Holland America Line hits all the high notes, even after 150 years at sea

The stage lights dim as musicians Patrick Sharrow and Jax Hollow belt out the last line to Semisonic’s 1998 hit song, Closing Time.

With the lyrics “One last call for alcohol, so finish your whiskey or beer; Closing time, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here,” the popular sing-along tune has become the unofficial anthem for the last song of the night at bars across North America. 

But not here, not tonight.

“One more song! One more song!” I shout, joining in unison with the other live music fans in the crowd. Moments later, like a typical encore, the lights turn on again and the band starts to play the opening riff to Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones. Only I’m not in a typical music venue — I’m aboard Holland America Line’s Rotterdam in the Rolling Stone Rock Room, where a nightly band plays rock n’ roll hits from Rolling Stone magazine’s top song lists.

As part of the ship’s Music Walk, also available on other ships like Nieuw Statendam and Koningsdam, when one set ends, another starts across the way at Billboard Onboard, where two singers are seated at duelling pianos to play chart-topping pop songs. Some guests shuffle between stages to remain close to the action at all times, while others hold firm in their favourite venue, listening to the music in between sets from afar while the attentive waitstaff comes to serve drinks and cocktails. 

When they’re not playing as part of the cover band, Sharrow and Hollow are recording artists embarking on tours across North America. That’s an example of the calibre of talent that can be found on these stages. 

Not into pop and rock? Other live music venues include Lincoln Center Stage, a great fit for those who like classical music, and the B.B. King’s Blues Club, which like the name indicates, is a hotspot for amazing blues songs that get the crowd moving.

Celebrating 150 years

On April 18, 2023, Holland America Line celebrated its 150th anniversary while the flagship Rotterdam was docked in its namesake city in The Netherlands, following a trans-atlantic sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The commemorative event was held in the former headquarters for the cruise line, today the Hotel New York, and brought together VIPs like descendants of the original founders of the business and Princess Margriet of the Netherlands.

Making it one of the oldest cruise lines in the world, Holland America Line has a very interesting history, starting out as a shipping and passenger line, slowly gaining a reputation for safely bringing emigrants from Europe to North America. 

Nearly one million people made the journey to new beginnings and adventures on a Holland America ship — including Albert Einstein, Alfred Hitchcock, Ernest Hemingway and Roald Dahl — to name but a few.

During the First World War, several HAL ships were called upon to carry and transport soldiers. In the Second World War, ships like Nieuw Amsterdam were even converted into troopships, eventually resuming regular operations after being refitted back to passenger ships post war.

No stranger to innovation, at the height of the prohibition the cruise line offered what could be dubbed the original booze cruise — taking passengers into international waters from New York City to serve alcohol. Today, the cocktail menu at Half Moon Bar features a drink called the Three Mile Run, in honour of those prohibition days.

Clockwise, from L to R: SS Rotterdam passengers circa 1929; cover art for first-class guest handbook; SS Nieuw Amsterdam; SS Waterman departs Wileminakada in Rotterdam, circa 1950s

Holland America Line’s evolution into a cruise holiday provider plays out during an evening staged presentation called Origin Story, which is put on on ships across its fleet. To mark the milestone 150th anniversary, a limited-edition 150th HAL Pils is now available on board in a commemorative can. An exclusive Holland America Line “De Lijn” gin was also created and is used in three new anniversary cocktails: Dutch 150, 150th Martini and 150th Gin and Tonic.

Over the course of this year, 48 special Heritage Cruises are also underway, which focus on ports that played a significant role in the brand’s history. Fun elements on these sailings include a famed orange party where all guests dress in orange to celebrate the company’s Dutch heritage, and a Throwback Happy Hour featuring select drinks priced as low as 75 cents.

A taste of Oslo, Copenhagen and the world 

During my Heritage Cruise from Rotterdam to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the ports of call visited were Oslo, Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark. There was ample free time in each city to get out and explore. 

Upon arrival in Oslo, I decided to get a picturesque view of the city from above on a bus tour before visiting Vigeland Park, the world’s largest sculpture park by the same artist. Gustav Vigelands’ 200 statues tell the story of the cycle of life, representing different stages of life and how life goes on after death. Highlights include The Monolith, a 46-foot tall piece carved out of granite featuring 121 intertwined human figures, and Sinnataggen, (the angry boy) a statue of an angry boy clenching his fists. The park is free to enter and is visited by more than a million visitors a year.

