How To Avoid Putting On Weight On A Cruise. 10 Top Tips.

You’re about to discover ten tips on how you can go on a cruise, have a huge amount of fun, still indulge and not put on a huge amount of weight. On average cruisers put between five and ten pounds of weight on when they go on a seven-day cruise. So how can you go on a cruise, have a huge amount of fun and not pile on the pounds?

Watch my 10 Tips On Avoiding Cruise Weight Gain video:

Watch, and subscribe to my channel, on YouTube:


Of course, one of the key things with controlling your weight is it’s a game of maths. It’s balancing the number of calories you take in with number of calories you burn. Let’s take a look at some of the tips around how you can control calories but still indulge and
have fun.

Main Dining Room

One of the things I really recommend you do is choose to go to the main dining room rather than the buffet restaurant. First of all because there’s portion control, and the size of the portions that you get
served are much more controlled than if you’re in a buffet where you end up just, out of habit, piling up your plates.

If you do decide you want to go to the buffet, a couple of little tips that will make a big difference. First of all, choose the smaller plate. Grab one of the smaller plates because actually again it’s mentally reducing and helping with portion control. The other thing that I like to do if I go to the buffet is, I start by putting
the healthy stuff on the plate first, because then I find the plate is full of healthy stuff and then there’s less
space and it’s just much easier to not load it up with the bad things!

A couple of changes if you go to the buffet can make a really big difference.

Mealtime tricks

Once you’re in the dining room, I have a couple of things that will also make a huge difference while not getting in your way of enjoying yourself or indulging.

  • First of those is look for at the Spa menu. Most cruise ships will have some kind of spa or healthy option menu that normally have a starter, main course and a dessert. Start by looking at those choices first and seeing if any of those appeal, because you’ll be surprised as they can make a dramatic difference in terms of the number of calories, salt, fat and those kind of things – and they are designed to be delicious.
  • Secondly then look at the fish. On many cruises you can have local fish and great fish that’s been brought on board. Not only is it good for your health-wise, but it’s going to save a lot of calories and you might try some exciting new fish types and varieties.
  • Also, what I do is not assume that I’m always going to have all courses. I take a look at the menu and decide if I’m just going to have a main and a dessert or starter. So, choose one or two courses and have things that you really want. There is a certain routine and habit you get into every night of having three courses.
  • The other thing that I recommend you think about is avoiding speciality restaurants. First of all because they going to cost you more money, but secondly because you’re paying more money to go to speciality restaurant on most ships you are therefore in a mindset of eating all courses: starters, main course, desserts. You can end up eating much more than you plan. So, I find when I go on a cruise I try and minimize the amount of times that go to speciality dining because I do end up eating much more than I plan to eat. Avoid bread and the bread basket, because if you’re on a cruise ship with a bread basket say to your waiter either no thanks, or make sure they don’t keep topping it up. Save those calories for something a little bit more exciting.
  • The other thing I do, which owns made a huge difference, is have steamed vegetables. So instead of whatever perhaps the stuff that’s coming with the main course, with the steak or chicken or whatever, I often ask for steamed vegetables or spinach. Vegetables that I really like, and I avoid all the vegetables that are perhaps really greasy and made with lots of butter.
  • Of course, then try and cut back on the various sauces and dressings. When you’re ordering you can either ask for the dressing on the side or ask them to switch it out but look at the dressings because often the big calories are in the dressings that come with meals and not at the actual meal itself.

Drinks Packages

My next tip is one that can probably save you a lot of money, but also save you a lot of calories and that’s
actually, avoid drinks packages. Particularly drinks packages which are all-inclusive as they can be pretty pricey, but also there is a sense that you have to, like what happens for me is I feel that I need to get my money’s worth.

So, by not having a drink package it doesn’t encourage you to keep drinking and actually drinking things that have a lot of calories in.

Whether you’ve gone for drinks package or you’re buying individual drinks there are a couple of critical things to do. Try and think about what a great drink that you like but perhaps are a little bit lighter on

  • • Avoid cocktails. On cruise ships people, even though they don’t when they’re normally out and about, seem to drink a lot of cocktails. They are packed full of calories, they’re full of sugar and they are very heavy in calories.
  • If you’re a beer drinker perhaps think about lighter beers.
  • If you prefer spirits think about spirits which are perhaps a little bit lower in calories. For example, vodka tends to have lower calories than many of the other spirits, so that’s a great choice.
  • If you’re a wine drinker consider drinking spritzers, white wine and club soda, because again that still gives you your wine hit or your wine tastes but is much lower in calories.
  • If you’re on a cruise which includes wine with meals, make sure that your waiter is not just filling and refilling your glass, because the waiters are very good at doing that, and keep topping up your glass you could end up having three or four glasses of wine.
  • f you’re a coffee drinker make sure that you’re asking for things like skinny lattes or skinny cappuccinos. You’ll find many of the vending machines or the self-service machines will have cream or full fat milk in, so again just by switching to skinny low-fat you can still have your coffees your latte or cappuccinos.
  • The same of course with hot chocolate. I’m a big fan of hot chocolates on cruises and try to make it a skinny hot chocolate.
  • The other thing when it comes to drinks is try and have diet colas or sodas not the full-on coke or sodas if you possibly can.

