Cutting-Edge Fitness at Sea

Cruise vacations are all about breaking away from your normal routine to relax and indulge in new places, tastes and activities. That can include breaking the mold of your usual exercise routine and trying some new ways of staying fit and healthy.

Most sizable cruise ships have impressively equipped gyms; plus, your onboard workout can feature an ocean view! Following are some of the most intriguing fitness opportunities at sea.

Holland America Line’s Cardio Ki-Bo Circuit classes. These classes combine aerobic conditioning, kickboxing and other moves to help release chi, the Chinese term for essential life energy. If KI-Bo sounds a bit too intense, try an aquaerobics or yoga class.

Cunard Line’s Pilates Institute at Sea. Pilates is a form of yoga that focuses on improving strength and flexibility, and the Queen Mary 2 has staff from the famed Pilates Institute who present lectures and lead personal and group sessions. You can learn to use Pilates to release tension, improve your ease of movement, and even fix your golf swing.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Flywheel Sports studios. This line’s newest ships, including Breakaway and Getaway, feature onboard branches of Flywheel Sports, a hi-tech cycling studio. Each class is choreographed to heart-pumping music that will keep you motivated. The Getaway also has a Nexersys interactive fight training module for high-intensity training against an avatar.

Princess Cruises’ “Core.Balance.Strength. Fitness Program.” This program combines specialized classes, nutritional guidance and lifestyle counseling to cultivate a balanced lifestyle long after your cruise. Activities include yoga, Pilates and spinning classes, along with individualized training.

Celebrity Cruises Zumba Classes. Zumba fitness classes, with their upbeat rhythms and easy-to-follow choreography, have become very popular on land and at sea. Celebrity’s fitness centers offer an amazing variety of Zumba classes, from Aqua Zumba in the pool to Zumba Gold for active, older adults.

One of the best things about trying a new fitness techniques on a cruise is that the fitness centers are often integrated with very fine spas. So, after a workout, you can relax with a massage, some aquatherapy or aromatherapy, or treat yourself to a facial or manicure.

Finally, there’s nothing better than walking off an enjoyable evening meal with a leisurely stroll on deck, beneath the stars and listening to the waves.

For more ideas about ramping up your fitness while at sea, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.


River Cruising to Paris

The increasing variety of river cruise itineraries is making the non-coastal capitals of Europe more accessible to cruise travelers. Paris, France, is a perfect example: it’s 150 miles from the English Channel, and ocean-going ships must dock at the port of Le Havre or at Rouen. River cruise ships, however, can travel up the winding Seine river right into Paris, docking near the Eiffel Tower and other incredible sights in the City of Lights.

From the river, you’ll see some of the dozens of bridges that cross the Seine, including Pont Neuf, which connects both banks of the Seine to Île de la Cité, where Paris began. The island is home to the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris; climb the stairs inside the towers for a wonderful view of the city. There’s also Sainte-Chapelle, a royal chapel in the Gothic style; and the sobering history of the Conciergerie prison, where thousands of prisoners awaited execution during the French Revolution.

In addition to the Eiffel Tower, be sure to see the Arc de Triomphe, the magnificent arch that Napoleon intended as a monument to his military success. From the arch, follow the boulevard Champs-Élysées to Place de la Concorde, the city’s largest square. While King Louis XVI and other noteworthy Parisians were guillotined here during the French Revolution, much of the square’s history has been peaceful. Today, it’s decorated with fountains, statues and the stunning Luxor Obelisk.

Monmartre is a hilly neighborhood watched over by Sacre-Coeur, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The beautiful dome and the gardens are open to the public. The steps are a popular place to sit in the evening as the lights of Paris come on.

Paris’ Musee du Louvre is simply one of the finest art museums in the world. Everyone wants to see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, but there are also enormous collections of paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture, plus antiquities from the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Asian empires.

Beyond its monuments and museums, Paris is full of charming streets lined with unique shops, exceptional restaurants and delightful cafes. Plan to spend a few days in the city before or after a cruise on the Seine, and you’ll dream of the day that you can return! For more information, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao

Just off the northern coast of Venezuela in the Southern Caribbean, the ABC Islands – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – are unique and beautiful cruise destinations. Part of the Netherlands, the islands have spectacular weather all year long, with average temperatures in the 80s and little rain; and, they are out of the path of most Atlantic hurricane systems.

This small line of islands doesn’t precisely follow its “ABC” nickname: from west to east, they are Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.

Aruba is dotted with cacti forests and fringed with white sand beaches on the sheltered western and southern coasts.  After docking in Oranjestad, take an excursion to lovely Eagle Beach or Palm Beach, where you can try out some water sports. Aruba offers great snorkeling for everyone from beginners through experts (experts should check out the catamaran tour to the wreck of the Antilla, a German freighter from World War II).  Many visitors are also attracted to Oranjestad’s glittering casinos.

