Ways to Avoid Gaining Weight on a cruise


The first time we went on a cruise vacation, it was an impulse decision – one that was made for us by Nick’s mum. We had never had any interest in cruise vacations before that. We had preconceived notions of what a cruise vacation meant. However, she found a fantastic deal on a Caribbean cruise vacation that we could not refuse. So – we decided to give it a try.

As this was our first cruise, we didn’t know what we had gotten ourselves into. Once onboard, we took a seminar for first-time cruisers and what they should know and expect. During this seminar, they informed us of one of the common mistakes people make on a cruise – GAINING WEIGHT. During that seminar, we learned that it is estimated that the average first-time cruiser will gain 1 -2 pounds of weight per day of each trip.

We did our part to keep that statistic going. 

It is easy to let your healthy eating habits slide with all the excitement of being on a cruise vacation. Many dining options are available to you, including several buffet stations, 24-hour restaurants, burger stands, room service, and dessert bars throughout the ship. It is so easy to find yourself overindulging in all that delicious food at your fingertips. However, when you take a cruise, you can really pack on the pounds, and these are some tips we learned along the way to help prevent weight gain.

Lessons Learned

So, we were determined not to make the same mistake twice for our second cruise. We devised plans to enjoy our vacation still but not pack on extra pounds while we did it. Here we have some tips that we learned to help you to avoid gaining weight when you go on your first (or next) cruise vacation:


1. Watch your Portions at the Buffet

When you are at a port of call, you will need to get going fairly early. Breakfast at the buffet is a common option. However, it is no secret that there are way How can you avoid gaining weight on a Cruise vacation?too many options on the buffet that can lead to you gaining weight. Watch your portions instead of filling your plate with cinnamon buns, french toast, pancakes, etc. A couple of boiled eggs, with a couple of pieces of turkey bacon, some fresh fruit, and healthy Greek yogurt with nuts and seeds is a very low-cal / high-protein way to start your day before you head out for a day of fun. Do not pile your food onto your plate.

*with Covid-19, cruises have changed the way they operate the buffet


Common mistakes first-time cruisers should avoid


2. Room Service Breakfast

We like to start our days with a light breakfast through room service. We order coffee, juice, a fruit cup, and yogurt off the room service complimentary breakfast menu. This is plenty to get us started. We do this on sea days because these days are more relaxed and less scheduled. *not all cruises offer this.


3. Light Buffet Lunch

After a light room service breakfast on sea days, we enjoy a light lunch from Eating a light lunch is a great way to avoid gaining weight on a cruisethe buffet out on the deck. Instead of filling our plates with fatty foods and heavy meals, we choose a nice salad option from the buffet. We top it with high-fibre/low-calorie toppings, including seeds, berries, etc. We create a light item like a small protein-rich sandwich or add pieces of lean protein to our salad. This keeps us full for the rest of the day without packing on the calories.


4. Dining Room dinner

Instead of heading to the buffet at mealtime – plan your regular meals at the Enjoy your portion controlled meals from the dining room to avoid gaining weight on a cruise vacationmain dining room. On most cruise lines, the primary dining rooms are included in your fair, so there is no extra cost to you. These restaurants have beautifully prepared food of high quality. You get table service and three courses of portion-controlled food. The meals are delightful, and you will not leave hungry. If you find yourself wanting more, you are welcome to order extra.



5. Fruits & vegetables

It is common knowledge that if you want to avoid gaining weight, fill up your choose fruits and vegetables at the cruise buffet to avoid gaining weight on your cruise vacationplates with more fruit and vegetables. There is plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables on cruise buffets to choose from. Grab some extra fruit and veg for your excursion go-bag to have healthy snacks readily available when you are out and about.



6. Lean ProteinAvoid gaining weight on a cruise by eating lean protein and salads

Choosing lean protein options for your meals is a great way to stay satiated and avoid gaining weight. Before filling up on fried foods, fatty meals, greasy burgers, etc., choose lean protein like eggs, chicken breast, tofu, and turkey instead.


