Nearly all cruise ships have fitness centers onboard, often as part of the spa complex, and they are always free to use. The exceptions would be riverboats and small expedition ships that might have a few pieces of workout equipment. Many cruise lines position gyms on high decks with panoramic views, though others may be on lower decks.
Most cruise ship gyms contain various pieces of cardio equipment (treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes, etc.), resistance training machines, free weights and mats, and group class space. Generally, the newer the ship, the more high-tech options you'll find available.
Gym amenities vary by cruise line, but most will have water coolers and towels to use, as well as individual TVs on cardio machines.
Cruise ships offer a variety of group fitness classes; some are free, while others incur a fee, often about $12 to $20 per class. Classes might include stretching and abs workouts, yoga, Pilates, spinning or other group cycling, or more trendy options like Kinesis, Zumba, TRX suspension training and Tour de Spin. Class space is limited, so you might need to sign up in advance. Multi-day packages are available on some lines.
Personal training, where available, runs $80 to $115 for hour-long sessions.
Changing rooms are usually shared with the spa and offer lockers, robes, towels, bathrooms and showers, as well as dispensers of shampoo and body wash. Some gyms might also have saunas or steam rooms in the changing areas, which passengers can use free of charge.
Cruise ship fitness centers are usually the busiest in the mornings and on sea days; work out at mealtimes or just before dinner to avoid the crowds. If you exercise while the ship is moving, prepare for the roll of the ship to impact your workout and make balance a bit trickier.
Other fitness options -- such as a running track, basketball/volleyball court or rock-climbing wall -- might be available on your ship. These are usually found on a top deck and not as part of the fitness center itself. Daytime dance classes are usually offered in a show lounge.
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The What to Expect on a Cruise series, written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, is a resource guide, where we answer the most common questions about cruise ship life -- including cruise food, cabins, drinks and onboard fun -- as well as money matters before and during your cruise and visiting ports of call on your cruise.
Updated January 08, 2020