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oct 18

Are health-conscious cruises all the rage?

A new wave of cruises focuses on getting buff instead of getting to the buffet. The real question is—just how popular are they?

In the span of four months, three health-conscious cruises offering everything from yoga to healthy eating seminars will set sail.

On October 21, Biggest Loser's Jillian Michaels is setting sail aboard the Norwegian Star on her Ultimate Wellness Cruise 2010. Guests will journey from Miami to Great Stirrup Cay, while engaging in wellness seminars, exercise classes, and healthy eating. Royal Caribbean is on their heels and set to launch the Allure of the Seas Royal 5K cruise on December 12. Passengers can socialize with fellow runners and receive expert training tips while cruising the Caribbean. A five-kilometer jaunt through St. Maarten will be the highpoint of a week dedicated to running enthusiasts. A healthy sailing veteran, The Holistic Holiday at Sea embarks on their eighth voyage on February 27. They combine vegetarian cuisine and daily yoga classes in order to guide guests on a "voyage to well being."

Richard Simmons' Cruise to Lose set the precedent for cruises like these back in 1992. With twenty-nine trips under his belt, he continues to sellout each time. Even though the Carnival ships he sails on have a capacity of 2,000–3,000 people, cruise coordinator Linda Williams says that he caps it at 275 so that "every person in the group can attend every class." The Holistic Holiday at Sea has also received a huge response. "The feedback has been beyond excellent, and people have really loved the whole experience," cruise director and creator Sandy Pukel wrote in an email. "Except for one year, we have experienced double digit growth the entire time. My latest trip had approximately one thousand participants!" Both of these cruises are especially proud of their high rate of repeat clientele. Jillian Michael's Ultimate Wellness Cruise 2010 has also been inciting excitement and, with less that a week left until go time, they have close to 2,000 guests booked with room for 300 more.

I recently caught up with Sixthman CEO Andy Levine—who organized Michaels' cruise—for advice about keeping our health afloat at sea.

How is our health consciousness changing the way we cruise?

The perception is that cruises are just for people who like to eat. I don't think that's accurate from what we've seen, but I think that people are very aware of putting themselves in situations that can be perceived as unhealthy.

What tips do you have for staying in shape while cruising?

Every ship has healthy items on their menu and they usually have a nutritionist on board that you can talk to. Cruising today is not what it used to be. But, whatever you do, stay away from the 24-hour pizza, because that will kill you.

Why did Jillian decide to create this cruise?

Cruises are known to be such a pork-fest, where people just eat and binge. Jillian wanted the challenge of putting together a program that would be a vacation with a focus on wellness. She went through the menu, found all the landmines and took them out. She created alternatives so that people will leave the vacation feeling better than they normally do.

What will guests get out of this experience?

First and foremost, this is a vacation. Guests will be traveling with like-minded people who want to focus on wellness. They can expect to get educated, to get their sweat on, and to let loose and have some fun.

Can we expect healthy cruising to become a trend?

I see healthy alternatives being something we incorporate into cruises at first, before health-focused cruises become their own trend.

What about you? Would you book a healthy cruise?

—Jessica Campbell

Check out this article on how to stay healthy at sea.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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