Turn Your Next Cruise into an Affordable Spa Vacation

By Kater Leatherman

          On Deck 4, an Elvis impersonator welcomes everyone as they step onto the ship. For those who make their way across Deck 9 to the buffet dining room, waiters offer umbrella drinks. After lunch, a table is set up with temporary tattoos and tee-shirts for sale.

None of this interests me, so why am I here? Because I’ve found a way to transform cruising into an affordable spa vacation. On a ship, you can pick and choose the things that promote health, relaxation and peace of mind.

For many, spa vacations are financially out of reach. At the Golden Door in Escondido, Calif., for example, you will fork over $6,500 for one week. And that’s their special summer rate. In Lenox, Mass., at the exclusive Canyon Ranch, an executive room single is more than $10,000 for seven days.

Fortunately, cruises offer almost everything that spas do. You’re anchored in one place without having to go anywhere. There are healthy food choices and someone is available to clean your bathroom, make the bed and replenish towels. There’s also a fitness center, yoga, spinning and Pilates classes, spa services for pampering and lectures on health.

To avoid the hassle and cost of air travel, you can book a cruise out of Baltimore, a mere 45-minute drive from Annapolis. This one is nine days and will sail up the New England coast and into Canada. There are 2,274 guests on board the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas.

With three restaurants and room service, food is available 24/7. Fresh fruit is plentiful, especially at breakfast, where you can order an egg white omelet filled with sautéed vegetables. If you add two sides, such as a broiled tomato and a side of smoked salmon, you will have a plate that looks like the rainbow. For lunch, in addition to many entree choices, there’s a salad bar.

Every evening, in the formal dining room, the portions are moderate. Included is at least one vegetarian entree. The ship also offers a “Vitality” option consisting of a three-course meal for under 800 calories. Of course, if you want to avoid the compulsion to overeat, avoid the less formal buffet dining room.

In the morning, the gym offers a complimentary 20-minute stretching class. Yoga, spinning and Pilates classes are at different times and last one hour each. Six out of the nine days, a free seminar is offered with topics such as increase your metabolism, cellulite solutions, detox for health and secrets to a flatter stomach. Other ways to make healthier choices include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, drinking lots of water and skipping dessert.

For a quiet atmosphere, the library houses a wide variety of books with comfortable leather chairs to sink into. Other areas that offer a less frenetic energy are the solarium with its salt water pool, your stateroom and the spa. There, a seaweed massage costs $195 for 75 minutes. Facials are 55 minutes and run $169. The most economical service is a 50-minute reflexology session for $119. They also offer hot stone massages and acupuncture treatments.

Like many spa resorts, you can also opt for something that is physically and mentally challenging. On this ship there is the 30-foot rock climbing wall. After being buckled into a harness that fits snugly around your waist and hips, you’re good to climb. With a few instructions from an attendant “coach” on the deck, the one whose life is tethered to yours with a rope the size of a finger, you will hopefully reach the summit.

Then again, for some spa-oriented travelers, getting away means doing nothing, literally. You may be completely happy and content to stay on the ship and avoid the stress of having to stand in line to board a tour bus or shop for souvenirs. On excursion days, at one of five ports, it feels like a city that has emptied out.

After having spent approximately $2,500 (half this amount if you share an inside cabin), the ship pulls into the Baltimore pier at 7 a.m. Hopefully, you will leave mentally prepared to return home — your body, mind and soul restored, rested and ready to slip gently back into your life.

Kater Leatherman is a home stager, professional organizer and yoga instructor at Ridgely Retreat. She also leads declutter support groups. Contact her at: [email protected]





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