Take a cruise, stay active and don't pack on the pounds. It's possible.
Scary Fact: On average travelers gain 1 to 2 pounds per DAY on cruise vacations. It's not a huge surprise considering that the most often cited reason for taking a cruise is that everything is included. People want (and get) their money's worth
Why would a healthy person want to go on a cruise?
While cruises have earned their unhealthy reputations for their calorie-intensive buffets and sedentary appeal (another pina colada please!), in recent years nearly all of the popular cruise lines have stepped up their attempts to cater to athletic-minded travelers. So why not keep up your workout regime with the added bonus of ocean views, sunshine, and nightly entertainment? The port destinations offer additional active exploration options. Whether you’re going with your family or significant other, we’ve got you covered with details on five of the most popular cruise lines.
As a side note, there are also cruise options like the Holistic Holiday at Sea that exclusively cater to those who prioritize healthy living. This is an annual cruise specifically designed to promote a healthy “mind, body, and spirit”. The food is the type of gourmet fare you’d expect on a cruise, but also with vegan and organic options. Pilates, meditation, and yoga are offered daily, as well as health seminars. The 2011 cruise itinerary includes Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Mexico in its week-long itinerary. Rates start at around $3k for a standard inside cabin (no window) for two. For more information click here.
- Destinations: Alaska, Europe, Mexican Riviera, Caribbean
- Budget: $4,830.24/4 person. $2,685.12/2 person 7 night Alaskan cruise, interior stateroom.
- Workout: Pilates, yoga, group cycling, aerobics, and ab classes are free of charge, ages 18 and up. Lifefitness cardio machines and personal training sessions ($75/hour) are also available. The walking/jogging track is 3 laps/mile.
- Vibe: This line is definitely the most family-friendly, but offers activities and entertainment for people of all ages. Keep in mind you’ll be paying for the Disney “brand”.
Notes: Family friendly, booking required far in advance, 2-ship fleet. -- Photos courtesy of Disney Cruises.
- Destinations: Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico
- Budget: $3,164.36/4 person, $1,822.18/2 person 7 night Alaskan cruise, interior stateroom.
- Workout: Aerobics, kickboxing, absolute abs, total body control, and yoga classes are offered for an additional fee of $12/class, as well as virtual cycling tours and classes for the same rate. Gyms feature Life Fitness standard cardio machines, and either Lamont or Pulse spin bikes. The walking/jogging track is 10 laps/mile.
- Vibe: This line is known for high quality dining, mass-appeal, and reasonable pricing. They’re called the “fun ships” for a reason and have great entertainment.
Notes: 22-ship fleet. Designated menu options with low calorie, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. -- Photos courtesy of Carnival Cruises
- Destinations: Alaska, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Canada and New England, Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii/Tahiti/South Pacific, Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal, South America, World Cruise
- Budget: $2,991.64/4 person, $1,970.82/2 person 7 night Alaskan cruise, interior stateroom.
- Workout: Free aerobics, ab workshop, and circuit classes are available as well as all the standard weights and cardio machines (primarily Cybex). Core, yoga, Pilates, and balance strength classes are also offered for $12/class. On board sports courts allow passengers to play tennis, golf, basketball, and volleyball. The walking/jogging track is approximately 3 laps/miles. Both their Ruby and Emerald ships have swim against the current-style lap pools located in the spa and fitness centers.
- Vibe: Count on Princess ships for high-quality dining and service. Their ships also tend to be less crowded than those of other lines.
Notes: 17-ship fleet. They offer several smaller ships, which are a great choice for couples. -- Photos courtesy of Princess Cruises
- Destinations: Alaska, Canada/New England, Europe, Mexico, Hawaii, Caribbean, Panama Canal, Bermuda, Bahamas, Australia/New Zealand, Dubai/Emirates, South America
- Budget: $2,927.76/4 person, $1,693.88/2 person 7 night Alaskan cruise, interior stateroom.
- Workout: Yoga, spinning, Pilates, and kickboxing classes will run you about $10/class. Cardio machines, weights, and a rock climbing wall also available. Sports decks feature volleyball and basketball courts, Flowrider, an in-line skating track, a boxing ring, ice-skating, and a golf simulator. The walking/jogging track ranges from 3-6 laps/mile depending on the ship.
- Vibe: Royal Caribbean is ideal for sports fans and the very active, and a good option for older kids or teens too mature for a Disney cruise.
Notes: 22-ship fleet.-- Photos courtesy of Royal Caribbean
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES
- Destinations: Alaska, Bahamas and Florida, Bermuda, Canada/New England, Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexican Riviera, Pacific Coastal, Panama Canal
- Budget: $3,040.94/4 person, $1,983.28/2 person 7 night Alaskan cruise, interior stateroom.
- Workout: Cycling, Pilates, and yoga classes are available for $12/class. Ships also feature a rock climbing wall, 24-hour a day fitness center access, cardio and weight machines (Life-Cycle and Cybex), and spinning bicycles. Sports fans will find volleyball and basketball courts, a batting cage, and a golf driving range. The walking/jogging track is about 3-4 laps/mile. The Norwegian Dawn ship also has a 15-meter lap pool within the spa area.
- Vibe: The Norwegian line offers great dining flexibility, and is the best choice for divers, snorkelers, and water-sports fans. Their accommodations range from the ultimate in luxury to simpler options for the wallet-conscious.
Notes: Offer “weekend cruises”, 11-ship fleet, menus have “eating light” options and customization is available. Great for divers, snorkelers, and water-sports fans.--Photos courtesy of Norwegian Cruises.
- All the major cruise lines have active options -- running tracks, lap pools, aerobic classes, and fully equipped gyms. Some will be better than others. We certainly prefer 3 laps to a mile versus 10!!
- Just because it is free doesn't mean you need it! Exercise restraint at the buffet. Stick will grilled options and steamed preparations and skip dessert.
- At the ports, walk, run, or find another active pursuit. Of course, ALL Cruise Lines could further appeal to active travelers by offering Athletic-Minded Traveler run/walk route cards at the various port destinations!
- Alison Pringle, a recent graduate of the University of San Diego and aspiring travel writer, contributed this piece while working as an Athletic-Minded Traveler Intern.
- Budget comparisons are based upon an Alaskan cruise for a family of 4 or group of 2, departing June 2011, standard inside cabin. Airfare not included. And of course not taking into account any "deals."