(4:15 p.m. EST) -- Here's just what you need to achieve your New Year's resolutions to shape up and slim down: a cruise.
Ok, hitting the high seas may not seem like the best idea when you've resolved to shed some unwanted weight, but we've found a number of sailings designed to help you embark on a brand-new fitness regimen. Have any doubts? Check out Part 1 of our account of a recent less-than-relaxing theme cruise aboard Norwegian Star with Jillian Michaels of "Biggest Loser" fame -- then come back each day to see our reporter's take on the food, activities and her fellow passengers.
No problem if you missed that particular boat, however. With themes ranging from marathon running to salsa dancing or even macrobiotic eating, there's seemingly a suitable sailing for everyone, regardless of fitness level or exercise preference. Not only do passengers have the opportunity to burn calories during organized workouts and classes, but most sailings also feature inspirational and informative sessions and workshops led by fitness and nutrition experts. Bottom line: You'll disembark with a wealth of information that can be carried over to life on land and easily adapted to your day-to-day routine.
However, since many of these cruises are charters organized by small groups and agencies, it does take a bit of digging to find the right sailing. To help get you started, we've compiled a list of cruises that represent the spectrum of options available in 2011.
Dancing With Grace Fun and Fitness Cruise. Passengers can sail aboard Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas with Latin dance expert, Grace Badillo on February 5. In addition to daily salsa lessons with Badillo, passengers will have the opportunity to attend a number of classes and sessions (including tai chi, yoga and water aerobics) led by certified instructors, at no extra cost.
2011 Runner's Cruises. Running advocates and motivational authors John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield will be hosting two marathon-themed sailings this year. The first is a Caribbean cruise aboard Holland America's Eurodam, setting sail February 19, during which passengers will run a total of 26.2 miles on staged courses throughout each port. The second cruise is a weeklong Alaska sailing aboard HAL's Westerdam, departing on July 23, which will also result in marathon completion. Each sailing will feature onboard events like parties and dinners.
Holistic Holiday at Sea. The February 27 sailing of MSC Poesia is offering a weeklong wellness immersion, during which passengers will attend various workshops, lectures and even private consultations. Classes -- including those on cooking, yoga and Pilates -- will be available, with the goal of helping individuals to develop and nurture a holistic, healthy lifestyle. Plus, all meals will feature organic, natural, macrobiotic, vegan and vegetarian ingredients.
Richard Simmons Cruise to Lose. In October, sail aboard Carnival Splendor for a week with the eccentric fitness guru. During the Mexican Rivera cruise, passengers will have special menus and be granted access to exclusive parties, meet-and-greets, motivational seminars and high-energy fitness classes led by Simmons.
The Biggest Loser Experience Cruise. This fall, cruisers can submit themselves to the "Biggest Loser" treatment on a weeklong Caribbean cruise aboard Celebrity Eclipse. From health and wellness seminars led by the show's experts to mixers and, of course, intense workout sessions, passengers of any fitness level will get a taste of life "on the ranch." Note: Even the onboard menus will be "Biggest Loser" approved.
Cruise Line Sponsored Sailings. While not as niche as the sailings listed above, it's worth noting that some cruise lines -- including MSC Cruises and Crystal Cruises -- regularly feature fitness/wellness cruises focused on themes such as yoga, meditation and Latin dance. These are generally optional programs available on select sailings.
You can find additional details on wellness and fitness sailings here and other sailings in Cruise Critic's Theme Cruises 2011/2012 article, which is regularly updated with newly announced cruises. Remember to check back frequently, as there will surely be more cruises scheduled for later in the year.
-- by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer
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