Join the Club: Holistic Cruises
Can you find wellness on the waves?
By Clark Norton
People love cruising for many reasons. But Betty Hoehn, a retired U.S. Steel employee from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, has a particularly compelling one. Hoehn is convinced that if she hadn’t signed up for a cruise back in March 2007, she wouldn’t be alive today.
“I was in bad shape,” Hoehn recounts. “I had been diagnosed with both leukemia and lymphoma. I was getting chemotherapy but my doctors told me there was no cure. Then I picked up a copy of a natural health magazine and saw an ad for a cruise that served macrobiotic foods and had lectures on how to beat cancer. I had no idea what macrobiotics was. But I asked my husband and he said let’s give it a try.”
So off they went to the Caribbean on the Holistic Holiday at Sea, where she dined on macrobiotic meals based around whole grains and leafy greens and excluding meat, poultry, and dairy products. Hoehn found solace in hearing the stories of fellow passengers who had recovered from cancer, and studied with a macrobiotic counselor who gave her a cookbook to take home. “I followed the recipes exactly,” Hoehn says, “and by July, my white blood cell count had dropped way down. Then my doctor ordered a full body scan and said it showed no sign of cancer. He couldn’t believe it or explain it.”
Five years later, she says she remains cancer-free, devoted to a macrobiotic diet, and looking forward to her sixth annual Holistic Holiday cruise this spring. “That first cruise literally saved my life,” she insists, adding that since returning home she’s never had another dose of chemotherapy.
While many in the medical community scoff at the notion of dietary cures for terminal illnesses, passengers who flock to the Holistic Holiday cruises year after year have become believers. “We get dozens of letters and emails from people saying the cruises have changed their lives,” says Sandy Pukel, a high-energy Miami health food maven and entrepreneur who runs Holistic Holiday along with his longtime North Carolina–based business partner, John Belleme. “They had no hope left,” Pukel says, “until they joined us and learned to revolutionize how they eat.”