Cruise travelers rank an ocean cruise as the best overall vacation experience, according to a survey of North American travelers taken just before the pandemic hit. Now that cruisers are streaming back in great numbers to book a getaway for a year or two out, there's little reason to think that opinion has changed.
In addition to being fun, a cruise vacation provides a number of health benefits that are supported by third-party research. The Cruise Lines International Association trade group recently listed 12 reasons why taking a cruise is a great choice for vacationing and for contributing to the overall health of the cruise traveler.
"People today are more stressed and overbooked than ever before. Vacations are important to allow the mind and body to re-energize and relax," said Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. "A cruise vacation in particular provides a variety of places to see as well as the chance to take part in on-board activities in a safe and healthy environment."
Here are 10 ways a cruise vacation contributes to health and wellness.
There's no better place to enjoy the morning sunshine than a cruise ship deck. Studies have found that getting an hour of natural sunlight in the morning can help fine tune your internal clock, allowing you to get more (and better!) sleep. Sunshine also has long-term benefits since it helps the body produce the important Vitamin D which has been found to help fight off heart disease and cancer. Moderate amounts of sunshine will also boost serotonin levels that fight off depression. So apply sunscreen and enjoy the rays!
Finding time to relax plays a vital role in overall health. Chronic stress can lead to a variety of problems, including impaired memory, inflammation, high blood pressure and heart disease. Skip the stress by lounging at the pool, enjoying spa treatments and relaxing in comfortable accommodations. Best of all, cruising allows for a stress-free vacation experience where vacationers can just "go with the flow" of the itinerary.
Cruise line cleanliness is highly regulated. Each room and common area is kept clean, presentable and disinfected. From door handles to poker chips, cruise ships are regularly sanitized for the well-being of everyone on board. Clean hands also guide a steady ship, as those on board are urged to wash hands frequently. And that was before COVID. Expect to see even more rigorous sanitation of public spaces and private staterooms in the new reality of an era when we're hyper-sensitive about our safety.
The benefits of fresh ocean air are seemingly limitless and cruisers can take full advantage day and night. Between daytime excursions and nights spent relaxing on the ship deck, there is plenty of time to breathe deeply! Fresh air is known to help keep lungs clean, aid in digestion, improve heart rate, strengthen the immune system and provide an energy boost.
Isak Dinesen knew what she was talking about when she said, "The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea." Cruisers can take full advantage of the amazing benefits of the ocean. Aside from the stress relief a day at the beach provides, swimming in salt water can also help improve circulation by restoring vital minerals to your body. Ocean water and on-ship salt water swimming pools are also a natural beauty treatment, as the magnesium has been found to help hydrate skin and improve inflamed or red complexions.
People are wired to connect with one another and in our hyper-digital, COVID-aware age, this isn't always a daily reality. Cruising allows for high amounts of quality bonding time with your vacation partners while also allowing you to socialize with new people. Whether over a gourmet dinner in the dining room or during a comedy routine in the ship theater, cruise ships offer time to connect with others free of work emails, smartphones and hand-held gaming systems. Cruise lines have taken steps to make sure such interactions take place in a safe environment.
There's something to be said about the benefits of exploration and having an adventure (not to mention the stories to tell!). Pre-planned cruise shore excursions allow cruisers to scuba dive, parasail, check out local sites in exotic locations and more, without the stress of making planning every detail or reading millions of reviews to find the right activities. Cruisers can see the world without spending months planning.
Healthy dining options
Though many people think it is impossible to eat well while on vacation, cruise ships around the world offer healthy dining fare and lighter meal options to accommodate every diet. Gluten-free? Vegan? Low-carb diet? Cruise ship chefs are happy to accommodate. Additionally, cruise ships offer buffets filled with fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins to help you build a better plate.
Cruise vacations offer vacationers a chance to stay active. There are plenty of onboard activities, like rock climbing, basketball or table tennis. And don't forget FlowRiders! In addition, many cruise ships offer full service gyms and fun fitness classes like yoga in the morning or nighttime tai chi. It's easy to stay active with options abound on each ship.
10Whether packing a dance card with endless excursions or take a leisurely stroll around the port, "think time" on a cruise can help clear the mind. Meditation has been found to help reduce stress, negative emotions, recharge the mind and increase self-awareness. Nothing takes the mind to a peaceful place like gazing into open waters or meditating in a beach chair.
Stress-free vacation planning: Vacations are important in terms of "getting away" and bonding with loved ones but the stress of planning every detail can be daunting. Cruising allows for stress-free vacation planning with pre-planned excursions, inclusive meals and endless on-ship entertainment. More importantly, a cruise vacation allows you to unpack and get settled in your cabin without the hassle of having to move your belongings, while you visit multiple destinations.
Better budget value: Nothing can bring down a vacation high quite like returning to a pile of credit card bills. Cruise vacations are a great all-inclusive way to enjoy a variety of vacation experiences without a variety of hidden costs. Cruise travel agents are also available to help budget and pre-plan trips for the most budget-friendly experiences.
"The great thing about a cruise is that you can do as much or as little as you want, and you'll still have a nice break from your daily routines at home," Whitbourne continued. "If you do decide to explore the sights and many opportunities a cruise can provide, you'll come back from your trip with a set of new memories, experiences and even friends."
This article was adapted from information supplied by Cruise Lines International Association, the trade association for the cruise industry.
Want to cruise?
Cruise bookings are picking up with the widely shared expectation that cruises will resume by late summer or early fall 2021. Be aware that many cruise itineraries are booked and sold out for a year or more in advance, so it pays to act early.
Contact a Cruiseable travel consultant to work for you — at no cost — so we can find you the best value and get you all the perks and goodies! Call Diane, Toby, Jill, Pam or Madeline toll-free at 1-877-322-3773 or email [email protected] today. Cruiseable has partnerships with 34 different cruise lines — we'll help you find the perfect cruise.