Being healthy during a cruise vacation is typically a foregone conclusion. Cruise lines make food almost constantly available to their guests, making it as easy as pie to lay on a few extra pounds between the gourmet meals, overflowing buffets, and tasty midnight snacks. And guests certainly take advantage, considering the treats are mostly already covered in their cruise fare.
But for a growing number of cruisers, staying fit has become a significant part of their vacation plans. The good news is that in recent years, cruise lines have created innovative ways to help their passengers both have their midnight feasts and keep their waistlines, too.
For starters, virtually every cruise ship at sea has a fitness center with treadmills and weight machines, at minimum. But some are stepping up the game when it comes to gyms. Luxury line Crystal Cruises, for example, is taking its commitment to fitness to a whole new level by installing equipment from Technogym -- the official equipment provider of the Olympic Games and World Cup events -- on the 922-passenger Crystal Symphony in early September. And that's just one part of its new "fully immersive" indoor fitness experience. Cruisers seeking a workout will also have access to a 25-minute, self-guided circuit training regimen via a tablet-like Unity system, which also can connect to music, play TV shows, track your workout, and more.
Or if the treadmill's not quite your speed, consider taking a class. Most cruise lines offer yoga and pilates classes, and in most cases the sessions are free. If there is a charge, it's usually nominal at $5 or $10 per class. As Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, attests, “The cruise industry has stepped up its offerings for cruise passengers with impressive fitness centers offering the same, if not better, equipment, personal trainers, and workout programs -- such as aerobics, spin classes, Pilates, and even kickboxing -- found at their home gyms, and often better than what’s offered at a resort.”
For a few examples: Princess Cruise Line provides free Zumba classes, while MSC Cruises offers free Aqua Cycling (and we tried it!). On Norwegian Cruise Line sailings, guests can sign up for the high-tech Nexersys experience, in which they work out against an avatar. And as the Crystal Symphony revamps its indoor fitness center this fall, the ship's Promenade Deck will continue to offer several open-air fitness options, like the Walk on Water and Nordic Walking programs.
Finally, cruisers keen on staying fit can look to newer ships with dedicated outdoor sports areas, including basketball courts. Further more, Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas both have challenging climbing walls, while Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Magic features a ropes course.