Keeping Fit At Sea – The Best Cruise Ship Facilities
They say that the average cruise passenger puts on around 1 lb per day when they’re on a cruise holiday, eating rich and decadent foods, having a few too many cream-filled cocktails, and relaxing by the pool all day long, but is putting on weight inevitable when you’re at sea?
Absolutely not! Today’s cruise ships are designed to help you stay fit and healthy while you’re on board. Here are some great ways you can prevent those ‘cruise lbs’ from piling on;
On Board Gyms
‘Who has the best on board gym?’ – this is a question that’s caused a lot of controversy within the cruise community, as new ships are being designed with the most innovative and revolutionary gymnasiums imaginable and each cruise line is vying against the other to hold the top spot. It’s often considered a toss-up between Royal Caribbean and P&O Cruises. P&O’s Ventura is widely acknowledged as having one of the best gyms at sea, featuring treadmills, stepping machines, free weights, stationary bikes, resistance bands, and a number of fitness classes (and the fact that it’s located on Deck 16 with fantastic views over the ocean doesn’t hurt, either!). As for Royal Caribbean, if a well-appointed gym is what you’re after then you can’t go wrong with any of the Freedom Class ships which feature a boxing ring, kickboxing classes, and almost 10,000 square feet of dedicated fitness space. However, good gyms don’t only appear on the larger ships – Seabourn actually holds its own amongst these two larger cruise lines!
Running & Jogging Tracks
Jogging tracks are popular on many cruise ships these days and cruise lines are moving away from the concept of opening hours by offering 24 hour access to the ship’s running areas. They can do this by ensuring there are no cabins located directly under the track, so noise won’t be an issue. The jogging tracks vary in length depending upon the size and design of the ship – Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas offers a track that’s 6 laps to the mile. If you have trouble running (it does put a lot of pressure on the knees), you can also use the track for walking – somewhere to power walk without bumping into other passengers. You may also find that there are daily ‘guided walks’ along the track during your cruise. Of course, it’s not like you’ll get lost along the way, but having a guide can boost motivation – no one wants to quit when other people are watching!
It wasn’t that long ago that you could only swim on board a cruise ship when the weather permitted – which meant that taking a dip during an Alaska or Northern Europe voyage was a rare treat. In fact, in the past, some cruise ships which were designed specifically for Alaska didn’t even have swimming pools. Today, however, it’s practically impossible to find a ship without a pool, and many are offer covered, or partially covered areas which protect from the elements, giving passengers the chance to swim at every opportunity, regardless of the weather. Swimming is one of the best ways to keep fit – it uses the legs, the arms and the stomach, and you can burn around 100 calories in just 10 minutes! Many of the larger cruise ships offer a choice of pools, depending on what you’re looking for. For adults, the adult-only solariums on board Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice Class ships are ideal. Free of children, they’re perfect for lane swimming.
On board nightclubs and dancing venues are two of the more obvious solutions for fun yet beneficial exercise while you’re at sea, but let’s be honest – not everyone has the moves! Not to worry – many cruise lines today offer free dance classes suitable for those who have been ‘shaking their thang’ for years as well as passengers who have never stepped foot on a dance floor in their lives. Line dancing is a popular find on many cruise ships today as the classes can be held in even the smallest of areas and there’s no chance of being whacked in the face by a rogue arm movement! Royal Caribbean are known for their themed classes, such as a four-part lesson on perfecting the Michael Jackson Thriller dance, and Cunard Line boasts a number of ‘Ambassador Hosts’ – the ideal dance partner for solo travellers. Dancing at sea is becoming so popular that some lines are even offering dance-themed cruises, such as P&O Cruises and their ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ itineraries.
Don’t Forget Your Port Days!
Don’t forget that you don’t need to rely wholly upon your ship’s features and facilities if you’re trying to keep fit while you’re on holiday. You may think that you need to opt for a large ship with the latest equipment and technology to work off those calories you’ve enjoyed in the mouthwatering dining rooms, but you can make use of active shore excursions too. If you’ve got a full day to explore a modern and vibrant city such as Helsinki, for example, you could easily walk 5 to 10 miles taking in all the sights such as the Market Square (which is filled with fresh fruits that won’t undo all your hard work), and the Kamppi Shopping Centre, for example.
You could also opt for shore excursions through your cruise line which focus on getting your body moving – something many cruise passengers enjoy after a few days at sea. At Icy Strait Point, Alaska, you can work those arm muscles by taking a kayaking trip throughout Port Frederick, you can take a biking tour in Barcelona which takes in sights such as Las Ramblas, the Columbus monument, and the gothic quarter, or you could even hike to the top of Mount Liamuiga Volcano in the Caribbean. Cruises have a bit of a reputation for helping you to pile on the pounds with all that delicious food on board, but there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t stay fit at sea, if you really want to.