Cruise lines are listening: Health-conscious travelers want to stay fit, stick to their wellness routine, and, of course, book a few spa treatments while sailing the world.
Wellness is top of mind for travelers, and it’s a market that is booming. No longer do travelers bid farewell to their diets and exercise regimens when they go on vacation, and they certainly slip in quite a few spa treatments as well. According to the Global Wellness Summit, travelers take 586 million wellness trips each year, and it accounts for 15 percent of global tourism, second only to cultural tourism in revenues. And make note of this whopping figure: Wellness travelers spend 130 percent more than the average traveler.
And although clients “aren’t asking about the spas or using the term ‘wellness’ specifically,” says Wendy Quinn, Cruise Planners franchise owner and wellness travel specialist, “what they are doing is asking for cruise ships with unique services and activities. People have become more active and health-conscious, and want to continue their lifestyle while on vacation. The activities and services on the ship have become equally as important as the ports themselves.” Adds Bridget Midgett, customer care manager, World Travel Holdings, “This side of cruising is booming! Recognizing the want of a passenger to unplug and unwind is creating competitive pricing and amazing offerings. Some examples are incorporating the destinations into the types of spa offerings. Adults-only wellness areas, juice bars and healthy adult beverage offerings are making the experience memorable.”
So what cruise lines are top of mind for travel advisors in terms of this lucrative niche? Says Quinn, “Seabourn Cruise Line is a great choice for someone looking for a smaller, luxury ship. They offer a surprisingly large 2-deck spa…complimentary group classes, including tai chi, yoga and Pilates…and a fitness center staffed by a trainer who can design a personal nutrition and exercise plan.”
The cruise line, in fact, has aligned itself with Dr. Andrew Weil to create a mindful living program that offers guests a holistic spa and wellness experience that integrates physical, social, environmental and spiritual well-being. The program is scheduled to kick-off with Dr. Weil sailing on the Seabourn Encore in January 2017. It will be led by a Wellness Guide, a certified yoga and meditation practitioner who will offer complimentary classes and gatherings.
Quinn also recommends Celebrity Cruises, which, she says, has “made the most significant upgrades to its spa and wellness offerings.” Chris Caulfield, a CruiseOne franchise owner, points to the Celebrity’s Take Care of YourSelfie program, which, he says, “reminds people that it’s important to unplug and take a break from technology.” The program encompasses everything from a yoga workout to spa treatments at the onboard CanyonRanch SpaClub.
“Celebrity also has their AquaClass staterooms,” says Caulfield, “that include exclusive access to Blu, the specialty restaurant that offers what Celebrity calls ‘clean cuisine.’” Mara Hargarther, Dream Vacations franchise owner, points to other cruise lines with similar spa-specific accommodations including MSC, “which offers the Aurea category, [with unrestricted use of the spa’s thermal area]; Carnival’s Cloud 9 spa cabins and suites; Costa’s spa cabins and suites with the dedicated Samsara restaurant; and Crystal’s ETRO-designed amenities in staterooms.” Princess Cruises also gets in on the action with Suite accommodations offering complimentary Lotus Spa Thermal Suite access on select ships. And Norwegian, too, offers amenities for the spa aficionado. The line, says Hargarther, “offers spa and thermal suite packages available for purchase as well as spa cabins and suites on board Breakaway-class ships with unlimited access to the Thermal Suite; and Viking Ocean Cruises offers the snow grotto spa on board all ships.”
Christopher Festerman, a travel professional with CruisesOnly, points out that many of these cabins on board the various cruise lines are “generally balcony or suite rooms that are spa-themed and near the spa allowing for convenient access. Many include specific spa-type enhancements, from special robes to graduated discounts in the spa for treatments purchased.”
Hargarther also signals out MSC’s new Wellness Experience Powered by Technogym, a program announced this year that will roll out fleetwide in 2017. Using a pre-cruise questionnaire, followed by an onboard one-on-one consultation with a Master Trainer, trained by Technogym, each guest’s cruise will be customized with shore excursions, gym classes and healthy food options that are specific to the individuals’ goals and needs.
And if you think what happens on the cruise, stays on the cruise, think again. Jo Ann Williams, a Cruises Inc. independent vacation specialist, says that “cruise lines are employing very well-educated and trained staff for the services they provide. Clients receive care and guidance that they can utilize long after their cruise ends.”
