Keeping fit on a cruise ship? If that sounds like an oxymoron, then you aren't aware of the exciting, state-of-the-art fitness centers which are part of the many amenities on today's cruise ships. While traditional (and oh-so-fattening) midnight buffets have gone the way of the hula hoop and healthy menus are de rigueur on cruise ships, fitness programs and gyms on today's newest vessels help keep passengers buff and healthy. Really dedicated to fitness? Personal trainers can offer one-on-one help, but stationary bicycles, treadmills, and rowing, stair-climbing and Keiser pneumatic progressive resistance machines are all aboard for the do-it-yourselfer. A variety of free weights and dumbbells are also available. As a bonus, most of today's cruise ship fitness centers have been built with floor-to-ceiling windows offering wonderful vistas and a workout for the psyche as well as the body. Another plus: each cruise ship offers some form of jogging track, and for walkers, each ship also provides information regarding the number of laps around the promenade deck that equal one mile. An ideal way of working off calories is to avoid elevators, and use the ship's stairways.
Carnival Cruise Line - The new "Carnival Spirit's" health and fitness club features a distinctive multilevel configuration. Exercise areas are enhanced by a Grecian décor, including terra cotta and ochre-accented zebrawood walls, classic Doric columns and hand-painted murals featuring depiction's of Olympic events. Carnival gyms are open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm but may stay open until 10:00 pm when the ship is in port.
Celebrity Cruises - In addition to the jogging tracks found on all ships, the "Century", "Galaxy", "Mercury", "Millennium" and "Infinity" include rowing ergometers, free climbers and virtual reality bikes, while "Zenith" and "Horizon" feature Aerobicycles and NordicTrack among other machines. Fitness centers are open 8:00 am to 11:00 pm.
Costa Cruises - Fitness centers are open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and include cardiovascular machines and a computer program that analyzes body fat.
Crystal Cruises - The newest thing aboard this luxury fleet is Feng Shui, the Oriental art of placement, and Crystal Fitness Center is the only floating spa to adopt the principles. The center is open daily 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Cunard Line: The Health Spa & Beauty Salon of the "Queen Elizabeth 2" (QE2) has an indoor swimming pool, ten cardiovascular machines, seven Cybex Weight Machines, free weights and a dance studio for aerobics and other fitness classes. Personal training sessions and swimming lessons are available by appointment.
Holland America Line - Fitness centers include various machines, aerobic and body conditioning classes as well as one-on-one training sessions. Newer vessels feature almost twice as many treadmills as earlier ships. The line's "Passport to Fitness" program allows participants to earn stamps for each activity geared to a healthy heart. Hours are 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Norwegian Cruise Line - All fitness centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and feature a variety of cardiovascular and conditioning machines. An added interest for sport lovers: Ncl and "Sports Illustrated" magazine have a joint alliance that includes an annual Sports Illustrated Afloat theme cruise and Sports Illustrated Cafe's aboard all Ncl ships.
Princess Cruises - Each ship features a fully equipped ocean-view gym and aerobics area, with personal trainers available on "Golden Princess" and "Grand Princess". Fitness centers are open 24 hours a day fleet wide except for the "Regal Princess", where the facilities are open from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm.
Royal Caribbean International - Rock climbing, inline skating and roller blading are featured aboard "Voyager of the Seas", "Explorer of the Seas", "Radiance of the Seas" and the upcoming "Adventure of the Seas", while Voyager, Explorer and Adventurer offer ice skating as well. Fitness centers are open from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm and all ships in the Royal Caribbean International fleet feature state-of-the-art equipment and a jogging track.
Run The Planet thanks the Cruise Critic website (www.cruisecritic.com) for the permission to reprint the article "Fitness at Sea" by Marcia Levin. Cruise Critic publishes objective information covering all aspects of cruising including profiles on almost 50 cruise lines with in-depth candid reviews of more than 150 cruise ships, luxury canal and riverboats, sailboats and expedition vessels. Text copyright © by Cruise Critic. Illustration copyright © 2002 by Run The Planet.