Ten things you can only do on a cruise

There are a bunch of travel activities that can be done on both land and at sea. We can play golf on land but sail to some of the world’s best courses by sea. We can dine at a fine restaurant on land and find similar experiences at sea.

But some things are available only on a cruise.

If those are good or bad things kind of depends on how you look at them.

  1. Unpack once, see several places. Unlike any other type of travel, once you make it to your cruise ship, you are home free. Your floating hotel will take you to multiple destinations with no flights, cabs, cars, trains or buses to catch to get there.
  2. Be a complete idiot. This is where you want to wear that bathing suit that doesn’t quite fit right, sing karaoke for the first time or try out your new pickup lines. Odds are you will never see any of the people you are sailing with ever again.
  3. Eat, non-stop, 24 hours a day on pretty much any cruise ship. Unlike real life, it is odd for there to NOT be food readily available all the time. What makes this unique to cruises is that you paid for it up front, so there is no charge as you belly-up to the buffet.
  4. Fall into the ocean. It is not easy to do but you could if you tried. This is also not something you should want to do. If the fall did not kill you, the eventual drowning that comes along with it will. While the height of your cruise ship may be similar to that cliff you saw someone jump off of on TV, what lies below is totally different.
  5. Learn something new– On-board enrichment programs cover everything from acting to dance lessons. In the ship’s fitness center, qualified trainers are standing by to help you get ready for your next mountain climbing expedition.
  6. Get Seasick but you almost have to want to be sick for that to happen. There are so many different ways to avoid motion discomfort that there are few reasons to experience it.
  7. Survive a pirate attack– If you are in the Indian Ocean, anywhere close to Somalia, you could be attacked by pirates. Major cruise lines don’t sail there anyway, especially since Seabourn Spirit had to outrun them.
  8. Save a lot of money- Dollar for dollar, cruise vacations stack up very nicely compared with land vacations. Compared with backpacking? Not so much. But compare a week at sea to a week in Vegas and you’ll get the idea.
  9. Get married at sea. It is different than getting married on land. First off, you won’t be driving off to your honeymoon with a “Just Married” sign on your car. Unlike a Vegas wedding, you’ll have a hard time finding Elvis to perform the ceremony too.
  10. Experience a day at sea This is probably one of the very best parts of a cruise vacation and surely one that separates cruises from all other travel options. Being completely surrounded by ocean, in all directions and as far as you can see, is a humbling experience everyone should have at least once. Odds are you will never see anything as big as the ocean that stretches to the end of the Earth.
Flickr photo by Stephen Birch

Top 10 Onboard Fitness Innovations for 2011

An evolving cruise industry is way more than a ride around the Caribbean, a 24/7 food fest, bingo and a generic 70’s Vegas-style show at night these days. Giant Oasis-class Royal Caribbean ships, the latest Dream-class from Carnival and an upcoming new Princess ship class have features that go far beyond what the tiny Love Boat of TV-fame had to offer. A focus on healthy living has gone from a basic, obligatory fitness center to ship-wide features, activities and programs both on and off the ship. Onboard gym innovations aimed to help keep guests fit at sea abound and travel agent network Cruise One has been keeping track of what the different lines have to offer.

“Back in the day, cruise travelers came home with more than souvenirs – taking a cruise usually meant bringing home an extra 10 pounds,” said Dwain Wall, Senior Vice President and General Manger of CruiseOne.

Gadling has reported on fitness and health at sea before with a focus on Carnival Cruise Lines new Carnival Magic to debut this May (and Gadling will be on board) with an exclusive Sports Zone that will will feature a SkyCourse, the first ropes course at sea and the first ever outdoor fitness area in the cruise industry. We talked about how Royal Caribbean is making fitness at sea a quiet priority, offering guests more healthy, active lifestyle options than ever before too.

According to CruiseOne, the “Top 10 Onboard Fitness Innovations for 2011” include many other lines as well.

