Here's a tip: Gross tonnage should apply to a ship, not the passenger on a cruise. I’m not bragging, believe me, and I do have good genes and have always been slim, but honestly, even though I am unabashed foodie I’ve never gained weight on a cruise.
How can that be those of you who worry about waddling off a ship at the end of a cruise or worse not being able to fit into those skinny jeans or pants, gasp. It just takes a little will power and the ability to do more weight lifting than fork lifting, more walking than sitting at the bar, going to the ship’s gym and using the elevator instead of the stairs. Oops, I almost gave it all away. But do read on.
Avoid putting on the pounds
How many times have you heard people say that they would never take a cruise for fear of putting on weight? It is the biggest lament from would-be passengers — and it's avoidable.
Sure, it’s true that on many ships it’s difficult to pass up the calorific offerings, especially when it comes to those decadent desserts. But you can avoid the avoirdupois (the putting on of the pounds) by practicing prudent fork lifting, working out in the fitness center (most ships have one) and by following a few simple tricks.
For starters, every modern ship (with the exception of some smaller ships) sports a gym along with personal trainers, exercise classes and even jogging tracks, so just use it. All ships have decks, so take advantage of the cardio opportunity! Walk the stairs and skip the elevator if you can, especially on mega-liners, where you can climb as many as 99 stairs from the lowest deck to the top (I counted them a few times). Always walk in port when possible. Obviously, those using a wheelchair would exercise in other ways.
Dining can be satisfying without overeating
OK, now let's get down to the eating part. First, if you have little willpower, skip the buffet to avoid temptation and opt for the dining room or even room service and just order a simple meal. If you do hit the buffet line, opt for the luncheon spread, select carefully and take tiny portions of a lot of food. There will be more food tomorrow and the days that follow. Try to eliminate sauces and calorific entrees and opt for grilled fish, simple steaks and veggies without butter. (Tell your waiter your preference on the first night and chances are good that he or she will remember your penchant for healthy choices on subsequent nights.) Limit your bread to a sensible portion.
Many cruise lines such as Crystal (see their fitness and spa info), Silversea, Princess (see available fitness and wellness activities), Seabourn (which offers entrees with 500 calories and under), Celebrity (which has a Spa Café) and others offer nutrition-oriented calorie-conscious selections, so select them.
Princess, in fact, boasts, “Nutritious choices abound in our onboard restaurants. There's no need to skimp on taste to stay fit as you enjoy regional specialties made with fresh local ingredients. Start your day with a yogurt and granola parfait in our International Café, enjoy a flavorful salad for lunch in the Horizon Court, and savor delicious seafood in one of our dining rooms for dinner. For those with special dietary needs, our ships offer vegetarian, low-fat and gluten-free choices.”
This trend to healthier eating is relatively new in the cruise industry. Good thing, given that I hear from more and more fellow passengers who want to enjoy their vacation while keeping their waistlines from expanding so they can still fit into their clothes at the end of a cruise.
If you feel like you would never be able to stick to the spa cuisine or lower-calorie fare, you don’t have to do it every day. What you can do is splurge once or twice a journey but never slack off on exercise, and that's a good routine, whether you’re trying to lose or maintain weight anyway. And if you go to the gym and attend exercise classes, it might even motivate you to continue those healthy habits on land.
Updated from an earlier version.
In our series Wellness & Fitness
- 7 ways to keep fit on your next cruise
- 10 cruise lines for fitness buffs
- Cruise ship spas: What to expect & what they cost
- Top spas at luxury cruise lines
- Lotus Spa: Try a massage with bamboo, hot stones — or chocolate
- 12 reasons a cruise is a healthy vacation choice
- Seabourn amps up its wellness & fitness offerings
- Getting sick on a cruise ship