You don’t have to give up drinking but obviously the more you can moderate the amount of alcohol you
drink the better, because they are very calorific. By making a couple of switches and changes to what you do will help, but you can still go out have fun in the bars and still be drinking.

Let’s take a look at some very simple ways of burning calories and still having fun.


First of all, one of the things that I do that really made a huge difference was ditch the elevators, ditch
the lifts and use the stairs. If you’re on a big mega ship it’s a lot of stairs to walk up and down, but if you never use the elevators and you use the stairs you are constantly burning calories.

It’s not a huge deal and you can take it at your own pace, but seriously it makes a huge difference. It also means you’re not waiting for elevators. If you only do one thing: use the stairs not the elevators.

Steps Up

Next, get your steps up. This is again a very easy way of burning calories without really noticing.

There are some active things you can do, for example, many cruise ships will have either a running track or
walking track or on ships that have promenades that go all the way around, use it every single day. Get out there and take a walk on the track or around the promenade deck.

You’ll find it’s actually quite social and, on many cruises, they will often have group get-togethers where you’ll go as a group and walk around. On many cruise ships if you walk three times around the
promenade deck you’ve done a mile already.

Also walk the ship is another great thing to do. After dinner or after a meal just walk around the ship, stroll around because again walking is a great simple way of burning calories.

Another great way of getting your steps up is ditch the panoramic bus tours and go on more walking tours. You’re going to see the sights, you’re going to get a chance to talk to the various passengers around and you and you’re going to be burning calories while still having a great time

On Board Fun

The next key tip I’ve got is you can burn calories while actually having fun. Instead of just lying around on a lounger, which of course you may want to do for some of the vacation, also take advantage of all the fun things to do on a ship.

  • • You can go and play table tennis, you can go to the sports deck where often they will be hosting various activities and events. You may be on a ship where it’s got activities like flow riders and ice skating.
  • Dancing is another great way of burning calories. You can go to dancing classes or even just going out dancing. Whether you’re into ballroom dancing or disco, you are having fun dancing and you’ll be surprised actually how dancing is going to chew through a whole bunch of calories.
  • There’s also going to be organized activities like gym classes or water aerobics, and these can be very sociable and they’re a great way of having fun and meeting other passengers. They are actually very sociable events.

Basically, fun things that are going to keep you active and burn up your calories.

Shore Side

My next tip is about being active on shore. I’ve already mentioned that you could go on walking tours, but you’ll find increasingly cruise ships are offering much more active tours. You can go cycling, you can go kayaking, more active hiking.

Look for excursions which have much more activity to them and again you’re can have a huge amount of fun and perhaps even test some of your limits and try things that you haven’t tried before.

Look for active things to do if you’re not going on an organized excursion. For example, in Kotor I took time to walk up the huge big hill that overlooks the port. I got great views, it didn’t cost me anything and spent a whole lot of calories.

My next three tips are more general tips, but they do make a big difference and I found they’ve actually helped me a lot.

“Fat Pants”

First of all, look at what you pack. What a lot of people do when packing is taking things they can grow into. If you take along some of your favourite clothes that you know fits you well when you’re kind of at a weight that you’re happy with, it is a little way of nudging you if you’re eating too much.

If you go to meals wearing trousers that you normally feel very comfortable in, it’s a little reminder about what feels comfortable. It’s a thing that nags in the back of your head.

Don’t pack elasticized pants. Don’t pack clothes that you can grow into as it’s just a little thing that’s going to nudge you and keep you sort of on the straight and narrow.

Spa Treatments

Avoid things from the Spa that are claiming they’re going to help you lose weight, unless it’s a fitness class.

On ships you’ll find all sorts of wrap products and treatments, that you’re going to pay a lot of money for, where they claim to help reduce cellulite and weight. Avoid those because they are not going to make a

Wellness Cruise

Another great tip, of course, is to go on a wellness cruise.

Increasingly with the growth of and popularity of themed cruises, a lot of river cruises and ocean cruises have wellness cruises where they try and have great menus, great drinks, activities, excursions which are all around wellness.

They make sure that you eat well, you eat fantastic stuff and you can indulge but it’s all with a wellness spin.

Final Thoughts

Cruisers report that they put on between5 and 10 pounds of weight on a seven-day cruise. Going on cruise and having a great time but then having to go on some big diet regimen afterwards is not a great end to the vacation.

Hopefully with these 10 ideas you can go on a cruise and have a great time but come back from your cruise weighing the same or only putting a little bit of weight (or even having lost weight). I followed these tips and they have worked for me.

I’ve been on cruises of seven weeks or longer and come away from that cruise actually weighing less, feeling fitter and healthier by following these tips.

If you enjoyed these tips, I’d love it if you subscribed (for free) and watched my Tips For Travellers videos because they’re designed to help you make much more of your precious travel time and money on both land and at sea.


Subscribe to Tips For Travellers YouTube Channel (click image):

Follow Tips For Travellers:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. Andrea says:

    Helpful hints! I’m leaving on Oceania Tahiti cruise next week. Timely reminders and info👍

Leave a Reply