7. Snacking throughout the day

With so many options for food at every turn on the ship, it’s easy to find yourself snacking or having a second lunch without even realizing you are doing it. Eat small snacks instead of diving into the poolside buffet if you feel hungry.


8. Avoid Sugary drinksKeep sugary drinks to a minimum to avoid gaining weight on a cruise vacation

It is easy to grab a sugary drink at the buffets, but before you reach for a glass of soda or fruit juice (full of sugar), get a glass of water instead. Bring a refillable water bottle and fill it at the filling stations. Staying hydrated is always essential, and water is the best option.


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9. Avoid overdoing it on cocktailsNorwegian cruise lines cocktails package

I know you know this, and I know you don’t want to hear it – but many cocktails are loaded with calories. You can enjoy a cocktail on your cruise. Keep in mind how many calories you consume, especially if you have that unlimited drink package.



10. Walking/Running on shipAvoid gaining weight on a cruise vacation by walking around the cruise ship

On sea days on a cruise, you may be tempted to lay out by the pool all day and relax. However, if you are worried about gaining weight, why not go for a walk (or jog)? Did you know that every cruise ship has a running/walking track? You can walk around the track or walk around all of the decks to keep exploring the ship, stay active, and burn off some of those calories you just consumed.


11. Fitness centresAvoid gaining weight by using Cruise ship fitness centre

If you feel energetic/athletic, a great way to burn some calories is to hit up the fitness centre. Every cruise ship has a beautiful fitness centre where you can get on the ellipticals, stair climbers, stationary bikes, and lift weights while you take in the ocean views.


12. ExcursionsWalk around cruise ports

If you are looking to burn off some of those cruise calories, how about choosing excursions that will keep you active? Instead of taking a bus tour, where you sit and do nothing, choose an outing where you must do some hiking, walking, and exploring the towns around the ports of call.



Pack some snacks in your Go-Bag before your excursion.



13. Stairs vs ElevatorsTake the stairs more often on a cruise to avoid gaining weight

Choose the stairs as you get around the cruise ship instead of stepping into the elevator. A few trips up and down the stairs is sure to help you burn some calories and keep you from gaining weight.


14. Carbs are evilCruise Ship Bread buffet

You are being bombarded with bread at every turn. The restaurants serve bread at every meal, and buffets have every bread product imaginable. Cutting back or avoiding bread altogether will help you.


15. Fresh seafood

Seafood is fresh and plentiful on cruises. Fish and seafood are also very low in calories (as long as it isn’t fried or smothered in sauces). If you choose fish and seafood as your meal of choice – you will save calories and feel good.


16. Don’t drown your food

To avoid gaining weight on a cruise vacation, steer clear of covering your meals in gravy, sauces, creams, and butter to cut back on calories.


17. Keep Track

Wearing a fitness tracker will help keep you focused and accountable. As long as you have a device keeping track of your activity, it will keep you motivated to get your steps in, and help you avoid gaining weight on a Cruise vacation.


18. Onboard activities

Stay active and fit by doing onboard activities – Sports, swimming, basketball, tennis, rock climbing, and rope climbing.




When you take a cruise vacation, you want to enjoy yourself as much as possible. That includes enjoying all the food, drinks, etc., that is available to you. However, if you are worried about gaining weight while on vacation, these tips are sure to help you have fun and avoid becoming a statistic.


Stay Fit, Have Fun, and Happy Cruising. 

Adventurer, gastro-tourist, avid road tripper, and butter tart aficionado. Exploring the road less travelled and the adventures that exist for all to see if you open yourself up to new possibilities. Greg and his husband Nick are residents of Guelph, and their greatest joys in life are exploring the world around them. Road trips with no real destination are a favourite past time. Get off the beaten path and discover somewhere they have never been before. Sometimes the best vacations are the ones you don't really plan. Life is about the journey together and not the destination.

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