In Copenhagen I opted for a bicycle excursion, which covered a lot of ground in a short period of time. Highlights included stops at Nyhavn, the picturesque canal street on most postcards of Copenhagen, and seeing cherry blossoms in full bloom by the famous The Little Mermaid statue. As a mainly flat city, it was also easy to explore without having to cycle up any major hills. Watching the ship as it arrives and leaves port is also memorable on this route, passing through fjords and lovely cityscapes. 

From Alaska to the Caribbean to Australia and its roots in Europe, Holland America Line has a wide array of itineraries around the world.

Two notable trips planned for 2025 include a new 133-day The Grand Voyage: Pole-to-Pole sailing that travels south-to-north including Antarctica and the Arctic Circle across five continents, along with a simultaneous 124-day 2025 Grand World Voyage covering six continents on an east-to-west route. Both ships are slated to meet in Barcelona, Spain, for a joint overnight call, bringing the two Grand Voyages together for a celebration on April 24, 2025.

Have twice the fun in Mexico with family-friendly & adults-only options

Relaxation and rejuvenation, or fun in the sun, you decide! 

With its picturesque, turquoise waters, long, white sandy beaches, vibrant nightlife and culture, and a thriving food and drink scene, Mexico has long been a perennial favourite vacation destination for Canadians.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or a fun getaway for the entire family, OFFSHORE recently checked into the adults-only Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya and the family-friendly Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun to find out what you can expect. 

A romantic escape

If head mixologist Misael Ruiz can sum up the concept behind the Social Bar in the main lobby of Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya using only one word, it’s the word “local.”

“We try to push Mexican local products,” he says in front of a table with multiple bottles of alcohol on display for a cocktail-making demonstration. “One of the secret ingredients we have here is that we make our own blends of salt and sugar.” The margarita, for example, is made using pink pepper, black pepper and Himalayan salt.

“We’re always trying to surprise you,” Ruiz says.

Try your hand at cocktail-making

Twice a week, guests can gather in the lobby to try a taste of the twisted cocktails made from local ingredients, while also attempting their own creations through a hands-on mixology class.

Following a recipe that dates back to 1927 that uses Ancho Reyes Chile, a Mexican herbal liqueur made from a dried form of ripe poblano peppers, Ruiz leads our class through a demonstration on creating a fresh take on a classic Negroni.  

For a lobby bar, the space has an intimate feel to it, but it’s fitting since the resort itself feels more like a boutique property with a total of 291 rooms. “Each hotel or resort has its own personality. This hotel is very unique,” says Anat Rosengaus, associate director of sales at Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya. “We are surrounded by amazing nature so we always reflect that in the property.”

Captivating for couples

Formerly Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, the adults-only Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya resort underwent a major transformation before reopening on Dec. 1, 2022. The makeover includes the addition of 46 swim-out suites, which line the sides of the horseshoe-shaped resort. 

Ideal for couples, the majority of the accommodations are oceanview king suites, but there are also some tropical view suites and higher room categories like six oceanfront junior suite plunge pool king rooms on the beach and a presidential suite spanning more than 1,500 square feet.

In total, the resort is home to nine restaurants, bars and lounges, including an oceanfront restaurant serving up delicious dishes like chorizo queso, fresh guacamole and fish tacos. There’s also a coffee shop offering baked goods and the best gelato I’ve ever tasted outside of Italy (the Ferrero Rocher flavour is a must try). 

From the pool-side swing bar to the striped umbrellas around the main pool, the resort is loaded with Instagrammable moments. The hacienda style resort is set on 1.5 acres of white sand beach roughly 45 minutes from Cancun International Airport. 

Fun in the sun

Complete with a gigantic oceanfront water park with tall slides and ample pools, Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun is a great fit for multi-generational getaways appealing to both kids and kids at heart.

Formerly the Secrets Silversands, Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun opened in October 2021 and features 438 spacious suites. With nine pools to choose from and a splash zone for kids, the only challenge may be narrowing down where you want to swim for the day. 

Family-friendly vacations

Designed with families in mind, the size of the suites are another unique attribute to the resort. There’s ample space to hang out, with all suites coming in at 668 sq. ft. or larger. Every suite has rainfall showers and spa tubs. 

