10 Tips to Stay Healthy on a Cruise

imageI love cruises. Cruises offer an abundance of fun activities, and an opportunity to explore new places. However, many people worry about gaining weight on their cruise vacation, because of the plethora of all-you-can-eat food. These ten tips will enable you to enjoy your cruise vacation while avoiding unwanted weight gain.

Healthy eating tips:

1. Bring some whole fruit from the buffet back to your stateroom to snack on in-between meals if you’re hungry. This nutritious snack will help prevent you from overeating at meals, and the sweetness may help keep you from reaching for seconds on dessert.

2. At dinner, consider trying the dishes recommended by the Spa. On many cruise lines, the healthiest choices are marked on the menu with the name of the ship’s spa or fitness facility. If it sounds appetizing, try it!

3. Eat mindfully.  Honor your body’s hunger, fullness and appetite cues.

4. Enjoy one delicious dessert per day. This is vacation, after all. If you’re feeling full by the time your dessert arrives after dinner, consider splitting it with a friend or just enjoying a few delectable bites.

5. Stock your mini-bar with your own healthy snacks.   Order snacks from room service, or smuggle items from the buffet. Yogurt, milk, chopped fruit and Swiss oatmeal (muesli) are some of my favorite snacks to stock. Don’t forget to smuggle some silverware as well!

Activity-related tips:

6. Plan an active excursion. Cruise ports of call provide a wonderful opportunity for an exciting, active adventure you will never forget. On my past cruise vacations, I have been hiking, snorkeling, glacier trekking, bicycling, horseback riding, rafting, kayaking, and surfing. Your cruise line will likely provide you with a list of recommended excursions at each place you visit. These excursions will be graded according to physical activity level. Choose the most active excursion within your physical abilities.

7. Stay active on sea days. Visit the fitness center, take a fitness class, walk around the deck, or tread water in the pool.

8. Take the stairs. Cruise ships provide an excellent opportunity for stair climbing. Give your metabolism a quick boost by taking the stairs to get to the next deck rather than waiting for the elevator. Challenge yourself to see how many flights your can climb.

9. Participate in cruise competitions. Cruise ships often hold competitions for valuable prizes such as luggage tags and T-Shirts. Competitions I have participated in on past cruises include ping pong tournaments, 3-on-3 basketball, scavenger hunts, dodge ball, water volleyball matches, and a Wii tennis challenge. Take a look in your schedule of daily activities to find a competition that interests you.

10. Go dancing. From line dancing, to ballroom waltzing, to nightclub boogying, cruise ships offer dancing opportunities to fit every style. Dancing is a great form of physical activity that makes exercise feel more like a party and less like a workout!

2 responses to “10 Tips to Stay Healthy on a Cruise

  1. Smuggling food back to the mini-bar reminds me of college. When I lived in the dorms I was on the meal plan, and could eat at the cafeteria for 3 meals a day. It was an all you can eat buffet, but you couldn’t take anything with you. I was always smuggling food and taking it back to my room. One day I got a little too bold and asked one of the employees for saran wrap (I was going to wrap a sub sandwich I made and stick it in my back pack) and about 2 minutes later I realized that the food police had surrounded my table. After that it became almost impossible for me to sneak out food. I was now a semi-famous food smuggler. I guess the point of my comment is to take the food to your mini bar, but try to more sly about it than I was.

    • Nicole Geurin, RD

      Great story! Fortunately, it’s completely legal to “smuggle” food from the buffet on a cruise ship, so you don’t need to be sneaky about it!

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