Why cruising is good for your mental health

May 9, 2022  |  Share:

Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental Health Awareness Week is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. According to Mind, a mental health charity based in England and Wales, 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems each year, with 1 in 6 people experiencing a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, in any given week. Perhaps unsurprisingly, British people are among the most depressed people in the Western world. That is why it is so important that organisations like Mind continue to raise awareness and encourage and help people focus on achieving good mental health. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines good mental health as “a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Until recently, the significance of good mental health has been overlooked, with physical health being regarded as more important. Truly, physical, mental and emotional health are one and the same. When your physical health improves, your mental well-being improves, and when your mental well-being improves, so does your emotional stability. 

So what can we do to improve our overall health? 

Of course, there are many ways that we can improve our physical, mental and emotional well-being. However, several studies have shown that people can reap the benefits of going on holiday on all three levels. Going on holiday has been proven to: 

  • Reduce stress
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Improve physical health
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Improve emotional health
  • Improve productivity 

Tailoring your trip to your well-being can improve your physical, mental, and emotional health even further. Many cruise lines have upped their wellness games in recent years. In fact, some of the best wellness experiences in the world can now be found at sea. 

What is wellness? 

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as “the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.” There are two critical components to this definition. First, wellness is not a static state but an active process. It involves being aware and making choices to work toward an optimal state of well-being. Second, it is linked to holistic health, which extends beyond physical health and incorporates many dimensions that should work in harmony, including mental, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental.

Previously, we have handpicked some of the best spas at sea. We have also highlighted some of the best cruise lines for solo travellers. Now, let’s take a look at some of the companies that offer wellness tours – we’ve handpicked four highlights for each. 


AmaWaterways was the first river cruise line to introduce guided bike tours, carrying 150-plus bicycles on any given ship. Highlights include: 

  • Cycling along the Danube River between Dürnstein and Melk 
  • Touring Cologne along the Rhine River
  • Exploring the medieval city of Rouen near the Seine River
  • Taking in the wooded hills and beaches along the scenic shores of the Inn River 
AmaWaterways River Cruise Cycling

Amsterdam – the world’s second most bike-friendly city.

Furthermore, the line has expanded its wellness activities with a selection of guided hiking tours, giving guests the opportunity to:

  • Trek up to the Veste Oberhaus in Passau, Germany for incredible views over Old Passau
  • Make their way up to Dürnstein Fortress, where it is said that Richard the Lionheart was once held captive
  • Hike up the Philosopher’s Path for a panoramic view of Heidelberg and the Necker River
  • Journey to the Old Town in Strasbourg, France  

All of AmaWaterways’ bike and hiking tours are included in the cruise fare.

Avalon Waterways

Similarly, Avalon Waterways offers a collection of cruises designed for those with fitness in mind. Highlights of the ‘Active & Discovery’ cruises include:

  • Jogging tours of Amsterdam
  • Cycling tours of the Dutch countryside and urban Vienna
  • A hiking tour of the vineyards along the Rhone River
  • A canoe trip on the Danube River 
valon Waterways Vineyard

One of the many vineyards along the Rhone River.

Elixir Cruises

Elixir Cruises gives guests the choice of six activity styles to mix and match – relaxing, active, fitness, educational, experiential and cultural. Highlights include:

  • Horse riding on the beach
  • Hiking Monemvasia 
  • Photography walks 
  • Greek cooking classes  
Elixir Cruises Horses on the Beach

Two friends horse riding on the beach in Greece.

Elixir is a small cruise line comprising a single yacht which caters to 48 guests and sails exclusively to the Greek Isles.

Oceania Cruises 

In partnership with Aquamar, Oceania Cruises has put together an incredible 72 wellness tours revealing the timeless practices of locals in Europe, South America and Asia. With Oceania’s wellness tours, guests can: 

  • Learn meditation techniques from a Monk in Bangkok
  • Cycle through the medieval heart of Bordeaux 
  • Discover the health benefits of apitherapy on a family-run beekeeping farm in Cadiz
  • Participate in a once-in-a-lifetime Kandyan dance class in Colombo 
Oceania Cruises Meditating Monk

A monk meditating in Bangkok.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is currently offering six unique wellness tours (with a view to expanding the concept), highlights of which include: 

  • Discovering the healing effects of Aloe Vera on a family-run farm in Ibiza
  • Experiencing the health benefits of Vinyasa yoga at the legendary Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort 
  • Meditating on a beach at sunrise in Venice
  • Travelling to the ancient city of Viterbo to experience the ‘Thermal Baths of the Popes’
Regent Viterbo Thermal Baths

The ‘Thermal Baths of the Popes’ in Rome.

The majority of the wellness tours are part of the complimentary Unlimited Shore Excursions – a couple may require a discounted, supplementary charge with the cruise package.  

In addition to these wellness-focused tours, cruising also provides the following benefits:

  • Allows for multiple destination visits in one trip, which often leaves guests feeling like they’ve been on holiday for longer
  • Allows for plenty of time for rest and relaxation in between port stops
  • Requires little planning – the companies design the itineraries to help guests get the most out of their cruise
  • Provides plenty of opportunities for guests to socialise, for example, over a drink or during a shore excursion

The health benefits of going on a cruise can last as long as six months. If you’re heading on a wellness cruise this summer, let us know in the comment section below! 

Destination Spotlight: Nosy Be
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Destination Spotlight: Nosy Be

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