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How to Stay Fit on Your Cruise

people working hard to stay fit in the gym onboard

Cruises are about relaxing by the pool, having your choice of drinks, and enjoying the buffet along with fine dining in the evenings. This is, of course, a disaster for any diet and exercise plans you may be on, as well as your waistline and possibly your health.

There is good news. Fitness centers and spas keep getting bigger, and on new builds are bigger than most gyms you’ll find on land. Most of these actually have a variety of fitness classes that can help you stay in shape while aboard, or introduce you to activities you might want to continue when you’re back on land. Cruisers who don’t really like gyms can find activities on board that are fun but help with fitness at the same time. Even older ships have received refurbishments that have added fitness friendly features.

Even if cruisers opt out of the gym or on board activities, there are still small simple things that will help you stay fit while you are on a cruise. Getting into the pool instead of just lounging beside it makes for simple low-stress exercise. And splashing your friends and family can be a lot of fun while you’re in the pool too. Opting for the stairs over the elevator on your way to the Lido Deck can help you burn off some calories, and if you keep it up the entire cruise you’ll have actually improved your cardiovascular health by the end.

However, neither gym nor activities will help very much if you totally ignore what you eat.

Your Friends and Enemies at the Buffet

windjammer buffet aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise

The single biggest obstacle to healthy eating on board a cruise ship is the buffet. At breakfast, it offers pancakes, french toast, omelets, and bacon that you can eat to your heart’s content (or detriment). You have your choice of pizzas and stir-fry at lunch. At dinner, the buffet comes with your choice of beef, pork, chicken, fish, or all of the above. With a similar choice to be exercised at the dessert cart. All of it coming complimentary with your cruise.

The one friend a fitness concerned cruiser has at the buffet, is the salad bar. We suggest you visit your friend first. Giving a portion of your plate over to fruits and veggies before hitting the entrée line leaves less space for the less healthy options. If you take your time eating and drink plenty of water when you sit down, you may find that a second trip isn’t necessary to fill you up. This also has the advantage of keeping you lighter, and ready for excursions rather than digesting.

Your other big enemy onboard is the poolside burger and hot dog eateries. On Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships, these are, respectively, Guy Fieri’s and Johnny Rockets. The former’s namesake being known as an enemy of all diet plans. A 1,000 calorie plus burger accompanied by fries and a milkshake may hit the spot (actually we think it will hit all of them, at once) but it’s not everyday eating, or, at least, it shouldn’t be. We’re not going to tell you any nonsense about choosing the veggie burger, but we’ll suggest you keep burgers and fries to a once or twice on your cruise treat instead of having it every day.

Keeping in Shape

Guys playing on sports deck on a Norwegian Cruise ship

If fitness is a priority consideration for you when you book your cruise then you’re in luck. Gyms and fitness equipment aboard are improving constantly. On many ships, you can expect to find outdoor jogging tracks, rope courses, and other activities areas that have a strong angle towards an active lifestyle and overall fitness.

Of the lines sailing out of Port Canaveral, Royal Caribbean has the best gyms by far. The Freedom of the Seas is the largest ship currently homeported at Canaveral, and it’s also the one with the largest fitness center at 9,700 square feet. The cardio machines each have personal LED screens to watch media on in case you get tired of looking out over the ocean. The ship’s offered fitness classes include spinning and Pilates. There is also a full-size boxing ring and all the training equipment needed to support a boxing match. When the Freedom of the Seas leaves in November of this year, it will be replaced by the Oasis of the Seas. An even larger vessel with a larger gym that has the same great features, plus gravity machines, kinesis walls, and expresso bikes.

The Oasis-class ships also have some of the best dance clubs on the high seas. If you’re the sort who doesn’t find getting a number counter on a treadmill higher to be a sufficient motivation—which describes most people actually—the dance floor is a great way to work up a sweat. The dance venues are varied from the modern club with throbbing beats to jazz and swing, so there is going to be something for everyone. Although you may need to look for it. Royal isn’t the only cruise line that offers dance classes and other activities that will keep cruisers moving. All of the other lines do offer more activities than just what is available in the gym too. Norwegian Cruise Lines is a great example.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships have some of the trendiest night spots afloat. Which is a great way to get moving, without the monotony of running on a treadmill, or grunting and lifting weights. It is the major cruise line that makes its nightlife a chief selling point as a part of its catering to its target demographic of early-twenty-year-olds to middle thirty-somethings.

Also, as a part of this appeal to younger adults is it’s roped courses. Essentially, on a ropes course, cruisers are strapped into a harness and turned loose on a jungle gym for grown-ups to get past the obstacles without falling. It’s a lot of fun, and a great workout too. Carnival has started installing rope courses aboard their ships as part of their Fun Ship 2.0 program. If gyms aren’t your cup of tea, then an exhilarating climb a few stories above the wave tops may very well be.

Another option for the fitness conscious cruiser is the sports deck. Carnival, Norwegian, and Disney cruise ships have them. Meaning that a game of basketball or soccer aboard can be arranged, and it’s a great way to keep fit. Although, we are at a loss to tell you what happens if a ball goes out of bounds. Royal Caribbean meanwhile has taken advantage of the enormous size of their newest ships to put things like ice skating rinks on board. Definitely, an excellent way to keep in shape.

Planning to Cruise Fit

Courtyard fitness center Lake Nona

A cruise doesn’t have to be the end of your diet or your fitness program. It is certainly a possibility, and temptations are everywhere when you cruise. With a little moderation, though, and only a slight effort to be more active on your cruise, you can guarantee that you’ll leave the ship fitting into the same pants you were wearing when you departed.

When planning your cruise, a Go Port package takes care of your accommodations with hotels near Port Canaveral and transportation needs. Many of Go Port’s hotel partners like the Residence Inn and Courtyard in Lake Nona feature best in class fitness centers. The Econo Lodge Port Canaveral Area actually features a full gym on site. When planning to cruise and stay fit while you travel consider a Go Port Fly Snooze Cruise, or Snooze Park Cruise to complete all your cruise vacations needs while you are ashore.

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