Fitness-minded cruisers have a bounty of options these days, as cruise lines continue to get more innovative with their health and wellness offerings. Even those who aren't overly active can find more subdued ways to loosen up their muscles. Whether you're a gym junkie, sporadic exerciser, casual walker or wellness enthusiast, a cruise can offer just as invigorating of a workout as what you'd find back home.
In addition to cutting-edge workouts like Kinesis, TRX suspension training and kick-boxing at sea, many cruise lines have fitness trainers onboard to help you strategize a fitness plan. Also popular are group classes such as yoga, Pilates and spinning (these often come with a fee). The good thing about staying fit on a cruise is that you don't have to keep your "serious face" on. Activities like scaling a ropes course, rock climbing and pickup games in the sports court allow you to burn calories while having fun.
If you really want your cruise to be all about burning calories, though, choose a fitness-related theme cruise focused on activities like running and biking.
Learn where -- and how -- you can stay in shape at sea, with our roundup of the best cruises for fitness.
- Best Onboard Gym: MSC Cruises
- Best Top-Deck Activities: Norwegian Cruise Line
- Most Holistic: Seabourn Cruise Line
- Best for Walking: Crystal Cruises
- Best Running Track: Viking Ocean Cruises
- Best for Dancing: Cunard
- Best Fitness Classes: Norwegian Cruise Line
- Best for Cycling: AmaWaterways
- Best for Water Sports: Windstar Cruises
- Best for Gym-Haters: Royal Caribbean
- Most Active Shore Excursions: Lindblad Expeditions
Best Onboard Gym: MSC Cruises
Through a partnership with acclaimed fitness equipment manufacturer, Technogym, MSC has developed one of the most well-designed fitness centers at sea, but it's only on MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview. The ship's gym is stocked with high-tech and innovative weight machines, resistance equipment, rowers, a heavy bag and gymnastics rings, and various cardio machines including treadmills, ellipticals and exercise, recumbent and spin bikes. Exercise mats, water balls from 6 to 15 pounds and free weights are also available for use.
Perhaps even more than the variety of equipment, though, we love the gym's thoughtful layout, which includes a vast amount of open space. It feels far from cluttered and allows for plenty of room to do stretches and body weight movements like lunges, pushups and burpees. The gym also has an aerobics studio that hosts classes such as yoga, spinning and Thai boxing.
Best Top-Deck Activities: Norwegian Cruise Line
On Norwegian Breakaway, Getaway, Escape and Bliss, working out comes with a reward: breathtaking views from the top of the ship. The ships are all home to the largest ropes courses at sea (Escape and Bliss have the most obstacles) -- with adrenaline-pumping features running the gamut from suspension bridges to sky rails (akin to mini-ziplines). You can also walk "The Plank," a narrow beam that juts out over the side of the ship. Elsewhere on the top deck, passengers can enjoy a sports court and rock climbing wall. (Video:
Most Holistic: Seabourn Cruise Line
Celebrity author and guru of alternative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil is the brains behind Seabourn's extensive wellness program. On all of the line's ships, passengers can enjoy daily meditation and themed yoga classes that range from enhancing creativity and mental focus to targeting specific concerns, such as headaches, body alignment and joint and back pain. Classes are complemented by seminars on topics such as Spontaneous Happiness Spontaneous Healing (adapted from Dr. Weil's best-selling books), anti-inflammatory foods and healthy aging. All classes and seminars have been developed by Dr. Weil and Seabourn's spa team.
Best for Walking: Crystal Cruises
No cruise line makes more use of its ships' wraparound promenades than Crystal, offering two innovative programs for walkers. The first, called Walk on Water (WOW), is a fitness program designed exclusively for Crystal. The program utilizes cotton vests that have pockets for weights, so walkers can increase their resistance training when striding around the promenade deck.
Our Favorite Things Aboard Viking Venus
Wonder of the Seas Construction Update: Sea Trials
Wonder of the Seas Completes Sea Trials
Cruise Critic 2021: Cheers to 25 Years!
NCL's Restart: What It's Like On The First Norwegian Cruise Ship Back in 16 Months
Here's What It's Like Onboard the First Large Cruise Ship to Alaska in 21 Months
Perfect Day at CocoCay: Here's How We Spent 2 DAYS at Royal Caribbean's Private Island
Freedom of the Seas: What's It Like Onboard a Test Cruise? (Cruise Critic & Royal Caribbean Blog
Live From Adventure of the Seas: What's the Same, What's Different and What's Better?
Here's What We Packed For Our Royal Caribbean Cruise (June 2021)
5 Reasons MSC Cruises' Yacht Club Is Worth The Splurge
The Most Exciting New Ships In 2021
5 Crazy Cruise Deck Attractions For the Adrenaline Junkie
Celebrity to Restart from U.S. Homeport, PLUS Royal Caribbean Given Green Light for Test Cruises!
