Never has the saying “new year, new me” meant more than this year. We all deserve a reset, whether that means a fresh outlook on life or taking in a new view or two. Through wellness travel, you can have both.
While there are dishes to try, city streets to shop and historic landmarks to check off your bucket list, it’s sometimes just as important to find moments to appreciate the world around us, from summiting a mountain in the wilds of Alaska to soaking in the famous waters of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. Better yet, a cruise can take you to all of these places and more. The best part? You can completely unwind—no need to worry about missed connections, scoring an open middle seat or misplaced luggage—and fully embrace every minute in each destination as soon as you arrive.
Here are some of the best wellness experiences to add to your Royal Caribbean cruise bucket list:
Sure, hiking seems obvious, but going back to basics can bring the biggest rewards. The great outdoors not only will have your heart racing from the physical exercise, but your head will be in the clouds—both figuratively and literally—with unmatched views of the surrounding landscapes. And vacation hikes are a perfect substitution to a workout at the gym on board, should you prefer to get out there and mix things up.
There are plenty of popular national parks and forests to choose from, but if you’re looking for something a little more rugged, then America’s Last Frontier is a must. From Denali National Park and Preserve to Skagway’s Chilkoot Trail, Alaska’s backdrop will be on full display with glaciers, mountains and wild animals.
Mud Baths, Italy
Mud baths date back centuries ago to eastern Europe and became popular thanks to their renowned healing properties. Commonly composed of thermal water and volcanic ash, these baths have inspired luxury spas that many visit, but there are also plenty in the outdoors you can easily access at several destinations we cruise to around the world like Turkey, Greece and New Zealand.
Ischia—an island off the coast of Naples, Italy—tops any wellness wanderer’s list. Travelers can enjoy a mineral-rich mud treatment before soaking in one of the island’s many thermal spas brimming with volcanic water. Among the benefits: detoxifying and drawing out impurities from the body, softening skin, improving circulation and easing aches.
Pro tip: Our newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, will sail from Rome to cruise the Mediterranean once it debuts in spring 2021.
Forest Bathing, Japan
If hiking is about seeing the destination with the benefit of physical exercise, forest bathing is about awakening the senses under the canopy of nature. Known in Japan as “shinrin-yoku,” forest bathing places a focus on disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. The scientifically backed activity is said to help lower blood pressure and improve memory, among other health benefits.
Forest bathing is ideal for all levels of physical activity, making it a great way to take in all the natural sights abroad. If you’ve put travel on hold, some quiet in your backyard or nearby can be a good source of calm for the time being.
Hot Springs, Iceland
The tradition of bathing in mineral-rich hot springs dates back to the time of the Roman Empire. Sure, it may have receded after the arrival of bathtubs, but many still swear by these thermal baths and their effects on your body—think improving circulation, easing muscle pain and simply relaxing your mind.
Though there are other hot springs scattered throughout Iceland, the country’s Blue Lagoon continues to top travel lists for its healing waters. It’s jam-packed with minerals like silica, which is what gives the lagoon its milky blue coloring and forms the soft white mud at the bottom of the lake. In addition to a thermal bath, travelers can also double down on their detox with a mud bath, much like in Italy.
Pro tip: While on board, you can also make your way to the spa or hot tubs after hitting the gym—you’ll have earned a break for your muscles.
Sound Bathing, Florida
Have you heard? Sound bathing is in. This meditative practice is meant to calm participants, enveloping them in the various frequencies of sound produced by tuning forks, singing bowls and gongs, among other calming instruments. Other benefits may include helping with insomnia, blood pressure and anxiety.
While trending today, sound bathing has been a practice in many cultures around the world for ages, from Tibetan monks and Greek philosophers, to Australia’s aboriginal people who used didgeridoos—a long, woodwind instrument. Now, you can sound bathe just about anywhere, including many Florida wellness spas and studios.
Good energy is everything—enter reiki, a New Age method of healing in which a practitioner hovers their hands over your body to facilitate the flow of energy. The treatment is said to help with both relaxation and stress, as well as physical pain and illness.
Reiki first came to fame in Japan and has since grown in popularity in parts of the world like Singapore. It is even practiced in hospitals and medical centers.
Ready to rest and recharge? Take a look at how and where you can cruise for your wellness retreat with Royal Caribbean here.