Acupuncture at Sea

| January 19, 2007

The tide is changing as Celebrity brings an increasingly popular health and wellness option to its fleet.

On our last cruise aboard Celebrity's Century, I discovered service innovations on this line that mirror what is happening on land. This new movement has to do with meeting a growing demand for alternative services in health care and pain management, as well as healthier food choices.

Century has an alternative restaurant called The Aqua Cafe that features only healthy, attractive menu options (albeit only cold food). It is open most of the day and seemed very busy much of the time; I was told some passengers even make this cafe their only restaurant on board.

click on pictures below for larger images:

Spa Cafe   Acupuncture Waiting Area

Another aspect of the movement is Celebrity's "Acupuncture at Sea". Celebrity is the first, and at this time the only, cruise line to offer this innovative choice as a standalone health clinic, separate from its spa services. It started when Philippe Manicom, an accomplished acupuncturist, gave an effective treatment to a patient who happened to be a Celebrity executive. This executive was so impressed that he pushed for the adoption of Acupuncture at Sea aboard Celebrity ships.

Manicom's business, called Oriental Medicine in Motion, formed a partnership with the cruise line. Celebrity has exclusive rights to offer Acupuncture at Sea. Philippe contracts with licensed acupuncturists from all over the U.S. to staff each clinic. They now have seven Acupuncture at Sea clinics on Celebrity's ships -- four in the Millennium class, three in the Century class. The first to bring this new service onboard was the Millennium in 2003. The bigger ships have two practitioners onboard; the Century has only one.

Background Acupuncture is a powerful form of medicine rooted in Chinese medical theory. It uses natural laws and energetic principles and involves the application of VERY fine needles to specific points on the body. It is highly effective as a preventive medicine and as a drug-free treatment for a variety of conditions. The World Health Organization of the UN identifies "over 40 conditions acupuncture successfully treats" including neurological (headache, migraine, stroke residuals), musculoskeletal (sciatic pain, sprains, strains, backache), digestive (indigestion, diarrhea, constipation), respiratory (cold, asthma, allergy), gynecological, emotional, and even skin rejuvenation.

Welcome Sign   Acupuncture Workbench

On Century, the clinician for Acupuncture at Sea is Georgette Young-Liebhaber, L.Ac., Dipl.O.M. If those credentials sound impressive, they should. There is a big difference in quality and education among acupuncturists. If you want good results, you need to get the right practitioner, and Acupuncture at Sea employs the cream of the crop. For more information on Georgette check out her web site at

Clinician for Acupuncture at Sea is Georgette Young-Liebhaber

A Grounded 'Flyer' I have an extensive background in bodywork as a licensed massage therapist for 25 years, with more than 4,000 hours of training. I was eager to speak with Georgette in her office, but first I encountered one of the performers aboard the Century who was in her office for a treatment -- David Lange, one of the 'aerial flyers' who performs the adagio dance-act with the Celebrity dancers and singers. The nature of his work results in frequent muscle strains/sprains. He told me that if not for Georgette, he would be "grounded" some nights. He called her "a miracle worker."

I found Georgette to be extremely professional, experienced, and knowledgeable. She lectures onboard about Chinese medicine and acupuncture. I loved her lecture and recommend attending one of them. She covers much information about health care in general and specifically about Chinese medicine. Within that discipline, traditional herbal formulas treat conditions such as sleeplessness, hot flashes, stabilization of blood sugar, and back pain, to name a few. Acupuncture at Sea offers 30 herbal formulas as well as a few topical creams and soaps for skin rejuvenation in its exclusive line available to passengers, called H2OM (I love the name). These products are also available for purchase from the group's web site:

receptionist Murat   acupuncture treatment area

A Personal Experience Although I knew all about acupuncture from my 25 years in alternative health care, I had never had a treatment, but my confidence in Georgette convinced me to try it for the first time. Since I had no immediate health problems except a slight bout with seasickness, she decided to treat me for that. I was seasick the night before even though I tried all my alternative methods: sea bands, ginger, and a homeopathic remedy; my husband finally talking me into taking half a bonine. The nausea finally passed, but the evening of my treatment I was feeling a little queasy over the prospect of making a beeline from Grand Cayman to Miami in a day and a half with moderate choppy seas.

Georgette inserted about 10 needles into what she determined were the ideal acupuncture points on my body. The insertion of each needle took but one second, and there was no pain. There was only a slight sensation on a few of them, and some needles entered with no sensation at all. I felt an increase in circulation and slight pressure as I relaxed on a padded table, needles inserted, in a pleasant room with calming music for approximately 30 minutes. I felt very loose and revived when we were finished; as a test, I decided not to resort to any of my usual methods for seasickness as we traveled back to port.

I am happy to report that I felt fine, with no symptoms for the rest of the cruise. According to Georgette, when the seas start rolling, acupuncture can eliminate motion sickness and alleviate nausea and vomiting in just one or two treatments. If one is prone to seasickness, she recommends getting a treatment to ward off symptoms, just as I did. I found out later that seasickness is their second most popular treatment onboard, number one is back pain; seven out of ten people!

So what is the cost? The first treatment (which includes intake, evaluation, diagnosis and treatment) is $125. Follow-up treatments are $100. Keep your eye out for in-port and first-day specials!

Currently, Celebrity is the only cruise line to offer Acupuncture at Sea, though some of the other cruise lines have added acupuncture to their regular spa menu.

Personally, I am happy to see the tide changing towards the acceptance of alternative ways of promoting health and well being within the cruise industry. Georgette, whose clinic on Century is almost fully booked for every cruise, shared the Acupuncture at Sea philosophy with me, one which closely resonates with my own: "We hope to educate people and empower them with the necessary tools for health and wellness, and quality of life. We serve as ambassadors for Chinese medicine with the hopes that our shipboard patient population will have a great experience and hopefully go home to seek out another Chinese medicine practitioner for follow-up care".

There will always be a need for allopathic medicine (the type practiced by medical doctors: MDs), and I salute the medical doctors who are tops in their area of expertise. But I also salute Celebrity Cruises for its willingness to try alternative, or should I say adjunctive, ways for people to take control and responsibility for their own health, with all of the side benefits but none of the side effects.

Copyright © 2007, CruiseMates. All rights reserved.

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