I am not generally a person who holds preconceived notions about any travel experiences.
It's much better to "see for myself" -- and then judge whether it's something I would enjoy doing regularly.
But I must admit that I was more than a little skeptical about how many good fitness options would be available on Crystal Serenity as I prepared to take a voyage on the refurbished luxury cruise ship.
I had heard about Crystal Cruises' sailings and know they appeal to well-traveled and "well-aged" travelers. The average age on these cruises regularly touches 60 and older, with many of the nearly 1,000 passengers onboard well past 70.
So, I wondered whether I would be among a few in the gym getting in my daily workouts and also what else could I find to do on the ship that can get the blood flowing and ticker pumping a bit.
Turns out there is a pretty nice complement of fitness options, and many of these consist of leisure-type sports that I can appreciate as a draw to people who want to stay active as they age.
While I am determined to stick to my hardcore workouts and adventurous pursuits as long as possible, I do realize that there will be a time that I -- a nearly 52-year-old kid at heart -- will be forced to slow down.
I'm in denial now, of course, but I was glad to see so many options available onboard for when I must retool my fitness regimen. I have long been preaching that you have to use it or lose it when it comes to your body and aging, and I saw so many people on this luxury cruise who shared that motto.
The gym on Crystal Serenity was regularly packed, as the ship's fitness center features a full range of cardio and weight-training equipment. Throughout the week of my sailing, people of all ages were in the gym fairly religiously, starting their days with a vigorous workout.
However, it was the extra options for fitness that caught my attention.
Here are five cool sports and activities you can enjoy on Crystal Serenity:
Not exactly tennis but certainly more similar to that traditional court sport than pickleball, paddle tennis takes place on a nearly full-sized tennis court using a tennis ball and a solid paddle instead of a racket with strings.
The net is a little lower than in tennis and the court smaller. Crystal Serenity and its sister ship Crystal Symphony are two of the very few ships on the oceans to offer paddle tennis courts. Crystal Serenity has two paddle tennis courts that were constantly in use on Deck 13 overlooking the pool area below on Deck 12.
Crystal Serenity cruises with a PGA golf pro who gives lessons to avid golfers and wannabe golfers. The ship features a sports area at the back of the ship on Deck 6, and this space has two "driving ranges," which are netted cages that allow you to take full swings off a tee to work on all types of shots. You can also practice your stroke on the putting greens. Table tennis is also found back here, by the way.
The ship's Promenade (Deck 7) offers a complete circuit that takes three and one-third laps to complete a mile, and Nordic Walking poles and weighted vests are available for passengers to use while enjoying the scenic surroundings during vigorous walks.
What is Nordic Walking? The ship offers instructor-led sessions of the activity in which walkers use long poles similar to those used for cross-country skiing. The benefits of the sport include training for better balance on unstable or uneven surfaces (such as walking on a moving cruise ship promenade) as well as reducing the load on joints such as knees and ankles by allowing for more points of contact from the poles. It's a wonderful sport for those feelings some of the common aches and pains of aging.
The weighted vests simply make the sport a bit more challenging.
Trainers on Crystal Serenity offer a range of fitness classes that are included in your cruise fare. You can take part in Tour de Cycle spin classes, yoga, Pilates, stretching and other sessions. The ship offers classes appropriate for all levels of fitness.
I already talked about the Promenade on Deck 7 when discussing the Nordic Walking activity. The Promenade is just more than three laps per mile and is a wide space great for walking and even jogging around the ship. Additionally, you can use the turf lawn surface that encircles Deck 13 for running or walking workouts.
This is a fabulous space for sunrise or sunset jogging and is a nice soft surface forgiving on the feet and knees. I took several laps at both times of the day but became partial to mornings because I was able to spot whales and dolphins during our route along the California coast.
Thanks for reading and be sure to always travel fit, travel happy and travel often.