Celebrity Cruises – Learn to Love the Gym
Guests who are uneasy about entering the gym can look for guidance with Celebrity Cruises’ “Help! I Don’t belong in a Gym” training sessions. Trainers will happily guide beginners through weight training and teach them how to use the various exercise equipment available onboard.

Crystal Cruises – Walk on Water (WOW)
Guests can take advantage of the line’s exclusive Walk-on-Water (WOW) program featuring the WALKVEST® Training System, a weighted vest that adds resistance to workouts, which can be utilized on the ships’ 360-degree promenade. The WALKVEST can be used with customized music-driven audiotapes, a day-by-day guided walking program, and educational instructions on how to walk safely and effectively on deck.

Seabourn – Walk in Water
Seabourn Sojourn offers a Kneipp Walk pool, a shallow, circular pool separated into regions of very warm and chilled water. When guests walk around the pool, the combination of changing pressures, temperatures and motion improves capillary circulation, aiding in the cleansing of toxins, increasing hormonal balance and reducing stress.


Carnival Cruise Lines – Cycling at Sea
Several Carnival ships feature “virtual bicycles” in which guests “tour” a variety of routes, including mountain pathways and snow-covered trails. Guests can choose a different course each day and depending on their fitness level, the routes chosen may be bicycling through highways, cross-country or even participating in the Tour de France.

Disney Cruise Line – Sports go Virtual
Parents and kids alike will enjoy Disney Dream’s Goofy’s Sports Deck, where Digital sports simulators are available, providing a variety of state-of-the-art virtual sports-gaming experiences that include soccer, golf, tennis and basketball. Thanks to realistic graphics and sounds, guests are invited to kick, swing, throw and compete in some of their favorite active sports while out at sea without the use of an actual ball.

MSC Cruises – Aurea SPA with Breathtaking Views
MSC Cruises’ unique signature Aurea SPA offers a variety of aerobic classes including step, Pilates, Latin dance, passive gymnastics, personal training and yoga. Guests will love the view in the sun-kissed exercise room onboard all MSC ships, which is suspended above the water.

Norwegian Cruise Line – Epic Fitness Firsts
Norwegian Epic itself has many firsts that take sports and fitness to a new level, including the first rappelling wall at sea and the only U.S. rated climbing wall afloat. The fitness center features an unprecedented 37 treadmills and 18 cross trainers; extensive weight equipment and free weight areas; stretching areas and four distinct aerobic studios. For those who enjoy group settings, Norwegian Epic has diverse fitness classes such as TRX and kettlebell training; yoga; Pilates; Activio® group cycling; Gravity® reformer; and body sculpting boot camp classes.

Oceania Cruises – Tip-Top Toes
Oceania offers specialized wellness services including Yamuna® Foot Fitness classes offering simple techniques that improve the alignment and flexibility of hard-working feet. Through the class, guests can re-educate healthy foot function, by restoring balance, strength and proper gait.

Princess Cruises – Core.Balance.Strength
Lotus Spa on Princess Cruises now offers guests an exclusive fitness program focusing on three vital components of balanced health called Core.Balance.Strength., which is designed to help guests maximize their wellness potential by focusing on these three fitness components, each with a series of corresponding classes.

Royal Caribbean International – Jogging through Innovation
Guests of Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest and most innovative ships, can jog their morning mile in the middle of the ocean, with breathtaking 360-degree views from the Sport Deck’s running track. The track winds through various areas of the ship, unlike many other onboard jogging offerings.

Whatever it is you do in your active, real life, be it hiking, cycling, walking, running or any number of assorted gym machines, there is something special about doing it on vacation in different surroundings. On a cruise you may get the opportunity to try you passion at multiple destinations, adding even greater depth to your experience. I go to the gym every morning and spend a lot of time on a treadmill. I do that on a cruise too but in front of me is not a bank of televisions or the other people I see at the gym each day. Instead I see any one of hundreds of cruise ports or the open sea, a totally different experience.

“Today’s travelers have asked for healthy and fun activities to choose from while onboard and the cruise lines have responded adds” CruiseOne’s Wall “The best part? Many of these offerings are included in the price of the cruise.”