MSC Virtuosa Ship Tour: What It's Like Onboard MSC's Newest Ship (May 2021)
LIVE From MSC Virtuosa! Embarkation, the Buffet, COVID Protocols and MORE!
LIVE Interview with Frank Del Rio, NCLH President and CEO, About Company's "Safe to Sail" Campaign
Odyssey of the Seas -- From Steel Cutting to Delivery 2021
Video Of Odyssey Of The Seas Conveyance March 2021
Video Q&A With MSC Grandiosa's Hotel Director, Giuseppe Pane
Royal Caribbean Group Announces E-muster, Keyless Cabin Check-in And Other App Improvements
Drone Footage Of MSC Grandiosa Docked In Genoa For First Sailing Since The COVID-19 Pandemic
MSC Cruises - Smart Future Of Guest Experiences
Silver Cove At Norwegian Cruise Line's Great Stirrup Cay
Norwegian Encore - Hull Art Reveal - Artist Eduardo Arranz Bravo
First Look At MSC Bellissima
Royal Caribbean Odyssey Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft
Shipyard Tour: Royal Caribbean’s Symphony Of The Seas Gets Its Finishing Touches -- Video
Norwegian Bliss Virtual Tour - Why You Should Be Excited About Norwegian's Newest Ship
Harmony Of The Seas Video Tour – Inside Look At One Of Royal Caribbean’s Most Popular Cruise Ships
MSC Seaside Video Tour – An Inside Look At MSC's Cruise Ship
Symphony Of The Seas Video Tour
Live From MSC Seaside: A Cruise Ship Designed For The Outdoors
Norwegian Breakaway Photo Tour
Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum Of The Seas Celebrates Keel Laying
Sea Beyond: An Innovative Cruise Experience By Royal Caribbean
Sneak Peak At Symphony Of The Seas
The Waterfront On Norwegian Cruise Line - Video
Cruise Embarkation Tips: What NOT To Do On Your First Day
What’s Your Size? Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class Vs. Majesty Of The Seas - Video
Norwegian Getaway Photo Tour
Best Spots For Adults On A Disney Cruise Ship
Inside Look: The Haven On Norwegian Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean's Oasis Of The Seas Photo Tour
MSC Meraviglia Dining Guide
Spectrum Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft
MSC Meraviglia Ship Tour
Royal Caribbean's Enchantment Of The Seas Highlights
Inside Cabins On Cruise Ships: Whose Is Best?
Norwegian Escape's Ropes Course - Are You Brave Enough?
Inside Look at Norwegian Sky In Cuba
Norwegian Escape Attractions - 7 Free Things You Have To Try - Video Tour
The Himalayan Bridge On MSC Meraviglia - Ropes Course POV Video
4 Exclusive Spots On Norwegian Escape - Video Tour
Harvest Caye Cruise Port Video Tour
Pictures of MSC Seaside: Before and After
Norwegian Escape Photo Tour
Photo Tour of Royal Caribbean's Allure Of The Seas
What It Means To Be Loyal To Royal
7 Can’t-Miss Experiences on Allure Of The Seas
Video Tour of Allure Of The Seas' Bars
Harmony Of The Seas Youth Place
Harmony Of The Seas Pool And Sports Zone
Harmony Of The Seas Central Park On Royal Caribbean International
Harmony Of The Seas Boardwalk
Harmony Of The Seas Royal Promenade
Harmony Of The Seas Entertainment Place
Harmony Of The Seas Vitality Spa And Fitness Center
Perfect Storm Water Slides On Harmony Of The Seas
Cruise Critic Tours Harmony Of The Seas
Harmony Of The Seas Cabins - Video Tour - Cruise Critic
Cruise Critic Tours Harmony Of The Seas
Cruise Critic Tries The Ultimate Abyss Slide On Harmony Of The Seas (POV Video)
Greased Lightnin': Royal Caribbean Brings Another Broadway Hit
Plunging Into Adventure On The Tallest Slide At Sea: Royal Caribbean Reveals 10-Story Ultimate Abyss
Cruise Critic Flowrider On Royal Caribbean's Freedom Of The Seas
Cruise Critic Tours Anthem of the Seas
Anthem Of The Seas Welcomes Gigi The Giraffe
HRH Prince Phillip Visits Cunard's Fleet
Norwegian Breakaway Video Tour (2013)
Royal Rendezvous: 3 Cunard Queens Arrive In Southampton
Oasis Of The Seas Flowrider - Cruise Critic Goes Surfing
Oasis Of The Seas Royal Promenade (2009)
Oasis Of The Seas Jazz On 4 Performance
Oasis Of The Seas Royal Promenade Parade (2009)
Oasis Of The Seas Carousel In Action (2009)
Oasis Of The Seas Ship Tour -- Main Dining Room (2009)
The second program, Nordic Walking, is a low-impact, full-body workout using high-grade walking poles, provided free of charge. Passengers can also supplement their walking workouts with Kinesis personal fitness equipment, yoga and Pilates instruction (including mat and Pilates Reformer classes), spinning and golf instruction with PGA pros -- all gratis.
