Runners are an interesting breed.
We have our running habits (warm up before a run); running days (long run Sundays); and running ways (talk in acronyms – PR, PB, PW). Take away our daily runs and we are not happy.
So, how does a runner find ways to run (other than the “dreadmill”) on a cruise vacation?
Here, are five things you can do to ensure you hit the pavement – or the ship deck – while taking a cruise.
1. Map It Out.
You're a runner. You know what being resourceful means and not in the sense of coming back from a run with only one sock (it’s a dirty secret if you don’t know). I mean map it out before go. Sign up for a free account with mapmyrun.com or mapmyfitness.com and plan your route ahead of time. You can also search thousands of routes created by fellow runners for the ports you’ll be visiting. Do this before your cruise if you don’t want to buy a Wi-Fi package on board.
Here are a few of my favorite running routes in popular ports of call:
- San Juan Running Route (mapmyfitness)
- St. Thomas Running Route (mapmyfitness)
- Montreal Running Route (mapmyfitness)
- Juneau, Alaska Walking Route (mapmywalk)
2. Ask the Crew.
The athletic staff on the ships are usually sailing the same itinerary for four to eight months at a time. They know the ports as well as locals do, so ask them questions like: What’s the best route to run? Are there any routes you should avoid? Are there any specific running tips like running with a bell in Alaska (to startle the bears) or a water bottle in the Caribbean?
On a recent cruise aboard Norwegian Getaway, I learned the captain of the ship loved running up the mountainside in St. Thomas. Good to know on my next cruise to the Caribbean.
3. Go Big.
If you want to save your port days for exploring rather than running, choose to cruise on a larger ship with substantial outdoor space or wraparound deck. And avoid the jogging track on the ship (with the exception of the larger tracks, like those found on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Princess Cruises’ Regal or Royal Princess — they’re huge!). Tracks on ships tend to be small and you’ll spend more time dodging walkers and cruisers looking for a chair than you will actually running.
Instead, head to an open lower deck, which you’ll find on most large cruise ships, for a jog in the early morning hours when it’s mostly empty. Norwegian Getaway has one on deck eight (The Waterfront) and another one on deck six. Here, you’ll be able to pick up speed without needing to dodge fellow cruisers. Other larger ships include Anthem of the Seas, Norwegian Breakaway, and soon to be Norwegian Escape.
4. Sightsee on a 5K.
Disney Cruise Line hosts a “fun run” called The Castaway Cay 5K on ships that sail to Castaway Cay, their private island in the Bahamas. Families can run, jog or walk in the 5K as a way to explore the island and take in the lush tropical landscape. It’s a great opportunity to include your family in your runs, which can be a solitary activity at times.
To sign up, visit guest services when you board — it’s free! That’s not a typo; The Castaway Cay 5K is offered at no additional cost to cruisers. You’ll receive a racing bib to decorate and a special keepsake medal at the end of the run/walk. The race is timed and you get to cross a finish line, just like a marathon.
5. Book a “Runcation”
They do exist. We recently interviewed, Runner's World columnist, Jenny Hadfield to learn more about her running cruises.
There are a few companies out there like hers that specifically focus on running cruises where you can run anywhere from 15 to 40 kilometers the week of the cruise. Some are timed runs with chips, others are major organized runs like the Mendenhall Glacier Half Marathon, and many are just fun runs great for all levels of runners, joggers and walkers.
You book your cruise through the company and that will cover the actual cost of the cruise and your running package. The running package is what makes your cruise different from everyone else’s, that’s where you’ll get the fun stuff. That will include the races, events and seminars on board, running swag, medals, cocktail parties, onboard clinics and a chance to cruise with other like-minded runners. What’s included varies, but here are a few running cruises we are excited about for 2016 and 2017.