Some of the world’s best fitness facilities are now being found in an unlikely place: at sea. As cruise lines invest heavily in facilities to get the heart pounding, cruise passengers who are disciplined need no longer worry about breaking their back-home regimens or putting on pounds while on cruise vacations. They can shed instead.
No one knows better than I do. I lost 35 pounds cruising. The irony is that I don’t know if I could have done it had it not been for the fitness facilities at sea (my new regimen began on Silversea Cruises). After all, ships are typically where people gain weight, right? But with good gyms on ships, working out has become part of my daily regimen when I’m at sea.
In fact, during the past three years, I spent more than half of the year on ships, and what I discovered was that the cruise ships are a great place to begin — and sustain — a physical transformation. On board, fitness facilities are only a few steps away, and there are few places where you can eat healthier food, if you choose to do so.
Some of the largest fitness facilities are found on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis and Allure of the Seas. These facilities feature lots of equipment — weight machines, free weights, stationary spin bikes, stair steppers, treadmills — and sweeping ocean views. There are also classes ranging from Pilates to spinning to kickboxing to Body Sculpt Boot Camp.
Likewise, the new Celebrity Reflection, which I experienced last year, features a beautiful gym with all the latest fitness equipment, plus programs ranging from boot camps to indoor cycling.
A Fitness Center Cruise
A couple of new ships feature some innovative twists on fitness.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway features some new innovations, including some sports and fitness options never seen at sea before. In one of many nods to Breakaway’s New York City home port, cruise passengers can take part in a fitness class developed by the Radio City Rockettes, the famed leggy dance troupe.
More New York-iness is available in the ship’s spinning studio, where the first-ever “black light spinning” classes at sea turns everyone into ultraviolet 1970s glow sticks, pedaling away to hot club music against a backdrop of neon graffiti art and New York–themed murals.
The ship’s Nexersys interactive fight-training simulators allow you to compete against a virtual avatar in high-intensity boxing workouts. New “Freestyle Fight Klub” classes combine Nexersys workouts with cardio boxing classes using the fitness center’s 12 heavy bags.
The Sports Complex offers a basketball court, a rock-climbing wall, an enclosed “spider web”–style climbing cage, a nine-hole miniature golf course, and what the line is billing as the largest “ropes” course at sea. Set up on multiple levels and encompassing some 40 different challenges, the course lets you strap into safety harnesses and clamber among beams, platforms, nets, suspension bridges and other hazards. If doing all that in the open air some 200 feet above sea level doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping, you can amp things up by walking “The Plank,” which takes you eight feet beyond the side of the ship. See Breaking Away: Easy To Stay Fit On Norwegian Breakaway
When it makes its big splash later this month, Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess will feature a double-lane jogging track with separate paths for runners and walkers. There’ll also be a new circuit program with outdoor exercise stations at intervals along the track so that cruise passengers can work out al fresco. Royal Princess will also feature an expanded fitness center and aerobics studio, along with a multi-sport area offering basketball, tennis, volleyball and badminton.
Sure, it’s easy to consume extra calories on cruise vacations, but with the emphasis on bigger and better fitness facilities, it’s also easy to burn them.