Even if you have the best intentions of taking advantage of the gyms, fitness classes, and running tracks you'll find on most cruise ships, only the most disciplined among us can keep their workout routines going when there are so many other ways to spend a seaday. Our solution? Trick yourself into exercising so you can get a workout without realizing it. Here are the best ways to break a sweat on board while having fun:
1. Royal Caribbean
Best Workouts: Ice/roller-skating, rock walls, surfing, skydiving, boxing, basketball, volleyball.
Royal Caribbean’s innovations in active onboard entertainment have been a game changer in the industry, inspiring other lines to keep the pace or get left behind. If you’ve always told yourself you would learn how to surf one day, cross it off your list with Royal Caribbean’s trademark surfing simulator, the FlowRider. Royal was also the first line to feature onboard rock walls, and they were so popular they were added to every ship in the fleet.
Want to get a little airborne during your workout? Take some flying trapeze lessons or sign up for the RipCord, a skydiving simulator that will make you use muscles you didn't know you had. If the thought of falling in front of dozens of onlookers on the rock wall or trapeze is a bit too much to handle, Quantum-class ships also come with a full-size Everlast boxing ring where you can sign up for 30 minute training sessions (or an hour if you really want to feel the burn).
While many of their offerings are high-activity level, cruisers looking for a more gentle workout can strap on a pair of skates on their ice-skating rinks, or the roller-skating rinks at the SeaPlex on Quantum-class ships.
Featured On: FlowRider on all Quantum, Oasis, Freedom and Voyager-class ships, Boxing Rings, trapeze school, and roller-skating on Quantum-class ships.
2. Norwegian Cruise Line
Best Workouts: Ropes course, rock walls, Fight Klub, Rockette dancing.
Obstacle courses are for fun, not exercise. Try telling that to your body as you ascend Norwegian's massive multi-level ropes course, testing your balance on 40 different challenging elements, then testing your nerves as you walk to the end of a 7-foot plank that extends over the side of the ship.
You can also learn how to throw a proper punch at the Freestyle Fight Klub, a combination of Nexersys workouts and cardio boxing with heavy bag training. If you’re more of a dancer rather than a fighter, sign up for the Rockettes dancing class on Norwegian Breakaway. On select Norwegian Breakaway cruises, they’re even taught by two Rockettes!
Featured On: Ropes course on Norwegian Breakaway, Getaway and Escape, Fight Klub on all Breakaway-class ships, Rockettes class on Norwegian Breakaway, rock walls on Breakaway-class ships, plus Norwegian Epic, Pearl, and Gem.
3. Carnival Cruise Lines
Best Workouts: Ropes course, dodgeball, basketball, and volleyball.
Carnival’s SkyCourse isn’t quite as elaborate as Norwegian’s, but it will still get your heart racing. It’s made up of 8 sections, each of which is divided into two bridges with different degrees of difficulty. For a true test, see how fast you can complete the whole course.
If heights just aren’t your thing, Carnival’s sports course has a wide offering of team sports. Basketball and volleyball tend to be the most popular, but there’s also dodgeball if you're feeling nostalgic for your days of gym-class glory.
Featured On: Sports courts on Carnival Breeze, Magic, Sunshine, Liberty, and Vista. SkyCourse on Carnival Breeze, Magic, Sunshine, and Vista.
4. Cunard Line
Best Workouts: Ballroom and Latin dancing, fencing, and tennis.
Cunard is generally known as the line for more mature and refined cruisers, and while you won’t find the basketball courts or rock walls of the mega-ships, they offer a surprising number of exciting, educational, and physically demanding classes. Their ballroom and Latin dance classes are an extremely popular option, and a great way to brush up on your moves before formal nights.
In true English fashion, cruisers with two left feet can try their hand with the only foil fencing program at sea. Classes were organized by Leon Paul Fencing Equipment, a world-renowned fencing family. There’s also a small tennis court on the top deck if you want to practice your backhand.
Featured on: All Cunard Ships.
5. In Port
Best Workouts: Kayaking, bike tours, snorkeling, hiking.
Don’t see your favorite cruise line on this list? Don’t worry, you can still burn up some of those carbs from last night’s dinner off the ship while doing your daily sightseeing in port. Most Caribbean ports will offer snorkeling for an easy way to get your body moving, and bike tours are a great way to explore European river ports.
Headed to Alaska? Kayaking tours are a great way to see hard to reach sights while getting an upper-body workout, and there’s no shortage of nature walks and hikes with varying degrees of activity.