The popularity of European River Cruises
European River Cruises have enjoyed a consistent upward demand curve for quite a few years now and many of the dominant players have high numbers of repeat travelers. Blonde and Brunette are enthusiastic river cruise advocates. We have done 4 in a little over a year and have already booked 2 for 2016.
Why are European River Cruises so popular? There’s the much-touted and entirely legitimate answer of you only have to unpack once. There’s the convenience of often being able to dock where you can walk right into a town or city to explore. Another biggee is that this way of cruising is the solution for those who get seasick (doesn’t happen on river cruises) or anxious if they can’t see shore (just look out the window). The only downside is that there’s a lot of wonderful food and adult beverages included in the cruise price.
Why is that a downside? Because it can make the numbers on your scale go up! And, even with the walking involved in your shore excursions, your fitness level may go down.
How you can stay fit on a European River cruise
Choose a European River cruise itinerary that incorporates fitness
Some European river cruise providers are getting imaginative and building fitness as an option into their itineraries. One that caught our always roving eyes is CroisiEurope’s river cruise/biking itinerary in Bordeaux along the Garrone River. Each day offers a choice of bicycling trips of various lengths. What’s really great about this is when was the last time you saw a river flow uphill?
Blonde did 3 different quite strenuous bicycling trips in Europe in the last century. But none of those trips (with the exception of one 10 mile stretch along The Danube) were flat terrain. Most of them had way too many hills and required months of training to even be able to do them (even allowing for being the last person to straggle back every day).
After all, we’re talking about maintaining fitness, not training for the Tour de France!
Wear a FitBit, pedometer or other tracking device/nag
Blonde is FitBit obsessed because she loves to tell on herself and compete with herself. (No one ever said good mental health is important if you want to be a travel blogger.) So she fastens one of her FitBits to her waist or wrist every day. Then she gets in her 10,000 daily steps with obsessive determination.
Many days on European river cruises she has been able to get her “required” steps in just by doing the regular shore outings; assuming that they are walks and not bus rides. If they’re bus rides she may be that annoying person walking long laps around the deck when everyone gets back to the ship. Then she goes back to her room and checks the FitBit app on her phone and logs in her progress.
For less compulsive and record-keeping types just a $10 pedometer will track your steps. But it’s best to set a goal, not only to count. If you track your steps for the day and at the end it says 134 then get off your duff and start moving!
Download an App for a short exercise program you can do in a small space
Very few (if any) river cruise ships have fully equipped gyms (it’s more important to have room for a fully equipped bar). But just because there isn’t a gym and you don’t want to be toting equipment with you around the world doesn’t mean you can’t do any strength training.
The New York Times has a scientifically validated (and I think we can agree that we all see scientists as Gods of Fitness) 7 minute free workout app. There’s also an advanced version that is included.
The routine takes very little space or time and does not require any equipment or special clothing. (Now, if you’re tied up beside another European river cruise ship and doing this in your skivvies, please close your blinds. The world is scary enough as it is.)
You can also find lots of exercise programs designed for small spaces if you search on YouTube. And if you’re like a certain travel blogger you can spend a lot of time watching those instead of, say, writing a blogpost about how to maintain you fitness on a river cruise..
Don’t forget to stay hydrated
Being hydrated is always important but especially so when you are exerting effort to maintain your fitness. Blonde drinks a glass of water for every glass of wine but some days it’s hard to drink 17 glasses of water…
Our personal definition of success after a European river cruise is to go home without having lost (much) of our fitness and not having gained weight.
Not losing fitness is the most likely goal to be achieved.
You might want to ask someone else for advice on the “how to not gain weight on a river cruise” goal.
FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Blonde has to find some way to pay for an expensive camera lens she wants.