Walking the Cruise Ship

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No place to walk?

It was an enormous cruise ship. There should have been plenty of walking places built into the design. There weren’t. The Promenade, that ever-present feature of cruise ship fame had been cut down to a single-lane path that wove in, out and around small launches and electrical fittings. It didn’t circumnavigate the ship.

Who’s complaining? Me. I know that being able to travel to many of the world’s note-worthy places is a wild piece of luck, and I shouldn’t complain about any part of it. We plan our travel carefully, weighing cost versus comfort. And when we search for good deals, taking a cruise keeps popping its head up as the most economical way to get from point A to many many other points around the world. I am a reluctant cruiser, but as long as I can tolerate the short visits to interesting places, we will probably continue to book our interior rooms occasionally on these enormous floating hotels. It’s just not a perfect situation. What is?

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Lots of fun

We had signed up for a trans-Atlantic cruise that included a route into the Baltic region. It allowed for 11 different stops in 26 days. It’s a bit of ‘if it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium’, but when the price is right, I can adjust to almost any travel style. And when we get to those points along the way, I can walk my heart out for a good morning and afternoon in each port, which is really what I like to do when I travel, so that’s all good. But what about those ‘at-sea’ days? On this ship, a big, beautiful new one, there was the down-sized promenade and a small running track on one of the top decks. So, looking for a better stroll, I took to the stairs.

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The running track was nice, just short and often crowded.

From our pleasant small cabin on deck 11, I could climb the stairs to deck 15, loop around from the retreat pool to outside the always-crowded fitness room, up one deck to the surprisingly small running track, down again to the deck 15 loop, descend the stairs to the tiny little promenade on deck 7, up again to deck 14 where I could grab a cup of tea and find a solitary spot on one of the exterior lounge areas. It turned out to be an invigorating walk, and there were always plenty of places on the ship where I could find privacy afterwards for some reading or relaxing.

It was interesting to me that as I walked, and as I lounged, I noticed that many other passengers were finding their own ways to get in their exercise. As I looked for books in the library, I noticed a couple walked by four times. They had devised an indoor walking route around the many interior lounges. Then, in my ‘secret’ spot at the very back of the ship where there was a lovely dead end and few people, one man walked rapidly past me, where there was no more ship, turned around and walked just as rapidly away. He came back about 15 minutes later, with the same routine and again 15 minutes after that. On another day, it was a woman doing the same walk. On the days when I sat away from the crowd in my corner at the retreat pool, I noticed an intermittent stream of walkers, one or two or three at a time, looping through the area, returning about every 20 minutes.

I was stuck on the ship for 26 days. Six of those days were traveling across the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to the Azore Islands of Portugal. I knew I had to figure some outdoor routine for exercise and escape. Even though the routine did not include the usual promenade walk, as things turned out, it did include great exertion and lots of pleasant relaxation. I even found empty hot tubs for a satisfying rest after my walk if I went early enough (so I did.)

Taking a cruise has an odd reputation that I find doesn’t have much to do with the way we experience it. We have been able to bend the cruise experience to our own idea of travel – economical and comfortable sojourns to interesting locations. A nice walk and a hot tub waiting when I’m done is nothing to complain about.

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Next stop: Ponta Delgada, Portugal

 

 

Stop by Restless Jo’s Monday Walks for more…

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39 thoughts on “Walking the Cruise Ship

    1. Jesper – I’ve always found plenty of private spaces onboard, and have always figured out how to take nice, long walks. I also see a lot of people, like myself, who are fitting a cruise into their travel style. It’s not all people pretending to be something they aren’t while stuffing their faces at the buffet! hanks for the comment – Susan

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    1. Hah. Somehow, I expected exactly these words from you! And happily. I feel precisely the same as you do, and yet I continue to hop aboard. It’s almost inexplicable. And I apologize if cruise ships ruin your neighborhood. I am truly ashamed. (but have another one planned…..:)

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    1. I’d never been on the mammoth ships before. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I sought it out for exactly the reasons you stated. There was no jet lag, no airport frenzy, no tight spaces, so it worked out well for that. I’ve heard good things about the Cunard London-NYC. Let me know if you try it – Susan

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    2. ooh we are strongly considering a ‘re-positioning cruise’ for exactly the same reasons as you. We’re thinking maybe Europe to the USA. Worried for all the same reasons you are though so haven’t been brave enough to book, but after reading a few of Susan’s posts I am beginning to feel braver!

