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Get active! SeaDream provides bikes to guests for exploring interesting destinations on shore.

Courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club

Get active! SeaDream provides bikes to guests for exploring interesting destinations on shore.

Cruise tips for slimmer sailings

How to prevent weight gain & still fit in your jeans at the end of a cruise

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.

 
  WELLNESS & FITNESS
 
Articles on travel well-being
 
 

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.

Take spinning to new heights: MSC Divina is the first ship to offer Aqua Cycling at sea.
Courtesy of MSC CruisesTake spinning to new heights: MSC Divina is the first ship to offer Aqua Cycling at sea.

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.

Prime 7 Restaurant offers fresh produce for flavorsome dishes to enjoy throughout a cruise on Seven Seas Voyager.
Michel Verdure / Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas CruisesPrime 7 Restaurant offers fresh produce for flavorsome dishes to enjoy throughout a cruise on Regent's Seven Seas Voyager.

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.”

Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Oceania and Regent also dish out weight-conscious fare.

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

Patti Pietschmann
I'm the LA Travel Diva and national cruise correspondent for Examiner.com and spend time cruising with first mate Richard, traveling the world, reviewing fine restaurants, going to plays, movies and events. It's the good life.

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