What Kind of Idiot Exercises on a Cruise?
Well, the pasty white woman with the weird expression on her face meant to communicate curiosity pictured above, for one. Why? Because my average day onboard a cruise ship involves eating enough calories to sustain a male African elephant throughout a years-long famine. And I cruise for a living.
Let me be clear, I hate exercise as much as the average sofa spud – I just consider it part of my job. It’s unpleasant, but necessary if I want to stay alive long enough to scoot my kid off to college so I can permanently live at sea. #lifegoals
Other idiots may have different reasons for not shunning the gym on land, let alone on vacation, but that’s mine. Shrug.
Why Participate in Fitness Classes on a Cruise Ship?
To fight gym boredom (you know that idiom about being stuck on a treadmill?)? To share in a common misery? To meet a hot fitness instructor who lives on a cruise ship? All valid reasons! And all reasons that prompted me to purchase a fitness pass for the first time on my last cruise (a 16-day sailing to New Zealand onboard the Noordam).
What Kinds of Fitness Classes are Offered on a Cruise Ship?
The most common classes are abs, stretch, cycle, yoga, pilates, boot camp, and body conditioning.
How Much Do Fitness Classes Cost on a Cruise Ship?
While cost will vary a bit depending on cruise line, I’ve found most cruise ship fitness classes cost around $20 per class, although some are free (like stretch and ab classes). There was one class (Total Body Conditioning) on my last cruise that was priced at $69, but that’s unusually high. You can save money on individual classes by purchasing a class pass or sometimes fitness classes will be included as part of a larger cruise package.
On my Noordam cruise there were three different class pass options, one for stretch/relaxation that included meditation, yoga, and pilates, one for cardio/strength that included cycle, boot camp, and body conditioning, and one that included all classes. I opted for the all-inclusive option and paid $148 + 18% service charge for 16 days. The other two class passes were priced at $99 + 18% service charge. Private training is not included with class passes (although it’s available for a fee on most cruises).
When are Fitness Classes Offered on a Cruise Ship?
That will vary depending on the ship and itinerary, but to give you an idea, here was the schedule from my last cruise.
I apologize to my fellow American, math-challenged friends for requiring you to convert the times from a 24-hour clock to a 12-hour clock (my cruise departed from Australia where they use a 24-hour clock). I tried to use that as an excuse for why I was tired and not giving my full effort to the first class I took with a particularly strict Eastern European trainer named Martin (more on him later), but it didn’t fly.
Usually ab and stretch classes take place early in the morning or (less commonly) before dinner. And usually the other classes take place at 8am, 9am or in the early evening. I didn’t find some of the class times very convenient as they interfered with dining room hours (maybe that’s the point?) for breakfast and dinner and with morning shore excursions. I wish they’d offer classes in the late afternoon (in the 2-4pm timeframe).
How Long are Cruise Ship Fitness Classes?
On my sailing, ab, stretch, and meditation classes were 30 minutes. All other classes were 45 minutes. I’ve found that to be fairly typical across ships and lines.
Are Cruise Ship Fitness Classes Worth It?
Alas, the question you’ve suffered through my droning on and dumb jokes to finally have answered!
I’ve avoided taking any cruise ship fitness classes for years. YEARS! Mostly because I’m too cheap to pay for them. But also because I wondered if the quality would be as good as on land. But since I had a ton of onboard credit and gift cards to burn through and because this was such a long sailing and I worried I’d get bored with the standard cruise ship gym equipment, I went for it. And, ultimately, I’m glad I did. But, here’s what I learned…
Cruise ship fitness classes are a great place to make friends. We laughed together (try keeping your balance in a yoga class during 12 foot swells!), we cried together (thanks, MARTIN!), and we felt totally justified hitting the bar together.
Cruise ship fitness classes are of good quality. I didn’t say “great” quality because the same trainer who teaches yoga also teaches pilates, cycle, and boot camp. Whereas on land you may have a master yoga instructor who has been practicing and training for years, on a cruise ship you’re getting a jack-of-all-trades. For me, that made the most difference for yoga. We did the same basic flow for every class. No biggie, but something to keep in mind.
Cruise ship fitness classes are harder than I expected. Especially on a cruise ship where the medical center took up three decks due to the average age and condition of the passengers (Too blunt? I mean, I count myself among them.). While classes were a bit shorter than many I’ve taken on land (which tend to be a full hour), they were rigorous.
Which brings me to Martin, one of the two trainers onboard. He was hardcore, not particularly validating, and never entertained any excuses. Here’s a photo of him and my feet after I experienced a brief bout with death after one of his boot camp classes:
One day after participating in THREE consecutive classes with him in the SAME MORNING, I said, “I really earned my breakfast today!” to which he responded, “No, I didn’t see you at ab class. Next time four classes and you can get a hard boiled egg and some fruit for breakfast.” The f**k?!?
He also regularly made fun of the little attachable clip fan I used to keep cool during cycle classes, “why do you need fan? I only see a little sweat on the floor.” Seriously, they could have used my accumulated sweat to fill the main lido pool!
And one of his favorite phrases was “today will be easy day.” Then he’d proceed to have us simulate cycling up Mount Everest at a sprint for three straight weeks (okay, 45 minutes, but still).
In contrast to Martin was the second trainer, Casey, with her sweet smile, charming British accent, and calming, encouraging demeanor. Her favorite phrase was, “that’s it” which she’d say even if your triangle pose looked more like a shapeless pile of confused limbs.
I swear, every time I snuck a few (dozen) pastries and a mimosa from the lido just prior to class and prayed I’d get Casey so I could take it a bit easier, I got Martin. Every. Time.
But, in all seriousness, I really liked both trainers (even though they had very different styles) and the classes were challenging and, dare I say…fun?
Cruise ship fitness classes can be a great value if you don’t pay a la carte. You’re probably confused as to why I sometimes took multiple classes in the same day and may be seriously questioning my sanity and credibility at this point. But the reason I took so many classes is mainly because I wanted to get my money’s worth from my class pass! I’m generally lazy and lack motivation, yes. But I’m far cheaper! In fact, I’d estimate I took around 25 classes (not including the free ab and stretch classes) over 16 days. That averages out to around $7 per class. A great value compared to $20-$69 per class on an a la carte basis.
Would I Take Fitness Classes on a Cruise Ship Again?
On a shorter itinerary, say 6 days and under? No. I don’t find that necessary and will suffer through a few days on the treadmill/elliptical. But on a longer itinerary with classes offered at convenient times? Absolutely! You’ll have to try harder to kill me next time, Martin! And with that…
Homework (10 point): Cycle up Mount Everest at a sprint! Just kidding. For a satirical take on cruise fitness, read my article: 15 Tips for Staying Fit on a Cruise Ship.
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