With crowds of people and nowhere to escape to, a traditional cruise ship can feel far from serene on the open waters—unless you cruise like royalty. Ava Roxanne Stritt of Spa Travel Gal recently explored the Princess Cruises line to uncover the luxurious and glamorous side of the cruise scene, where you can truly find Zen and come home completely renewed.

The Sanctuary on Ruby Princess Cruise - Photo Credit: Ava Roxanne Stritt

Photo Credit: Ava Roxanne Stritt

In fact, that’s Princess Cruises’ hashtag—#comebacknew—and this floating paradise truly lives up to its social promises.

Ruby Princess Ship - Photo Credit: Princess Cruises

Cruises are evolving to cater to a more sophisticated and discerning niche of traveler. Instead of a Golden Corral buffet on the waves, you can find healthy dining, wellness treatments, and true serenity at sea.

Cruise ships like the Ruby Princess take all the stress and hassle out of planning a vacation. No need to plan your itinerary and restaurants before you depart; just listen to your body and mind on each individual day and follow your desires. Whether it’s something you want to learn or correct, you can find a long list of offerings to help.

For me, it was a tear in my shoulder. When I set off on a Princess cruise, I had been struggling with it for the previous year. Two different surgeons were trying to schedule my surgery, and I was struggling daily with the pain and limitations.

On a whim, I decided to try the Thai Poultice Massage and acupuncture from the ship’s Australian-Chinese medicine doctor. I figured it might help relieve some pain, and if not, at least I would experience a relaxing afternoon.

The Sanctuary on Ruby Princess Cruise - Thai Poultice Massage

Thai Poultice Massage – The Sanctuary on the Ruby Princess Cruise

The poultice was packed with herbs, such as lemongrass, patchouli, and tamarind, and when the therapist applied it, it felt magical. Maybe it was.

I was shocked when I left feeling 99.9 percent improved.

After the two treatments combined, I no longer need surgery, and my shoulder was all but new. I never expected to heal my complicated and lengthy medical issue on a cruise ship. But the experience made me truly step back and rewrite my definition of a cruise experience—specifically, the level of service and expertise Princess offers.

Obviously, the company makes no promises that it can help you stave off surgery, and neither do I. But it was a dramatic reminder of what a real vacation should feel like: It should leave you feeling better than before you left. Not only should you feel relaxed and rejuvenated while on vacation, but that effect should follow you when you return to the grind. I literally came back new, with a fresh outlook on life.

Culinary Cruise - Photo Credit: Ava Roxanne Stritt

Photo Credit: Ava Roxanne Stritt

I also listened to the on-board chef’s food tips and will incorporate them into my daily food choices back home, for a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. You can regularly brush elbows (and spatulas) with celebrity chefs on Princess’ culinary cruises. Mine had two: Ted Hopson, Executive Chef/Owner at The Bellwether in Studio City, CA, and Joel Miller, Executive Chef at The Wallace in Culver City, CA, who teamed up for cooking demonstrations plus question-and-answer sessions.

Another celebrity on board—and host for the cooking demonstrations—was Jill Whelan herself (aka Captain Stubing’s daughter on The Love Boat). She is truly the most hospitable brand ambassador I have ever encountered. The entire crew on this ship were a step above others I have experienced.

Beyond acupuncture, massage, and food, Zen was around every corner on Princess.

Ruby Princess Bridge Tour

Bridge Tour – Photo Credit: Ava Roxanne Stritt

For perspective, I visited the bridge for a nearly 180-degree view. I felt honored to sit in the captain’s chair, complete with the captain’s hat, and learn more about technology at sea. The bridge also felt a world away and so serene.

Princess Cruise 2016 041A

Wine Tasting – Photo Credit: Ava Roxanne Stritt

Sign up for various excursions—from scuba-diving to wine-tasting—for a rush of adventure and to learn and grow more. My discovery that the perfect sauvignon blanc came from Buttonwood Winery in Solvang, CA, and not New Zealand was very enlightening.  Prepare to be enlightened around every corner on a Princess Cruise.


For some solitude, my room came stocked with luxury bedding on a bed designed by a board-certified sleep expert. I slept like a princess (without the pea) in my cozy Karen Neuburger loungewear I always pack for comfort. Mornings I threw on my Princess robe and slippers for morning coffee on my spacious balcony to watch the sun rise.

Ruby Princess Stateroom

Princess Cruise Slippers

Princess Cruise Slippers – Photo Credit: Ava Roxanne Stritt

You can also find quiet time by getting up early for a fitness class or workout in the gym before the rest of the guests get rolling. Even that simple sip of coffee on your balcony while watching the sun rise is a peaceful way to launch your day. I made sure to have my Under Armour Aviator Sunglasses close at hand to protect my eyes from the rays reflecting off the mirror-like water, because all I wanted to do was gaze off my spacious balcony when I awoke each morning non-stop.

No picture can capture the beauty.

The Sanctuary at Ruby Princess

The Sanctuary – Photo Credit: Ava Roxanne Stritt

For adult-only time, I headed to the Sanctuary, a sophisticated top-deck getaway with lounge furniture, relaxing tunes, healthy food and drinks (from smoothies to spa waters), and even an open-air massage in a private cabana, if the desire strikes. It’s like an outdoor spa lounge with some major upgrades. It is just one step up from an adult-only pool that oozes with solitude.

That’s just how Princess does everything: one step up from the rest. One step up, so you can wind down.

Ava Roxanne Stritt is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads, visit travelocitygnomads.com.

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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