Today, I am sharing something that often gets overlooked among the excitement of a cruise vacation – staying fit and healthy on board. When we think of cruising, images of sunbathing, exploring exotic destinations, and enjoying lavish meals come to mind. But there’s another aspect I’ve grown to appreciate deeply: the fitness facilities on cruise ships.

Now, you might be thinking, “Fitness on a holiday? Really?” But hear me out. During one of my earlier cruises, I stumbled upon a startling fact: passengers and crew are at risk of communicable illnesses, with rates around 15.7 and 23.9 cases per 100,000 individuals, respectively. This nugget of information changed my perspective. Staying fit isn’t just about keeping those holiday pounds at bay; it’s a key part of staying healthy and making the most of your cruise.

Fitness on a cruise can transform your experience. It’s not just about sweating it out; it’s a chance to rejuvenate, to find a balance between relaxation and activity. Whether it’s hitting the gym, joining a yoga class at sunrise, or simply taking a brisk walk on the deck, every bit contributes to a healthier, happier you.

photo of inside of a gym

Do Cruises Have Gyms? 

They do! One of the best-kept secrets aboard a cruise ship is its fitness center. On my numerous voyages, I’ve discovered that nearly every cruise line, including the renowned Royal Caribbean, proudly hosts a well-equipped gym. And the location? It’s typically a treat in itself.

Take Royal Caribbean, for example. Their gyms are strategically positioned above the bar area. Why does this matter? These gyms aren’t tucked away in some obscure corner; they’re a focal point for health and wellness on the ship, often boasting panoramic ocean views. The size of Royal Caribbean ships plays into this, with larger vessels offering more expansive and feature-rich fitness centers, reflecting the grand scale and luxurious amenities of the ship itself.

Is There a Fee for Using Gym Facilities on Cruise Ships?

When it comes to staying fit at sea, one question I often hear is, “Do I have to pay to use the gym on a cruise ship?” Well, here’s the good news: on almost all cruise lines, the answer is a resounding no – the gym facilities are free to use!

This is one of the aspects I love most about cruising. Whether you’re looking to maintain your fitness routine or simply want to burn off some of those delicious buffet meals, you can do so without worrying about additional costs. From cardio machines to free weights, and even group fitness classes, these amenities are typically included in your cruise fare.

However, it’s worth noting that there are a few exceptions. On smaller vessels like riverboats and some expedition ships, the gym facilities might be more limited, and occasionally, there might be a small fee involved. But for the most part, especially on larger cruise ships, you’ll find that staying active doesn’t have to cost extra.

What Types of Fitness Classes are Offered on Cruise Ships?

From my experiences, I can say that cruise lines are not just about relaxation; they’re about rejuvenation and vitality too.

people working out inside a gym

Royal Caribbean, for instance, is renowned for its range of fitness classes. Here, you can stretch and find your zen in a yoga class, build strength in a Pilates session, or get your heart racing with an energetic spinning class. Similarly, Carnival Cruise Line steps up the game by offering these and adding intense boot camp classes to the mix.

My personal favorite experience was on the Norwegian Cruise Line. Their offering goes a notch higher with exhilarating spin classes and high-intensity boxing classes. There’s something about throwing punches in the middle of the ocean that adds a unique thrill to the workout! Reviews of Norwegian Cruise Lines often highlight these diverse fitness options, which are a big hit among health-conscious travelers looking for an engaging way to stay active while at sea.

However, it’s important to note that while most cruise ship gyms are free, these specialized fitness classes often come with an additional fee. But trust me, they’re worth every penny for the experience and the results.

Now, let’s talk about an exception that truly stands out – Virgin Voyages. As a relatively new player in the cruising world, they’ve broken the mold by offering all fitness classes completely free of charge. And it’s not just the cost-free aspect that’s exciting; it’s the variety!

Onboard, you’ll find everything from high-intensity HIIT sessions and Muscle Beach-style workouts to uniquely fun ’80s aerobics classes where themed attire and Shake Weights are all part of the fun.

During one of my trips with Virgin Voyages, I tried their ’80s aerobics class. Dressed in neon leggings and a headband, I found myself laughing and working out harder than I expected. It was not just a fitness class; it was a memorable event, combining nostalgia, fun, and a serious workout.

Types of Gym Facilities Available

Onboard a cruise ship, the gym is a haven for fitness enthusiasts like myself. Over the years, I’ve explored the gym facilities of various cruise lines, and each time, I’m impressed by the state-of-the-art equipment and unique offerings they provide. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect.

Cardio Equipment

woman using a treadmill

First up, cardio equipment – the heart of any gym. Cruise ship gyms are typically equipped with an array of machines designed to get your heart pumping while offering stunning ocean views. You’ll find treadmills, perfect for a morning jog or an evening run as the sun sets over the horizon. Then there are the ellipticals and rowing machines, offering low-impact workouts while still challenging your endurance.

Resistance Machines

man training in the gym using a machine

For those looking to tone or build muscle, the resistance machines are a godsend. These include a variety of machines like the Chest Press, Leg Press, and Shoulder Press. Each machine targets different muscle groups, allowing for a comprehensive strength-training routine.

