MORE THAN A CENTURY AGO, the great ocean liners, including the original Queen Mary and the ill-fated Titanic, provided space for passengers to exercise. These fitness centers of yesteryear, usually situated in rooms without so much as a porthole for views, were equipped with the iron weights and intricate wooden exercise machines of the time. Passengers worked out on rowing machines and static bicycles in full Edwardian dress, from suits and ties to dresses and hats.
For most of the 20th century, cruise ship fitness centers remained little more than windowless galleries of exercise and weight-lifting equipment. In the 21st century, however, as an increasing number of cruise passengers strive to stay shipshape, cruise lines transform fitness centers to keep up with swank land-based health clubs and workout emporiums.
Today’s biggest cruise ships offer unprecedented space and options for passengers who work out while sailing. Norwegian Cruise Line’s new 2,934-passenger Norwegian Escape elevated the fitness center to the top deck where passengers can tackle the largest rope course at sea with more than three stories of activities; ride “sky rails” which function like small zip lines; and walk “the plank,” a narrow beam jutting over one side of the ship. Norwegian’s larger vessels also sport rock-climbing walls and 24-hour gyms festooned with all the latest bells, whistles and punching bags.
Not to be outflanked, Royal Caribbean International installed SeaPlex, a high-tech indoor sports complex, on its 4,180-passenger, state-of-the-art mega-ships, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas. SeaPlex is replete with a basketball court, roller skating rink, bumper car arena and circus school.
Smaller, mid-sized, all-inclusive luxury lines followed suit. Crystal Cruises now features wraparound promenades for a “walk on water” workout that employs cotton vests with pockets for weights. Viking Ocean Cruises provides dedicated running tracks that are shaded, wide and long, with as few as four laps to the mile. Oceania Cruises conducts more than two dozen fitness classes led by professional instructors, ranging from Pilates and yoga at sunrise to walk-a-mile hikes and Kinesis wall exercises. Windstar Cruises placed a fitness center enclosed in glass on its top decks, with more than 20 workout stations and a fluid rower that operates with built-in water resistance.
Even very small ships are expanding workout options by running special fitness cruises. Amadeus River Cruises’ 168-passenger MS Amadeus Silver III sails the Rhine Nov. 7–12 this year with gym visits in port and special classes hosted on board by two celebrity instructors. And UnCruise Adventures’ 84-passenger Safari Endeavor explores the Sea of Cortes March 21–28, 2020, with its own special team of fitness experts overseeing strength training and yoga, both on deck and on the beach.
There may not be snow in Los Angeles this season, but Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is certainly full of the holiday spirit, with Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s events happening in the hotel’s gorgeous event spaces.
The Saronic or Argo Saronic Islands of Greece call travelers to explore its seven small islands and islets brimming with history, natural sites and more. With most easily accessible by boat, the islands’ proximity to ports of Athens make the Saronic Islands an ideal destination for those preferring shorter boat rides. In fact, trips from Athens ports to the islands take only between 10 minutes and two hours, depending on the island you choose, making them perfect for day or weekend trips. From Piraeus port, you can access Hydra, Spetses, Aegina and Poros directly. Come explore these stunning islands with us and find the inspiration to plan your next trip to these islands. Hydra Hydra town curves around a slope overlooking the Argosaronic Gulf like an amphitheater and is considered one of the most romantic destinations in Greece. Most unique to the island is its lack of vehicles. People on the island get around on mules and donkeys as well as water taxis, making for a peaceful and laid-back day. Hydra lies a two-hour ferry ride from Piraeus port in Athens.
The Islands of Tahiti are among the most beautiful and sought-after vacation destinations in the world. The endless images of overwater bungalows with Bora Bora’s majestic peak towering over waters of every shade of blue have an intrinsic pull. But with 118 islands and atolls to explore, there is so much more to this spectacular region of the Pacific.
Everyone loves a good Christmas tree, but these iconic hotels around the world take it one step further with designer-styled trees illuminating lobbies and public spaces, wowing all who enter. From Lela Rose to Louis Vuitton, don’t miss these ultra-luxury trees redefining tree decorating as we know it.
In addition to intimate settings, smaller staff-to-passenger ratios, and personalized food and beverage options, river cruises have the advantage of providing a deeper dive into a region’s culture, food and history. The Rhine, Rhône and Danube in Europe and the Mississippi River and St. Lawrence in North America have much to offer travelers with their itineraries, tying together beloved cities and lesser-known destinations along their routes.
Many small- and medium-sized businesses face time and budget constraints when organizing corporate hotel travel for employees. To address this problem, IHG® Business Edge emerged as a cost-free business travel solution for small- to medium-sized enterprises, offering travel managers exclusive access to enticing perks, handpicked educational resources and comprehensive company travel metrics. IHG Business Edge connects our loyal customers to our portfolio of 5,800 hotels and resorts across 18 brands in more than 100 countries.
With the holidays right around the corner, travelers are preparing for holiday travels. For those looking for a last-minute getaway filled with holiday cheer, consider Croatia. With a variety of winter activities perfect for travelers and locals alike, the Christmas countdown in Croatia is in full swing. Leading up to Christmas, Advent in Croatia makes it even more worth your while to visit the country with free winter incentives. If you plan on visiting Croatia, here are five cities going all out for the holiday season: