Perhaps you could say I was walking on water, but this was the first time while traveling that I used every single workout outfit I had packed — all six of them. I had ransacked my closet for every athletic legging and tank I owned in preparation for a one-week cruise to Alaska, eager to avoid gaining the infamous 10 pounds they say you do while indulging in the bottomless buffets available onboard.
The average person is said to gain about 5-10 pounds on a cruise. But I promise you, there are ways to avoid being the statistic. During my one week aboard the Celebrity Infinity cruising Alaska’s southeastern Inside Passage, I managed to simply maintain the status quo by following a few easy guidelines. When I looked at my Fitbit report at the end of the week, I saw, for the first time ever, I was leading my friends in steps on the dashboard (this never happens) and had walked roughly 7.7 miles per day.
The best part of this is that these steps actually allowed me to make the most of my vacation, so here’s Part Two of How to Make ‘Fit’ Feel Fabulous on Vacation – the cruise edition.
1. Pick active excursions
I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again: Walk everywhere! This is the best way to explore a destination in the first place!
When ships stop into ports, there are several guided excursions from which to choose, or you can simply adventure on your own by foot if you wish.
Either way, plan ahead! Pack comfortable walking shoes and appropriate attire for your destination, and certainly make sure to wear a watch that is set to the current local time so you head back to the ship on time. This last part is especially important if you are going to explore on your own because the ship will not wait for you as it does for the guided tour groups affiliated with the cruise!
Do your research. The excursion descriptions are available ahead of time so you can find the ones that allow you to sightsee through hiking, biking or kayaking, etc.
For instance, at Icy Strait Point, or Hoonah, Alaska, my husband and I first joined our family on a pre-booked whale-watching boat adventure because we wanted to see whales, but after that, we walked a nature trail through a forest that looked like a scene from one the Twilight movies, but better, because the glowing rays of the setting sun sliced through the trees and illuminated the moss-covered rocks in the most spellbinding way. Plus, there were no vampires or werewolves to chase us.
In Juneau, we signed up for a photo safari that included walking trails near the Mendelhall Glacier, but I know that there were other longer hiking and biking tours available too. Our particular trail took us to a creek full of salmon, where there was a high likelihood to see black bears. In retrospect, we would not have been able to fully experience the beauty of Alaska’s temperate rainforests had we not journeyed through them by foot.
With time left to spare before our floatplane tour over Juneau’s ice fields, we toured the areas around the port, browsing through the shops and restaurants to take in the local scene instead of simply heading back to the ship (back to the food).
2. Take charge of what you consume
Buffets and alcohol are the key culprits in derailing your health onboard, but these days, cruise buffets offer many healthy options, too. While I did have the rare dessert or slice of pizza, most often, I was loading my plate with roasted vegetables, curried lentils, or fruit. The buffet had a wide, international selection, and since it was all you can eat, I would just keep filling up on the veggies without feeling too guilty or lethargic afterwards.
Plus, there are other dining options onboard besides the buffet. Even with the basic dining package, we were also able to dine at the sit-down a-la carte restaurant (The Trellis) which served multi-course meals in smaller portions so you could try many different items without feeling stuffed. Here too, the menus offered salads, soups and healthier dishes for those looking for lighter fare.
Regarding alcohol, beyond a glass of wine here or a beer there, we didn’t purchase much on board because we stuck to our the stash of wine we had brought. Most cruises allow you to bring one bottle per guest, so we worked within this limit to keep both our calories and cash flow in check.
3. Use the facilities available
You are confined to a cruise for an entire week, so you might as well make the most of its amenities. After all, you are paying for it!
I hit the gym 6 of the 7 days on the cruise (and one day after a large lunch, twice), mostly early in the morning with my dad, when we would both jog on the treadmills looking out over the water, as the ship cut through fog and maneuvered through inlets. First, this made me feel like I was getting my money’s worth from the cruise experience. Most people spend anywhere from $30 to $400 per month on gym memberships, and here, I was getting full access to these facilities for free as part of the cruise package. Additionally, I was on a family vacation, and this was an opportunity for me to spend some quiet moments together with my dad — call it quality father-daughter time.
Further, on some days when the workouts were particularly exhausting, I would rinse off in the spa’s shower and then hit the indoor hot tub to relax my muscles. Talk about getting pampered!
This ship had a heated thalassotherapy pool onboard too. This salty, seawater pool featured massage jets, so after swimming a few laps in the water you could rest on the side like a beached whale, letting the jets work out all the kinks.
4. Plan to spend time on deck
Based on the destination and the type of cruise, pack appropriate attire so that you can comfortably go above deck and walk a few rounds each day while enjoying the scenic views. I did not do enough of this because there were days it was too windy, and I felt too cold to be above deck. In retrospect, I wish I had packed a better windbreaker so I could have spent more time at the top, looking for whales and gazing at glaciers. However, there is a designated painted “track” on deck for those who want to jog a few rounds and keep track of their mileage. In my case, I simply walked rounds on lower decks to get some movement, while looking out through the windows to look at scenery.
5. Dance it off
There are ample dancing opportunities on a cruise, with live bands and DJs playing at different times of the day at various venues.
My bedtime during the trip seemed to be about 10 p.m. so I wasn’t necessarily hitting the party scene. (I would like to attribute this to jetlag).
However, we did seize the opportunity to get moving by first going for a lively Zumba class on the pool deck led by our vivacious Argentinian cruise director, Alejandro, on the second day of the cruise. Alejandro’s spirit was so infectious, that everyone from my 3-year-old nephew to my 62-year-old father made it to the dance floor, shaking their hips to “I’m Sexy and I Know It”- a sight I never would have expected to witness! It was a memorable moment for me to see all generations of our family letting loose, and it was great way to get warmed up on a windy day in Alaska’s southeast passage! Even though I was bundled up in a jacket, scarf and beanie at the start of the Zumba class, I had worked up a considerable sweat by the time we were finished.
We also took advantage of the brief ballroom salsa dance class, which, for me, was more about shimmying with my husband on the dance floor than it was about getting in shape.
This is all to say: taking steps to stay fit and maintain your health doesn’t have to be a drag when you’re on vacation. If anything, you’ll probably end up feeling more fresh and revitalized by tending to your wellness and you’ll also get more bang for your buck, so make the most of it!
SHARE YOUR TIPS!
I want to hear from you! How do you stay active and fit when you travel? What are your best, healthy ways to unwind and relax on vacation? Message me or comment below!