CAN YOU LOSE FIVE POUNDS AND GET FIT ON A CRUISE?
Vitamin Sea asks the health- conscious cruiser’s question — and gets a surprisingly positive answer.
Does going on a cruise always ys have to be an indulgent vacation? Can you go on a cruise and not gain a few pounds?
How about going on a cruise and losing five pounds and getting fit? Is that even possible?
“I think it’s absolutely possible!” says Byron Blackwood, Director of Fitness Operations with OneSpaWorld, the Steiner company that manages the spas and gyms on 18 different cruise lines and more than 50 hotels and resorts worldwide. “If you want to lose some weight and jump-start a fitness program, it doesn’t matter which cruise you go on, it’s always an option. Temptation is the problem.”
Ah yes, temptation. That’s always the problem isn’t it?
But when you compare the price of a week at a land-based spa with a week on a cruise ship, a cruise is just a fraction of the price and offers almost all the same elements. Luxurious accommodations? Check. Great gym with classes and personal instruction? Check. Healthy food available? Check. Active daytime activities? Check. Active daytime activities in different, interesting places each day? Only on a cruise. Great entertainment options every night? Only on a cruise. Dancing every night to burn more calories? Definitely only on a cruise.
Going on a cruise has traditionally been regarded as an unhealthy vacation — think 24-hour buffet lines, late-night partying, and sipping big fruity cocktails around the pool … not swimming laps in it.
Even if you’re already in decent shape, I know a lot of people who would love to go on a cruise but don’t want to break their diet or their fitness plan that they work so hard on all year long. They don’t want one week to blow all their hard work.
But why can’t you make your own spa week on a cruise?
Like many people I struggle with a stubborn 5 or 10 pounds that I always seem to be trying to lose. While I’d love to spend a week at a luxurious land-based spa, the price can be outrageous — ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 a week, not including transportation! A week on a cruise can be a fraction of that price, even in the nicest cabin on a luxury cruise line, especially in the off-season. And if you decide to go alone, more ships are offering single cabins, which avoids that dreaded single supplement.
So why don’t more cruise lines promote cruising as a healthy alternative?
“I think most cruise lines are behind the curve in this area,” says Blackwood. “The perception has been that people go on a cruise to intox rather than detox — but that may be changing.
“We find there’s more and more demand for the services of our personal trainers and for classes. You can now pre-book your personal training sessions, your body composition analysis, and your nutrition analysis.”
Why can’t you make your own spa week on a cruise?
Rule #1: Investigate your options thoroughly online and then pre-book!
You don’t want to just show up for your spa cruise only to find you can’t see a personal trainer to develop a plan until the third day of a 7-day cruise.
And non-traditional fitness is increasingly available too. “Just like on land, there’s growing demand for classes in meditation and yoga so we’re recruiting teachers in those areas,” explained Blackwood. “On Seabourn for instance, we’re partnering with Dr. Andrew Weil on his mindful living program, and on Holland America we’ve created a breathing/ meditation/yoga class around their partnership with O, The Oprah Magazine.”
Rule # 2: Make it as convenient as possible to stick to your plan.
Some ships feature spa cabins that are in closer proximity to the spa and the gym. If you just have to walk down the hall or up one flight of stairs to the gym in the morning, you’re more likely to make that 7 a.m. stretch class.
“That doesn’t sound like a vacation to me,” said a friend when I asked her if she would be interested in a cruise like this. “Maybe if I had a workout buddy that would make it so much better.”
Which is probably the biggest factor for success — your personal style. Rule # 3: Decide on your goal and the best way to reach it — alone or with friends along to motivate you. Do you like to work out alone or take classes? Do you think having a friend with you on the same mission would help or hurt? Personally, I think I’d be more likely to stray from the path if I had a friend with me. And I’ll readily admit that I’d probably be the one to say, “Okay tonight let’s try that Italian restaurant with the great lasagna special….”
Maybe being with a big group of like-minded cruisers would be fun and motivating? Fitness charters are definitely a growing part of the industry. There are Zumba charters or cross-fit charters that rent out an entire ship.
Rule #4: Take full advantage of the ship.
Getting fit on a cruise doesn’t have to mean being stuck in the gym the entire time and not having any fun. Royal Caribbean’s Flowrider or rock-climbing wall, or Norwegian’s challenging ropes courses combine fun with fitness. Most ships have an outdoor running/ walking track and walking laps around the ship every day can be an enjoyable and social activity that combines fresh sea air and aerobic benefits. Even something as simple as avoiding the elevators and taking the stairs everywhere on the ship will contribute to your fitness goals … and dancing every night can burn between 400 and 600 calories an hour!
Almost all the cruise lines have caught up with the dietary issues of modern life — gluten-free options, low- calorie options, and making healthy choices are available on cruise ships now with choices that definitely don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself.
Oceania Cruises, which is associated with Canyon Ranch spa, now has spa cuisine in their Grand Dining Room, plus a juice and smoothie bar and even delicious energy bowls at Waves Grill.
Off the ship, you can choose excursions based on the activity level. Maybe I’ll try kayaking or a bike trip on my spa cruise week, and I’ve always wanted to learn tai chi, which is now offered on Seabourn.
So I’ve made a New Year’s resolution for 2019 to go on a cruise, lose five pounds, and make a healthy start on a fitness plan that I can carry off the ship along with my luggage and lots of great cruise memories.
Personally, I think I’d be more likely to stray from the path if I had a friend with me.