Staying Fit on a Cruise
Cruise travel is a great way to explore the world. It is also a great way to blow your diet and expand your waist line. Dining is major draw for taking a cruise. We love cruise dining! With buffets, food available any time you want, and drinks around seemingly every corner, it is easy to just graze nonstop.
Many cruise activities are sedentary, too. You can lounge by the pool. Watching movies, entertainers, and shows all require little effort. The ship casino can keep you seated for hours. You can spend a whole day riding leisurely on a shore excursion.
I am not saying that that there is anything wrong with any of these activities! Many people leave cruises feeling like a slug, though, having gained several pounds and having not moved for the duration. It does not have to be this way! You can enjoy your cruise every bit as much and not leave with regret and loosened belt. Here are some tips for staying fit on a cruise.
- Avoid Buffets. It is hard for most of us to control ourselves when there are so many options at hand. Buffet food quality is typically not the highest, either.
- Breakfast at a table service restaurant. We choose to cruise with Disney Cruise Line. Disney, like most other cruise lines, offers a breakfast option where you order from a menu that is included in your fare. It is much easier to restrain yourself when you order from a menu than when perusing a loaded buffet.
- Lunch at a table service restaurant. Not only does this keep you away from the buffet, but the food quality is generally much better! There are several other advantages to this too, though. Most of the menu lunch options are lighter for lunch. The quality of the food is far superior to the buffet. On the Disney Cruise Line, we actually think that the lunch is better than the dinners. Some of our favorite dishes are only served at lunch. Taking time to order from a menu, relaxing, enjoying your meal and the setting is a much more pleasurable experience than piling a plate high and scouting out a seat at the buffet.
- Minimize calories from drinks. Calories from drinks are empty calories. On Disney cruises, fountain drinks are available at all times! Fortunately, there are low calorie choices. You can have water, but I prefer the low calorie lemonade, or better still, the pomegranate lemonade (5 calories). You can get diet sodas, but they tend to increase appetite.
- Minimize alcohol. This could be included in #4, but I thought that it needed a special mention. Almost all alcoholic drinks are high in calories and have a high glycemic index. Enjoy yourself, you are on vacation, but do not overdue it. Starting early and ending late is never a good idea.
- Avoid snacks. Eating three full meals per day (with lunch and dinner being 4 course!) will keep your stomach plenty full. Picking up an extra slice of pizza or a hotdog or an ice cream cone or…you get the picture, is tempting, but not a good idea.
- Keep yourself occupied. I find it easier to avoid the lure of all the food (especially the pizza and ice cream!) if I am busy. Passive activities like lounging by the pool or sitting in a theater are times when it is easy to give into cravings. Taking part of in quiz or a game show or a tour or karaoke or dancing are more active and keep the mind occupied. All of these are fun, too!
- Walk/jog/run. Most all cruise ships have designated paths for staying fit on a cruise. On the Disney ships, it is around the promenade deck. On Celebrity ships, it is on the top deck. You will be surprised at how many people will be joining you. I personally love to be circling the ship and enjoying the view as we pull into port in the morning.
- Use the Fitness room. Treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical machines, and resistance equipment can all be used. You do not have to miss your workout.
- Take Exercise classes. Many cruises have daily exercise classes like pilates and yoga. Additional fees are often charged for these, though. Some cruises offer morning walks around the ship to start the day. Research ahead of time and paying attention to the daily planner can help you find these.
- Play basketball. Many ships have basketball courts. The sway of the boat adds to the degree of difficulty! Some larger ships even have ice skating rinks and other sports centers.
- Choose active shore excursions. A lot of shore excursions involve sunning on a beach or riding in a tour bus. These are fine, but you can also opt for an active option. On our next cruise to the Southern Caribbean, we have many choices. We can hike for 2-3 hours through the rainforest of St. Kitts, snorkel in bat caves in Martinique, or even take a 5K running tour in St. Lucia. Any Disney cruise that stops at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, runs the Castaway Cay 5K race, a free shore excursion.
- Take the stairs. With restaurants and entertainment usually on decks 3 and 4 and the pool on the upper decks, you can certainly work the legs out on the stairs.
- Dance. Another way to enjoy being active.
We love cruises! There is so much to see and to do. By following our tips for staying fit on a cruise, you can have an amazing cruise experience without leaving the cruise ship with extra pounds, lost fitness, and regret. You might even enjoy your cruise more after eating higher quality food and exploring new places and activities.