Run a 5K Every Day: Can You Make It Happen on a Cruise Ship?

Jason Stucki is on a mission to run a 5K every day.
🛳️But when he booked a trip on a Caribbean cruise, there were questions...

  • Was it even possible?
  • Did the cruise ship have a track or treadmill?
  • Could he make it happen with all the other vacation activities planned?

🏃‍♂️Check out Jason's Cruise-Ship Challenge to run at least 26.2-miles during a week-long cruise...

🛳️Can you run a 5K every day on a cruise ship?

I am all about having fun, I like food as much as any guy, and I love to run…everyday if possible.
🙋‍♂️My name is Jason, and I am known on social media as @runa5keveryday.
🛳️Have you ever vacationed on a cruise ship?
I recently went on my first cruise with my wife Jill, my sister Jenn, and her husband, Tyler.
As our trip approached, questions about running came to mind:

  • Could I run a 5K every day on a cruise ship?
  • Would distractions on board and at port get in the way?
  • Even if I could run a 5K every day, would it be enjoyable?

🛳️Cruise-ship recon...

  • Upon researching, I learned there was a track on the 5th deck of the ship. 
  • It’s length is .416 miles, which means 2.4 laps equal a mile. 
  • 👉Think about this. The track on the ship is about twice the size of a traditional high-school track! 

🛳️More cruise-ship details

  • Size. Wonder of the Seas measures 1,188 feet (362 m) in length and has a gross tonnage of 236,857 across 18 decks. 
  • Capacity. This ship accommodates 5,734 passengers at double occupancy or up to a maximum of 6,988 passengers, as well as a 2,300 crew. 
  • Amenities. There are 16 decks for guest use, 20 restaurants, four pools and 2,867 cabins. The ship has a zipline, 3 waterslides, a surfing simulator, mini golf course, sports courts, and live theaters with entertainment at all hours of the day. 

I began to get excited with the idea that it would be fun to not only try and run a 5K every day, but to boost my goal, and to actually run the distance of a full marathon (26.2 miles) while at sea.

  • Goal: Run a marathon on a cruise ship
  • Cruising Company: Royal Caribbean
  • Ship: Wonder of the Seas
  • Location: Western Caribbean (Coco Cay, Cozumel, Roatan, Costa Maya)
  • Dates: January 14-21, 2024

🏃‍♂️The cruise-ship track to complete the challenge

We boarded the ship on Sunday afternoon. As I stepped off the gangway onto deck 5, the first thing I saw was the track. 
I looked down each direction amazed at the length of the ship. 

  • After checking into our rooms, we explored the ship. 
  • The first bite of food I ate on the ship was a soft-serve ice cream cone. 
  • We made our way to the Windjammer Buffet and had lunch. 
  • We then found a comfy spot in the Solarium to sit and wait for the ship to set sail.

Cruise-ship rules for runners & walkers

I found some time to explore the track.
I was enthused by the multiple signs used to inform guests of the rules.
There were even tips for runners, and encouraging messages. 

🏃‍♂️Let the Cruise-Ship Marathon Challenge begin:

The daily rundown...

🛳️Sunday, January 14

  • Boarded the ship. Explored the track, but did not run.

🏃‍♂️Monday, January 15 (4.6/26.2 miles)

  • 6 a.m. I woke up and ran 4.6 miles (11 laps) 
  • Ran up the stairs to 15th deck and jumped in the pool

🏃‍♂️Tuesday, January 16 (11.65/26.2 miles)

  • Ran 9 laps
  • There were more people today than yesterday using the track. Several times we lapped an older gentleman walking in the running lane, as well as a woman who seemed to think her speedwalking counted as running. (Elbows out, and swinging hips does not count as running).
  • We ran 8 laps at 6 PM. 
  • Jill sat on an observatory deck so she could count our laps. 
  • Strava recorded it as a 3.21 mile run. 

🛳️Wednesday, January 17 (11.65/26.2 miles)

  • Didn’t run today.

🏃‍♂️Thursday, January 18 (15/26.2 miles)

  • Ran 8 laps 
  • It was noticeably hot and humid.
  • Spent the day on the Island of Roatan, just off the mainland of Honduras. I happily paid a beach vendor for a massage, drank fruity pina coladas and feasted on Honduran food.

🏃‍♂️Friday, January 19 (21.66/26.2 miles)

  • Ran 8 laps as the ship arrived at Costa Maya.
  • We ran 8 laps before dinner. 

🏃‍♂️Saturday, January 20 (28 + miles total)

  • Ran 8 laps before breakfast
  • Before eating lunch, we decided to finish our marathon. Knowing there was the possibility of having missed a lap or two, we ran a couple extra laps, finishing our marathon at a potential of just under 28 miles. 

🙋‍♂️The FAQ guide to the Cruise-Ship Marathon Challenge

When Jason shared his plans to try and run a 5K every day on a cruise ship during a week-long Caribbean vacation, he soon discovered inquiring minds wanted to know a few things.
Check out the FAQ about the Cruise-Ship Challenge...

⌚Q1: What are the best times for running?

On days at port...

Early mornings were a great time to run because most people just wanted to get off the ship. 

  • We scheduled our dinner time in the dining room for 7:45 every night since that would match our MST time zone dinner time. 
  • Running at 6 p.m. each evening before our dinner was also a great time to use the track. 
  • This is probably because half the guests were in the dining hall for early dinner, and the other half were preparing for late dinner.

On days at sea...

There didn’t seem to ever be a golden hour for running. 

