Cruise wellness tourism was already a growing market niche before the pandemic. After nearly 30 months of confinement the demand will definitely soar. There is a potential for further health tourism approaches in the cruise line industry.
However, two major issues have to be tackled to create a more agile cruise health tourism. These factors influence prospective health treatments, procedures or interventions for cruise tourists.
- Public health issues concerned with the health and safety where thousands of cruise tourists wellbeing can be jeopardized with outbreaks of infections like we have seen with Covid 19.
- Regulatory compliance and trepidations about who is responsible for the health and security of passengers besides the cruise ship crew, is it the port of origin, the receiving port or another entity?
Cruise health offers
Most cruise liners are adopting a holistic approach to cruise health tourism encompassing three main modalities:
Acupuncture, massage, and body wraps have been the traditional spa treatments.
Lately cruise ships have implemented thermal suites including the traditional hammam, crystallium, mud spas, salt room, sauna (traditional and infra-red), rainfall water, thalassotherapy, snow room and alternating hot and cold-water therapy. Adoption of meditation techniques guided by staff has been an added plus. We have also seen some minor aesthetic procedures being offered as a part of the spa remedies.
Availability of various types of healthy cuisine be it gluten free, dairy free, non-GMO, Keto diet, vegan or raw offers numerous choices for travelers geared not only to optimizing health but reaching a near ideal body weight too. Various diet regimen based on tried and tested results of certain brands pertaining to celebrity physicians like Dr. Andrew Weil has taken off nicely.
Focusing on mindful practices and Fitness aiming to achieve a travel experience that is purposeful restorative, soothing to the body, mood and spirit. Yoga, brain exercises and energy elevating techniques have been utilized in healthy travelers as well as those with prior ailments.
The advantage for the cruise tourist rather than tourists in other tourism types is that adherence is more attainable than in any other setting as the cruise traveler is bound to that location unless there is an offshore excursion or trip away from the cruise ship.
Telehealth is out there. When applied it could prove pivotal to the cruise health tourism offers. It can be utilized in the following two areas:
- Sleep Health: We spend a third of our lifetime asleep. It is the period during which our bodies heal and rejuvenate. Comparing sleep, to diet and exercise in attaining and maintaining health, sleep trumpets!
Thanks to technology we have today sleep disorder diagnostic machines that could fit in a palm of the hand, yet they stack up to the traditional equipment needed for a sleep study carried out in a hospital. The data conveyed by these diagnostic devices travels via Wi-Fi networks to a sleep specialist onshore who can make the diagnosis of a sleep disorder and formulate a treatment plan for the travelers on arrival back from their journey.
- Remote monitoring that is more in depth and detailed than what we achieve nowadays from B to C wearables and gadgets like Apple watch, Oura ring or the whoop bracelets. These cutting-edge devices including the advanced AI based prescription digital therapeutics deliver Information to a cruise ship physician, an onboard coach, or an inland physician in country of origin of the cruise can ascertain gaining more insight to the traveler health and guiding the patient towards a healthier lifestyle.
Written by Dr Sherif Hassan, MD, International Healthcare Consultant, Washington DC and HTI representative in USA