by Chris Owen

After a 12-day Alaskan tour on the Coral Princess, followed by a two-day ride on the Norwegian Epic, the thought occurred to me:

“There has GOT to be some way to go on one of these things and NOT gain weight.”

I have tried all the normal suggestions; use the stairs instead of the elevators, stay away from the buffets, and continue exercising at sea as you would on land. That was all fine and dandy when the cruise first started, but after the first day or so, lazy feet wanted the elevator, a demanding belly wanted more desserts, and those bars were too conveniently located.

I thought long and hard about a truly effective plan of action, and came up with the following suggestions to spare you a few hours at the gym shedding that cruise-bulge.

1)       Weigh yourself every day. It keeps you body-conscious and has the added benefit of forcing you to make the trek to the fitness center where the scales are. The short walk to the gym alone won’t help you, so make sure that you track what you eat. Keep a notebook and write down everything you consume. iPhone users can keep track of this  easily with the “Lose It” app. Begin tracking your healthy habits before you depart, and resolve to stick with them as closely as you can on your cruise.

2.)     Try not to stray from your normal routine. Don’t forget that you are on vacation, so by all means, indulge a bit. It’s not often that such culinary variety and quality are right at your fingertips, but limit your indulgences in portion and frequency. Pick dining times closest to when you eat at home (the Open Seating dining option is good for this). Get up early to see the sun rise over the ocean, stay up late to dance the night away (exercise) or see an unspoiled view of the stars. You can always nap in the middle of the day, maybe even on deck as the waves and breeze lull you to sleep. Do whatever you must to make sure you aren’t too tired to take those stairs!

3.)     Eat 5 or 6 meals a day, 3 is not enough. Many nutritionists and medical professionals agree that eating many small meals a day is better than eating three big ones. The metabolism boost that new food gives your body is substantial. What better place to test that theory? With 24-hour buffets and room service, you don’t even have to lift a finger to do so. Keep the meals nutrient rich (veggies, lean meat, fruit, whole grains, etc) and between 200 and 300 calories depending on your required daily caloric intake.

             (You can calculate this information at

4.)     Begin good eating habits now. If you haven’t established good eating habits off-ship, you probably won’t have good eating habits on the ship. Hopefully you planned your cruise far in advance and have time to determine what diet and exercise plan is best for maintaining a healthy body. It also gives you time to scour the Internet for previous dining menus so that you have an idea of what to expect. There are plenty of opportunities for exercise and activity on and off-ship. Opt for a walking tour of a port town versus a bus tour. Plan your day around activities that require movement.

Staying trim on a cruise takes a little planning, but it can be done. After all, vacations are supposed to leave you feeling rejuvenated and energetic—not bloated and regretful. Imagine looking back at those vacation pictures; will you be overcome with fond memories, or will you curse yourself for repeatedly over-indulging in the bread basket at dinner?

You can have your cake and eat it too, just remember to stop after a few bites.


About Chris Owen

Chris Owen is a travel writer, blogger and agent from Orlando Florida charged with sharing frank, inside information on cruise vacations with travelers.  A graduate of Washburn University in Topeka Kansas, Chris moved to Florida after successful careers in the restaurant and newspaper business to focus singly on travel with a concentration on cruise vacations.  Certified a Master Cruise Counselor by the Cruise Lines International Association, Chris can be found via his popular cruise vacations column on, through his blog, and on his long-running cruise information website, 

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