Healthy Cruise Trend Has Potential for Agents
by Ana Figueroa /

Cruising might not spring to mind when your clients inquire about health and wellness trips. But perhaps it should.

Cruise lines are going to great lengths to enhance their onboard fitness, stress relief and relaxation programs. From flashy cycling studios to salt therapy rooms and wellness buffets, cruise lines are taking healthy to whole new heights.

Today, cruise lines’ health and wellness offerings are so extensive that travel agents can actually position cruise vacations as wellness retreats. The potential market is broad, extending across age groups, budgets and travel style.

Emerging trend
That the cruise industry should embrace the concept of healthy living is no surprise. To some extent, it always has. Claims about the restorative powers of sea air are age-old, after all.

But in recent years health and wellness travel has become its own distinctive niche. And cruise lines are eager to jump into the game.

“There’s been a major increase in the focus on health and wellness for the whole industry and definitely for us in the last couple years,” said Ken Muskat, senior vice president for sales and marketing for MSC Cruises.

Expansive definition
Land-based health and wellness retreats tend to specialize in one particular regimen, therapy or program. But cruise lines are taking a more broad-based approach, including by extending the health and wellness mantle to more aspects of the onboard experience.

As a result, cruise line cuisine, spas, fitness equipment and workout programs are vastly different than they were even a few years ago.

Gone are the humble gyms, “heart-healthy” dining options and stretching classes of yesteryear. In their place are edgy workout studios with exercise DJs; military-inspired workout classes, wellness sanctuaries and salt therapy rooms.

Small lines included
It’s not just the mega-ships with their multilevel spas and high-tech workout facilities that are looking to attract the health and wellness traveler.

“We keep our passenger count at 90 so that we can make the health and wellness experience a real one. It’s all about letting the worries of civilization get washed away in the wilderness,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Un-Cruise Adventures.

No age boundaries
Travelers who are apt to be receptive to a message linking cruising to health and wellness cover a broad spectrum. Health, wellness and fitness are key selling points for younger and first-time cruisers. But these are not the only groups interested in the healthy cruise message.

On Un-Cruise Adventures, passengers ages 62 to 70 comprise the biggest kayaking contingent, while it’s the grandparents who are most likely to partake of healthy options on a Disney ship.

Disney Cruise Line may specialize in indulging children and youth, but the cruise line also promotes “fitness afloat” to keep adults “shipshape.”

Options include digital sports simulators on board, and a 5k run around the private island of Castaway Cay. Vegan cuisine and rainforest aromatherapy showers promote health and well-being on board, while the little ones nibble on chicken nuggets shaped like Mickey Mouse.

All about choice
Clearly cruising is finding its place amid health and wellness travel providers. And the trend spans all types of cruise lines.

“We are constantly seeking innovative ways to help our guests relax, renew, and recharge easily, as they should on vacation. In luxury, indulgence can be as much about indulging in healthy choices as anything else,” said Edie Bornstein, president of Crystal Cruises.

Crystal features frequent speakers on topics of health and wellness. It recently introduced hypoallergenic staterooms. And its popular “Mind, Body and Spirit”-themed itineraries cover all aspects of the health equation.

A break from the gym too
Don’t expect cruise lines to abandon the quintessential overindulging passenger anytime soon.  

“Many people go on vacation to get away from their normally healthy lifestyle. That’s perfectly fine,” Muskat said.

“Cruising all about choice. Now if you want to do health and wellness and focus on it, you can do that. It’s totally up to the guest,” said Muskat.

There’s been a major increase in the focus on health and wellness for the whole industry.

Ken Muskat, MSC Cruises