Running Barefoot on a Cruise Ship

running-barefoot-on-a-cruise-shipI just spent a week on Liberty of the Seas, one of the Royal Caribbean cruise ships. They have an open air track on deck 12. I knew this before I went on the cruise and so one of my goals for the week was to run barefoot around it while we were in the middle of the ocean!

Deck 12 was only a peripheral deck, at least in the center portion of the ship. The track was an approximately 4 foot wide, double lane track that was bordered on both sides by lounge chairs. One side looked down on the extensive swimming pool and water play area. The other side was filled with the vast expanse of the ocean most of the time.

The running track was similar to the oval track found inside gyms, but with a couple quick and odd curves at each corner. I am assuming they did this to add mileage. Unfortunately, I found them to be inconvenient. I like variety in my runs, but the placement of these added more complication than anything, especially when fellow track users cut corners unpredictably. (click on any photo to enlarge)

That is one of my new friends, Greg Morin, in the yellow shirt.

That is one of my new friends, Greg Morin, in the yellow shirt.

The track was labeled as 4.5 laps = 1 mile AND 3 laps = 1 kilometer. Those measurements don’t quite add up. If you assume the 3 km, then 1 mile is closer to 5 full laps. 4.5 miles would be .93 miles, while 5 laps would be 1.03 miles. My husband says it may have been closer to 5.5 or 6 laps = 1 mile based on his pace. He is very good at judging his pace and doesn’t think he was running a 5:40 minute mile pace when he ran a lap, which is what it would have to be according to their calculations. Since most people are not doing serious training on a cruise ship, it doesn’t matter that much, but he just figures these things out in his brain like any good engineer.

We checked out the track after dark one of the first evenings. There were a couple of runners and a few walkers. The arrows at the one end, where the distance was labeled, were both pointing in one direction. This suggested that all motion should be counterclockwise. This did seem to work best, making one lane more useful as a passing lane. The couple of times I saw someone try to use it in a right lane versus left lane manner, they quickly switched to counterclockwise in both lanes.

One of the double-curved corners that swing out and in again, making getting around the ends of the track somewhat tedious.

One of the double-curved corners that swing out and in again, making getting around the ends of the track somewhat tedious.

I went up to run at around 7:45 am one morning. It was already quite warm and humid outside. The whole deck was wet, but whether from a rain or from swabbing the deck, I couldn’t tell. There were a few crew members out there with mops and buckets doing something with the water. The deck was a bit slippery in places, specifically on the white lines defining the track, and around puddled curves. People who ran by in waffle-soled shoes made loud squelchy sounds as their shoes suctioned off and on. It had to be hard work.

The main track surface was very lightly textured cement, so both easy on my feet and keeping it from being dangerously slippery. I ran around it 25 times, getting more and more smiles from the hardworking crew. I ran at a comfortable pace, not exerting myself or pushing speeds.

Three other fellow cruisers appeared to get inspired by my barefootedness and took off their shoes and flip-flops to run for a bit. Since they had been walking prior to that and had the expressions of people who were trying something new, I felt it was in their best interest to offer a couple suggestions. I pulled up alongside them, one at a time, giving them the usual cautions about not doing too much barefoot running right at first. None of them ran more than a lap, then gave me big hurrahs when I finished.

It is hard to say if I would run on such a track again. It would depend on how claustrophobic I got to feeling on the ship. For this particular trip, I wasn’t lacking for activity, since I

  • danced at least an hour on 5 of the nights, 4 of those times barefoot
  • swam twice, once 35 minutes in the lap pool and once about 1/4 mile in the ocean
  • walked up and down 9 flights of stairs and continually around the ship (sometimes lost)
  • climbed the spiral steps up to the top of the water slides several times (which you can see in the last photo)
  • walked extensively during off-shore excursions and explorations

In the end, it was a bit of a scheduling issue to get out to the track even one morning! I am glad I did it this time. The ship was stable enough that I never felt any risk of being slung around, though there were times of unexpected slight incline and decline. I haven’t exactly walked on water, but now I have run barefoot for about 5 rockin’ miles in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.

The track is in the middle section of the very large ship.

The track is in the middle section of the very large ship.