Do Cruise Ships Have Gyms?

Opening times, facilities, and all you need to know at keeping fit at sea

We get it, one of the reasons you’ve booked a cruise is for the food, right? But at the same time, you’d like to keep your level of fitness. So, it’s handy knowing what facilities are there, should you ever need them.

Maintaining your healthy lifestyle is easy as there are plenty of facilities to make it happen; cruise ships these days are designed to help you stay fit and healthy while you’re on board.

Onboard Gyms 

Back to the question, do cruise ships have gyms? This has 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 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!).

On most cruise ships you can expect to find what is essentially in a gym; changing areas, cardio areas, weights, plus soft mats for yoga and areas for exercise classes. Some classes may be of an additional charge. You can even book your own personal trainer on cruise ships, and like Ventura‘s gym, most cruise lines place them as high up, so you get those unspoilt views out to sea.

Princess Cruises are also renowned for excellent onboard facilities amongst excellent views like on Emerald Princess, with an array of treadmills all forward facing out to sea, with their own TV’s on each one, so you can choose what to watch, or listen too! As well as, an outstanding sized fitness studio, with regular pilates, yoga and ‘legs, bums and tum’s classes.

Some of the classes you can find on a cruise ship are:

  • Spinning classes
  • Yoga classes
  • Zumba/dance classes
  • Pilate classes
  • Circuit training
  • Legs, bums and tums

This is just a small example of the types of classes you can get involved in. Some may be subject to a fee, which will be charged to your cabin.

Now are you wondering if the gyms are free? – Yes they are, enjoy the facilities with no sign-up, induction (although it’s available should you want it) or payments needed. You will have expert professionals on hand to help with equipment or to give any advice. One point to add, the gyms on a cruise ship do have opening hours, you can expect generally from 6am until 11pm, but this will vary by ship.

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 among these two larger cruise lines!

P&O Cruises Iona gym facilities on the other hand, has everything and more, but on a bigger scale. Open from 8am until 8pm every day, you can plan your training schedule around those lazy days by the Iona pool, or perfectly followed up with a massage in the Spa. With floor-to-ceiling windows, keeping fit is easier with ever-changing stunning views. Even some of the most luxurious ships at sea have some of the high-tech state-of-the-art facilities, like the latest addition to Silversea’s fleet, Silver Nova.

Even on the family ships, state-of-the-art facilities are still as important than other entertainment features. Disney Magic will keep you in ship-shape with various exercise classes, weight machines, cardiovascular equipment and those exercise classes where you can get to know your fellow cruises, Aerobics, Pilates, Yoga and more.

Daily activities provided by cruise lines, most offer the following:

  • Chess
  • Shuffleboard
  • Bowls
  • Croquet
  • Golf
  • Tennis

These are to name a few on deck, usually around the promenade a read, or up on the Sports Courts.

Running & Jogging Tracks

Cruise ship running tracks are popular on many ships these days and you will find them on most of the newer ships. If the ship you choose does not having a running or jogging track, don’t be put off, as there is always the promenade where you can get your steps in.

The jogging tracks vary in length depending upon the size and design of the ship – the world’s biggest ship, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, has a running track that circles the whole of Deck 5.

Jogging may not come to mind when you think of keeping fit at sea, but with health and wellbeing at the forefront of everybody’s mind, it’s easy to see why cruise lines are making this a feature on new ships. Carnival Cruise Line is one of the biggest cruise lines to feature the most running tracks on a cruise ship, with over 20 ships to choose from.

Princess Cruises also have their own jogging tracks and have a one way system, with spectacular sea views to enjoy, For example, Emerald Princess is right next to the mini-golf and overlooks the aft of the ship, with the pools below, it really is a peaceful and tranquil place to lace the trainers and hit the track.

Oasis Class ships with Royal Caribbean also have running tracks, one side for runners, and the other for walkers. Look out for the motivational signs on the ceiling too, which provide a nice little pick-me-up.

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, it’s a good way to meet fellow cruisers and you’ll have done more steps than you realise.

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!

Virgin Voyages have also gone above and beyond, with a dedicated running track, built just for runners and walkers, so there’s no weaving in and out of deck chairs and sun loungers on their newest innovative ships, Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady. It even has two lanes, and 6 laps equals a mile. You can’t miss it being bright red!

Swimming Pools

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, 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, like P&O Cruises Iona and Arvia giving passengers the chance to swim at every opportunity, regardless of the weather. The latter also has a swim-up bar, just in case you get thirsty along the way.

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! Plus, have a try at water aerobics, one of the many planned activities. 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, or cruise on adult-only ship Arcadia and Aurora with P&O Cruises

Dance Classes

Onboard 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.

Failing that, there’s always the Silent Disco, which has become a firm evening favourite with passengers on board P&O Cruises ships.

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 five 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, 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.