On one of my Royal Caribbean trips, I found their leg press machine particularly impressive, offering resistance levels that cater to both beginners and seasoned gym-goers.

Free Weights

hands picking up dumbbells

No gym would be complete without a free weights section. This area is typically stocked with a range of dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells. Whether you’re looking to do some bicep curls, deadlifts, or kettlebell swings, there’s enough variety to keep your workout interesting. I remember a session on the Carnival Cruise where I joined a few fellow passengers for an impromptu group workout. It wasn’t just about exercise; it was a fun, communal experience that brought us together.

What Is the Optimal Time to Use the Gym on a Cruise Ship?

Generally, these fitness centers, like the ones on Royal Caribbean (6 am to midnight) or Carnival Breeze’s Cloud 9 Spa Fitness Center (6 am – 10 pm), are busiest in the mornings and on sea days. My insider tip? Try during mealtimes or just before dinner for a quieter session.

Be mindful that exercising while the ship is moving can add an unexpected challenge to maintaining balance, a quirk that I find adds a fun twist to my workouts.

Also, it’s worth noting that avoiding rooms located directly below these fitness centers can sometimes be less desirable due to the potential noise from equipment and foot traffic, especially during these peak times.

Beyond the Gym: Alternative Fitness Activities on Cruises

Cruising offers more than just gym workouts for fitness enthusiasts. The great outdoors beckons with jogging tracks that loop around the deck, offering fresh air and ocean views. For an adrenaline rush, try rock climbing on ships like those of Royal Caribbean. If the water’s more your style, swimming, and water aerobics in the ship’s pools provide a refreshing workout. When packing for a 7-day cruise, consider including sports gear like running shoes, swimsuits, and comfortable athletic wear to take full advantage of these facilities.

For a holistic approach, don’t miss out on spa treatments and wellness seminars that rejuvenate both body and mind. Social and active, ‘Walk a Mile’ events invite passengers to collectively walk around the ship, while sports courts offer everything from basketball to tennis, making fitness both fun and engaging.

Are Crew Members Provided Access to Gym Facilities on Cruise Ships?

The answer is a resounding yes. Cruise lines are well aware of the importance of physical activity for everyone on board, including their staff. Maintaining health and productivity is crucial, especially in the unique environment of a cruise ship.

To ensure this, cruise lines make it a point to include fitness centers in their vessel designs, accessible to all. These facilities are not just a perk for passengers; they’re a shared space where crew members can also engage in workouts, stay fit, and unwind.

This inclusive approach underscores the cruise industry’s commitment to the well-being of everyone on board, making the cruising experience healthier and happier for both guests and crew alike.

Gym Etiquette and Tips for Working Out at Sea

woman working out on a beach

1. Wipe Down Equipment: Always clean the equipment after use. Most gyms provide paper towels and disinfectant for this purpose. It’s a courtesy to others and helps maintain a hygienic environment.

2. Be Mindful of Time on Machines: During busy periods, limit your time on popular equipment like treadmills and ellipticals, especially if others are waiting. A general guideline is 20-30 minutes per machine.

3. Respect Personal Space: Even on a ship, personal space matters. Avoid using equipment right next to someone else if there are other options available, and maintain a respectful distance during workouts.

4. Return Weights and Equipment: After using free weights or other portable equipment, return them to their designated spots. This helps keep the gym organized and safe for everyone.

5. Dress Appropriately: Wear proper workout attire and shoes for safety and hygiene. This also shows respect for the shared fitness environment. When packing for your cruise, it’s essential to include appropriate fitness wear, such as moisture-wicking clothes and supportive sneakers, to ensure you’re prepared for any physical activities or workouts you may want to participate in while on board.


Reflecting on my cruising adventures, I’ve come to realize the immense value of the gym facilities and fitness options available on these magnificent ships. They are more than just amenities; they are gateways to a healthier, more vibrant cruising experience.

Throughout my travels, embracing the gym culture on board has not only helped me stay in shape but has also enriched my journeys in ways I never expected. Whether it’s the morning runs with breathtaking ocean views, the camaraderie in group fitness classes, or the quiet moments of strength training, each experience has contributed to my overall well-being.

So, as you set sail on your next cruise, think of the gym not just as a place to work out, but as a space to connect, rejuvenate, and maintain a healthy balance. Here’s to health, discovery, and unforgettable experiences on the high seas!


Which cruise ships have the best gyms?

Virgin Voyages, MSC Cruises, and Royal Caribbean stand out for their exceptional gym facilities. Virgin Voyages’ Athletic Club, MSC Cruises’ focus on fitness, and Royal Caribbean’s state-of-the-art equipment provide cruisers with top-notch workout options.

Can you use the gym on Royal Caribbean?

Yes, passengers on Royal Caribbean have access to the gym. It’s equipped with a variety of modern fitness equipment, offering a comprehensive workout experience at sea.

Can you wear gym shorts on a cruise?

While gym shorts are suitable for fitness activities, they are generally not acceptable for evening dining on cruises. Dress codes vary, but many lines, like Celebrity, have specific guidelines for evening attire.

Do cruise ship gyms have showers?

Yes, most cruise ship gyms are equipped with shower facilities. These allow guests to freshen up conveniently after a workout, adding to the comfort and practicality of the gym experience.