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Travelers who choose to cruise don’t have to leave their workout regimens or their favorite therapeutic spas at home – cruise ships offer expansive fitness and spa options that rival, and in many cases surpass, anything vacationers can find on land.

The cruise lines dedicate thousands of square feet to health, fitness and spa facilities, in some cases 20,000 feet per vessel, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Cruise-ship health and fitness facilities offer guests a full complement of resistance machines and free weights, plus cardiovascular equipment, fitness classes and more. Today’s ships also feature outdoor jogging tracks and multiple swimming pools. Spa cuisine, offered in shipboard dining rooms or special spa cafes, allows guests to enjoy delicious, healthy meals while at sea. 

CLIA member-line cruise ships feature an eclectic mix of spas including Canyon Ranch, Carita of Paris and Mandara, which are considered among the world’s best. Many shipboard spa and fitness facilities are designed according to Feng Shui principles, and treatments run the gamut and include hot stone, Swedish, Shiatsu, and Reiki massage therapies and more. In some cases, guests can even opt for massages on deck or in a beachside bungalow.

A lot of cruise ships also offer the latest in health and fitness classes including Pilates, tai-chi, yoga and step aerobics. Shipboard health club staff offer complimentary tips on proper use of equipment and personal trainers are available to offer customized exercise programs for an additional fee.

Following is a rundown of some of the cruise lines' facilities.

Carnival’s SpaCarnival program features up to 15,000 square feet of dedicated health and fitness space per ship – with a variety of ways for guests to pamper themselves. Onboard facilities include the latest workout equipment; aerobics, relaxation and stretching sessions and many “European-style” spa therapies. Carnival Spa Fare offers guests the option of cuisine that is lower in fat, sodium, cholesterol and calories.

The health clubs aboard Crystal Cruises’ ships are the only spas at sea designed according to Feng Shui principles. The line hosts several Health & Fitness theme cruises each year, with varying emphasis on Pilates, tai-chi or yoga. Fitness centers feature classes that change daily. Dining venues offer three-course, low-carbohydrate menus and selections that are low in salt, fat, sugar and cholesterol.

Celebrity Cruises’ AquaSpas offer panoramic views and include state-of-the-art fitness centers with free weights, advanced weight-training machines, cardiovascular exercise equipment and aerobics areas. The facilities provide trainers for personal instruction, holistic spa treatments, massage rooms, saunas, steam rooms, thalassotherapy pools and fully equipped beauty salons. Many of the line’s ships also feature AquaSpa Cafes, which feature healthful cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Costa Cruise Lines’ ships offer Pilates and yoga, among other classes, along with a comprehensive spa menu of massages and beauty treatments. Health & Well-Being selections are featured in the main dining rooms. Costa’s Costa Concordia, due out next year, will feature the innovative two-deck Samsara Spa, which offers direct access via a private elevator, for some 55 cabins and 12 suites.

The Canyon Ranch SpaClub aboard Cunard Line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 features 20,000 square feet of spa, beauty and fitness facilities located on two forward-facing decks. It is the first such facility for Canyon Ranch on board a luxury liner. In an effort to provide guests with a more complete experience, Canyon Ranch chefs designed spa selections served in QM2 dining rooms.

The Vista Spa & Salon aboard Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic recently introduced a cruise industry first “spa villas” concept – three indoor/outdoor treatment suites that feature an enclosed treatment area connected to a private verandah with a hot tub, open-air shower and chaise lounge. The fitness center at Vista Spa doubled in size to include more cardiovascular and weight machines and provide ample space for classes in aerobics, yoga and body shaping.

Holland America Line’s Greenhouse Spas offer an extensive menu of massage and body treatments, facials, detoxification therapies and salon services for men and women. The fitness centers feature top-of-the-line weight and cardio machines, as well as Pilates, yoga and spinning classes. Guests will find healthy meal options on lunch and dinner menus in the main dining rooms and Lido buffets.

