My parents have been on numerous cruises and are huge fans. Often commenting on how I should try it and that the facilities are amazing. Even for someone wanting to train while on-board. There is something to be said for resting while on holiday which I think we all need not to forget. It did get me thinking though about the practicalities of a cruise holiday. Is it possible to train for a triathlon on a cruiseship while on holiday? It lead to the following article from research and information on how to train for a triathlon on a cruise.

Unless you’re a professional athlete like the Brownlee brothers, it can often seem that there’s no good time to train for a triathlon. Squeezing in workouts between employment and a social life can be taxing at the best of times. Throw in the unpredictable British weather and the problems with pollution currently making wild swimming hazardous. Horribly highlighted when 57 athletes fell ill after the August 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series event in Sunderland. It can make the training for an Ironman event seem even more gruelling than the race itself.

On the face of it, a cruise ship might be the ideal venue for a mini-training camp. Days under the sun in the Caribbean or Med sound like a more enticing venue for outdoor running than Cardiff or Manchester. That there’s no traffic on the boat means you can leave the Shokz OpenRun bone-conducting headphones at home and lose yourself in music, pounding the pedals on a stationary bike. With a (relatively) fixed venue, though, there may be some logistical difficulties in workouts on the waves.

Almost all cruise ships will have some sort of gym equipment, usually in a dedicated fitness centre. But is
that enough to get you fit for a triathlon? Let’s explore some maritime methods to facilitate triathlon fitness.

cruise ship gym

Facilities for triathlon training

If booking with an agent, harness their knowledge to pick the boat that’ll work for you best. For an outdoor run with a difference, Disney Cruise Lines has a 5k route on their private Castaway Cay island that’s free to any passenger on any ship that berths there. Meanwhile, many Celebrity Cruises ships have Peloton bikes. Six per ship on their Edge class cruisers and four on their Millenniums. So, you can ride whichever landscape you wish. Explora Cruises’ Explora I features Technogym Artis equipment, including ellipticals alongside treadmills for lower-impact running. They also offer fitness in your suite via Technogym Virtual Coach if you prefer to train alone.

Swimming might be a little more difficult. Most cruise ship pools cater to families. Lap pools onboard aren’t an option anywhere that I was able to find. Some ships have pools with currents to swim against. Princess Cruises certainly have them on board. Although reviews I read suggest the speed of the current didn’t offer much resistance to anyone but the most amateur swimmer. Perhaps plan to hit the pool before the ship’s more junior passengers wake up for the day.

Onboard and onshore training options

Think a little outside the box for days off the boat. Excursions can range from the very simple. Swimming in the sea at Sorrento makes for a lovely day, as well as wild water training – to the more outlandish. A stop in Reykjavik that offers horse riding across the Icelandic countryside to access hidden gem whale-watching points gives a stiff workout to the core. More memorable than any rowing machine.

You could take an alternative look at the Everglades with a trip to Shark Valley. A 15-mile paved loop can be jogged or cycled, with bike hire available there. Rather than viewing the local wildlife from a noisy airboat, you’ll be within feet of the gators who meander up to the trail’s edges to sun themselves and sleep. The point is that your stops can form part of your training as long as you know where you’re going to be on any given day, which is one key feature of a cruise – your itinerary is laid out for you, allowing you to put a plan in place.

Nutrition for triathletes on cruise ships

Of course, nutrition is a key part of any training plan. And here, it might pay to go premium if possible. We’re not talking about indulging in the most extravagant of steaks every meal – although they can certainly make for a memorable cheat day. More the higher ratio of staff to guests that high-end cruising provides. Instead of a self-serve buffet, you’re more likely to see cooking stations.

Want an egg white omelette instead of butter-filled scrambled eggs? That can be done. Going vegetarian or vegan to cut a few pounds? Luxury liners generally have multiple restaurants, and Explora Culinary Director Franck Garanger recently revealed he will “only eat vegetarian at home as I run ultramarathons and find it helps me run longer if I refrain from eating meat”. When you have a cruise ship’s kitchens, rather than your own cupboards at your beck and call, it can be tempting to think you can work off that ice cream later. Unfortunately, the ocean isn’t Vegas, and what happens (to the waistline, at least) there might stay there.

Conclusion on triathlon training while on a cruise ship

Does training on a cruise require a little more planning than at home? Possibly. If you’re taking any
supplements or protein powders, pack them with you. The last thing you want to be doing on a land-based excursion day is trying to find a pharmacy. Can it be done? Absolutely. A little flexibility is required; however, when triathlon training programmes typically run for over three months, your spell on a cruise is only going to take up a small part of your program. Be sure to pay regular visits to our Trivelo homepage for more tips on getting yourself triathlon fit.

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Billy Ferguson

Having founded Trivelo in 2015 after many years competing in triathlon Billy continues to enjoy training and triathlon. Founder Billy is strongest in the water but continues to try and convince his body that he is an ultra runner.


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