua Ex­pe­di­tions. We’re tempted by: A CroisiBike cruise on the Loire in France that pairs guided bike tours of up to 45 miles with trips to chateaux. Avail­able through CroisiEuro­pe. An eight-day Mekong River Bik­ing cruise on Aqua Mekong costs from £6,835 per per­son de­part­ing June 16. Flights cost ex­tra (001 866 551 9090; but­ter­field.com).

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