How to sell wellness cruises

Themed cruises and active excursions are some of the ways in which cruise lines are extending their wellness offering.

Why sell it

Wellness is trending in 2023 and cruise lines are offering a number of holistic health activities to help clients rejuvenate.

A survey from Mundy Cruising highlighted the importance of wellness for cruise customers, with findings showing that 27% are looking for spa and wellness facilities and 23% for healthy food and drink options.

Covid and its after effects have led to a renewed energy to combine travel with experiences that promote relaxation and wellbeing– so now is the ideal time to sell.

Mundy’s survey also found that 53% of respondents rate a recommendation from their travel agent higher than one from family and friends, indicating a growing confidence in advice agents give.

Ultimately, recent times have shown customers the importance of looking after themselves both physically and mentally, says Lucia Rowe, Managing Director at A-ROSA River Cruises UK & Ireland.

“For many, being on holiday nowadays is about so much more than just being away, it’s about taking time out from the usual day-to-day pressures, it’s about being with loved ones and about taking care of ourselves in whatever way we see fit. Our meditation cruises are selling really well, which is testament to this fact.”

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Who to sell to

Cruising for solo travellers is also on the rise, according to Mundy, and the demand for all-inclusive is still increasingly important. Ideal for solo travellers, small ships are trending with 47% of cruisers seeking out more intimate sailings.

Wellness is also a great hook for luxury lovers with onboard spas and fine-dining great selling points. According to Mundy, 30% plan to travel in higher grade accommodation in 2023 with opportunities to upsell for those celebrating a special occasion or looking for luxurious add-ons to a bucket list experience.

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What to sell

Wellness encapsulates a huge range of experiences, including spas, fitness facilities, yoga, active shore excursions and healthy eating. Luckily there is plenty of existing and new product available.

CroisiEurope has expanded its excursion offering to include hiking, canoing, cycling and other outdoors pursuits, following an increased appetite for active excursions.

The operator has also grown its Cruise & Walk itineraries for 2023 with the addition of the Canary Islands and Corsica. These sailings feature guided walks through beautiful scenery by day, with cruising overnight. Other itineraries offered are across the Adriatic; along the Douro and the Danube; through the Rhône and Saône regions, within Italy; and on the Moselle, the Saar, the Rhine and the Neckar rivers.

Similarly, Sail Croatia has seen real growth in its health and fitness offerings, namely its Cycle Cruises which includes the opportunity to ride across Hvar, Mljet National Park and Krka National Park, and its Hike Cruises with trails across Solta, Vis, Korcula, Hvar, Bol and Makarska.

A-ROSA River Cruises has launched a meditation-themed cruise on the Danube for 2023, for those seeking a more low-key way to decompress. They will join a mindfulness coach for daily sessions and personalised one-to-one sessions. Guests can complement their meditation classes with a visit to the spa or a yoga class

When to sell

Cruising is a strong sell year round due to the variety of activities and entertainment, both onboard and onshore excursions.

Itineraries are tailored to fit the season and location and take in local activities of note at each stop.

While the summer months are usually overwhelmingly busy for cruise lines, there is plenty of scope to sell outside of these, says Mundy’s survey. Over 38% will travel in the early part of 2023, with over 50% choosing to cruise in the autumn and winter seasons between October 2023 and March 2024, plus over 59% are planning ahead for summer 2024 and beyond.

The versatility of cruise allows for sailings in both warm and colder destinations, and although the Mediterranean continues to be a favourite, as well as European river cruising, local itineraries in the British Isles, or the Baltic and Norwegian Fjords are very popular too.

And with over 40% planning to prioritise once-in-a-lifetime trips including the Polar Regions (9%), Japan (10%) and South America (9%), agents should highlight the year-round appeal of these bucket list destinations.

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What’s new

MSC’s recently-launched luxury cruising brand, Explora Journeys, has launched its Ocean Wellness programme on EXPLORA I, addressing sleep, relaxation, mindfulness, energy and immunity-boosting. Its spa offers a sensorial therapeutic circuit, combining a hydrotherapy pool, steam room, Finnish sauna, salt cave, experience shower, and ice fall, while a sports court, panoramic running track and touch tennis add to extensive fitness facilities.

There are also tailor-made consultations and retreat programmes, ranging from sleep and immune boosting to nutrition-focused. An extensive yoga programme means enthusiasts can choose from energy flow power classes, sleep Yoga; relaxation yoga and mindfulness Yoga to anchor body and mind through meditation; and immune-boosting yoga to support health and reduce anxiety via pranayama breathing techniques.

“Neuroscience has shown how the ocean calms the mind, revitalises the body, and boosts the immune function,” says Julanda Marais, Senior Lead Spa Operations on EXPLORA I.

“Instead of the relentless demands of the day-to-day, guests explore new destinations and cultures, spend leisurely time with companions, forge links with like-minded people, and reconnect with what matters,” adds Marais.

Book it with… AROSA

A five-night ‘Meditation – A Journey into Inner Peace’ cruise onboard A-ROSA FLORA is priced from £1,379pp. The cruise departs on November 4 and 19, 2023 and sails along the Rhine, stopping at Cologne, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Utrecht.