  • Children were restless on these days, and often exploring the track. 
  • There was always a noticeable increase of users on the track when at sea.

😎Q2: How was the weather while running?

  • Day 1 in Orlando was cold and windy. 
  • Day 2 was still a bit chilly, but made running pleasurable. 
  • Days 3-5, the temperature and humidity levels were both high. I’m a desert runner, so I don’t mind the heat of Utah, but I seldom ever experience running in humidity. 
  • Day 6-7 as we neared Orlando, the temperature dropped.

😋Q3: What if you eat too much on the ship?

I had to carefully plan my meal times and run times so I would feel good running. 

  • I tried to always run before breakfast, and found it especially convenient to eat a light lunch and to run before dinner. 
  • I also put a conscious effort into choosing healthy options.

🛳️Q4: With everything to see & do on the ship, how were you not distracted?

There is a lot to see and do on the ship. 

  • Live entertainment around the clock.
  • Places to eat
  • Outdoor activities like surfing, ziplining, water slides, mini golf, swimming, relaxing, and exploring. 
  • Having Tyler along as a running buddy was especially valuable. He helped me stay focused each day.

💪Q5: Is there a gym on board with a treadmill?

A lot of people have commented to me that they can’t imagine anything worse than running a marathon on a cruise ship.
My response is: 

  • “Running on a treadmill on a cruise ship would be worse.” 
  • There is a gym on the 2nd deck. It has treadmills, stair climbers, and a lot of other exercise equipment. 
  • There is also a bar with protein shakes available, and a spa offering multiple services including massages. 

🌊Q6: Does the track offer a good view of the ocean?

The lifeboats blocked the view most of the time around the track. 
The deck is open on the back end of the ship, and this always allowed a welcome breeze and view of the sea as we ran past.

📳Q7: Do running apps work while you’re running on a moving ship?

I mostly used Strava, though I tried the Apple watch app and the Nike Run app. 

  • Each could record timing and other data accurately while the ship was moving.
  • However, my distance was always similar to what I estimated it to be. 
  • For accuracy, we always counted laps. I promise, I don’t run as fast as the pics show.

🍽️Q8: Are there healthy food options available on the ship?

There were endless options of food on the ship.
After running, I enjoyed meals high in protein. There were always plant proteins, as well as animal proteins available. I made it a point to explore and openly taste as many options as possible.

😋Some of my favorites included:

  • Garbanzo bean and onion salad with lemon herb vinaigrette
  • Tomato, avocado, and tofu salad
  • Seafood linguine 
  • Lobster tail
  • Shrimp
  • New York Strip Steak
  • Egg dishes were always plentiful at breakfast
  • Slice of pizza
  • Cup of chocolate milk

🏃‍♂️Q9: Is the track crowded?

The track was never overly crowded.
But there were challenges everyday with aging adults, and children not observing the rules of the track. 

👟Q10: What kind of running gear did you have?

  • 👟Running Shoes: Saucony PWRrun
  • 👕Running shirt running: Lululemon and Terramara
  • 🩳Unlined running shorts: Lululemon and Nike
  • 🩲Synthetic fabric underwear: Lululemon, Rundies, and Runderwear
  • 🧦Wool running socks: Minus33, Near Earth, and Puma

👉Check out all my WeeViews of running shoes and gear HERE.

🙋‍♂️Q11: Why not just run the whole distance in one day & get it over with?

I'm glad I spread my miles out over the course of the entire week. 

  • There was too much to see and do on the ship to commit an extended amount of time to running. 
  • This also helped me stay consistent with exercising each day.

If you go: 5 lessons from the Cruise-Ship Marathon Challenge

👟1. Wear running shoes

  • I am grateful I wore my running shoes when visiting the islands. 
  • Through the week, my watch tracked over 30 miles of walking, in addition to our 28 miles of running. 
  • I brought casual tennis shoes and flip flops on the trip, but these don’t provide good support for a lot of walking, and I ended up relying on my running shoes for comfort.

🩳2. Bring a change of running clothes

  • Bring at least 2 sets of running clothes. 
  • After each run, I washed my clothes in the shower and hung them to dry. 
  • Sometimes my clothes weren’t completely dry when I was ready to run again. 
  • Tyler told me that if I rolled up the clothes in a towel and squeezed real tight before hanging them up to dry, they would dry faster. He was right. Try it!

☝️3. Count laps

  • Normally, I prefer to not count laps. I try to avoid thinking about distance and time while running. However, the running apps I tested weren’t consistent, especially when the ship is moving. If you want to keep track of your distance, you’re going to have to count the laps.

🥵4. Humidity increases chafing: Dress appropriately

  • On the hot humid days, my wool-blend underwear and socks were more effective than my synthetic-blend options.

🦵5. Muscle fatigue is different

  • Running on a moving ship, even a large one like ours, has a strange effect on your leg muscles. My legs ached a lot more than usual after running each day.

🏃‍♂️6. Run with a partner

  • If possible, run with a buddy who will help keep you committed. Tyler ran the whole marathon with me. I don’t know if I would’ve done it without his consistent support.

🛳️Have you ran some miles on a cruise ship?

Tell us about it in the comments.

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Jason Stucki
Mapleton, Utah
42 Following

I am happily married to my wife Jill, and we have two daughters. I love running, and my goal is to never run less than a 5k d...


Kimberly Bynum Thank you for this information. I will be on a 10 day cruise starting Monday. I plan on running on the track and walking around the ship to get my steps in everyday.

Jason Stucki Good luck, I hope you find it enjoyable! I’d love to hear about your experience after you finish. Have fun!

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