Yoga on the high seas
Best for Connecting with the ocean and getting back into a daily yoga practice.
The lowdown: Star Clippers is known in the wellness world for its series of yoga-themed sailings – round trips through Thai waters from Phuket throughout 2020.
Shipshape: Built on the lines of a 19th-century tall ship, Star Clippers’ mega-yachts buck the cruise ship trend – their long lines accommodate up to 170 passengers, under 36,000 square feet of sail. Those nostalgic for the days of yore will find brass fittings and antique prints around the ship, plus an Edwardian library and fireplace. There’s also an outdoor tropical bar, piano lounge and two pools on the top deck.
A highlight is the view from one of the lookouts on the masts, 18 metres above the decks.
Health bent: Vinyasa yoga instructor Liliana Skinner leads the yoga sessions onboard in Thailand. Stand-out Star Clippers sells the idea of practising yoga on the sun-warmed teak decks of the mega-yachts, sails billowing above in the ocean breeze. How could any yogi resist such a treat?
Who goes? Eminently romantic, two four-masted barquentines – Star Clipper and Star Flyer – and the premium five-masted full rigger, Royal Clipper, make up the fleet of this boutique line, which has a 60 per cent returning guest rate.
Sail away: Star Clippers’ 7-night round trip from Phuket. From $2975, starclippers.com.
India by Riverboat
Best for perfecting that yoga Warrior pose while exploring ancient Indian philosophies.
The lowdown: Heavy with ritual and symbolism and inextricably tied to mindfulness, India is a sanctuary seeker’s dream. This year, boutique river cruise liner Uniworld launched cruises down the River Ganges, the experience married with a new wellness program.
Shipshape: The Ganges Voyager II, which can accommodate 56 guests, is a long, low-slung riverboat with 23 staterooms and five suites, including the luxe Heritage Suite and the jewel in the crown, the Maharaja Suite. Each cabin has a French balcony with floor-to-ceiling glass doors or private balcony.
Health bent: Going back to where it all began, start the day with yoga led by a certified yogi. You’ll get to experience differing types of yoga, which is teamed up with a nutrition program that encourages you to step away from the buffet and to enjoy an organic menu.
Stand-out: For immersion in Indian spirituality, add on a two-night, pre-cruise stay in the Araveli Cottages and Tented Camp, where you can join a community development project and attend a puja, a Hindu prayer ceremony.
Who goes? Those who appreciate a heavy dollop of culture with their karma. Uniworld traditionally attracts guests who are aged between 50 and 60 years.
Sail away: Uniworld’s Ganges sailing season runs from October to March each year. Its 13-day Golden Triangle and Sacred Ganges cruise costs from $10,199, uniworld.com.
Wellness & Wildlife
Best for getting fit among nature, with a side of mental-health-boosting animal interaction.
The lowdown: For 10 days, the Grand Queen Beatriz cruises the Southern Islands of the Galapagos, spotting sea lions, boobies, wild giant tortoises, marine iguanas and flamingos. The journey starts at the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, where you’ll fly west to begin sailing from Isla Santa Cruz, finishing on the Isla San Cristobal before flying back to Quito.
Shipshape: With a maximum of 16 guests on board in its seven cabins, the 41-metre Grand Queen Beatriz is a motor yacht built in 2018. The crew includes a naturalist guide, and while most of the action occurs off the expedition ship, it does have a jacuzzi and sun terrace.
Health bent: Unsurprisingly, there’s a strong action scene in the Galapagos Islands, with more time spent off ship than onboard. The itinerary includes hiking to volcanoes, plenty of snorkelling stops and swimming with sea lions.
Stand-out: Interacting with animals is known to be beneficial for our stress levels – up with the good oxytocin hormone, down with the bad stress-related hormone cortisol. In the Galapagos Islands, trade playing with your cat for a swim with sea lions off Santa Fe Island!
Who goes? This destination is high on the hit list for wildlife watchers and Darwinists – the tour includes a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, a tortoise breeding centre and flamingo lagoon.
Sail away: Peregrine Adventures’ 10-day Classic Galapagos: Southern Islands departs year round. Costs from $8,118, peregrineadventures.com.
Best for preparing for a lifetime-long shift towards healthy eating, abetted by feng shui-inspired spa experiences.
The lowdown: Crystal Cruises’ ship the Crystal Symphony spends 14 nights sailing from New Orleans, down the Mississippi and into the Caribbean Sea to visit Barbados, elite St Barts and Jamaica before reaching Miami.
Shipshape: At full capacity, Crystal Symphony can take 922 passengers. It features a fitness centre with personal trainers, while the feng shui-inspired spa offers hot stone therapies and also Japanese Silk Booster facials.
Health bent: This cruise is themed Mind, Body & Spirit, and offers 14 nights to perfect your yoga, tai chi or Pilates in daily classes led by experts. Traditionalists will find golf driving nets and tennis courts on the top deck, and dance classes to work up a sweat (in the day) and to ensure you shine on the dance floor (at night).
Stand-out: Constantly top of the list of luxury cruise liners, Crystal Cruises lets you tap into the expert knowledge of its brace of professionals in a series of seminars and discussions on the latest in nutrition and diet.
Who goes? Lovers of Americana, luxury and divers keen to test the waters of one of the world’s best dive locations, the Turks. The Crystal Symphony’s suites and penthouses each have a butler in attendance, most with private verandas.
Sail away: Crystal Symphony’s 14-night Caribbean Flavours cruise sails from New Orleans to Miami. From US$3915.
Crystal Serenity’s 21-night Mediterranean Adriatic Glamour cruise sails May 10, 2020, from Venice to Rome. From US$11,727, crystalcruises.com.
South Pacific Sojourn
Best for exploring preventative medicine for long-term health, with international expert Dr Andrew Weil as the cruise’s Mindful Living Coach.
The lowdown: Luxe cruise line Seabourn launched its wellness cruises last year, sailing through Alaska and the Mediterranean, and they’ve now set their sights on Australasia. The Seabourn Encore is heading our way on a new South Pacific cruise, departing Auckland, calling in to New Zealand beauty spots, including Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound and cities Wellington and Christchurch, before crossing the ditch to Melbourne and Phillip Island, then turning north via Eden to Sydney.
Shipshape: With a maximum capacity of 604 passengers, every one of its 300 suites has a veranda, so you can breathe in that fresh sea breeze. For an extra fee, The Retreat has 15 cabanas, each with a flat-screen TV and individually stocked fridge, around a central whirlpool with a cocktail bar and healthy spa menu, as well as a separate spa treatment cabana.
Health bent: For an all-immersive wellness experience, join yoga classes targeted at physical issues, such as headache or backache, or on such psychological issues as mental focus or happiness. There’s also a program of Mind and Body seminars and one-on-one wellness sessions, and shore excursions also have wellness in mind. Every Seabourn ship has a Mindful Living Coach, who is a certified yoga and meditation practitioner.
Stand-out: Internationally renowned natural and preventative medicine practitioner, Dr Weil has developed the cruise’s spa and wellness elements. Dr Weil will join just two sailings in 2020, including this South Pacific journey. Join seminars on anti-inflammatory foods, spontaneous happiness and healing, as well as healthy ageing.
Who goes? A dedicated set of cruisers follow this universally admired cruise line, and Dr Weil’s appearance on this cruise is set to make it a bestseller.
Sail away: Seabourn Encore’s 16-day Wellness in the South Pacific cruise sails February 21, 2020, from Auckland to Sydney. From $10,998,