Sailing Towards Wellness: Navigating Health and Well-Being at Sea

By Michael McHugh and Donna Duggan

The Nordic Spa’s badestamp (hot tub).
The Nordic Spa’s badestamp (hot tub).
The more time we spend on the ocean, the better we feel. And with cruise companies now offering the best in wellness treatments on the water – everything from cool pools to high-tech spas, hot tubs and a plethora of soothing hands-on treatments – you’ll be so rejuvenated, relaxed and pampered, you’ll never want your trip to end.

We are surrounded by the ocean, which covers 71 per cent of the earth’s surface, and its well-documented restorative impact soothes us whether we are in, on, near or under the sea, making us feel happier and healthier. The gentle movement of waves, known as the Heraclitean Motion, is also known to have a calming, peaceful, effect – just breathing in the sea air gives us an energy boost.

It comes as no real surprise then that cruise companies offer experiences while at sea to enhance that soothing, ocean-infused sensation. The more we connect with the ocean, the better we feel, making a cruise the ideal scenario to embrace the very best of the surrounding environment.

We have researched and reveal the very best on offer:

The enticing Warming Cave in Viking’s Nordic Spa.

Nordic Experiences on Viking

The Scandinavian-designed Nordic Spa draws from the heritage of Viking and sets the bar high for cruise ships. It is complimentary for all guests, offering a holistic approach to finding synergy between the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing for each passenger.

You can detox in the steam room, meditate on ceramic heated lounge chairs and sweat it out with hot and cold water therapy. Enjoy the hydrotherapy pool, while the scent of pine from the wood-heated sauna stimulates your circulation system as you plunge between hot and cold. Don’t forget the Snow Grotto, where snowflakes fall from the ceiling, chilling the air; it’s a power punch of adrenaline. Viking’s therapists offer quality treatments like deep tissue massage and facials as you watch the ocean slip serenely by.

Whether you want a dip in the jacuzzi or a relaxing facial, the Nordic Spa will meet all your wellness needs.

Viking have been clever in infusing Nordic wellness into their spa offering, which provides an authentic bathing routine where you can sit in a wooden hot tub with windows open to the elements. Behind different doors around the heated lap pool, there is a steam room, Snow Grotto, sauna and cold-water bucket shower. There’s nothing quite like pulling the chain and having ice-cold water spilling over you.

On the expedition ships Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis, there are three pools at the Aquavit Terrace at the rear of the ship, overlooking the ship’s wake and also offering different water temperatures.

MUST TRY Sitting in the Snow Grotto and seeing how long you last within the bubbling water, warm, hot or cold, watching the world pass by.


The sauna on Hurtigruten’s MS Fridtjof Nansen with ceiling-to-floor windows of the ever-changing view.

Relaxed and ready for adventure with Hurtigruten 

Since launching the world’s first expedition cruise in 1896, Hurtigruten have been at the forefront of adventure and sustainable travel. While Hurtigruten is synonymous with travel in Norway, they also have expedition itineraries to some of the most adventurous, remote places in the world, as well as some of the most healing. In Iceland you can swim in the geothermal waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths and in Træna (Norway) soak up the steam in a wood-fired sauna after taking an Arctic dip. While each Hurtigruten itinerary is exhilarating for the soul, expanding your view of the world and your appreciation for Mother Nature, onboard there’s a full suite of facilities so you can maintain an active lifestyle balanced by relaxation.

Hurtigruten’s MS Fridtjof Nansen’s Wellness Spa.

After a day of exploring new destinations, guests can relax in the infinity pool and hot tubs, rejuvenate in the wellness centre with a body massage, face, hand and foot treatments or hit the high-tech gym.

MUST TRY The wood-fired sauna after a day on land; the pine scent makes you feel relaxed and ready for your next adventure.

The Aurōra Spa Treatment Room onboard Crystal Serenity.

Clarity and Light Aboard Crystal

The Aurōra  Spa, named after the Roman goddess of dawn, has been redesigned and is a beautiful light-filled space reflecting the energy and light from the sea, in a neutral colour palette of salt crystal and silk-brushed slate stone. The Spa includes steam room, sauna, relaxation room and up to 12 treatment rooms. Exclusive massages are available on each Crystal ship. The popular Clarity of Light treatment features LED Light Therapy – it is not only unique but as you sit feeling the gentle rocking of the waves, it is a perfect treatment to have while at sea. The Biotec 2.0 Ultimate Facial is also very popular.

Enjoy a massage at the Aurōra Spa.

There is a separate room for injectables and procedures. If you’re not a fan of needles, the Thermage facial rejuvenation is the premier non-invasive skin tightening therapy. The treatment uses radiofrequency to improve the appearance of loose or sagging skin. The spa also includes a hair salon offering beauty treatments.

MUST TRY The Hot Stone Massage is by far the most popular treatment and what many customers keep coming back for.

Let Holland America Line pamper you.

Holland America line Focus on You

When it comes to self-care at sea, there are multiple options with Holland America Line. You can start the day with soothing Tai Chi on deck or stroll around the ship, taking in beautiful views. Soak up some sunshine poolside, take a dip in the hot tub or work up a sweat at the Fitness Center. All ships across Holland America Line’s fleet have professionally staffed fitness centres equipped with the latest cardio and weight machines. Holland America Line also offers fitness classes such as yoga, Pilates, cycling and cardio circuit training to help guests achieve optimum health and vitality.

On deck, there is a basketball, volleyball and pickleball court, a jogging track, stationary exercise equipment and shuffle ball courts. For deeper relaxation, the onboard Greenhouse Spa & Salon offers a variety of spa treatments including hot stone massages, pedicures, hair styling and facials. On select ships, the spa facilities also include a hydrotherapy pool bubbling with warm, therapeutic sea water.

All ships feature heated ceramic loungers and private treatment rooms. Including couple’s massage rooms and massage therapy inspired by an exotic blend of cultures.

MUST TRY The Hawaiian Lomi Lomi and Chinese Tui Na massages are excellent options for something a little different.

Onboard with Regent Seven Seas.

Serene experiences on Regent Seven Seas Cruises 

As you walk into the vast space with high ceilings of the Serene Spa on Regent’s Seven Seas Splendor you will immediately begin to feel relaxed as the scent of massage oils drifts out to greet you. Every spa treatment begins with a warm eucalyptus wrap to soothe the shoulders and neck; while massages, body wraps, facials and manicures are all on offer. 

Regent Spa.

It is perhaps the Wellness Tours that give Regent Seven Seas Cruises a real point of difference. You can choose immersive experiences while visiting destinations. Perhaps it’s soaking in restorative mineral-rich thermal springs in Rome, Tai Chi on a beach in Palma de Mallorca or a yoga class in the seaside town of Taormina. Regent Seven Seas Cruises blend offerings for the body and mind. Don’t miss holistic treatments like functional fitness, reflexology and meditation. Whether you join a group or are flying solo, the wellness experience is catered to your own goals and desires.

MUST TRY The warm basalt stones with a Ying Yang Balancing Massage and the Sea Lavender and Samphire Body Polish to moisturise and rejuvenate your skin.


Photography: Clara Tuma, Stephen Beaudet, Tom Griffiths.


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