Active Cruising is Totally a Thing

Active Cruising is Totally a Thing

by Guest Contributor

Four years ago, 32-year-old Tanner Callais and his wife, Ashley, received a most extravagant wedding gift: a seven-day Caribbean cruise. He was less than thrilled. "We thought cruising was just for old folks," he says. “Still, we couldn't let it go to waste. We were blown away at everything there was to do. We explored ancient ruins in Belize. We found paradise, Half-Moon Beach, in Roatan. We had no idea any of this existed before our trip.”

The Rise of Active Cruising

Callais, who was so impressed he subsequently founded, a resource for cruise travelers, experienced what cruise lines have increasingly noticed: young adventure travelers in search of thrilling escapades were an untapped market. While luxury lines such as Crystal Cruises tout "unparalleled posh elegance in a sanctuary of refined style," Royal Caribbean is using frenzied music and fast cutaways in ad campaigns to show its audience just how much action is really in store.

Photo courtesy of Simon Brooke-Webb/Royal Caribbean
Photo courtesy of Simon Brooke-Webb/Royal Caribbean 

In fact, Royal Caribbean, a cruise line which positions itself as "the world’s most adventurous," began targeting multi-generational travelers interested in more than the buffet when it introduced the first rock-climbing wall aboard a cruise ship in 2009. Its increasingly millennial clientele sees cruise lines as more than simply a floating hotel with pool, spa and umbrella drinks. Soon the cruise line began offering more adventure, from surfing, skydiving and Zip-lining, to a partnership with PADI that allows passengers to become scuba-certified onboard. Even on its private island near Labadee, Haiti, Royal Caribbean introduced thrills. It’s now home to the world’s longest over-water Zipline. “This is 500 feet high and a half a mile long and I’m scared of heights,” says one British millennial, who filmed the action with a GoPro.

Royal Caribbean recently launched a new marketing campaign, "Come Seek," which is “all about adventure,” says Stephanie Holder, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman. Chockfull of millennials, it’s all but telling you to pack your bags for action, and not the kind found at the pool bar.

Not to be outdone, Norwegian Cruise Line has a three-story ropes course and "99 exhilarating challenges" aboard the Escape, with a multi-level sports complex that invites passengers to suspend themselves on one of five Sky Rail zip tracks or walk “The Plank,” which extends a heart-stopping eight feet off the side of the ship.

The Action Offshore

Onboard fun is great, but what happens when it’s time to disembark and explore? While booking packaged excursions through the ship is convenient, they can be crowded and pricey— and sometimes lack the authenticity of a truly local experience.

Thanks to the Internet and social media, the power offshore is back in the hands of passengers. The onset of companies such as Viator and ShoreTrips that specialize in day trips and shore excursions in hundreds of destinations has changed the offshore cruising experience, allowing passengers to organize local experiences for themselves. Even AirBnB’s new Experiences portal provides opportunities for cruise passengers to tap locals directly for access to the best trails, beaches and more. A quick search yields adventurous choices like off-road adventure tours, deep-sea fishing, Mayan ruins exploration, whale shark encounters and eco adventures.

River Cruises Get Active, Too

Once a haven for senior citizens in search of scenic, leisurely wine-tasting, even river cruise lines have upped their game when it comes to active adventures.

AmaWaterways pioneered the idea of active river cruising in 2006 when it added a permanent fleet of 25 bicycles onboard all its European ships, and incorporated "active" walks and vigorous hikes to the menu of excursions.

Then in 2015, the cruise line partnered with Backroads active travel, which applied its seven-day biking trip model to river cruises. Guests experience onboard life as regular passengers, then bike anywhere from 11 to 43 miles a day on custom titanium road bikes at various destinations.

"When we announced our first active river cruises aboard AmaWaterways, they immediately sold out," says Backroads spokesperson Liz Einbinder. “We increased the number of departures and those sold out, as well,” she says.

The Backroads passengers typically number about 30 and are a subset of ship guests, in addition to entire ship buyouts for 150 Backroads guests (next one is September 2017).

"Throughout the past several years, we have noticed the use of bikes has risen dramatically and our guests are asking for more challenging hiking options."

Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner, AmaWaterways

Heightened interest in active travel spurred the company to launch a Wellness Program with sports scientist Selina Yanks, which AmaWaterways rolled out earlier this year on the Paris to Normandy itineraries. In 2018, AmaWaterways plans to roll out the program on several more ships, then possibly fleet-wide in 2019.

Needless to say, we’ve come a long way from shuffleboard on the Lido deck. If you’re looking for affordable, active travel, and an easy way to visit multiple destinations in one trip, cruising may be a more viable option than you once thought.

*What trends are you seeing in the active travel market? Let us know and send your ideas for future articles to *

Written by RootsRated for RootsRated Media in partnership with RootsRated.

Guest Contributor
Guest Contributor


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Sessions

7 Underrated Ways to Leave No Trace in the Outdoors
7 Underrated Ways to Leave No Trace in the Outdoors

by Guest Contributor

Everyone knows about packing out your trash, or what to do when nature calls in the wilderness. These are number one and number two (literally) in the leave-no-trace playbook for those of us who care about preserving outdoor spaces for future generations to enjoy.


Read More

"It's Like Going Home."
"It's Like Going Home."

by Jenna Baker

Almost everyone today has been, or knows someone who has been, affected by anxiety, depression, or some kind of addiction. In the words of Jessica Grambau, "we're in a heavy epidemic right now--whether it is drugs or depression or anxiety," which is why she started New Heights Hiking.

Read More

"It's the Medicine."
"It's the Medicine."

by Jenna Baker

Here at Wildhorn we idealize five basic principles. We strive to be approachable, adventurous, spirited, enduring, and grateful. We are grateful for the opportunities we have and the experiences life brings. We have recently had the opportunity to interview John Afshari, a native Californian who teaches people with disabilities or special needs to surf.

Read More

★ Reviews

Let customers speak for us

1301 reviews
Great new and improved mask

I love the mask and it’s definitely easier to breathe through, he only thing that I was a little disappointed in was that it’s lopsided when you go to put it on your head and that’s only because of the way it’s re-design, versus the old one was centered in the middle and distributed the weight easier when putting it on

Great fit

I have not got to use the mask yet but was so happy to receive the correct size I ordered. I had ordered 3 times from Amazon and received the wrong size every time.

Best all around !

Great Quality, Great Price, Great Comfort, Fast Shipping !!!! What more could you ask for?

SV2- A great mask!

I have tested the mask out in the local swimming pool and I have found it to seal nicely around my face. The face measurement that you do prior to purchasing is necessary. Can't wait to try it out in Grand Cayman. Fogging is minimal and I follow the directions and used some non-abrasive toothpaste on the inside of the mask. Breathing with the mask on is not much of a problem, but there is also some truth to the fact that breathing in the mask is not obviously the same as breathing air without a mask on. I have never worn a full face mask but this product seems to be very nice and I feel comfortable wearing it in the pool. There is plenty out there on the Internet to read regarding full face masks, so do your due diligence and simply follow the directions that are provided with this mask and you'll be fine. Kyle from Milwaukee WI

Alta Wireless Headphones

Been using these for past 3 months. They work great in my Smith Ski Helmet, sound great, easy to turn on/off with ski gloves on, long battery life (couple of days skiing on each battery charge). Would definitely buy again.