Fitness A Popular Travel Option Says Survey, Cruise Lines

fitnessFitness 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.

fitness“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]

Rescue By Cruise Ship Not A Happy Event

We might think that being rescued by a cruise ship, after floating in the ocean for days or weeks, would be a good thing. Cuban refugees, commonly found on or close to routes traveled by cruise ships, are brought aboard to be cared for. Cheering passengers feel good about it all but for the refugees, a hot meal on a cruise ship is about the last thing in the world they want.

It’s called the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy that allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil on their own to take a fast track to permanent residency. But if they get picked up by a helpful cruise ship, they most likely go back to Cuba.

“The cruise line usually takes them on the ship, calls the U.S. Coast Guard who sails out to the scene, and the Coast Guard processes the refugees and sails them back to Cuba where they end up in Castro’s jails,” says maritime attorney James Walker on his CruiseLawNews website.

Friday night, some floating refugees apparently knew all about the Wet Foot, Dry Foot policy, refusing to be rescued by Royal Caribbean’s giant Oasis of the Seas. On board was our friend @NomadicMatt who tweeted, “Our cruise ship just stopped to help rescue Cuban refugees in raft that was stranded at sea.”But it did not take long for refugees to take on food and water then continue on their way, trying to leave before the U.S. Coast Guard arrived.

“There is a lot of yelling on the raft and at times they look like they are trying to get away as they know the coast guard was called,” tweeted @NomadicMatt.

Odds are, the Coast Guard found the refugees, picked them up and will send them back to Cuba. But in the cover of night, they might have eluded authorities and made it to shore on their own.

“Let’s hope the winds and currents and the grace of God bring the refugees ashore tonight and they plant their feet on U.S. soil and can begin free lives here in America,” concluded Walker.

[Flickr photo by TarikB]


Cubans Rescued from Adrift Raft