Working Out on a Cruise: What to Know About Staying Fit at Sea

Think of a cruise and working out in a gym might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Truth is, however, that if you like working out, then a cruise is a fantastic place for you.

Every cruise ship will have a fitness center that’s stocked with the latest equipment. If you like to work out, you’ll be in heaven.

Any ship that you sail will have a place for you to exercise, and we’re not talking about some storage closet tucked away in a corner and lit with fluorescent lights. If you’re thinking of the onboard gym as what you might find in a hotel, then it’s time to reconsider.

Cruise lines invest in their onboard fitness centers, often putting them in a prime location with amazing views. If you’ve never sailed a cruise and want to know more about what to expect when it comes to keeping in shape, we have you covered.

Will There Be a Gym on my Cruise Ship?

No matter which line — or which ship — you sail, you can expect there to be a spot to work out onboard. The gym (also known on many ships as the fitness center) is normally located near the spa and is often on a higher deck on the ship.

You’ll also find that the gym sits along the side of the ship, meaning it is almost always lined with a wall of windows letting in lots of natural light and offering great views. So if you’re thinking the workout area will be in the basement of the ship, think again.

How Big Is the Gym?

Gyms have dedicated space on board and are usually fairly large. This image shows just one segment of a much larger facility.

While we have never broken out the tape measure, we can tell you that in our experience the fitness areas are plenty big. You might think that because it’s on a ship it would feel cramped. That’s never been the case in any gyms we’ve visited. There has always been ample room to work out without feeling like you’re bumping into other people.

We will say that the ceiling is lower than you might be used to, but the space between stations is similar to what you’d find in a gym on land.

Is the Cruise Ship Gym Free to Use?

Absolutely. There is no charge for visiting this area and getting a workout. Visit as much as you want without worrying about any cost.

What Equipment Is Available?

You’ll find a wide variety of equipment onboard from treadmills to weight machines to yoga/stretching equipment. There are some dumbbells, but usually not many free weights.

When you visit the fitness center, you’ll have plenty of options available. The majority of the space is filled with machines. Treadmills and ellipticals are numerous, and you’ll also find exercise bikes. Weight machines are plentiful, working everything from your legs to your lats, biceps to back.

Typically there is a smaller area with some dumbbells. There are also spaces for cardio such as step platforms, and you’ll find yoga mats and yoga balls for stretching as well.

You usually won’t find free weights on your ship, so if you’re the type that likes lifting stacks of plates, it likely won’t be an option.

I Like to Run. Is There a Spot to Jog?

Jogging track on a cruise ship
Any large ship will have a jogging track. It’s normally on the top deck and doubles as a pathway around the ship. Get there early in the morning or you’ll be dodging other passengers.

Yes. Just like every ship has a gym, every ship also has a jogging track. This is typically along the top deck of the ship, encircling the area. It is two lanes and will be marked off with distances so you know how far you’ve ran.

You should know that this isn’t a completely dedicated spot to jogging in most cases. It’s often along the deck where other people are relaxing in loungers or simply walking around. If you want to jog or run, then it’s a good idea to do it early in the morning when there are far fewer people around. By the late morning there will likely be people in the area making it much more difficult to run without having to dodge others.

What Hours Is the Gym Open?

Hours will depend on your specific cruise line. Some lines have the fitness center open 24 hours a day. Others close it at night, but times can range from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Unless you’re the sort of person that likes to hit the treadmill at 2 a.m., it’s likely going to be open when you want to exercise.

Does The Gym Get Busy?

The crowd at the gym really depends on the time of day. We’ve found there can be a decent number of people if you head down in the mornings, when it’s a popular time to exercise. However, during the afternoon and evening there can be almost nobody there.

Given that the area is open for most of the day, if you head down and think it’s too busy, just come back later and you’ll find it cleared out.

Are There Classes Available for Passengers?

There are some classes available, usually morning stretch classes. Some larger ships like this one might have more options, including spin classes.

If you like to join classes at the gym, then you’re in luck. Lines regularly hold classes for passengers, typically in the morning. You should know, however, they are generally limited in what’s offered.

Often they are pretty basic, such as stretching classes or some basic exercise classes. Yoga groups are available as well, but do see a charge in many cases.

You can see what’s available by checking the daily planner during your cruise. Just show up if you’re interested.

Are There Changing Rooms, Showers, and Other Facilities?

As we mentioned, the fitness center is often attached to the spa. As such, you will find there are a number of amenities for you to enjoy.

First, don’t worry about bringing a towel. The gym will have plenty for you to use. As well, there are changing rooms attached if you don’t want to change in your cabin before you visit. Ask around and you’ll usually find showers available for gym patrons as well.

Other amenities you might have at your gym at home aren’t available, such as tanning beds or hot/cold tubs. However, you can book a spa treatment or get a spa day pass if you want to use their equipment.

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