There are 10 dining options to pick from, like Habaneros, which offers fresh tacos and margaritas with views of the ocean. Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun has caught on to the hard seltzer trend, and mini fridges come stocked with local flavours in addition to the typical wine and beer offerings.

Since the property is big, there are many places for adults to escape if they’re craving some downtime. The two-story Zen Spa inspired by pre-Hispanic Mayan culture is a relaxing way to unwind and get pampered with massage services. There is also a dedicated adults-only pool near the spa, and another pool by buildings 10 and 11 that kids rarely use, for a quieter oasis. 

Along with a kid’s club for those aged four to 12, professional babysitting services are offered so that parents can dine out alone for a romantic meal. The hotel is conveniently located just 20 minutes from Cancun International Airport.


For the full story, click HERE to read the digital version in OFFSHORE’s Summer 2023 issue!

Explore new heights in New York City

Let’s hear it for New York! Admiring the city from above is almost a right of passage for every first-time visitor to the world-famous destination.

While the Top of The Rock and the Empire State Building remain two of the most popular ways to participate in this time-honoured tradition, there are also some new ways to feel on top of the world. 

Brave the ASCENT

If you’re not afraid of heights and are looking to capture a memorable, bird’s eye view of NYC, step inside ASCENT, an all-glass enclosed elevator that travels 12 stories outside of SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, a new multi-floor observation and art experience.

Soaring high above the city at 1,210 feet while overlooking the Empire State Building, the elevator quickly inches upwards for an elevated view…for anyone with an Empire State Of Mind. 

Scale the SUMMIT

More than just a regular observation platform offering iconic views of New York City, SUMMIT boasts a variety of unique immersive art installations spread across multiple levels, including a multi-sensory experience from Kenzo Digital featuring silver balloons that float effortlessly through the air, and glass sky boxes that jut outwards to suspend guests 1,063 feet above Madison Avenue.

Much like an après-ski experience, the onsite Après is a bar and cafe that leads to an outdoor terrace where you can experience views from the top with an Aperol Spritz in hand. 

In its first year, SUMMIT helped contribute to NYC’s pandemic recovery by welcoming 1.4 million guests from almost every country in the world.

Here are some of the most rewarding experiences to have in Israel

For a relatively small country, Israel punches above its weight when it comes to the diversity of the experiences on offer.

However, unlike Canada, it’s possible to drive from one end of Israel to the other in only eight hours — not that anyone would since there’s so much to see along the way. Whether you’re looking for unique experiences in the great outdoors or going back in time to explore ancient architecture, here’s a look at how Israel appeals to travellers with a wide range of interests.

For cruisers

As a major cruise hub, the port of Haifa is often the gateway to Israel for many international travellers. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and MSC Cruises all have Haifa on the itinerary this year. While excursions often focus on attractions outside of the city, the destination itself is also worth exploring.

At the top of the list of things to see are the Bahá’í Gardens, a stunning staircase of nineteen terraces extending all the way up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. The UNESCO World Heritage is a spiritual focal point for Bahá’í pilgrims featuring the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb, giving way to views of Akko in the distance. Israel’s under the radar, third largest city is also home to a German Templar Colony, founded in 1868.

For wellness and relaxation

Look no further than floating in the Dead Sea for the ultimate way to relax while crossing off a bucket list worthy activity in a spot known as the lowest point on earth — 428 metres below sea level — dating back three million years. The waters are believed to have healing powers so be sure to plan time for a lengthy float.

For the social media aficionado, pack a copy of your favourite magazine to personalize the moment. Many resorts in the Ein Bokek Beach area also offer spa services, making it a great choice for a bit of pampering.

For beach life in a city setting, Tel Aviv is an ideal choice. There’s a long stretch of beach (Gordon Beach) right next to many major hotels lined with beach bars and activities like volleyball nets. Even in the winter, temperatures range from 9-17°C. 

For millennials

With a thriving vegan food scene and renowned nightlife with a laid-back vibe, millennials will enjoy Tel Aviv. Those who crave a night out on the town can opt to go bar hopping with a local guide, including free shots and drink specials along the way. The trendy city frequently gets accolades like placing on top 25 lists as the best party city and as a top foodie destination.  

