ABOARD THE MSC DIVINA – How hard could it be, I wondered? After all, I’d ridden a bicycle since before I was even old enough to reach the seat. I had to stand to pedal and I wasn’t really good at braking.
So this new exercise fitness craze should be easy, I thought.
I was so wrong.
Aqua Cycling by Hydrorider takes spinning to new heights and is an exclusive addition to MSC Divina’s Caribbean itineraries. The MSC Divina is the cruise industry’s first ship to offer Aqua Cycling by Hydrorider.
It’s like taking exercise bikes and putting them in the shallow end of a swimming pool. Made in Italy, Hydroriders are created of marine industry stainless steel so they can be placed in pools for classes and training.
All you have to do is put on a swimming suit or workout clothes, climb on one of the stationary bikes and pedal away. A fitness professional leads the cycling under water in time to energetic music, like M.C. Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This.”
The increased resistance of pedaling in water adds to the exercise benefits. Since you are doing it in water, the strenuous pumping is not as hard on knees, ankles and other joints.
“It is fun,” said Karen Thomas of Florida. “You almost forget that you are exercising. If I had a place to do it at home, I definitely would. My doctor said I shouldn’t jog anymore because of my bad knees so I could do this instead.”
Of course, the setting for the Aqua Cycling on Deck 14 of the MSC Divina is beautiful. And the instructor keeps the beat fast and the instructions varied enough that you don’t get bored. It is not all pedaling. Some of the movements include arm exercises, back stretches, neck arches, leg extensions and so on.
On any cruise ship – and especially on the MSC Divina – it is hard to resist the delicious around-the-clock cuisine. So it is always nice when a ship has interesting exercise options. On the MSN Divina, there are five swimming pools, plus complimentary gym facilities with treadmills, exercise bikes, resistance machines and a separate free weights area.
There is also an aerobics studio with classes ranging from yoga to Pilates. If you like walking to keep off the pounds, try the walking track on Deck 15. Watching the ocean and strolling the track is one of my favorites on any ship with that option.
The MSC Sport Arena on Deck 16 seemed to be quite popular. Whenever I ventured by, there usually seemed to be a spirited game of basketball going on. It’s an ideal place for basketball, football, volleyball and tennis. The arena also has 120 spectator seats but I figured I had better keep moving to work off some of that yummy food.
I can’t swear that they are the first on any ship but I have never seen any before. The MSC Divina features two mini-bowling alleys in its high-tech Sports Bar. The 10-pin bowling alleys include a traditional-looking bowling surface that is actually made of a tough phenol compound which allows anyone to join in the fun without changing shoes.
The alleys are scaled down to work perfectly in a bar environment, inviting people to mix and mingle, while even the bowls themselves are somewhat smaller than usual while still presenting a challenge.
Increasing the fun, there are two large LCD electronic screens featuring interactive videogame animations. As a Hoosier, I can see how the Sports Bar would be the place for me when the Colts or Indiana University play and the action is shown on a big-screen TV.
The MSC Divina is definitely divine and these recreation outlets are just the icing on the cake. Think I better head out for a walk or an aqua cycle class. I seem to have food on my mind and it’s going to take a lot of exercise to work off the calories I am enjoying every day.
Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch