Here you will find all the general information on Fitness Cruises (schedule with lines, ships, departure dates, itineraries), as well as a review of the popular Weight-Loss Cruises. Enjoy our tips on how to not gain weight or to lose weight on cruise vacations. Read about healthy food options of the world's largest cruise companies.
Best Cruise Lines and Ships for Fitness
Contemporary cruise vessels have the reputation for top indulgence but are also excellent for losing weight - if you resist the free-food temptation, consume low-calorie food and exercise on board. Passenger liners have state-of-the-art fitness facilities and onboard gymnasiums often rival successfully the land-based gyms - adding the extra of ocean views.
Follows our choice of best for fitness cruise lines and ships.
- Carnival Cruise Lines large ships offer top-deck located SportSquares (outdoor) in addition to their indoor gyms. SportSquares feature jogging tracks, ropes courses, outdoor exercise machines. Newest ships have Skyride (bike ride / peddled roller coaster) and SkyFitness (outdoor gym).
- Celebrity Cruises ships have some of the best gyms and spas at sea, also offer Gravity Reformer classes (you "drive" a glide board by using your own weight) and various Zumba classes (included in-pool Aqua Zumba).
- Crystal Cruises (on select voyages) offer master-led Tai Chi classes, PGA-pro golf classes, "Walk on Water" / WOW program (burn calories by walking for resistance with weighted vest), "Mind, Body and Spirit" themed cruises (workout with guest speakers and instructors).
- Norwegian Cruise Line on its newest ships, offer full-size basketball courts, climbing cages, Spider Web, rappelling walls, indoor bungee trampolines, TRX Suspension training, spinning classes, interactive Nexersys workouts against avatars.
- Princess Cruises was the first to offer Zumba at sea, with several classes per voyage. Shipboard fitness options include Tour de Cycle (spinning course), Suspension TRX classes, jogging workouts (outdoor tracks / newest ships are with 2 lanes).
- Royal Caribbean International ships offer numerous fitness-themed amenities - rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, surf simulators, huge gyms (Technogym equipment, Kinesis Walls), even boxing rings and classes.
- Cunard ships offer resistance workouts (walking around deck with weighted vest), stretching, lawn bowling, fencing lessons.
- Seabourn ships offer private sessions and sports classes, premium gyms ((Kinesis Wall), drop-down marina platform for complimentary watersports (sailing, sea kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, water aerobics).
- Silversea launched a collection of wellness cruises in Asia, Australia, Oceania, Africa, and the Indian Ocean. Silversea partnered with Technogym to create a complimentary program with spa treatments, yoga, Pilates, fitness classes, cooking demonstrations, lectures on healthy nutrition, personal trainer-led gym sessions.
- Windstar ships have great gyms but the focus is on water activities using watersports platforms (waterskiing, windsurfing, water trampoline, sea kayaking).
MSC Cruises offers "Wellness Experience" via a partnership with TechnoGym fleetwide.
- The experience is all-inclusive (if chosen upon booking) and begins pre-cruise with a questionnaire determining participant's specific goals. Then it targets all healthy lifestyle aspects - from exercise and dining to weight loss. Additionally, onboard is provided a one-time consultation with a personal trainer.
- Extra training sessions are for a fee).
- The all-inclusive cruise program includes sports-themed shore excursions (jogging, hiking), fitness classes (hula dance workouts, barre, yoga, Pilates, cycling), in-cabin equipment resistance bands, workout mat), TechnoGym workout gear, laundry for exercise clothing; healthy food items in dining room menus and buffets (separate healthy menu), medical evaluation with ship's doctor (testing blood pressure, performing EKG and lipid profiling), access to TechnoGym's mywellnessapp.
- The Wellness Experience is between all 5 inclusive packages available for booking.
- Prices start from around USD 950 per person (7-night itinerary).
Note: In the following table, all links are internal (CruiseMapper) redirecting to the ship’s itinerary schedule where you can compare dates and prices per person (double occupancy rates).
- Radiance of the Seas "Great Alaskan Running Cruise" 7-day Alaska, visiting Anchorage, Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway
- Mariner of the Seas "World's Ultimate Fitness Cruise" 5-day round-trip from Miami to the Bahamas, visiting Nassau and CocoCay.
- Symphony of the Seas "Caribbean Running Cruise" 7-day Caribbean from Miami FL
- Oasis of the Seas "The Bereavement Cruise" 7-day Western Caribbean
Various ships and departures by the "MSC Wellness Experience - Powered By Technogym" program.
