Cruise Ship Gym: What You Need to Know

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Row of treadmills overlooking the ocean on the Norwegian Joy Cruise ship

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For most people, cruising is a relaxing getaway with drinks by the pool, all-you-can-eat buffets, and late-night parties.

After a week of eating, drinking, and partying, it’s all too common to return from the cruise a few pounds heavier.

Thankfully, the cruise ships provide plenty of opportunities to stay active and work off the buffet. From the cruise ship gym to the sports deck, here’s what you need to know about working out at sea.

Do Cruise Ships Have Gyms?

Gym equipement in the fitness center on Serenade of the Seas with panoramic glass windows overlooking the oceanPin

Nearly every cruise ship has a gym as part of their fitness centers, and they are always free to use. The size of the fitness center and equipment offered vary by cruise ship, but the biggest cruise ships in the world have fully featured fitness centers with similar equipment that you’d find at gyms on land.

Cruise ship gyms typically offer cardio machines, free weights, and strength machines.

You can also take part in group fitness classes like spin classes, yoga, Pilates, or Zumba. The cost of the group classes varies by cruise line.

Cardio machines in the gym on Symphony of the SeasPin

You’ll often find the sports and fitness center near the top deck of the vessel, located next to the spa facilities. One aspect I love about working out on a cruise ship is the floor-to-ceiling windows that provide panoramic ocean views that I can see while on the cardio machines or between sets of an exercise.

While you will find a gym on most ocean-going cruise ships, some river ships and expedition ships don’t offer full gym facilities. The small cruise ships may only have a few pieces of equipment, if any.

Are Cruise Ship Gyms Free To Use?

Cruise ship gyms are free to use.

While the use of the fitness center is included in your cruise fare, some group workout classes may have an added fee.

What Equipment Will You Find at the Gym?

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Cruise ship gyms typically have cardio machines, strength machines, free weights, floor mats, and group exercise areas.

The amount of equipment varies by ship. Generally, newer ships have better equipment. Larger ships have bigger fitness centers and more varied equipment.

Here’s some of the equipment we’ve found on cruise ships:

  • Dumbells
  • Smith machines
  • Treadmills
  • Exercise bikes
  • Rowing machines
  • Weight machines
  • Cable machines
  • Yoga mats
  • Yoga balls
  • Aerobic platforms

For safety, cruise ship gyms limit the weights of their dumbells, typically to 50 lbs, though I have seen 75 lbs dumbells on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady cruise ship.

The fitness center on Scarlet LadyPin

Additionally, you won’t find strength racks, bench presses, or squat racks in most gyms. That’s because the rocking of the cruise ship can make you lose balance and cause injury. However, Royal Caribbeans Oasis and Quantum class cruise ships provide smith machines that are safer to use on the rocking ocean.

If cardio is more your style, you’ll find treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, rowing machines, and the occasional spin class.

Cruise Ships Offer Group Fitness Classes

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Cruise ships offer various group fitness classes, including yoga, pilates, spinning, Zumba, TRX, etc.

Most group classes come at an additional cost of around $20 to $120 per class. Some cruise lines, like Virgin Voyages, offer complimentary fitness classes.

Many cruise lines also offer personal training services. The cost for a session generally runs from $80 to $115 for an hour-long session.

Are there Locker Rooms?

Cruise ship gyms usually have changing rooms. The option to change at the cruise ship gym is excellent if you don’t want to walk across the ship in your gym wear – though I doubt anyone would mind.

The changing areas are usually shared with the spa facilities.

Additionally, you’ll often have access to lockers, robes, towels, showers, and bathrooms. Some ships may have saunas in the changing rooms.

There’s always a scale in the gym if you want to track your progress. But, I’ve never felt the desire to weigh myself after a week of eating at the buffet.

Is the Cruise Ship Gym Open 24/7?

TechnoGym fitness equipment on a cruise shipPin

Unlike many gyms back home, the cruise ship gym isn’t 24-hour. Most cruise ship gyms open around 6:00 a.m. and close at 11:00 p.m.

Like everything else, the hours vary by cruise ship. Generally, cruise ship gyms open early in the morning and close late at night.

Unless you’re a night owl who likes to work out at 2 a.m., you shouldn’t have any problem squeezing in a workout.

When is the Best Time to Work Out?

If you want to work out during quiet time, it’s best to work out early in the morning, late at night, or during meal times.

Sea days are another great time to work out. If you plan on staying on the ship, the gym remains quiet until around 2 p.m. At 2 p.m., most people will begin making their way back to the boat, and the gym will be a bit busier as some guests try to get a workout in before dinner.

I’ve never found the gym on a cruise ship particularly busy. But, there is the odd time that I need to wait for a specific machine.

Other Workout Options

Not everyone wants to spend their vacation in the gym. Luckily, cruise ships provide plenty of options to stay active while sailing.

Running Tracks

View from the running track on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady while docked in MiamiPin

Nearly every cruise ship has a running track, usually located on the top deck.

The running track usually circles much of the cruise ship and provides stunning ocean views.

Because the top-deck running track is shared with other passengers, you may find that other guests get in the way when running.

If you are serious about running uninterrupted, early morning, late evenings, or sea days are the best options.

Sports Courts

The basketball court on the sport deck of symphony of the seas. A father playing basketball with his two sonsPin

Most cruise ships have a sports court that includes basketball, soccer, mini-golf, and golf simulators.

The sports courts are free to use, and many ships offer ship-wide tournaments.

The sports court is a great place to get active, meet new people, and participate in some friendly competitions.

Other Sports and Activities

View of the rock climbing wall on the serenade of the seas while docked in sitka, alaskaPin

Cruise ships offer several fun activities, including rock climbing, surfing, and skydiving. If you want to learn more about these opportunities, check out our article on sports you can play on a cruise ship.

Article by

Marcello De Lio

2 Comments

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  1. Dear Victoria,
    Great article.
    The problem I have is when gyms open later than 7am and getting your workout in, cool down, relaxing shower before breakfast closes at 10am.
    Most P&I cruise ships don’t open until 8am, absolutely hopeless.
    Not sure which cruise lines open earlier, I would imagine the US based cruise liners would.
    Just my personal gripe.
    Keep up the good work.
    Kind regards
    Stuart

    • Hey Stuart,
      I agree 100%. The gyms on most American cruise lines open around 7 am, which is perfect. But there are some that open later. I find I have the most motivation to work out in the morning. When the gym opens later than 7, I usually end up skipping it so that I don’t miss breakfast, and hoping I can fit in a workout later in the day.