In fact, says Carey Hill, a Cruise Planners franchise owner, “CanyonRanch SpaClub at sea incorporates many of the offerings that made my stay at the [land-based]CanyonRanch Tucson property, which was a spiritual, physical and truly life-altering experience.” She adds that health-focused cruisers can experience the luxurious spa services and wellness programs CanyonRanch has perfected while cruising with “Oceania, [offering CanyonRanch meals on the menu]; Cunard; and Regent Seven Seas.”
On Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer, for example, the CanyonRanch spa facilities include eight fully equipped treatments rooms where cruisers can opt for one of Red Flower’s signature treatments that have been designed exclusively for the ship and are inspired by the seven seas of the modern world. Examples include the Red Flower North Atlantic Journey that incorporates organic sea salts harvested from the Atlantic Ocean; and the Red Flower Naturally Nourishing: A Ritual of the Arctic Sea using ingredients sourced directly from the Arctic Sea.
These unique offerings, says Hargarther, are important because “clients prefer to spend their money on experiences over things. The spa segment of the cruise industry is expected to grow 10 percent annually over the next five years.” Caulfield concurs, adding that “I see this as a growing segment in my cruise business.”
Virtuoso’s Wellness Push
There’s no doubt that the wellness trend will continue to flourish, and it’s that interest from the traveling public that led Virtuoso to launch its Virtuoso Wellness community. “I’m very excited to see Virtuoso embrace wellness as a true travel niche,” says Jeri Donovan, an Andavo Travel affiliate, a Virtuoso agency. It’s a niche that, Donovan says, appeals to “millennials, Gen Xers, baby boomers; those interested in fitness and yoga retreats, or those seeking an active adventure with a strong component of fitness.”
The Virtuoso Wellness community encompasses 18 of Virtuoso’s partners, including hotels and cruise lines such as Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and UnCruise Adventures.
“We are proud to have been selected as one of the first 18 members in the newly launched Virtuoso Wellness community,” says Tim Jacox, UnCruise Adventures’ president and COO. “It’s a testament to the restorative powers of nature and discovery inherent in our outdoor adventures. Our wellness itineraries combine healthy lifestyle activities with scenic and remote locations. Choose a restorative hike in a rainforest, see the world from the waterline in a kayak or head ashore for yoga on the beach.”
UnCruise Adventures’ Wellness Adventure Cruises in Alaska, Mexico and Costa Rica are sprinkled with elements such as walking meditation; core strength kayaking; core strength hiking; yoga; discussions about diet and wellness; and discussions about the impact that fitness has in all areas of one’s life. For example, on the April 29, 2017 cruise to Alaska, the 7-night, 74-guest Northern Passages & Glacier Bay, guests will have the opportunity to indulge in an aromatherapy session and learn about the healing qualities of Alaskan native plants.
Uniworld, too, understands the “healing” powers of the great outdoors, and as such has partnered with Butterfield & Robinson on exclusive active-focused European itineraries. The 8-day Burgundy & Provence departure on board the S.S. Catherine, for example, with select sailings between June and September, includes exclusive bike excursions lead by the tour operator. Guests cycle along the Rhone, traveling through historic riverside cities in Avignon, Arles, and Lyon, occasionally taking a detour in the vineyard-covered hills.
Whether it’s biking, a signature spa accommodation, yoga, Pilates or a customized exercise regimen, travel advisor Hill puts it best when she notes that “there is something for everyone, and I suspect choices will continue to grow across all the major cruise lines.”
Carnival Cruise Line: carnival.com
Celebrity Cruises: celebritycruises.com
Costa Cruises: costacruise.com
Crystal Cruises: crystalcruises.com
Cunard Cruise Line: cunard.com
MSC Cruises: msccruisesusa.com/en-us/Homepage.aspx
Norwegian Cruise Line: ncl.com
Oceania Cruises: oceaniacruises.com
Princess Cruises: princess.com
Regent Seven Seas Cruises: rssc.com
Seabourn Cruise Line: seabourn.com
UnCruise Adventures: uncruise.com
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection: uniworld.com
Viking Ocean Cruises: vikingcruises.com/oceans