3 Best cruise ships for fitness & staying healthy at sea

More than ping-pong and shuffleboard, today’s cruise ships offer exciting fitness pursuits plus, what most gyms don’t – amazing ocean views.

Vacationers tend to eat more and move less. Yet for those who wish to stay active during their voyage in a sea of food, several cruise ships offer low-calorie, sugar-free dishes and choices low in cholesterol, fat and sodium, in addition to impressive exercise experiences.

Exercising Carnival CruiseCarnival Cruise ( Each of Carnival’s 21 ships offers fitness centres, but four Destiny-class vessels boast a 15,000-square-foot, two-level facility for those cruising to St. Kitts or the Dominican Republic. Treadmills, stairmasters, stationary bikes, rowing machines, free weights and progressive resistance machines are state of the art. Aerobics rooms, where trained instructors lead a variety of exercise classes for different fitness levels, are bustling with passengers grooving to high or low impact step moves or blissing out downward dogging.

Gaming enthusiasts can pedal virtual cycling tours along mountain paths or voyagers can dance off inches at the disco. Runners can lap the padded outdoor jogging track then plunge into the amphitheatre-like pool, one of Destiny’s most popular features crowned by the winding, 214-ft.-long water slide. There is also a golf driving net and lessons available with a PGA pro through Carnival’s golf program.

In partnership with Shape and Men’s Health Magazine, Carnival hosts its annual Mind/Body Cruise in December. Departing from Key West, passengers sail to Belize and Cozumel. Cruisers can join cooking demonstrations and nutritional seminars on the effect foods have on mood or energy levels and the impact of vitamins, minerals and supplements. Fat burning body sculpting classes, yoga, meditation, Pilates and tai chi/qigong classes, Caribbean Cardio Dance, strength training, Shipshape Boot Camp and beginning Capoeria Martial Arts get vacationers ship shape before returning home re-energized mind, body and spirit.

Princess Cruises ( All ships have a fully-equipped Lotus Gym to keep passengers toned and in shape as well as personalized programs such as body composition analysis and a series of health and nutrition seminars. A diverse selection of group classes include: Step Xpress, Total Body Conditioning, KickboXpress, Aquarobics, Power Walk and Xpress Circuit, plus aerobic dance. Specialized classes such as yoga, Pilates, pulse cycling and KickBoXpress are available for a nominal fee, while shore excursions include cycling, hiking and walking tours.

Other on-board sporting activities include golf practice nets and simulators to get passengers in the swing putting and chipping. Sports courts offer volleyball and pick up games of basketball. The Teen Fitness Frenzy option helps keep younger cruisers active when away from their school gym with three boot camp classes and a customized metabolism test.

For water lovers, Princess’ New Waves program offers snorkeling classes and scuba tours for non-certified and certified divers on all seven-day cruises to the Caribbean. Swimmers can challenge their endurance against an adjustable, swim-against-the-current treadmill for a workout that can equal many laps in a full-size pool. With Princess’s land and sea itinerary, a workout can feel effortless yet effective with enough activities to keep any diet afloat.

Checking out the gym on Royal Caribbean CruiseRoyal Caribbean Cruises ( Royal’s Freedom line are famous for their ShipShape Centres, all of which feature first-rate equipment offered by major health clubs: weight machines, free weights, stationary spin bikes, stair steppers, rowers, treadmills, sauna, whirlpool, and steam room, plus a spectacular ocean view that extends for eternity. This ship’s impressive choice of fitness pursuits encompass the latest group exercise classes including Pilates, kickboxing, Bootcamp Xtreme Circuit, Salsamania, disco-inspired Night Klub indoor cycling, martial arts or aquamotion in one of its two Adventure Beach pools providing invigorating workouts.

Running routes at ports of call in Alaska, Asia, Bahamas, Bermuda, Europe, Mexico and South America satisfies any trail jogger, but guests can get an adrenaline rush like never before on board with Royal’s most amazing facility. The Sports Deck boasts an inline skating track, volleyball, rock climbing wall 200-feet above sea level, Flowrider, basketball court, golf simulator, full size boxing ring and a 9-hole mini golf course. For guests homesick for snow, Royal offers an ice-skating rink at sea. With experiences as tempting as the buffet, vacationers can break a sweat thinking about all the calorie-blasting choices.

Looking to book a cruise trip? Check out the Trip Builder where you can request a quote from over 104,000 travel agents who are ready to offer you the best prices on your trip.

Monique Savin
Monique Savin is a fitness journalist and Web editor. She is a contributor to The Globe and Mail. Sign-up for her weekly e-mail with fitness news, inspiration and deals. It’s free at


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