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Seven Strategies to Not Gain Weight on a Cruise

By Lisa Plotnick


An old joke in the cruise industry is that customers are brought onto the ship as passengers and unloaded a week later as cargo. While this is, of course, an exaggeration, weight gain is a common side effect of a cruise vacation. A poll by an independent travel agency, and published in the Daily Mail, found that passengers gained an average of one pound per day while on a cruise. The good news is that it defying these odds is not all that difficult.


Listed below, and shown in the slide show above, are seven strategies for warding off the pounds while cruising. Start off slowly and, before you know it, these will become second-nature while not detracting from your overall cruise experience.


Take as many meals as possible in the dining room.

Aside from the waiter service, which is a treat in itself, the main dining room provides reasonably sized portions that help you stay on track. Although buffets have healthy choices, as well, there is too much of a temptation to return for second (or third) servings or to give in to those that pack on the pounds.


Indulge on one menu category.

Remember that a meal is a sum of its parts. It is not difficult to load up on excess calories during a four-course meal. The dining room staff is happy to accommodate requests that allow you to splurge on one course while going a little lighter on the others. For example, a salad can become your main course if you would like to order a rich appetizer, or the rich appetizer may be served as your main course instead. Care for the chateaubriand? Make that the focus of your meal and go easy on the other courses—perhaps a fruit platter for the appetizer or dessert. Give yourself a choice between dinner rolls or dessert. Tradeoffs such as these allow you to enjoy your meal while managing your caloric intake. (And don’t forget—you can ask for dressings and sauces on the side or omitted entirely.)


Use the stairs.

If you are able, substitute the stairs for the elevator whenever possible. An added bonus of taking the stairs is that it can actually be quicker than the elevator when going up or down two or three decks—there is no wait time and there is always room. Cruise ship stair towers are usually two sets of short staircases per deck with a landing in between. These landings often feature interesting art work that you would otherwise miss.


Limit high-calorie liquid intake.

This doesn’t mean you can’t imbibe. Yet, if you are watching your weight, bar servers can recommend substitutions for higher-calorie ingredients. You will not be the first person to make such a request. Watch the soda intake, as well. Iced tea and water (other than bottled water) are available at no cost in the buffet areas and dining rooms, and can quench your thirst with zero calories.


Walk the decks.

Sure, cruise ships have fabulous gyms. But, barring an occasional hot or rainy day, why use a treadmill when a wraparound walking deck awaits you? On some ships, this will be a covered promenade, while other ships have a dedicated walking (or running) track. There will usually be a sign posted that indicates the number of circuits that equal a mile. This is an experience that cannot be replicated in a gym, or in most other places, for that matter.


Try a fitness class or seminar.

Cruises present an opportunity to learn something new. If you’ve wanted to try yoga, or learn about nutrition, or even learn new computer skills, it is very likely that classes will be offered throughout your cruise. At a minimum, attending means that you will not have eaten for an hour!


Use the pools.

Even if you can’t swim, walking in the pool is a great way to burn calories. Most, if not all, ships have a pool designated for adults only. Pools that are located in or near a spa area tend to be quiet, and are also steps away from healthy snack choices should you get hungry.


Maintaining your weight on a cruise does not mean that you have to starve yourself, give up favorite foods, or be active. Small adjustments, such as the ones listed above, can—no pun intended—help tip the scales in your favor.


Have any of these strategies work for you? Have you found any other tips for managing weight while on a cruise? Please share your thoughts in the comments section located below.




This article was originally published by the author on on June 15, 2013.