Another riveting option is Jerusalem, which has a vibrant night market and a growing food scene along with its historical side. Head to Thinkers Distillery to sample some locally produced spirits. The Israeli sunset gin is made with hints of strawberry and rose petals. Then head out to experience the nightlife at Machane (sometimes spelt ‘Mahane’) Yehuda Market, which even includes a craft beer bar.

As a city with a 3,000 year old history, there are so many historic and archaeological sites to discover along with modern attractions for culture, arts, music and culinary delights. 

For history buffs

With its Templar tunnels that were only recently discovered and an entire crusader city underneath the current street level, the city of Akko, also known as Acre, is fascinating for architecture and history buffs alike. Explore the excavated parts of the Old City of Akko, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to get a sense of life over 4,000 years, including the ancient Knights’ Halls of the Hospitaller Fortress.

Akko’s Old City is walled off and remains intact, plus its seaside location makes for many great photo opportunities. Through its storied past, the city was shaped by the Romans, Ottomans, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Byzantines, and British.

Another impressive place to visit in Israel is Beit She’an National Park, an extensive archaeological site dating back 6,000 years with well preserved ruins including a large amphitheatre. So far only one tenth of the ancient city has been excavated. 

Of course, Jerusalem, where the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are located, and Nazareth, known as Jesus’ hometown, are also a must.

For the outdoorsy type


4×4 adventures and take part in many outdoor activities. 

Another natural option is to head to Ein Gedi Nature Reserve to discover waterfalls and hiking trails along massive cliffside formations. The biggest oasis in Israel offers more than nine different hiking trails.

For more information on planning your trip to Israel, click here!

Five of the best cities for luxury shopping

Few destinations can rival the grandeur and allure of metropolitan cities like Paris, New York City, London, Milan and Dubai. 

According to Statista, the luxury goods market in Canada is projected to grow by 2.70 per cent between 2023 and 2028, resulting in a market volume of US$7.87B (CAD $10.7B) by 2028.

Luxury fashion, in particular, dominates the luxury goods market, with travellers going to international lengths to score a great bargain. For those seeking a more refined wardrobe, few destinations can rival the grandeur and allure of metropolitan cities like Paris, New York City, London, Milan and Dubai. 

Milan, Italy

Fashion Week in Milan, Italy may only be held bi-annually in February and September, but strolling through the streets on any given day of the year, you’ll feel as though you’re in a fashion show of your own.

Italian fashion can be traced back to the Renaissance period, as early as the mid 1400’s, when some of Italy’s most famous cities, like Venice, Milan, Florence, Naples and Rome, began producing sought-after textiles like velvet, silk and wool. Italian fashion reached the height of its success in the 1950s and 1960s, when some of the biggest designers and fashion houses were born, including Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Missoni, Roberto Cavalli, Prada, Versace, and Armani among others. 

Milan, a sprawling metropolis in Italy’s northern Lombardy region, is home to 1.3 million people and is an iconic, global destination for luxury fashion and shopping. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, located in the same plaza as the breathtaking Duomo di Milano, is Italy’s oldest active shopping centre, having opened in 1877.

Housed in a soaring, four-storey building complete with arched glass ceilings where blue sky peeks through, it’s home to some of the city’s oldest shops, as well as luxury retailers selling everything from haute couture and jewellery, to artworks and books. Of course, any good shopping trip requires a little pick-me-up, and the Galleria’s many restaurants, cafés and bars are sure to do the trick.

Paris, France

Paris, often regarded as the fashion capital of the world, offers a plethora of high-end shopping destinations that cater to luxury enthusiasts. The city’s Golden Triangle, nestled between Avenue Montaigne and the Champs-Élysées, hosts the crème de la crème of fashion houses. Here, haute couture and high-end brands harmoniously coexist, enticing patrons with their meticulous craftsmanship and visionary designs.

You’ll find an exquisite array of prestigious fashion houses such as Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Givenchy. The luxurious window displays and opulent boutiques in this area make for an unforgettable shopping experience.

Another must-visit location for luxury shopping in Paris is Le Bon Marché. Located in the chic neighbourhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Le Bon Marché is the city’s oldest and most prestigious department store. This shopping mecca offers a wide range of high-end brands, including Gucci, Prada, and Hermès.

From fashion and accessories to home decor and gourmet food, Le Bon Marché showcases an unparalleled selection of luxury goods, all housed within an elegant and stylish environment. Whether you’re looking for the latest designer trends or seeking timeless elegance, Paris has an abundance of luxurious shopping destinations that will surely leave you feeling indulged and inspired.

