Destination: Why The Zumba Cruise Was The Best Workout Vacation I've Ever Had
What do you do when someone asks you to take on a five-day trip from Miami, Florida to Nassau, Bahamas and Cozumel, Mexico? What if said trip involved dancing and working out from sunup to sundown, with over 3,200 people you've never met? And what if you experienced this and more while sailing across the Gulf of Mexico? All of these questions — plus excitement, nervousness, and uncertainty — crossed my mind after I read the email inviting me to take on Zumba Fitness' 2nd annual Zumba Cruise.
What was I nervous about? For one, I can't swim. Okay, I take that back. I can float and tread water on my back well enough to keep my head above water. Two, the idea of being on a 15-deck ship, for the first time, was a little unsettling. I couldn't help but think about the possibility of having to sucker punch someone over a life vest (because, Titanic). Three, I like Zumba, but not that much to do it all day, every day. (STRONG by Zumba is actually my preferred type of fitness class, but I digress). And four, what if I get sea sick? What if everyone looks totally fit and I'm over here struggling to get into my two-year-old swimsuit that I hope I can still fit? After quieting my racing thoughts, I finally convinced myself to take on the opportunity that many people have yet to experience.
Once I arrived at the dock in Miami, I walked to the end of the line filled with people from all walks of life, decked out in their favorite Zumba gear. Many people were friendly (in fact, I didn't see a frown or sad face throughout the trip) and smiling from ear to ear, as we inched closer to the Royal Caribbean ship waiting for our arrival. I checked into my room, watched the sun set and immediately all of my worries flew out of the window. The moment we set sea into the vast dark-blue water, I knew the tropical excursion would be an unforgettable one.
After nearly a week of being away from the mainland (and strong Wi-Fi signals), I realized that I got my entire life. In fact, the Zumba Cruise served as a much-needed workout vacation. If my next time away from home and work involved breaking a sweat while enjoying the view of beautiful weather, I'd sign up again. In all honesty, though, if it weren't for the following six aspects of the trip, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it nearly as much.
1. The Energetic Music
What's a party without good music? When it comes to the Zumba Cruise, body-shaking music is far from a shortage. Throughout the length of the trip, bass-thumping tunes echoed throughout the ship, both inside and outside on various decks. No matter where I walked, I couldn't help but get into the feel-good vibes and join happy people from all over the world, dancing in unison to an instructor-led, choreographed class.
The best part of there being great music at all times of the day is the fact that I expanded my love of music while being exposed to more eclectic genres like soca, reggaeton and electronic music. Wyclef Jean and Shaggy took to the stage for separate concerts and brought the nostalgic vibes with their performances. I was definitely there for it.
2. The Energy
From sunup to sundown, each day felt like another celebratory moment. In between refueling with food and taking a break for energy, the pulse of the music pumped as I took on conditioning classes like Aqua Zumba, Dancehall Mashup or, my favorite, the Beyonce Experience. Every class started with enthusiastic and happy people ready to break a sweat and move their body to the music.
Not only was I able to have a good time, but I was able to do so and just dance, without any judgment, self-consciousness or feeling of competition. No matter where I walked on the ship, I never saw one frown or stoic face. There was just an all-around friendly, positive vibe and I appreciated that.
3. The Activities
Like any other cruise ship, there's always something interesting to do. On the Navigator of the Seas, I was able to take on standup surfing and rock climbing. Each day offered a morning stretch class, karaoke, movie screenings and a happy hour.
Outside of taking Zumba classes on multiple decks and in various rooms, live performances were given each night for those looking to just have a good time with their family and/or friends, even if it's listening to guitar jams or dancing to salsa hits.
There was so much to take in that it was impossible to catch everything, but, I will say the #ZumbaCruise was an unforgettable experience. It's amazing how a love for dance can bring all walks of life together (from all over the world) to one happy and positive place. A big thank you to my sis @osazomon and new friends @brittnebabe & @kimmypie for saying "hell yes" to this crazy, fun and long adventure. Of course, I'll be sharing my experience and interviews with Brittne Babe, @wyclefjean and @direalshaggy very soon. Thank you Sam and @zumba for having @vibemagazine on board! 🙏🏽🙌🏾💪🏾 #HappyFitQueen
4. The Destinations
During the five-day, four-night journey, the Zumba Cruise made two stops: Nassau and Cozumel. Each stop offered tourist activities like boat tours, visiting a chocolate factory, snorkeling, nature walks and swimming with dolphins. This was definitely a relief to the hours spent on the ship. I was happy to properly stretch and get some fresh air.
I simply hit up the beach, soaked up some more sun and took a walk around town to find authentic eats. As far as local cuisine, I managed to find some delicious tacos and margaritas while in Mexico and tried fried conch for the first time in the Bahamas. There's nothing like tasting non-American food and enjoying it!
The beaches were immaculate and the clear blue waters were simply unforgettable.
5. The Workouts
Every class leader was genuinely happy to be there. As I took on different classes throughout the ship, I noticed that a lot of the instructors were taking on classes just like me. In fact, a lot of them just jumped in and supported their fellow Zumba instructors. I didn't feel insecure about my figure or non-toned physique in comparison to that of the teachers. I didn't feel like every move I learned had to be done perfectly. Each leader instructed the choreography with enthusiasm and non-judgment.
Besides of the Beyonce Experience class, my favorite class was hands down STRONG By Zumba. Don't get me wrong. I like to dance and move like anyone else who loves music, but I also enjoy experiencing intensity when it comes to moving and getting my blood flowing. This class was by far, the most intense one. I had never done so many burpees and squats in one workout. I loved every minute of it and really felt like I was burning off all the not-so nutritious calories I indulged in.
6. The Relaxation
Although the energy during the trip was positive and upbeat, there were many chill, low key opportunities to truly enjoy vacation mode. There was a spa on board that offered facials, massages and acupuncture. When an Aqua Zumba class wasn't in session, the pool was always open to those looking to relax and lay in the sun. The fitness center had a hot tub where I often relaxed my sore muscles.
The bright, sunny weather undeniably added to the stress-free energy. The endless body of water as we sailed from destination to destination really brought on a sense of zen as I sat on the balcony of my room. The on-and-off Wi-fi was greatly appreciated as it allowed me to really detach from my electronic devices and live in the moment.
If you love to travel, love to work out and, of course, love to dance, then next year's Zumba Cruise might be the one for you. I, for one, am still day dreaming about my once-in-a-lifetime experience.