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How to stay fit on a cruise

Keeping fit is easy on a cruise

Woman keeping fit on a cruise ship

Posted on

25 Mar 2019

While travelling the world on a cruise, for many it’s the opportunity to sit back, relax and explore some of the world’s most stunning destinations. But did you know, over 55% of people have actually gained weight on a cruise?

Whether you’re on a world expedition cruise or a scenic river cruise, the idea of sticking to your fitness routine might seem like a struggle, but it’s actually a lot easier than you might think.

From exploring ports by foot and bike to making the most of your cruise ship’s gym facilities, we asked travel and lifestyle bloggers to tell us their top tips for keeping fit while on a cruise.

How to stay fit on a cruise

  • Cruises are more health-focused than ever, take advantage of this
  • Make sensible food choices, even upping calorie intake on physically demanding port days
  • Use the ship’s top-of-the-range gym facilities
  • Try other on-board activities to keep fit, such as a surf simulator
  • Make the most of the space out on the deck and in your cabin
  • Choose active shore excursions such as hiking
  • Keep track of your calorie intake and exercise with a fitness tracker

Cruises are more health-focused than ever

“Cruising doesn't have to be synonymous with decadence,” says Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor at Cruise Critic. A seasoned cruiser, Adam says that he’s noticed cruise lines offering more in the way of health and fitness on their ships and excursions over the last few years. By making some simple changes, Adam says it’s easier than ever to maintain your waistline or even drop a few pounds.

“If you take advantage of your cruise as an opportunity to spend time in the gym, choose active shore excursions and make smart food decisions, you can actually lose weight on your next trip. With all of the wellness-focused offerings now found in cruise ship gyms, spas and restaurants, as well as ashore, it's never been easier to make smart decisions about keeping fit on a cruise.”

Make sensible food choices

Eating a healthy breakfast on a cruise


As well as offering more ways to stay active, cruise ships are doing their part to ensure there is plenty of choice when it comes to healthy food.

“Over the years, cruise lines have responded to requests for healthy choices by offering vegetarian, vegan, low-fat, gluten-free and sugar-free options in their main dining rooms – and there are now plenty more juice bars onboard too,” says Adam.

“Some lines have separate menus, and others mark dishes with symbols at each meal. As a result, there is more variety in these categories than ever before. In addition, you can always ask for regular menu dishes to be served without the heavy sauce or rich sides. On luxury lines, such as Seabourn and Silversea, you can also place orders in advance for your favourite healthy dishes.”

Although you’ll want to be mindful about what you’re eating, Welsh Mum of One blogger Christy says to make sure you enjoy yourself too. “My main tip would be to be conscious of what you're eating and when, as it is quite easy to over indulge on the sweet treats but to make sure you still enjoy yourself - everything in moderation!”

Christy also says another reason for not being too calorie-restrictive is excursions. “Quite often, port-heavy shore excursions and trips will really exhaust you, so you'll need those extra calories at the end of the day.”

Use the ship’s gym facilities

Of course, one of first things that spring to mind when keeping fit on a cruise is to use the gym facilities on offer. But if you think your cruise ship will just have a small gym with a few creaky machines and old equipment, you’ll be sorely mistaken!

“Increasingly, cruise lines are dedicating more space to their gyms, and outfitting them with state-of-the-art equipment,” says Adam. “You’ll often find Kinesis walls, Pilates reformers and fabulous cardio equipment with video screens attached.”

Sarah from Tammy Mum also recommends hitting the gym, especially if you want to keep up with your at-home fitness regime. “Cruise ships often have excellent gyms with great facilities, not to mention personal trainers and fitness classes. What’s more, access to the gym is usually free so you can keep up your usual exercise routine at no extra cost.

“On our first cruise we didn’t take our gym kit only to find we really missed keeping fit, especially whilst over indulging on an almost daily basis. We ended up buying an emergency gym kit at one of the ports. We always make sure to take our gym kit when cruising now!”

Try other on-board activities to keep fit

Mini golf on a cruise ship


If the gym isn't your cup of tea, you can always try out a number of other, new onboard innovations to make keeping fit fun, says Adam. Some of these include: “Flywheel indoor cycling classes on select Norwegian and Royal Caribbean ships or black-light spinning classes on Norwegian Breakaway.”

But that’s not all, says Adam. “Royal Caribbean's surf simulator will certainly help you to perfect your strength and balance as try and stay on the board; whilst rock-climbing walls are a great way to stretch while holding up your own weight as you make your way up. Dancing, fencing, swimming and minigolf onboard are also great ways to burn off the calories.”

Find space to do your own workouts

Prefer to work out in peace? Adam suggests finding and making use of space available on the cruise ship. “Use your room or the ship’s decks to practice yoga or do your cardio. Decks provide the perfect set-up for stretching as you can use the ship’s railings to help you warm up or even train to be more flexible.”

Racous By Nature blogger Rebecca also recommends getting out on the deck, particularly to make use of the running track. “Most cruise ships have some kind of running track, and there is nothing quite like a jog around it as the sun is coming up or going down with the sea sparkling all around you!”

If you still need a bit of motivating to get out there, Devon Mama blogger Hayley recommends taking part in your ship’s ‘deck trek’, which is a great socialising opportunity too. “Most cruise ships will run a daily walk around the deck which can be a fun way of keeping fit and meeting some of your fellow passengers.

“But if you don't fancy walking en masse, setting your own course to power walk around the top deck is just as easy. Plug in your headphones or grab one of your friends or family and get walking. The decks are absolutely huge and it's a great way to take it all in, do a bit of people watching and burn off some calories to make space for the next meal!”

Choose active shore excursions

Woman hiking on cruise excursion


“Pick excursions which were a bit more physically demanding,” says blogger Jessica from The Weekend Tourist. “For example, we did a two-hour hike through the Amazon rainforest, rather than just a bus ride."

Blogger Elle Croft agrees that one of the easiest ways to sneak exercise into your day is through excursions. “Although staying fit within the confines of a ship can be a challenge, once you disembark it's even easier! Choose shore excursions that include lots of walking or avoid the organised tours altogether and stroll around a new destination, taking in the sights and sounds at your own pace.”

Adam says that a great way to see the sights is through a bike ride. But no need to lug your own bike on board – a lot of cruise lines already offer bikes for this purpose. “Keeping fit certainly doesn’t need to be too hardcore! Several river cruise lines do in fact carry bikes onboard and offer cycling tours as an option in most ports.”

Track your fitness

If you’re particularly concerned about gaining weight during your trip or not getting enough exercise, Christy from Welsh Mum Of One recommends tracking your fitness. “To make sure you're getting in enough activity, take a fitness counter with you. Even most phones will offer an app so you don't necessarily need a special device.

“In my experience I haven't needed to hit the gym to stay extremely active on cruises and actually find them one of the best vacations for my fitness levels.

“At home, I rarely exceed 8,000 steps, but I found that on port-heavy days such as Rome and Athens I was exceeding 25,000 steps a day, and let's not talk about how many flights of stairs it was up to the Parthenon!”

As well as tracking the effort you are putting in on and off the ship, Christy says fitness trackers are great for giving you a nudge to ensure you meet your daily exercise goals. “If you want to squeeze more exercise in, go for a long stroll around the top deck, a run on the jogging track or swim laps if possible. You can also try to avoid the elevators and take the stairs when getting around the ship.”

Blogger Natasha from Seen in the City also agrees that making conscious decisions to take the stairs or go the ‘long’ way is a great way to ensure you hit your daily targets. “One of the best (and easiest) tips for staying fit on a cruise ship is to use the stairs instead of the elevators. You will be surprised at just how quickly the steps soon add up and you'll hit your daily target without even realising! This is a quick and easy tip that means you don't have to spend your time in the gym and will help to wear off those delicious cruise dinners!”

Whether you want to stick to your exercise routine or keep off the pounds during your cruise, with these tips in mind it’s sure to be a walk in the park. For more information about our cruises and destinations, get in touch today.

How to stay fit on a cruise | ROL Cruise

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