At least five times a week, I know I'll be hitting the gym for a workout or the road for a bike ride or a run. Exercise and fitness is an important part of my routine. This is how it is for a growing number of people who realize a regular fitness regimen does so much to improve the quality of life as we age.
Get this: Some people love working out. Crazy, right? I'm one of them.
Combining my passion for fitness and adventure with my joy of travel makes both of these pursuits more fun. Cruises can be one of the most affordable ways to see the world, and I am always looking for voyages that offer plenty of challenging activities and wellness-based programs.
I've discovered that you can eat well, sleep in comfort, meet fellow travelers with similar passions and share cool adventures while on a cruise. Here are the best new cruises and cruise ships for 2017 that are perfect for fitness enthusiasts or people seeking a new way to cruise -- with a healthy twist.
MSC's Wellness Experience is powered by Technogym, the fitness equipment company. Using a pre-cruise questionnaire and onboard consultation with a trainer, each cruiser's trip is customized with shore excursions, fitness classes and healthy meal options to achieve specific fitness goals.
Once you book your cruise and the Wellness Experience, you fill out a questionnaire that helps identify your wellness motivations, such as aiming to look and feel better or improve athletic performance. Based on the answers you give, you get a personalized "Aspiration Map" that is the foundation of your individualized wellness program.
While MSC Seaside is the brand-new ship coming to the U.S., the Wellness Experience also will be available on other MSC Cruises ships beginning in April 2017.
Safari Voyager is a 62-passenger ship outfitted with an E-Z dock platform from which you launch your activities such as sea kayaking, paddleboarding, skiff tours, snorkeling and setting off for hiking ashore. Fresh and healthy regional cuisine also is featured, and you can take part in daily morning stretch or yoga sessions and use the workout equipment outside on Safari Voyager's sun deck.
Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas will set sail July 21 to July 28 for the Great Alaskan Running Cruise. The cruise goes from Anchorage to Vancouver, British Columbia, and features a 5K in Anchorage, 5K or half marathon along the Gastineau Channel in Juneau, a 4-mile Amazing Race in the Gold Rush town of Skagway and a 5K or 10K trail race in the Tongass Forest in Ketchikan. You've never trained so hard just to take a vacation.
Backroads and AmaWaterways offer river cruise bike tours and river cruise hiking and walking tours that give you a chance to venture through France, to see the Danube like I did, to follow the Rhine from Switzerland through Germany and into the Netherlands or to peddle through Portugal.
Or how about the chance to take one of the few river cruises along the Mekong to see Vietnam and Cambodia? With biking included. Backroads is the lone tour company to offer this type of combo.
The company also charters a river ship (not an AmaWaterways vessel) to take travelers to the Galapagos for a hiking and kayaking adventure.
Wellness Expeditions -- Silversea Expeditions offers a series of Wellness Expedition sailings that combine a slate of fitness activities while exploring exotic itineraries in the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa, India and the Arabian Sea. The luxury cruises include yoga, stretching, Pilates and aquagym classes. You also get personalized training, healthy menus, nutrition counseling and spa treatments.
SCUBA Cruises -- Silversea Expeditions also offers a series of SCUBA Diving Expeditions in 2017. You join a sailing that is led by a dive team full of marine biologists and scientific divers who will help you explore some of the world's top dive sites in the Indian Ocean, Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. The itinerary includes plenty of diving, as well as Zodiac tours and hikes.
Zumba Cruise -- If Zumba classes are your type of workout, you'll love the Zumba Cruise. Setting sail April 23 from Miami, the five-day cruise on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas unites fitness fanatics who regard Zumba as a lifestyle as much as a workout. The nearly non-stop pulse-pumping dance party/workout festival is led by the creator of the workout craze himself, Beto Perez, as you cruise to Nassau, Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico.
I wish I had time to try them all. Which cruises caught your interest? Or would you rather just kick back and relax on your cruise? Let me know.
Thanks for reading, and always travel happy!