Curacao’s capital of Willemstad has charming colonial buildings painted in pastel pinks, blues and yellows. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city is divided into two districts (Punda and Otrobanda) by Santa Anna Bay; cross the bay on the Queen Emma Bridge, a historic pontoon bridge that swings open for ship traffic. Learn about Curacao’s culture at the Museum Kura Hulanda, the Maritime Museum or the Curacao Sea Aquarium; or visit the Hato Caves, an underground world of limestone formations and waterfalls. The must-have souvenir is, of course, a bottle of Curacao liqueur.

Bonaire, surrounded by a protective reef, is a paradise for snorkelers and divers. The waters around the island are all part of Bonaire National Marine Park, which includes a sanctuary for sea horses. Windsurfing, kayaking, bird watching, kite boarding, fishing, mountain biking and horseback riding excursions are all available on Bonaire, as are tours of a flamingo sanctuary and a sanctuary for donkeys: visitors are welcome to help feed the gentle herd. Ships dock in Kralendijk, Bonaire’s capital, where Wilhelmina Square offers a Cruise Market Place with native foods, original art and clothing for sale.

Cruise itineraries that include the ABC Islands are often seven days or more, usually departing from Ft. Lauderdale, Miami or San Juan. Ask your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert to help you select a cruise that visits one, two or all three of these memorable islands.

A Romantic Valentine’s Day on a Cruise Ship

Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year; add a day or two before or after, and you’ll have time to whisk your valentine away on a romantic cruise!

Let’s face it: cruises are inherently romantic, in part because they take you away from the daily routine. You’ll have a comfortable stateroom for two, with stewards to make the bed and fill the ice bucket for you. You can also enjoy swimming pools and hot tubs, sundecks, spa treatments, fine dining, cozy lounges and more.

Your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert will help you personalize your Valentine’s Day cruise experience, starting with your stateroom; you may wish to upgrade to a room with balcony so you can enjoy fresh sea breezes and expansive views. And, some ships offer special “ship within a ship” accommodations, with private areas for relaxation.

Many ships offer specialty restaurants as an alternative to the main dining room; ask your Cruise Holidays expert how you can reserve a private table for two. A couple’s massage or other “just for two” treatment in the shipboard spa is another special way to relax together (try to book this early so your and your valentine can feel the benefits throughout the cruise).

There are romantic possibilities for time spent off the ship, too. Ask your Cruise Holidays expert about shore excursions for two: perhaps you can spend a day on a quiet beach, touring a vineyard, taking a ride in a hot air balloon or swimming at the base of a waterfall.

Your Cruise Holidays expert can provide details on specific cruises, such as the “Sail Across the Sun” Music, Food and Wine Festival cruise, departing February 13 from Miami on the Norwegian Pearl. You and your sweetie can enjoy four days of wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and musical performances, with port calls in Key West and Great Stirrup Cay.

Or, take a West Coast Getaway Cruise on the Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess, departing February 10 from Los Angeles. After four days of cruising the Pacific, you’ll get back to LA just in time to enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day in the City of Angels.

Your Cruise Holidays expert can help you arrange other special touches, too, such as a vase of fresh flowers or a bottle of champagne for your stateroom. Don’t wait to make arrangements, though – Valentine’s Day isn’t far away!

Looking Ahead: What Will be New in Cruising in 2016

The cruise industry loves returning passengers, and cruise lines work hard to ensure that you can have a new experience each time you cruise. In fact, while 2015 has just begun, they are already working on new itineraries, destinations and ships that will delight you during 2016.

Disney Cruise Line is planning to call on two new Caribbean destinations in 2016: the idyllic islands of Tortola and Martinique. Tortola is known for calm waters that make it perfect for beach and sailing excursions; Martinique has an enchanting blend of French and Caribbean culture, plus stunning views from volcanic Mont Pelée.

Norwegian Cruise Line will add San Juan, Puerto Rico, as a seasonal homeport for the Norwegian Gem, which will sail seven-day itineraries in the Southern Caribbean from late October to early December 2016. In the Western Caribbean, NCL’s new island destination of Harvest Caye, Belize, will be ready to welcome guests.

Some new ships will debut during 2016, providing new onboard experiences. Royal Caribbean’s third Quantum Class ship, Ovation of the Seas, will set sail in mid-2016. Like its sister ships  Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, the Ovation will have innovative entertainment features, including bumper cars; a skydiving simulator; a North Star pod that rises above the ship for 360-degree views; and Two70, where ultra-HD technology provides cutting-edge entertainment. Royal Caribbean will also debut the third ship in its popular Oasis Class in 2016.

Viking will continue to expand into ocean cruising with the Viking Sky and the Viking Sea, which will be the second and third of four deep-water ships for this well-known river cruise line. The new ships will focus on al fresco experiences, including outdoor dining, expansive sundecks and promenades that fully encircle each ship.

Also in 2016, Holland America Line will introduce its largest ship ever: the Koningsdam, the first ship in the new Pinnacle Class. The 2,650-passenger ship will have some of Holland America’s signature features, such as a traditional teak promenade and the popular Culinary Arts Center; and some “firsts” for the cruise line, including family oceanview cabins that accommodate five (with two bathrooms!).

To check out the growing list of options for new cruise destinations, itineraries and ships during 2016 – and find out about discounts and special offers for early booking – talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.