Two of the most common perceptions about the cruising experience is the boats are awash with buffets and 24-hour food service and populated with passengers content on sitting on a deck chair and watching the world go by. There’s some truth to this, as some need the downtime and lots of effort has been put in to upgrade the on-board dining experience at every level.
However, new options crop up for those wanting a more active experience on and off the ship, including experiences that have passengers interacting with the natural attributes of the ports of call to bring real balance to body and mind. Though the cruises are wildly different from one another, they also provide ideal backdrops for mother–adult daughter trips as well as unique journeys adult couples can enjoy with older relatives.
One boutique cruise line, Paradise, plans cruises that incorporate Tai Chi, kayaking excursions and the opportunity to participate in an epic hike in the bay’s biggest cave and island. The rough-luxury itinerary is not only filled with serene backdrops and meaningful communion with nature, but also local cuisine which often runs light, spicy and refreshing. Paradise boats include the refined Paradise Elegance (added to the fleet this year) or the Paradise Peak, which has only eight cabins and therefore can provide exclusive accommodations for multigenerational family trips.
On that score, Your Boat Holiday organizes luxury bespoke charter yacht cruises around the world. She details Phuket packages aboard a fully equipped sail and motor yacht staffed with experienced trainers, PADI diving instructors, massage services and yoga lessons. Another retreat she has in the works to Siem Reap, Cambodia, includes daily Pilates classes, two days of temple tours and three amazing Khmer-influenced vegan and vegetarian meals. Her packages come close to being a spa and fitness program on the high seas. That said, the company sails to destinations on almost every continent.
Larger cruise lines also whip some new itineraries and fitness-driven journeys into shape. Windstar’s seven-day Costa Rica and Panama cruise gets things moving soon after setting sail in Colón, Panama, and a day at sea experiencing the grand transit of the Panama Canal. The route leads to adventures in Balboa, Isla Parida, Golfo Dulce (Puerto Jimenez), Quepos and Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica — places so off the beaten cruise trail that arriving at the actual destinations needs to be done via “wet landing,” either via raft or wading in the water.
Activities available in this Central American adventure destination include yoga classes and stand-up paddle boarding on a beach in a national forest to surfing lessons, sport fishing, rafting and flying through rainforest canopies on a zipline. In addition to a cruise director or concierge, these journeys have local naturalists on board who can clue guests into the best hikes. It is worth noting all Windstar cruises offer complimentary yoga class for guests, sometimes on the fly bridge (the top deck) and, on other occasions, on the beach in tropical locations.
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