A morning jog by the ocean, a gentle Pilates class with water views, a chat with a nutritionist about your diet, a moment of calm meditation in the land that inspired the practice: wellness cruises are one of travel’s hottest trends. 

The “transformation travel” movement isn’t a new one – from health farms in the desert to self-exploration journeys, à la Eat Pray Love, there are myriad ways to check out of our everyday lives and check in to a holiday, seeking to create a better version of ourselves, be it a delicious foodie jaunt or a scenic cycling trip.

But with more than 1.35 million Australians taking a cruise in 2018, it’s a natural progression to undertake your personal transformation on a cruise. 

However, it pays to cruise the options. Some sailings have a specific focus – losing weight and yoga are two key trends, while others ramp up the high-intensity, on-shore activities, stock the staff with on-board life coaches, or even boast collaborations with renowned spa companies. There’s also the choice between river cruising and ocean sailing, which, in turn, affects the size of the ship, from boutique to big and beautiful.

Some wellness offerings are delightfully regional: step into the spa and hammam by French beauty house Sothys on the Marseilles-based Ponant ships, or do the Nordic spa cycle of heat, steam and cold plunge on the ships in Scandinavia’s Viking Cruises’ fleet, which include hydrotherapy pools, steam rooms and even snow grottoes.

Viking has also tapped into a tried-and-tested global behemoth, teaming up with WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) to run wellness cruises. Its most recent journey, an eight-day swish around the Mediterranean, aimed to reset your mind – less buffet, more buff – was a sell-out.  

Sailing deeper into the waters of good mental health, Holland America Line (HAL) has collaborated with O, The Oprah Magazine, to run a series of cruises focused on meditation, movement and yoga, with select sailings joined by Oprah Winfrey herself, who is godmother to one of HAL’s ships, MS Nieuw Statendam. 

Meanwhile, Cunard, whose iconic ships, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2, are regular visitors to Australian waters, has hooked up with celebrity US spa brand Canyon Ranch to create a new spa concept, Mareel Wellness & Beauty, which launches on the newly refurbished Queen Elizabeth in December. “Maritime luxury” are the code words here, with seabathing rituals, a meditation room channelling the transformative powers of the ocean and treatments featuring wild-picked, toxin-free and biodynamic products.  

Here are some of our top picks.

© Prevention Australia