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How to Stay in Shape on a River Cruise

Mon 16 July 2018

Staying in shape and keeping fit whilst on a river cruise may seem like a challenging task! It is no secret that river cruising is the perfect opportunity (and excuse) to indulge in great food and fine wines. Particularly when most meals are a delightful multi-course event with divine regionally-inspired gourmet dishes prepared by world-class chefs. Not forgetting the all-inclusive element that most river cruise lines boast, which usually include an unlimited array of soft and alcoholic beverages. So, the question is… is it really possible to indulge yourself AND stay in shape whilst cruising?

Active Shore Excursions

Thankfully, the answer is yes! In fact, it has never been easier to stay fit and healthy when river cruising. Many cruise lines are now introducing shore excursions that are both active and adventurous. For example, AmaWaterways now have guided excursions for ‘Active Walkers’ as well as ‘Gentle Walkers’ meaning you can burn off that Crème brûlée whilst wandering through the vibrant city of Vienna.

Uniworld have introduced ‘Go Active’ itineraries featuring faster-paced activities such as jogging and hiking. Perhaps enjoy a Go Active hike to the magnificent Niederwald Heights in Rudesheim, Germany. Similarly, CroisiEurope now have specialist hiking-themed cruises along the Douro, Rhone and Danube rivers; each of which feature a qualified mountain guide. Each itinerary offers an included hikers and non-hikers excursion programme to ensure that there is something for everyone!


Another popular way to stay in shape when cruising is to explore destinations by bicycle. Some cruise lines such as Amadeus and APT now have complimentary on-board bicycles allowing you to ride at your own pace along picturesque routes. Alternatively, choose a guided cycling tour and enjoy a day of fascinating sight-seeing whilst keeping fit! For example, cycle along the Danube between Dürnstein and Melk, in Austria’s beautiful Wachau Valley or enjoy a ride through the medieval city of Rouen in France’s historic Normandy region.

River cruise ships often have a small heated pool Enjoy a yoga session on the Sun Deck Keep in shape in the fitness centre Enjoy stunning views on a guided cycle ride

On-Board Facilities

Shore excursions are not the only way to stay in shape whilst cruising. When journeying along scenic rivers, you can make the most of the facilities onboard your ship! Many river cruise ships now have a walking track which wraps around the top deck. This allows guests to stroll, jog or run whilst taking in the delightful scenery that glides past.

Most of the river cruise ships also feature a well-equipped fitness centre and some even have a small heated pool. If you are cruising on a smaller ship or mega-yacht such as Intrepid, you may have the chance to swim, snorkel and paddleboard in the charming waters!

AmaWaterways have tailored their itinerary to create themed ‘Wellness Cruises’ which feature a range of exercise classes, relaxation techniques and lectures which focus on healthy eating. Similarly, Uniworld offer a ‘Wellness on the Water’ program featuring yoga sessions and a menu designed with far fewer calories.

Say Yes to the Dessert

The key to staying in shape when on a river cruise is not to count calories or avoid the beverage list. The key is to stay active and make the most of what’s on offer! Choose a guided hike or walking tour, spend the day cycling rather than sitting, join a morning yoga class, spend an hour in the fitness centre or simply go for a stroll on the walking track. Aim to find the perfect balance between relaxation and mindful exercise.

Top Tips:

• Be realistic about your level of fitness and don’t push yourself too hard.

• Don’t forget to pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes or trainers.

• Check out your detailed itinerary before you set sail so you have a good idea of the activities and excursions waiting for you!

• Stay hydrated – drinking plenty of water is very important when exercising. Water is included on European river cruises.

Blue Water Holidays Blog