Best Running Track: Viking Ocean Cruises
Our recipe for the perfect cruise ship running track includes plenty of space, shade and gorgeous ocean views. Viking Ocean Cruises ships take the cake, in this category, with their wide running tracks (most ships' tracks tend to be quite narrow, making it difficult to share the space with others), which offer partial shade and unobstructed views. Even better: The line's ships tend to embody a more relaxed vibe, so the tracks tend to not be as crowded as those on bigger, mainstream ships. Tracking your mileage? It only takes four laps to complete a mile on Viking Ocean Cruises' ships, as opposed to other similarly sized ships, which can require more than 10 laps, based on the design, location and flow of the track. You can make your exercise goals without getting dizzy or feeling like you're spinning in circles.
Best for Dancing: Cunard
Cunard receives top marks in this category for its devotion to ballroom dancing. Professionals teach waltz, tango, samba and other dances during the day, and cruisers can practice their newly learned moves at Royal Nights themed formal balls held in the evenings. No partner? No worries! Gentlemen hosts are present on every cruise to make sure single ladies don't turn into wallflowers.
If you like retro chic fitness options like ballroom dancing, look for Queen Elizabeth's 1930s-inspired Games Deck, complete with bowls and croquet plus fencing classes on all three Cunard ships.
Best Fitness Classes: Norwegian Cruise Line
If fitness classes are more your speed, look no further than Norwegian's Breakaway and Breakaway Plus-class ships. The offerings on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss are far from the same old yoga, Zumba and spinning classes you typically see on other ships -- with everything from boxing and TRX training to spinning in a dark room amped up with hit music and black lights. The wide variety of classes not only make for fun, unique workouts, but they're also great social settings for making new friends.
Best for Cycling: AmaWaterways
European rivers like the Danube, Rhine, Seine and Douro provide picture-perfect backdrops for leisurely bike rides around port. For cycling enthusiasts, river cruise line AmaWaterways offers the most options. Not only does it keep touring bikes onboard for complimentary use in port (as do other active river cruise lines), but it also offers an array of biking shore excursions and even cycling-themed cruises through its partnership with active travel company, Backroads. Biking shore excursions include a ride through Antwerp to visit various historical landmarks, a ride through the historic town of Bamberg, Germany (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to get a taste of its breweries and market gardens, and a tour of Wachau Valley along the Danube River.
Best for Water Sports: Windstar Cruises
Windstar offers complimentary water sports straight from the ship on every vessel in its fleet, from its masted sailing ships to its small yachts. The marinas are put to full use in destinations like the Caribbean, Costa Rica and the Greek Isles, with more limited offerings in the Mediterranean. Experienced sports enthusiasts can borrow kayaks, windsurf boards, Topper or Rumba Escape sailboats and inflatable boats. Snorkel equipment is provided free of charge, though organized snorkeling expeditions cost extra. Water skiing is also offered by the ship's staff; two people at a time can water ski in half-hour increments. On Wind Surf, you can also bounce on an inflatable trampoline in the open water or borrow a Hobie Bravo (sailing catamaran).
Best for Gym-Haters: Royal Caribbean
With so many adrenaline-pumping and pseudo-athletic activities on Royal Caribbean's innovative Quantum-class ships, you can easily get a workout without really trying. Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas all have the SeaPlex, a high-tech indoor sports complex. It features a basketball court that also transforms into a roller skating rink, bumper car arena and circus school, where passengers can get their hearts pumping doing somersaults and backflips on a trapeze. (A "floating" DJ adds to the wow factor.)
If you do decide you want to visit the gym, we can't think of one that's more fun to work out in than the fitness center on these ships. Its position on Deck 16 at the front of the ship also affords some of the best views onboard.
Most Active Shore Excursions: Lindblad Expeditions
Just about every cruise line offers the opportunity to embark on more active shore excursions (think ziplining, cave tubing and hiking), depending on the port, but only a few truly cater to fitness-minded cruisers. We love Lindblad Expeditions for its wide array of itineraries that offer ample opportunities for more active excursions -- typical of expedition cruises. From long hikes through Scotland's countryside to kayaking past glaciers in the Far East, you can get the ultimate workout while fueling your wanderlust.