Billy Eichner
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These Cruises Ditch Buffets For Wellness & Culinary Experiences

A man does upside down splits on a cruise ship

Let’s face it. These days there’s no shortage of problems in the world to keep you up at night — so the need to take a break and “get away from it all” has become more vital to one’s mental health than ever. This has also helped pave the way for a new blossoming realm of culinary and wellness-themed vacations.

 

More and more travelers are forgoing booze-soaked party trips for replenishing journeys that help one let go and heal the body and mind, rather than simply trying to forget your worries for a week. (Don’t fret, most still have booze.) Cruise lines have caught on to this growing travel trend and there are now numerous wellness-minded options — here are some of our favorites. 

 

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy

Let ’s start with the yummy stuff. While culinary-themed travel isn’t a completely novel idea, there’s now a new crop of carefully curated trips that cater to specific tastes and dietary needs.

Created by blogger and event planner Sean O’Callaghan (fatgayvegan.com), Vegan Culinary Cruises offer luxury experiences that mix five-star gourmet vegan cuisine with adventurous and educational land and sea excursions. Because trips are individually curated, destinations are always rotating — so visit the website to see what adventures are on the roster for 2023 and beyond.

Another option for vegan foodies is Oceania Cruises, which recently launched one of the most extensive gourmet plant-based menus available on the high seas — and with executive culinary director Jacques Pépin’s expertise, the fare is sure to be sinfully delicious. The line also operates wellness tours that include yoga, meditation, and more.

Not vegan but still craving some healthy yet mouthwatering meals while exploring the waters of the world? Check out Celebrity Cruises’ AquaClass ticket, which includes luxurious spa services in addition to daily breakfast and dinner at Blu, an upscale restaurant focusing on mindful, health-conscious cuisine. Optional excursions include sea kayaking, whitewater rafting, and taking a relaxing dip in mud baths or hot springs.

 

Replenishing Body and Mind

For those seeking a more healing or even spiritual getaway, a wellness-themed cruise might be just what the doctor ordered.

Aboard Silversea’s new vessel, Silver Dawn, travelers are treated to a wellness program inspired by the ancient Roman lifestyle called otium: a chunk of time devoted to leisure. While many associate health and wellness programs with discipline and sacrifice, otium is quite the contrary, focusing instead on pampering oneself with activities like bathing, conversation, singing, theorizing, drinking, and eating. With over 900 destinations on seven continents aboard a wide variety of vessels, you’re sure to find the relaxing retreat you’re searching for.

Oceania Cruises also now offers excursions to select destinations called Wellness Discovery Tours where you can indulge in apitherapy treatments (the practice of using honeybee byproducts for holistic health purposes) for skin rejuvenation at a beekeeping farm in the Spanish countryside or enjoy reflexology sessions on a rice barge on the Chao Phraya River in Thailand. You can also participate in guru-led Kandyan dance sessions in Sri Lanka or relax into the healing, toxin reducing mud baths of Cartagena, Spain.

Nature lovers can connect to our wonderous world with Seabourn Cruises, which now offers a curated Mindful Living Collection. Highlights of this program include exciting excursions like a yoga session and healthy lunch on a bay in Crete, and a meditative bicycle ride through an Arabian wildlife park. Company president Josh Leibowitz notes that “Seabourn has expanded its marina day operations, which give guests access to Zodiacs, paddleboards, and kayaks off the back of the ship, and we have emphasized expedition experiences to keep guests moving and getting closer to nature.” In partnership with Dr. Andrew Weil, a prominent health and wellness expert, Seabourn also stocks each of its ships with a mindful living coach who is a certified yoga and meditation practitioner.

This piece initially ran in the Fall 2022 print issue of Out Traveler. Read more of our cruising coverage here.

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