Fitness A Popular Travel Option Says Survey, Cruise Lines

Fitness centers have been a standard amenity at hotels, resorts and on cruise ships for quite some time. Used or not, those facilities boast some of the latest equipment along with programs designed to maintain physical fitness on the road. Results of a new survey suggest a growing variety of reasons to work out while traveling, something cruise lines know all too well.

“Among those that exercise on vacation, 31% say their primary motivation is to maintain their fitness regimen,” says Travel Daily News reporting results of a TripAdvisor survey of 1,400 travelers. “A further 28% do so in order to avoid gaining weight, while the third most popular reason for exercising on holiday is to capitalize on having more free time to work out (14%).”

That’s no news to cruise lines that remain focused on adding healthy travel and fitness options. In an ongoing effort to move away from endless buffets where lifting a fork might be the only exercise their passengers engage in, things are changing. It’s those last two reasons, “avoiding weight gain” and “using free time,” that have cruise lines scrambling to add the latest features to ships.Carnival Breeze, the latest ship from Carnival Cruise Lines, features a SportSquare Sky Fitness Center with two ropes courses, a multi-purpose sports court for basketball, volleyball and soccer, a two-level mini-golf course, in addition to all the latest fitness equipment.

Passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas can jog their morning mile against 360-degree ocean views from the ship’s Sport Deck running track. The line’s fleet-wide Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness neighborhood supports a healthy lifestyle, combining the latest in aesthetic skin treatments, traditional spa services and workout programs. Last year, Royal Caribbean invited guests to participate in the line’s first “Royal 5K St Maarten run,” now an annual event.

Under construction now for a June 2013 debut, Princess Cruises latest ship, Royal Princess will have features that directly reflect an increased interest in fitness by cruise passengers.

“Many of our passengers are very active on vacation,” said Jan Swartz, executive vice president for Princess Cruises. “These new facilities will offer them state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge classes to keep up – or even step up – their fitness routines at sea.”

To make that happen, Princess Cruises is adding a private aerobics studio that will host a selection of fitness classes, including TRX Suspension Training, MyRide indoor cycling, a Body Sculpt Boot Camp and Chi Ball Yoga.

Like other lines, Princess is also adding a top-deck sports court called Princess Sports Central, offering a collection of court games, lawn activities (they will have grass growing there), basketball, tennis, volleyball, badminton and a batting cage. Golfers will find a driving range facility, and a simulated laser shooting range offers a new onboard activity.

“While most Americans will spend at least some of their vacation relaxing, many now balance their fun with fitness, as TripAdvisor’s survey shows that a significant number of travelers also prioritize personal health on their trips,” said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications at TripAdvisor.

Responding to the call, fitness experts are focusing on short, easy workouts designed with the traveler in mind, with or without fitness facilities available like this TRX suspension trainer that fits in a suitcase and provides a total-body workout:

[Photo: Princess Cruises]

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.”

Royal Caribbean making fitness at sea a quiet priority

They don’t talk about it much. On board, they have all the usual decadent food delights we associate with a cruise and it’s still possible to do absolutely nothing for your entire vacation. But in the background, just a step or two away from the spotlight, Royal Caribbean is offering guests more healthy, active lifestyle options than ever before.

A special program called “Royal Life”, is being offered on an upcoming sailing of Vision of the Seas. The program features an intense schedule of sports and fitness activities with a focus on nutrition. Sailing February 5, the program features activities such as spinning classes, rhythms, hydro bike and pilates. Yoga, both on the ship and on the beach is featured plus kids yoga and contests for families.

A featuring fitness is nothing new for Royal Caribbean who last month hosted a 5K run on St Maarten aboard Allure of the Seas. Rainy weather kept that one out of the headlines but the line keeps offering active options for guests.

On-board fitness programming is highlighted by their signature rock-climbing wall on all ships. Ice skating rinks, Flow-rider surf simulators and full-size basketball courts on some ships grab the attention of guests too. But the line’s keen interest in fitness and a health runs much deeper, weaving its way through everything from their Adventure Ocean kids program to on-board culinary options.

In the dining room, Healthy spa menus, Vegetarian Meals (including Indian-style vegetarian) are available as well as in the Windjammer Cafe buffet every day. Lactose-free/soy milk and other special dietary request meals are available with advance notice prior to sailing.

Also included on all ships is a fitness center that rivals membership-only facilities on land with all the latest equipment and knowledgeable crew members standing by to help. Classes typically offered include aerobics, resistance training, cycling, an aqua program water-workout and more.

It’s almost as though all these options have been secretly planted in all they do. They’re just waiting for much of the world to wake up from fast-food meals, couch-potato evenings and a general lack of interest in healthy choices. When they do, Royal Caribbean will be there with programs in place for just about everyone.

Flickr photo by naama