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      1. Becky – we are even taking a second this fall, from Rome to Ft Lauderdale. The long-haul flights are just so brutal, so if you have the time, the repositioning cruises can be really nice. Sometimes I have to be careful about changes in diet, and I can have a consistent diet on the ship. Unpack once, and then relax. You just have to bend the cruise experience to fit your needs. Good luck! Susan

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    1. Anabel – had to find a good way to stretch those walking muscles, and, as you noticed, there were plenty of stairs. I’ laughing at your great description – skyscraper – but I have heard there are even bigger ships. Wow/Arggg. 😉

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  1. Take me to the Azores! Pretty please 🙂 🙂 I’ll even put up with a cupboard below decks. I do appreciate your reasoning, though the cruise lifestyle has never much appealed. Don’t knock it till you try it. 🙂 It occurred to me that those people who kept walking past repeatedly had designs on your ‘hiding place’, but every time they came back you were still there! Thanks for the link, Susan. Bring on those Azores and make it all worthwhile. 🙂

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    1. RJo – I love your wonderful enthusiasm. Sorry to say your Algarve region is not nearly as close to the Azores as you’d like, is it? But, if I am ever able to make return trips, the Azores has my heart. Lovely, lovely place.
      PS – taking cruises has made it possible for us to see so many places we wouldn’t be able to go to if we piecemealed the trip. Compromise, compromise….

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  2. I’ve only taken one cruise – a 14-day cruise to ports in Mexico out of San Diego – but it was probably 20 years ago. We enjoyed ourselves and I think I’d like to cruise again sometime – maybe through the Panama Channel or to Alaska. I’m sorry to hear that some ships have taken away the walking/running track; it was a great way to get some exercise and feel a little less guilty eating so much food. I just recently got a link to a couple of websites where you can get notices about last-minute cruise deals… maybe I’ll check them out!

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    1. Janis – I loved our cruise to Alaska. I keep wanting to not take cruises, but, like those last-minute ones, they keep tempting me with the great deals they offer. Unpack your bags once, and they get you to your next port while you sleep. Pretty nice. 😉

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  3. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Spanish City | restlessjo

  4. I love the walk you devised. I would have done exactly the same thing. I must admit I do love the luxury of cruise ships. It’s a bit like train travel only longer and on the sea. Everything is taken care of so there’s plenty of time to be lazy. Or to walk!
    Alison

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    1. Alison- Perfectly said. I always feel a bit out-of-sorts on a cruise until I find my own routine and my tucked-away places. Now that I have to be more careful with changes in diets and really appreciate that nice night’s sleep, if I can find a good price on a cruise to interesting places, I can put up with the short visit. Buen salud (are you still in Mexico?? – I think not) Susan

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  5. I have only been on one cruise – and it wasn’t nearly as long, nor on a a ship nearly as huge as yours. I think I would like to try a river cruise if I ever go again where there would always be scenery to look out at. I found that even with so many floors and stairwells, I got a little bored with seeing the same thing every time I traversed the ship.

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    1. Violet – (love the name) – I’ve heard people enjoy the river cruises. Their itinerary always seems packed to me, and I do like to laze around a bit. Everything is a compromise, isn’t it? Let me know how you like it if you do go. Thanks for the comment – Susan

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  6. Where there’s a will there’s a way and it looks like you came up with a workable plan to get in you daily walk! We took a trans-Atlantic repositioning cruise from Miami to Barcelona in 2015 for exactly the same reasons you mentioned: a great and inexpensive way to get from Point A to Point B, minimize the jet lag and try out a different style of travel. I’m not sure I “get” the people who cruise as a vacation (maybe too many hotel rooms?) but it can be a great way to reach one’s destination and much nicer that being crammed in to a plane! Anita

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    1. Anita – I couldn’t agree more. As long as we have the time, it can be pleasant. This trip got us into the Baltic region – as you know, a really expensive area – for a reasonable price. We have another transatlantic planned as a return trip from Rome to Florida in October. I’ll suffer the plane trip, and enjoy the return. 🙂

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  7. Good for you to find your exercise routes and secret hideaways on the ship. I am not sure I could spend 6 days on the sea…I am more of a short cruise person, one day on the sea at the time 🙂 but undoubtedly your 26 days on the ship did lead you to many new experiences…looking forward to reading more.

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  8. We said we’d never take a cruise in our travels – but, like you, we did the math and it WAS the most economical way to come back to the US from Europe after our round-the-world trip. We were surprised that we found the days at sea far more enjoyable that the too-short stops at ports. Yes, we had routes for walking the mega-ship that got us our exercise for the day (though we never walked far enough to make up for the extra calories we consumed with the lovely meals). We discovered special places to sit and read in absolute comfort and a great view of the ocean. We can now understand why you took your long cruise but don’t you find the stops far too short?

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    1. Your description of ‘cruising’ is perfect. I use it to take a quick peak at new places that I may re-visit and to travel in comfort, all for a reasonable price, but it’s far from ideal. I have to say, though, that our coast-to-coast flight from Florida to California after the cruise (though nothing went wrong) reminded me why taking that transatlantic cruise is such a treat. True, it takes a week, but a week after our flight, I am still battling the aftermath of air travel – plugged ears, scratchy throat, slight jet lag. Ahhh, travel. 🙂

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