The best cruises for wellness and good health

(Reprinted from CNN Travel)

Superlative spas at sea have become a staple of the cruise experience, but recently, a slate of cruise lines have been ramping up ever-more-inventive spa and wellness offerings that expand far beyond the traditional confines of the spa's four walls.

You'll find several lines now integrating a holistic-lifestyle mindset from ship to shore, rolling out more healthful cuisine, Zen-inspired spa suites and health and fitness activities on board, while others are taking spa programming ashore via innovative wellness-themed excursions. For the ultimate in mind-body balance that steers clear of the overindulgent buffet-and-booze cruise of yore, these 10 wellness trends in cruising are sure to have you feeling more refreshed, renewed and fit than before you stepped on board.

>>> Lindblad Expeditions teams up with Exhale Spa

Kicking off in December, look to Lindblad Expeditions' new four-night "Exploration, Transformation, Mindfulness" voyages to the isles of Mexico's Sea of Cortez aboard the National Geographic Seabird. The mini-sailings -- designed as a stress-busting antidote to the hectic holiday season in December and January -- are developed in partnership with the Exhale Spa brand.

Activities include morning power yoga on deck; afternoon guided hikes; stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, or snorkeling outings; and a Core Fusion beach boot camp.
You can round out the day with on-deck shoulder massages and guided meditation classes. Bonus: You can fuel up on an expanded health-minded menu too.

>>> Celebrity Cruises to roll out 'Mindful Dreams' program

This summer, Celebrity Cruises is readying to debut a new fleet-wide "Mindful Dreams" wellness program, in partnership with their onboard spa provider, Canyon Ranch. The program is set to encompass a selection of spa treatments, instructional classes, and expert-led lectures themed on achieving more mindful and restful sleep patterns both on board and back home.

Mindful Dreams builds upon the line's continued expansion into the wellness realm: In 2015, they also launched a small portfolio of "Wellness Rituals" excursions, focused on fitness, nutrition, spa, and spiritual experiences ashore, like a rainforest yoga outing in Costa Rica.

>>> MSC Cruises debuts Weight Watchers and 'Technogym' programming

The first Weight Watchers-themed cruise debuted aboard MSC Cruises' MSC Divina in May, with a "Rejuvenation Vacation at Sea" Caribbean sailing from Miami that factored in consultations with Weight Watchers staffers, customized fitness regimes, wellness seminars, cooking demos and, of course, Weight Watchers-backed meals; another's already planned for November 2017.

Plus, the line's newest ship, the MSC Meraviglia, features a state-of-the-art thermal suite (touting a salt relaxation room and ice waterfall) in its Balinese-themed Aurea Spa, while their "Wellness Experience by Technogym" debuted fleet-wide in April to offer guests comprehensive wellness programming spanning onboard fitness classes, culinary offerings, shore excursions and stateroom amenities.

>>> Silversea Cruises offers wellness expeditions and new spa concept

Last year, upscale Silversea rolled out a new line of "Wellness Expedition" voyages aboard its expedition ship Silver Discoverer, featuring special wellness classes (including yoga, Pilates and water aerobics); fitness programs in its Technogym facilities; complimentary spa treatments; and health-minded menus and nutritional counseling.

Also of note for the line is the Italian-inspired Z�gara Beauty Spa, a new sensory-angled spa concept for Silversea -- incorporating aromatherapy, music, art, refreshments and holistic therapies -- which launched aboard its April 2017-debuted flagship, the Silver Muse.

>>> Aqua Expeditions to Host Fitness Guru on Mekong River Sailing

Plush river cruise line Aqua Expeditions recently announced that it will host fitness guru Alex Salihin (founder of LEVEL fitness and ambassador for sportswear brand Lululemon) for a four-night December 2017 Mekong River sailing aboard its Aqua Mekong. The wellness-themed itinerary proposes personalized fitness and wellness instruction -- including sunrise yoga, guided meditation, daily biking and boating outings, and personal training sessions -- against the distinct backdrop of the Cambodian countryside.

The line plans to add on future wellness itineraries too.

>>> Regent Seven Seas Cruises unveils Seven Seas wellness tours

This spring, posh Regent Seven Seas introduced a new line of "Seven Seas Wellness" tours, available in 10 Mediterranean ports. Offered exclusively aboard the Seven Seas Voyager, guests can pair wellness-themed shore excursions, like a visit to hydrothermal pools in Sorrento, Italy, or Tai Chi sessions in the imperial gardens of Marseille, France, with one of five complimentary 50-minute spa services back on board.

Also of note: Regent's 2016-debuted Seven Seas Explorer features an industry-first en-suite spa retreat in its top-level Regent Suite, complete with a sauna, heated ceramic loungers, and unlimited in-room spa treatments from Canyon Ranch.

>>> Seabourn Cruise Line's wellness program with Dr. Andrew Weil

Seabourn introduced a mindful living program in January, in partnership with the line's Onboard Spa by Steiner and integrative medicine practitioner Dr. Andrew Weil.

The onboard programming is executed by a designated "mindful living coach" who leads complimentary classes (like daily yoga and meditation sessions), seminars and events inspired by topics from Weil's books and teachings (like mindful meditation and anti-aging). Plus, guests can sign up to sail with Weil himself on an annual Seabourn voyage, on which he personally hosts lectures and group discussions.

>>> UnCruise Adventures adds on wellness theme cruises

UnCruise excursions include a guided beachfront hike in Costa Rica. New for 2017, small-ship adventure cruise line UnCruise Adventures has debuted a handful of wellness-themed voyages: Choose from upcoming sailings to Mexico's Sea of Cortez, Costa Rica and Panama or Alaska.

On board, guests can tap into the expertise of special guest hosts (including personal trainers, nutrition and skincare experts, and/or yogis) with programming and cuisine focused on fitness, nutrition and overall well-being. In port, a roster of lively excursions designed with active lifestyles in mind awaits, like hiking, snorkeling, kayaking and paddleboarding.

>>> Oceania Cruises promotes wellness tours, vegan menus

Upscale Oceania rolled out a portfolio of Mediterranean-based "Wellness Tours" ashore this spring. Excursions highlight options such as private yoga sessions overlooking the bay in Monte Carlo, or laughter-immersion workshops at a farmhouse set in the heart of Costa Brava, Spain.

To round out the integrated wellness experience back on board, cruisers can sign up for a suggested spa pairing at the top-rated Canyon Ranch SpaClub, tuck into a brand-new menu of vegan options and raw juices or sign up for one of the line's yoga, Pilates, or indoor cycling classes, which are free for guests as of May.

>>> Blue World Voyages to launch as new wellness cruise line

For fitness diehards, your ship has come in: The wellness-dedicated cruise line Blue World Voyages is readying to launch in 2018.

Devoted to fit and active lifestyles, the line -- led by Miami-based fitness professional and entrepreneur Gene Meehan -- is gearing up to acquire three 350-passenger ships over the next five years, offering voyages with all on-board programming, cuisine and excursions designed with the line's sports/wellness/health ethos in mind. For instance, guests might sign up for cross-training, cycling or meditation excursions ashore; get a treatment at the palatial on-board spa; or take a dip in the ship's retractable lap pool.

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