Travel for the soul

Published May 25, 2022, 3:30 PM

by Manila Bulletin

Oceania Cruises invites travelers to go local

A 2022 travel trends report has revealed that global travelers are placing a greater focus on how a trip benefits their mental wellbeing. Nearly half of Hong Kong (49 percent) and Singapore respondents (41 percent) are looking for a sense of contentment and mental wellbeing on their next trip. Meanwhile, more than a third of people (32 percent) hope to immerse themselves in destinations, cultures, and experiences that are completely distinct from theirs.

Travelers planning their next overseas adventures are increasingly looking for immersive experiences, which go beyond traditional tourism and provide opportunities to make genuine connections with local cultures and people, as well as to give back and to partake in activities that are good for the soul.

Sitka, Alaska

Oceania Cruises’ exclusive Go Local tours have been designed to tap into evolving guest preferences and embed travelers in the lives and homes of local families for an authentic taste of the different communities’ ways of life. Rather than simply visiting historic landmarks and well-known sightseeing spots, these shore excursions connect guests with vendors in local markets, open the door for shared meals with local families, and let travelers explore age-old traditions on farms and vineyards alongside local workers.

“As guests return to cruising, we are anticipating heightened demand for onboard experiences and shore excursions that encourage relaxation, mindfulness, and connection with local communities,” said Steve Odell, senior vice president and managing director Asia-Pacific, Oceania Cruises. “We are seeing an increased desire to support local artisans, cultures, communities, and cuisine, with travelers eager to show their support and make a positive impact on both the people they visit and their own wellbeing.”

Bali, Indonesia

A taste of village life

To experience Dubrovnik, Croatia, the “Panoramic Dubrovnik, Village Life, and Wine” excursion showcases time-honored techniques in a family’s wine cellar and olive press room, followed by a chance to share juicy local figs and brandy together while being serenaded by hometown musicians. On the “Cretan Village of Krousonas” tour in Heraklion, Greece, guests will have the opportunity to sample a variety of local activities that will provide an authentic insight into everyday life. Tour highlights include the chance to watch a local folkloric performance, followed by an afternoon sampling of authentic culinary delights such as Cretan cheese pie, local olive oils, and wine.

Life on the land

In Corfu, Greece the “Day in the Country Life of a Corfiot Family” tour is a laidback experience where guests will experience feeding horses and donkeys on a farm, picking tomatoes and cucumbers, sampling fresh herbs from the garden, and watching the family prepare a delicious lunch to share. The “Meet a Local Farmer in Shepherds’ School” experience in Bilbao, Spain is a truly hands-on taste of farm life, including lessons on sheep herding and transforming sheep’s milk into flavorful Idiazabal cheese sampled with a crisp glass of Txakoli wine, the traditional wine of the Basque region.

Limnos, Greece

Life on the water

The “Life on the River” excursion in Nha Trang, Vietnam provides an up-close window into how the locals make a living from the waterways, including expert craftsmen building wooden fishing boats as guests cruise past villages, farms, and rice paddies. Fishing fans will also enjoy “Fishing with Natives” in Portofino, Italy, which combines a day spent on board a local fishing boat with striking coastal scenery, a refreshing dip off the pretty Portofino coast and a freshly caught seafood lunch afloat.

‘We are seeing an increased desire to support local artisans, cultures, communities, and cuisine, with travelers eager to show their support and make a positive impact on both the people they visit and their own wellbeing.’

Tuscany, Italy

Unearth new tastes and traditions

“Shop for Dinner and Set the Table” in Buenos Aires, Argentina is a fun and engaging guided excursion beginning with foraging at the local market for the best daily cuts or catch before retiring to enjoy dinner “at home.”

For a classic Sicilian experience, the “Chef Led Market Tour & Private Vinoteca Lunch” in Catania, Italy takes in the sights, smells, and sounds of the colorful Mercato del Pesce, where vendors sell everything from blood oranges and cuttlefish to cured meats. Guests will also sample arancini and mouthwatering cannoli from a traditional Pasticceria, as well as a private degustation lunch at the charismatic Ostier Vinoteca. In the culinary mecca of Barcelona, Spain, a “Chef Led Gastronomy Tour & Tapas Lunch” commences with the markets of La Boqueria and Santa Caterina, followed by a traditional tapas meal and a sweet stop at a pastry shop, before culminating with a cava tasting in the Culinary Center on board the ship.

In Dublin, Ireland, the “Chef Led Experience at Ballyknocken Cookery School” lets guests observe a celebrity chef prepare a traditional Wicklow Beef and Stout Cobbler in their own home, before joining in a hands-on cooking class to prepare Irish Flag Soup and Strawberry Shortcake Cookie Stacks to share for lunch.

While on board, Oceania Cruises guests will enjoy “The Finest Cuisine at Sea,” which is prepared using premium seasonal local produce and artisanal ingredients wherever possible, from Castilla-La Mancha saffron to French flour custom-milled to the chef’s specifications. Gourmet-loving guests can participate in premium culinary enrichment program, as well as dedicated culinary tours led by Culinary Arts Kitchen Chefs and local guides in several of the 450 ports visited by the Oceania Cruises’ fleet.

Phuket, Thailand

Wellness afloat – the on-board experience

In addition, a rich array of wellness activities is available on board to help travelers return home feeling both spiritually and physically rejuvenated. Guests can enjoy the extensive services of the onboard Aquamar Spa + Vitality Center, which is home to rejuvenating health and beauty treatments, a state-of-the art fitness center, and classes from yoga to Pilates and circuit-training. To maintain optimal health during their voyage, travelers can choose from a deliciously diverse Aquamar Vitality Cuisine menu, featuring vegan dishes, freshly pressed juices, energy bowls, and smoothies to fuel their adventures ashore. 

To compliment the onboard wellness experience, Oceania Cruises’ Wellness Discovery Tours by Aquamar are available to guests in a selection of handpicked locations. These health and wellbeing experiences immerse travelers in the unique natural customs of local communities, such as the benefits of apitherapy for younger-looking skin at a bee-keeping farm in the Spanish countryside, or practising yoga and meditation on the waterfront in Auckland, New Zealand. 

Wellness Discovery Tours

There are more tours and activities focused on spiritual and physical wellbeing, such as the “Yagna Encounter and Mumbai’s Ancient Temple Complex” in Mumbai, India, the “Curative Muds of Mar Menor” tour in Cartagena, Spain, the “Healing Effects of Aloe Vera” excursion in the Canary Islands, Spain, “Reflexologist on a Rice Barge’ in Bangkok, Thailand, and even the “Unusual and Non-Touristy Valencia by Bike” in Valencia, Spain or “An Ultimate Traditional Dance Therapy in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

Check out for its extensive range of culinary, wellness, and Go Local shore excursions.