Traveling on a humongous ship from port to port with thousands of strangers is revered as one of the best ways to travel. But for better or worse, the term “cruise” has also become synonymous with the 24/7 access to extravagant buffets, endless supplies of pizza and booze, and the subsequent binge eating.
Yet in response to today’s increasingly health-conscious world, cruise lines have taken measures to improve the passengers’ experience by ensuring an amazing time without threatening your waistline.
If you’re joining in on the fun during the peak of cruising-season, you’ll definitely want to keep these tips in mind for a healthy vacation.
- Watch What You Eat. Nutritious food is not only trending here on dry land, so you don’t have to totally abandon your healthy diet. Cruise lines have been revising their menus to reflect the needs and requests of passengers seeking healthier alternatives to the typical burgers and fries. Popular additions include extravagant salad bars, fresh fish, and more vegetarian options. And remember- just because all of that food is there doesn’t mean you have to eat it! Try limiting yourself to eating three meals a day to avoid overeating and continue portioning your meal like you would back home. But if you can’t resist that triple chocolate ganache cake, split the dessert- and the calories- with a travel partner.
- Watch What You Eat (Part II). Weight gain is a top concern for cruisers, so here’s another tip. Look for those fancy spa cafes decorated with assorted fresh fruits and little ceramic pots of fake grass. From low-cal/low-fat sandwiches to fruit and veggie smoothies, this is a great way to enjoy a healthy and light meal. Another way to change things up from the hustle-and-bustle of the dining room is to try one (or more) of the specialty restaurants, where you can dine on quality meals such as steak or sushi. While the general dining room menu can’t be found online, you can find the specialty menus there so you can plan ahead of time.
- Explore the Ship! A cruise ship is like a city on water, so you should take advantage of all there is to do while you can! Take a walk around the deck and check out your amazing ship — you’ll be surprised to see what little gems are hidden away, like a game room, cool art, or even unique gift shops. And that walk will burn some calories.
- Don’t Just Lie There. From basketball to water volleyball to scavenger hunts around the ship, you’ll find a ton of alternatives to simply sunbathing on the deck (which is still really great!). The top deck is also a common place for fun activities, like rope courses, zip lines, and even mini-golf. But if you’re into the more traditional workouts, check out the ship gym or sign up for a fitness class like yoga or kickboxing.
- Choose High-Energy Excursions. While the variety of excursions depend on where you’re cruising, look for ones that keep you moving all day. Mountain biking or hiking, for example, allows you to both exercise and sightsee around the local area. If you’re cruising along warm waters like the Caribbean, enjoy activities you wouldn’t be able to do back home, like beach yoga, snorkeling, or walking through exotic rainforests.
- Don’t Forget Your Normal Healthy Habits. While there are plenty of elevators all around the ship, take the stairs if you’re going up one or two floors. For longer trips, try taking the elevator part of the way and walking up the stairs for the rest. And be sure to de-germ — use those hand sanitizer stands located all over the cruise, which aren’t just for decoration. In addition to overeating, another big concern about cruising is being locked away with thousands of other potential germ-carriers. Decrease your chances of getting sick by using hand sanitizer before you eat and after you touch public areas like handrails and elevator buttons.
Finding ways to be healthy on a cruise isn’t really difficult after all; it can even encourage you to make the most out of your trip! And if you’re feeling zealous about being healthy, you can always limit your alcohol consumption as well. I know… crazy, right?