Backroads (tour operator)
- Le Laperouse "New Zealand Ocean Cruise Multi-Adventure Tour" (-) 9-day New Zealand
- Le Boreal / Le Soleal "Antarctica Ocean Cruise Multi-Adventure Tour" (-) 10-day Antarctica
- Le Laperouse / Le Boreal / Le Soleal "Japan Ocean Cruise Walking & Hiking Tour" (-) 8-day Japan
- Le Lyrial "Venice to Croatia Ocean Cruise Bike Tour" (-) 7-day the Adriatic Sea
- Galapagos Legend "Galapagos Ocean Cruise Multi-Adventure Tour" (-) 7-day Galapagos Islands
- Safari Explorer "Alaska Ocean Cruise Multi-Adventure Tour" (-) 7-day Alaska
- Safari Voyager "Costa Rica & Panama Ocean Cruise Multi-Adventure Tour" (-) 8-day Costa Rica & Panama
River cruise lines Sports-themed Cruises
- Avalon Impression "Avalon Active Discovery River Cruises" (-) 9-day Danube River
Uniworld (super ships)
- SS Antoinette "Rhine River Cruise Biking" (-) 7-day Rhine River
- SS Beatrice - "Danube River Cruise Biking" (-) 7-day Danube River from Passau to Budapest
Healthy eating habits can be easily maintained on weight loss cruises. There are two ways to lose weight on cruise vacations - participating in group activities (pre-scheduled) and eat healthily. Weight loss cruise ship programs provide in-demand activities and often feature high-powered celebrities.
Weight loss groups receive dietary support from onboard nutritionists who conduct seminars on healthy living. Passengers enjoy healthy dining options via a complete menu prepared with attention to nutritional value and taste. Kitchen (galley) staff answers the most special diet requests:
Health and fitness on weight loss cruise travel vacation (tips)
Fitness activities and onboard exercises on weight loss-themed voyages help (and can upgrade) personal weight loss programs. Shipboard exercises include aerobics, yoga, tai-chi, jogging, deck walks, special exercise programs, water aerobics, special spa treatments, pedometer tour walks (ashore).
- Before the voyage is good to contact dietitian to help you establish personal food guidelines and dietary goals.
- Request an online or printed food template for tracking food consumption.
- Book the cruise through your group. It's cheaper as the group's coordinator can get group discount fares.
- Confirm weight loss dining plans and special fares if you book through cruise company websites.
- Weight loss themed cruise activities include exercise classes (held all day), wellness lectures, healthy cooking demonstrations, exclusive access to special meals (excluded from regular onboard menus).
- Shore excursion options include day trips for biking, horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, climbing, rafting.
The phenomenon of gaining weight while on cruises is well-known and depressing. Ship travel vacations are also food traps as passengers tend to lose control and overeat. Culinary displays, and all-inclusive buffet and fast-food are not easy to resist.
To lose weight on cruises is another challenge. Most cruise shipping companies now provide more onboard activities and healthier menus - thanks to highly-trained chefs, food is delicious and you can actually lose weight. Industry's largest companies - Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL)- attract customers with most-innovative ships, but also with shipboard dining changes to meet the market's demands. Both corporations introduced low-cal and low-fat (still delicious) diet menus, more active excursions, free workouts.
- On the ship, you can eat for free at the main dining rooms and the Lido buffet. Choosing the buffet is a bad option for losing weight and a great one for gaining weight - think of heavy cream salads, pizzas, heavy desserts. Dining rooms always have low-calorie items. Choose one starter, one salad, main course, and dessert. Each menu section has at least one low-calorie item. You can also ask for modifications.
- After dining, take a deck walk to burn some calories - Promenade and upper decks also offer the best ocean views. You walk miles without noticing.
- Between decks take the stairs instead of elevators - this little change really helps to lose weight on a cruise.
- Stay away from beers, frozens, creamy drinks. Ask for their diet versions of mixed drinks. If you really have to drink beer, drink draft beers (no preservatives).
- Eat fruits, fiber, and cheese on breakfast instead of pancakes and eggs. Start lunch with water and salad before the buffet. Drink diet soda, or better-iced tea. Add some pizza to the drinks with fruit punch or lemonade.
- Ship's gym (also complimentary) is the best way to lose weight. Indoor gym equipment usually includes free weights and weight machines, treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes, steppers, rowing machines. Use the gym on schedule - and stick to it. Gyms are open between 6-8 am and 8-10 pm (depending on line/boat). To avoid congestion, the best workout times are morning, mid-day, before dinner and before closing (also during port stay). Sports classes are priced around USD 10-15 pp (yoga, aerobics, pilates, tai-chi, spinning). Free classes and seminars are also offered. Visit ship’s Information Desk to find out freebies in the list of weekly activities.
- Book at least one shore excursion with mild or heavy activity. Try kayaking and bike riding - enjoy the new scenery while losing weight ashore. Intense walking and even shopping is a good workout in ports of call!
- If you want free water, trek to the dining area - and repeat until not thirsty. Hydration is of great importance to weight loss.
- Participate in shipboard sports contests, play deck games, enjoy disco's / lounge's dance parties.