MSC Cruises’ fleet features spas complete with a wide variety of spa treatments – as well as fitness centers and beauty salons. In addition, MSC Opera, MSC Lirica, MSC Sinfonia and MSC Armonia each have relaxation and meditation rooms. Classes are offered in yoga, Pilates and aerobics. Lunch and dinner menus feature a selection of “Healthy Choice” and vegetarian dishes, including sugar-free desserts.

On the ships of Norwegian Cruise Line and NCL America guests enjoy Mandara Spas. Treatments include hot stone massages, Hawaiian lomi-lomi massages, Swedish style massage, reflexology and more. Ships feature 24-hour fitness centers, jogging tracks and volleyball and basketball courts. Other health and fitness amenities include putting greens, steam rooms, fitness classes and gyms with cardio equipment, weight machines and free weights.

Oceania Cruises’ spa facilities are operated by Mandara Spas and feature such amenities as thalassotherapy whirlpools and spa cabanas for on-deck massages, as well as yoga and Pilates classes and personal trainers. Styling salons offer hair styling, facials, manicures and pedicures. Oceania Spa Cuisine is available in dining rooms and guests dining in Toscana and Polo Grill can request light and healthy cuisine.

Lotus Spas on board Princess Cruises’ ships offer an Asian-themed atmosphere and treatments based on Far Eastern therapies and rituals. Lotus Spa offerings include a wide array of choices for facials, body treatments and massages. An extensive menu of exercise classes, fitness instructors and personal training and consultation sessions are also available – as well as a series of health and nutrition seminars.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers several “spotlight” cruises with lecturers and experts who discuss the benefits of an active lifestyle and healthy diet. Most of the ships’ Carita Spas offer dry saunas, steam baths and Jacuzzis. In addition to fully equipped gyms, classes are offered in aerobics, step aerobics, stretching and body toning. Dining rooms offer lean and healthy entrée options.

ShipShape Fitness Centers aboard Royal Caribbean International ships feature the latest in cardiovascular equipment, weight machines and stair steppers. Yoga, kickboxing, aerobics classes and personal training sessions are also available. Ships also feature jogging tracks, basketball courts, rock-climbing walls, miniature golf and golf simulators. ShipShape Spas offer exotic treatments, including Elemis aroma stone therapy, Swedish massage, hydralift facials and enriching milk baths.

The Spa at Seabourn, a full-service well-being facility located aboard the three all-suite Yachts of Seabourn, was awarded the highest score for a shipboard spa in the 2005 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Survey. Complimentary “Massage Moments” on deck introduce guests to the pleasures of massage therapy. Other popular services include Aroma Stone Therapy, LT Oxygen Lifting Facial and Aroma Spa Ocean Wrap.

All four of Silversea Cruises’ ships feature a Mandara Spa, which offers guests various spa treatments, dry and steam saunas, a beauty and hair salon and fitness center. Stretching, aerobics, Pilates and yoga classes are offered as is instruction in circuit training. One-on-one training sessions are available at an additional charge. CruiseLite and low-carb menu items are offered in the ships’ dining rooms.

Guests sailing aboard Swan Hellenic’s Minerva II can opt for facials, body wraps, massages, Reiki, reflexology, manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyelash and eyebrow tinting and make-up application. Fitness options include Pilates, yoga, tai-chi, Circuit Class, Body Tone, Body Ball, Body Breathe, Body Stretch, Legs, Bums and Tums, and Walking Club. All classes are led by a fitness director or a certified personal trainer.

The WindSpa aboard Windstar Cruises’ 308-passenger Wind Surf boasts an updated gym and Nautilus room, new fitness classes and innovative spa treatments ranging from traditional massage and aromatherapy to hydro and synergistic therapy. Wind Star and Wind Spirit, at 148 passengers each, feature recently enlarged gyms with new equipment. Guests on all vessels can enjoy healthy meal options and vegetarian selections.

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