New York City, U.S.

In the cosmopolitan city that never sleeps, one of the most iconic places to find high-end fashion is Fifth Avenue. Amidst the glittering skyscrapers, luxury enthusiasts find themselves immersed in a world of unparalleled extravagance, as this legendary street is home to some of the world’s most prestigious designer flagship stores, including iconic names such as Tiffany & Co., Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Louis Vuitton. 

SoHo, another trendy neighbourhood that’s known for its cobblestone streets and cast-iron buildings, houses a variety of high-end boutiques and international designer shops. Brands like Chanel, Gucci, and Alexander Wang can be found nestled among independent designer stores, providing a unique and diverse shopping experience that ultimately suits every budget.

SoHo’s combination of luxury fashion, artistic ambiance, and charming cafes make it a favourite destination for fashion enthusiasts looking for a blend of sophistication and downtown cool. Whether you’re searching for avant-garde designs or classic elegance, New York City offers a wealth of luxury shopping destinations to satisfy every fashion connoisseur.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai has solidified its position as a luxury shopping destination, thanks in part to its tax-free shopping policy. Visitors can enjoy substantial savings on goods due to the absence of value-added tax (VAT) and customs duties, making it a particularly attractive destination for luxury shoppers hoping to score a bargain.

With its state-of-the-art infrastructure, excellent connectivity and a world-class hospitality industry, Dubai attracts millions of tourists each year. The city’s luxurious resorts, extravagant attractions, and vibrant entertainment options contribute to an overall experience that complements the thrill of luxury shopping.

One of the most renowned spots is the Dubai Mall. Not only is it the largest shopping mall in the world, but it also houses an extensive collection of luxury brands. Here, you’ll find flagship stores of iconic fashion houses such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Prada. The Dubai Mall also boasts The Fashion Avenue, a dedicated precinct for luxury fashion, where you can explore a curated selection of high-end boutiques and designer labels.

For a unique shopping experience, the City Walk is another noteworthy destination. Situated in a vibrant neighbourhood, City Walk offers a fusion of luxury shopping, dining, and entertainment. It showcases an array of international fashion brands, including high-end designers like Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, and Dolce & Gabbana. With its pedestrian-friendly streets, contemporary architecture, and upscale boutiques, City Walk provides a chic and stylish environment for luxury shoppers.

London, England

London presents an enticing blend of regal charm and avant-garde innovation. One of the most iconic areas for luxury shopping in London is Bond Street. Located in the heart of the city’s prestigious Mayfair district, Bond Street is home to an impressive lineup of renowned designer boutiques. Here, you’ll find flagship stores of high-end fashion houses such as Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Alexander McQueen. 

Another prominent location for designer fashion shopping in London is Sloane Street. Situated in the affluent district of Knightsbridge, Sloane Street offers a curated selection of luxury brands, including iconic names like Christian Dior, Prada, Burberry, and Tom Ford. This exclusive street is known for its upscale boutiques and upscale ambiance, attracting fashion-savvy shoppers looking for the latest runway trends and timeless classics.

London’s iconic department stores, such as Harrods and Selfridges, are also not to be missed. These renowned establishments offer a comprehensive range of designer fashion brands across multiple floors. From high-end designer labels to emerging fashion talent, these department stores provide an immersive shopping experience with their opulent interiors and vast selections.

Baring it all in Baden-Baden at the Friedrichsbad bath house

by Ann Ruppenstein

Not one to shy away from immersing myself in the real local culture firsthand, I decided to suck it up for the authentic experience.

To be or not to be naked, that is the question. 

I’m in Baden-Baden, Germany, one of the UNESCO-listed Great Spa Towns of Europe, faced with the decision to bare it all — or not. There are two thermal baths in the historic spa town, a contemporary one built in 1985 and a traditional one with impressive Renaissance-style architecture dating back to 1877.

From the offset, the authentic Friedrichsbad sounds like the obvious frontrunner, but the caveat is that it’s textile-free, meaning no swimsuits are allowed. As tour guide Joachim Schadendorf puts it in simple terms, “this one is serious and that one is fun.”

Not one to shy away from immersing myself in the real local culture firsthand, I decided to suck it up (or more like suck it in) for the authentic experience.