Healthy food on cruise ships
No doubt, food on vacation is of great importance. When you're onboard you rely on ship’s culinary team for nutritious meals to get you moving on tours and excursions. For those who have chosen a meat-free lifestyle or who medically have to avoid fast foods, cruise ship food used to be challenging. Cruise lines quickly reacted to increase healthy food options onboard their vessels. Almost all cruise lines also provide vegetarian and vegan food options on their ship menus.
- Celebrity Cruises offers “Lean and Light” menu options on lunches and dinners. Onboard healthy food menu items have less than 30% calories from fat, set by the American Cancer Society (cancer.org) and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (eatright.org). Among such menu items are tender steamed vegetables, rack of veal, special desserts. Since 2014, Celebrity ships offer SPE certified food options. SPE examines nutrition, taste, portion size.
- Norwegian Cruise Line partnered with Cooking Light magazine for healthy lifestyle recipes on NCL ship menus.
- Royal Caribbean has a “Vitality” menu with 3 courses of less than 800 calories. An example is the double-cut slow-roasted pork loin steak (298 calories).
- Holland America was the first to announce (in 2012) its vegetarian-only menu (also with vegan meals) available for lunch and dinner in the main dining rooms. After advertising the menu, HAL added 30 new vegetarian dishes and more vegetarian options to the Lido lunch buffet.
- All luxury cruise brands offer Spa menus with lighter fare. Oceania, Cunard, and RSSC-Regent have Spa treatment menus by Canyon Ranch - renowned brand providing exclusive spa services at sea. Their healthy cruise food menus gave balanced meals with more fiber and protein.
How to NOT Gain Weight on a Cruise (tips)
On all cruise ships, meals are ticket price-inclusive - which ranks cruise travel among the most gaining weight risky. The all-inclusive shipboard food options include buffets, sit-down meals, room service, snacks, and fast-food bars. Ships also provide complimentary exercise classes and gyms to counteract calories.
- Plan your meals.
- On formal nights have low-fat breakfast and light lunch.
- Most ships post evening menus at lunchtime - read it before lunch.
- Don't forget the alcohol calories.
- Limit wine, beer, cocktails, order spirits diet mixers.
- Avoid bar snacks and salty foods.
- At lunchtime, stay away from poolside bars (hot dogs, burgers, chips).
- Drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated.
- Special workout CLOTHES for your trip are a good packing tip - after you've devoted valuable luggage space to fitness routine chances to workout on the ship are way better.
- Active shore excursions are better than passive ACTIVITIES (like bingo, quizzes or trivia). Select a bicycle tour over bus sightseeing hiking over beach day. Add your own activities to passive excursions- half hour beach walk before the sun lounger is a good tip. When weather permits, walking or jogging on Sports Deck while enjoying the sea view is a must.
- Some great MEALS are with high-calorie accompaniments or heavy sauces - leave off sauces and salad dressings and substitute them with side dishes. Eat light breakfast, resist sugary treats.
- Cruise ship swimming pools are crowded during the day. Early morning is the best time for a swim or water aerobics.
- Dancing at the lounge or nightclub is also an exercise. Take dance lessons (salsa, ballroom, tango, waltz, samba) to practice some new moves - and to meet new people.
- Ship's sports deck has half- of a full-size court (basketball/volleyball/tennis), shuffleboard, paddle tennis, mini-golf course golf simulators (driving range), even bocce court, croquet, and bowls. Royal Caribbean ships have rock-climbing walls and surf simulators - both complimentary, with the equipment being provided.
- Largest river cruise lines offer on their boats complimentary bicycles (even electric bikes) on all excursions, and even on private tours.
An innovative floating gym on Seine River (Paris France) uses human energy for scenic (and healthy) river cruising.
Italian architects invented a new vessel design for a floating gym room powered by human energy. The 20-m (66 ft) long "Paris Navigating Gym" ship is powered by all twelve ARTIS machines (professional Technogym exercise equipment) harvesting power generated by the humans exercising inside.
The boat's transparent bubble design is based on the popular Bateaux Mouches tour boats used for passenger ferry shipping on River Seine since the early 20th century. The "Human-Powered Floating Gym" project was developed via a partnership between Technogym, Terreform ONE (ecological design, nonprofit organization) and URBEM SA (research and investment company). Technogym's ARTIS bikes and cross trainers power the unique riverboat by using the electricity generated by the gym-goers inside.
Generally speaking, river cruise ship gyms are something quite rare, and when available - usually smaller as both room size and a number of machines. Still, fitness addicts may find them onboard many new-generation riverboats in the fleets of Viking, Uniworld, AMAwaterways. Each of Avalon Waterways' newer ships has not large gym room but provides enough equipment to help guests have a decent workout. On Danube River, Avalon cruise ships often operate sports-themed "Wellness European River Cruise" itineraries, featuring healthy lifestyle lectures and special outdoor (top deck) classes.