10 Easy Ways To Keep Fit On A Cruise

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Years ago in the early days of cruising, there used to be a phrase going around North America that for every day you were on a cruise, you’d gain a pound in weight. While overeating and forsaking any exercise might have been the way to go then, things have undoubtedly changed now. Just 25 years ago a cruise ship gym would likely have been a converted stateroom deep in the bowels of the ship, equipped with a couple of exercise bikes and a few dumbbells. Fast-forward to the modern era of cruising, however, and ships come in all shapes and sizes with all manner of ways to get a workout. Here’s our top 10 tips on how to keep fit at sea.

Walk Everywhere Onboard

This sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many kilometres you can clock up walking on a larger ship in particular. Make a point of adding extra time so you can walk to dinner, to the show afterwards, to and from your stateroom generally each day. Also use the stairs instead of the elevator to get your heart pumping, as this will help to keep your lower body in shape while working off some of that heavenly cruise food! 

Participate In Onboard Activities

Check the daily program on your ship to see what activities are on offer, such as group morning walks on deck, sunrise tai chi, also calorie-burning classes such as country ‘n’ western or ballroom dancing. It’s not only a way to get fit and keep in shape, but also a great way to get social with your fellow cruise mates and make some new friends.

Make Use Of The Gym

Virtually every ship, even smaller river cruise ships, offer an onboard gym these days ranging from small with a few pieces of equipment, to large with a wide range of facilities including a fitness studios for organised classes. Basic equipment on offer usually includes exercise bikes, rowing machines, stair climbing machines, elliptical machines, weight machines, free weights and exercise balls so there’s plenty to choose from. 

Take A Fitness Class

If the gym is not your thing, and at home you prefer doing an aerobics, spin or yoga class, most larger cruise ships offer these today for a nominal fee, with those at the luxury end including them in the fare. A cruise is also an opportunity to try something new, however, with cruise lines such as Princess offering high energy Zumba classes, Carnival’s Bootcamp at Sea, and many ships also have pilates, some with intricate reformer equipment.

Explore Ashore On Foot

If you’re planning to got it alone in any destinations on your cruise, why not explore on foot if the port is reasonably accessible from the main sightseeing areas, or the centre of town? If it’s a fair way, take a shuttle or taxi into the city centre and plan where to walk to the sights and shopping from there. This is another great way to get some exercise, as well as the opportunity to discover off-the-beaten-track places you may not find on an organised tour, or from a bus.

Explore Ashore On A Bike

A number of river cruise ships carry bicycles for guests to use ashore, making it a fun way to get around as well as to explore. If you think this is for you, make sure you wear shoes suitable for cycling, take a map, and check the local terrain to make sure it’s suitable for your fitness level.  

Exercise DIY

These days you don’t need to go to a gym to get a good workout, so one option is to take along a DVD of your favourite exercise routine from home to use in your stateroom. Many cruise ship accommodations have DVD players as standard, or you can play it on your own computer; other useful exercise gadgets to consider taking along include exercise bands, which are easy to pack, or an iPad with an exercise program in an app.

Take An Active Excursion

Some shore tours will be listed as active or only for people who are fit, so this is another great way to get some exercise while enjoying a new destination and sightseeing. Examples include city walking tours, hiking a forest in Alaska, hiking a rainforest in the Caribbean, or any tours which include climbing stairs.

Go Swimming

If you enjoy swimming, and your ship has a large enough swimming pool do some laps to keep cool while getting your heart pumping at the same time. The best times are early in the morning or late in the day, avoiding sea days when everyone is onboard, and popular times when the pool is likely to be busy.

Watch What You Eat And Drink

This is an obvious one, but it can really help when you are away from home with food on demand 24/7. While it’s all too easy to go overboard with what goes into your mouth on holiday, if you overdo it you may pay later with excess weight you’ll have to shift. Play it safe and stick to what you eat and drink at home as much as you can, limiting desserts to dinner only and restricting snacks and high calorie cocktails. And if you’re really not hungry at night when you return to your stateroom, save your pillow chocolate and take it home for your kids or grandkids.


Joanna Hall