In today's dynamic world of transportation and personal mobility, cycling has gained popularity for both commuting and leisure. Whether you're a co...
Cycling on a Cruise – What to Consider
Perhaps it's a Luddite's view, but there's a case to say indoor cycling has spoiled some of us. Mountain biking might be safe for now; there's no real way to mimic the jumps and dropoffs of the downhill track at Killington Mountain without damaging a very expensive stationary bike and likely knocking a big hole in the floor of the house.
However, if we want to cycle a Tour De France stage, that can be done on a Peloton without ever putting rubber to road in Rouen or Reims. For those who still prize real world routes, cycling holidays are still big business. Three hundred-mile tours down Alaska's spectacular Richardson Highway go for a pretty penny, while Ibiza's hills make it as much a mecca for cyclists as clubbers.
What if there was an option to ride vastly different landscapes on the same vacation, though? Where you could struggle against the winds of the Scottish islands at the outset and round things off with a leisurely meander through NYC's Central Park?
There might be: a cruise could be the answer.
First, the big question - can you bring your bike on the boat? Some lines (Disney) forbid 'wheeled recreational equipment' entirely while others, such as Carnival, allow bikes with wheels up to 20", which would cover Bromptons – or BMX's if you're brave. While it's not something you can expect to find in the FAQ section of a cruise line's site, it could be worth talking to a travel agent. The majority of cruises are booked through a specialist - over 90% in the luxury end of the market - and they'll have specific knowledge of ships that can let you know if it's practical rather than just possible.
There are plenty of questions you can ask. Are the cabins or suites big enough to hold a bike without constantly maneuvering around it? If not, is there an indoor location where a bike can be stored securely and not exposed to salty sea air that can corrode a drivetrain? What kit would you need to pack? While other passengers may be alarmed at the sight of folks in full skinsuits, a moisture-wicking t-shirt can double up as workout wear for the ship's fitness center.
Destination, destination, destination
The aforementioned Scottish islands to Central Park can actually be ridden – Explora Journeys made a mammoth tour from Southampton to New York via the Arctic Circle that was a highlight of Explora I's first season at sea, and stopped at the Isle of Skye en route. That's plenty of different terrains to traverse, and their itinerary doesn't stop there - you could be pedaling anywhere from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia.
When a Crystal Cruise berths at Key West, having a bike means you can bypass the tourist traps of Duval Street and ride down to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, where the birdwatching and snorkeling rival the best in the Keys. Windstar Cruises' docking at Sorrento means riding a (small!) section of the Giro d'Italia could be an option. Checking schedules to get an advance weather forecast for destinations is a good idea - cycling Edinburgh's cobbled streets in the rain, is not for the faint-hearted. Meanwhile, if you're lucky enough to hit Key West at the end of October, the Zombie Bike Ride is a stunning spectacle whether you participate or not.
If it's not possible to bring a bike onboard, there are still options to pound the pedals on a cruise trip. Yes, Peloton features aboard some ships. Celebrity Cruises have them on 13 of their 16 vessels, with six per ship on their Edge class cruisers and four on the Millenniums. Explora Journeys take more advantage of the pretty unique setting and put their stationary bikes right on deck - spinning in the open air surrounded by nothing but ocean isn't an experience many cyclists will have had.
If you'd prefer to bike on dry land, there's always the option of hiring - popular destinations frequently have bikeshare programs, with Citibikes available all over NYC and Miami. In less built-up locations, local bike shops will often have steeds for hire - Skye's Bikes On The Brae stock Scott cyclocrossers, with electric bikes for those looking to outsprint the island's notorious midges.
Of course, part of the cachet of being on a cruise is the catering. High-end ships rival luxury hotels with multiple restaurants offering indulgences each and every meal time. Taking too much advantage could be disastrous for Strava times when back home, so you'll want to work at least some of it off. Keep the bike legs with the sea legs, and perhaps the lycra on your shorts won't have to work too hard.
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