- Exercise: Almost all ships have extensive fitness centers--gyms well equipped with treadmills overlooking spectacular ocean views, free weights, aerobic steppers, and machines for every muscle, as well as free exercise classes or extra-fee specialty classes like Pilates. Take a good sense of humor to dance classes—whether graceful or awkward, guests bounce to the uplifting rhythms of salsa, swing, meringue, and two-step.
- Walk: Skip the elevator and take the stairs—it’s a good a workout for your legs. Explore the ship as you walk around its perimeter on the Promenade deck.
- Challenge yourself: New mega-ships have rock walls, ice skating rinks, zip lines, water slides, ropes course, and surfing simulators. Where else can you try a thrilling activity at no extra charge and with no penalty if you decide it’s not your cup of tea?
- Sports: Can’t get moving unless there’s a competition? Try participating in tournaments for ping-pong, miniature golf, and shuffleboard (okay, it is a tradition on ships but surprisingly fun). Work out in the swimming pool--some pools are designated “adults only,” and there are also pool games to indulge in if you don’t mind looking a bit silly.
- Shore excursions: It’s a great opportunity to prod yourself out of your comfort zone. Instead of taking a bus tour or staying onboard while in port, chose activities not on your usual agenda such as kayaking, snorkeling, or horseback riding. Buoyant water-based activities are perfect for guests with limited physical abilities, but activities are available for any fitness level.
6. Food choices: One of the benefits (or challenges) of cruising is round-the-clock eating opportunities, but buffets and dinners have gotten healthier. Cruising won’t be hazardous to your waistline if you select lower calorie, heart healthy options or vegetarian meals. Skip the bread basket and choose fruit over cheesecake for dessert. Avoid impromptu meals—chocolate buffets, ethnic food tastings, or afternoon snacks. That’s a good time for a walk.
- Relax: Kick back and read a book, play bridge or bingo, or attend an art auction. Expanding your mind is okay. Classes on cruises run the gamut from computers to art, music, or even napkin folding. Some ships offer galley tours or talks by on-board naturalists.
With more than 11 million North Americans cruising in 2011, according to Cruise Lines International Association, physical fitness is a lifestyle that ships are happy to accommodate. As prices fall below the $500 mark for seven day trips (even below $300 for four or five days in some markets), cruising is more affordable than ever--and you can return home in ship-shape condition.
Photos by Beverly Burmeier
Photos by Beverly Burmeier