It’s definitely not the most popular option, especially amongst North American travellers, who tend to be more hesitant to strip down completely amongst strangers, including members of the opposite sex.

By the numbers, at pre-pandemic levels, the modern Caracalla bath down the road — where swimsuits are worn — attracted an average of half a million visitors per year, whereas roughly only 70,000 people frequented Friedrichsbad. Here’s to the road less travelled! 

Friedrichsbad_32-2 (c) Baden-Baden Tourism Board, N. Dautel

The skinny on the dip

After paying the €35 entrance fee, I headed to the co-ed changing area with two others and was relieved to see a tiny sheet in the locker. After slipping out of my clothes, I wrap it around my body and strut to the main spa entrance with confidence. 

That’s when a male staff member greets us — in full spa attire in case you were wondering — to explain that the space is divided into a circuit of 17 different stations. After showering before station seven, “you leave the sheet in the laundry pile,” he said, motioning to my short wrap.

Following an initial cleansing shower, the process began with various warm and hot air baths, providing an identical sensation to being in an over-sized sauna. I eased myself into the au natural experience by opening my sheet once I’d settled onto one of the wooden loungers.

This isn’t so bad. 

A few steps later, at dreaded stop number seven, the time had come to commit fully to the nudist lifestyle before entering the first thermal steam bath in the circuit. I was determined to proceed in the name of research. “Alright, let’s do this,” I said out loud, more so to motivate myself, that this was indeed happening.

Trying to avoid eye contact with all the passing private parts, we ducked into a corner of the steam room, placing fresh hygienic matts underneath our bottoms before sitting down. Then, quite astonishingly, like the steam evaporating in the room, within minutes we were no longer phased by the fact that we were stark naked and quickly embraced the more liberal European views on letting it all hang out and feeling comfortable in our own skin.

It was either that, or the steam went to my head. 

“I was nervous at first, but you realize that everybody just kind of looks the same,” one of my travel writer companions, whom I’d only met two days earlier, whispered.

The art of bathing, Roman and Irish style

Design wise, the centrepiece of Friedrichsbad is an intricate 17-metre high dome set above a circular pool. Before I knew I would muster up the courage to get to this point, I told myself that getting to see the architecture would make it worthwhile. Now, floating on my back while looking up at the elaborate ceiling, it didn’t disappoint, and I couldn’t help but think of the historic figures who swam in this very spot more than 146 years ago. 

“Here at the Friedrichsbad, you lose track of time within 10 minutes and track of the world within 20,” wrote literary great Mark Twain after a visit in the late 19th century. 

For me, the unexpected highlight of the experience was a visit to what’s called the relaxation room, a dark room filled with multiple beds. After laying down and wrapping myself in the warm blanket, I dozed off for a power nap, in deep relaxation mode. 

I could have stayed for hours, but naturally, I also had to see what the other Caracalla spa was all about. Aside from the fact that visitors weren’t naked, which almost felt strange after fully embracing the other way, another key difference is that it’s family-friendly (meanwhile, Friedrichsbad is adults-only with a minimum age requirement of 17 years). A highlight of the Caracalla bath is the outdoor area, where a steamy mist layer appears above the rock grotto formation when the temperature outside is cold enough. This is also where to go for additional spa services, such as massages, and a variety of saunas and treatment rooms. 

In my natural element

Notably, the thermal waters in both baths come from the 12 natural springs that push out roughly 800,000 litres of mineral-rich water a day at scorching temperatures as high as 68°C, first discovered some 2,000 years ago.

Friedrichsbad was, from day one, a huge success. It was the biggest and most modern bath in Europe. It is a so-called Roman-Irish bath, combining the Roman tradition of bathing in different temperatures with the Irish tradition of steam baths,” noted Baden-Baden based tour guide Katharina Koerner, adding that as a UNESCO listed building, it virtually looks the same as the day it opened. “In Roman tradition, it is, of course, textile-free to this day. Some people say, oh, I wanted to go in there, but in that case I prefer the Caracalla, where I can wear my bathers… We had an article about it once called ‘nothing but the comb’ because that’s one of the big advantages, you don’t have to come prepared.”

Just prepared to bare it all, that is.

For the full digital edition of this story, click here.

Read more stories in the new OFFSHORE Summer 2023 issue. Available now!