The Best Fitness Activities at Sea

The Best Fitness Activities at Sea

Some cruise lines offer onboard fitness options that go above and beyond modern gym equipment By: Marilyn Green
<p>Crystal Cruises’ passengers can join in the Walk-On-Water fitness program, which includes walking the ship’s promenades with weighted vests. // ©...

Crystal Cruises’ passengers can join in the Walk-On-Water fitness program, which includes walking the ship’s promenades with weighted vests. // © 2014 Crystal Cruises

Feature image (above): A ropes course is part of Carnival Cruise Line’s offerings, available on Carnival Magic and Carnival Breeze. // © 2014 Carnival Cruise Lines

While virtually all seagoing ships have a selection of resistance and strength training stations that many landside gyms would envy, some have gone much further in offering travelers options to stay fit during their cruise.

In addition to the basics — treadmills, elliptical trainers, exercise bikes, free weights and more — many cruise lines provide passengers with cutting-edge fitness equipment that add opportunities for body makeovers to a cruise vacation. The newer ships in a cruise line’s fleet generally have the most unusual exercise facilities, though there are exceptions.

Here are our top picks for the most creative and forward-thinking onboard activity and fitness options offered at sea. 

Royal Caribbean
Beyond the rock climbing walls and surfing simulators, the nearly 10,000-square-foot fitness centers on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom-class ships have full-size boxing rings; Pilates studios with six reformers and extensive mat work equipment; and first-generation Power Plate equipment that uses vibration to boost a workout, stimulate circulation and build bone density. 

The Allure and Oasis of the Seas also have 12 gravity fitness machines each, plus Kinesis Walls that use a system of pulleys to help build total body strength and the longest jogging tracks at sea.

Princess Cruises
Princess offers popular Zumba classes at sea, TRX Suspension Training classes and Tour de Cycle, a three-part spinning program based on the Tour de France. The brand’s signature fitness classes focus on Pilates for core work, yoga for balance and cardio for overall strength and cardiovascular health. Larger vessels also offer swim-against-the-current pools with an adjustable current for endurance training.

Seabourn Cruises
Seabourn’s Odyssey-class ships have Kinesis Walls that can be used by four people at a time and stern marinas that give passengers access to snorkeling, kayaking, sailing and swimming. Seabourn Sojourn and Quest have Kneipp Walk Pools, which feature different sections of water at different temperatures designed to help walkers cleanse toxins from the body, increase circulation, balance hormones and reduce stress. And, at the end of a full workout, these two Seabourn ships offer passengers an “experience shower” featuring special lighting and a variety of sensory adjustment options.

Crystal Cruises
Crystal’s proprietary Walk-On-Water program isn’t aqua aerobics, as many passengers think. It’s a full fitness program, designed exclusively for Crystal, where participants walk with weighted vests on the ships’ promenades (the water part is the surrounding sea). Crystal also provides Nordic Walking Poles for a full-body workout, along with Pilates sessions featuring mat work and reformer equipment, yoga classes, Kinesis fitness equipment and golf instruction from PGA professionals. Both the Serenity and Symphony offer paddle tennis onboard, and new “Site Running” land excursions are available on all of Crystal’s itineraries. An outdoors fitness garden will be added to Crystal Symphony in September.

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Magic and Breeze feature SportSquare, a large outdoor recreation area with a ropes course 150 feet above the water, an eight-mile jogging track and outdoor weightlifting and resistance machines, in addition to basketball, volleyball and soccer courts. There’s also a six-station Vita Course, which features workout stations with instructional signage and a miniature golf course. Indoor fitness options include yoga, Pilates and stretching classes and cardio equipment.

Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian has a range of unusual outdoor exercise facilities onboard Norwegian Epic, from full-sized basketball courts with spectator bleachers to a bungee trampoline and a 24-foot climbing cage known as the Spider Web. The Epic also features a rappelling wall, a rock climbing wall and TRX Suspension Training, a program used by the Navy Seals. Onboard Norwegian’s newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, guests will find additional fitness options, such as Flywheel Fitness spinning classes and interactive Nexersys equipment featuring automated combat/boxing fitness technology.

Windstar Cruises
Windstar, which pioneered a revolutionary spa on the Wind Surf years ago, has its own stern marina and a variety of water sports equipment, including windsurfing boards, kayaks, inflatable boats, Topper and Rumba  Escape sailboats, snorkeling equipment and waterskiing gear. Windstar also offers a two-hour diving course given by PADI-certified instructors on all ships. In addition, the Wind Surf offers guests an onboard trampoline and a Hobie Bravo catamaran for sailing excursions.

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