Vi­ta­min Sea asks the health- con­scious cruiser’s ques­tion — and gets a sur­pris­ingly pos­i­tive an­swer.

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - The Insider - BY SHARON KENNY

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.

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