Staying healthy on the high seas

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Going on a cruise is synonymous with a lot of things, but often sticking to a fitness and healthy eating plan isn’t one of them. Opportunities to overindulge are around every corner and because you’re on vacation, it’s much easier to give in to temptation, especially when it comes to the many buffets aboard most cruise ships. That being said, sticking to a healthy routine while on the high seas is getting easier thanks to a spate of wellness initiatives cruise lines are offering. In addition to expanded food options and amenities, there are also several tips and tricks you can employ while on a cruise in order to find a balance between having fun – without falling too far off the health and fitness wagon.

Whether you’ve just booked a cruise or you’re in the beginning phases of planning, here’s how to stay healthy once you step on board.

Don’t let the buffet get the better of you

Staying Healthy on the High Seas
Roger W, Equinox – Brunch in Dining Room via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s a cruise, it’s a vacation – no one expects you live on salad while running laps around the ship. But there’s a way to treat yourself that also takes moderation into consideration. Buffets and moderation don’t usually go hand in hand – the key is in how you lay out your plate. Start by taking a smaller plate (either a salad or dessert plate) so there’s physically not enough room to overdo it. Secondly, be strategic about what you put on your plate at the buffet. Use half the plate for something green that isn’t fried, one quarter of the plate for protein and use the last quarter to treat yourself. Maybe it’s something fried, coated in cream sauce or sweet, but either way it will only end up on a small portion of your plate.

Work out in small doses

Staying Healthy on the High Seas
cruisedotco, Azura Gym – Cruise Ship via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Every little bit of movement counts, so even though you might not be willing or able to get in longer workouts while cruising, think about breaking your workout up into smaller chunks. For example, spend 15 minutes walking the deck after breakfast, 15 minutes in the pool in the afternoon and 15 minutes in the gym in the evening. That’s 45 minutes of movement without feeling like you’ve had to take too much time away from your vacation. In addition, taking the stairs rather than elevators on a larger cruise ship can be another good way to squeeze in an extra calorie burn while at sea.

Make sure to stay hydrated

Staying Healthy on the High Seas, Water pouring over glass via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Water is a key player when it comes to staying healthy on a cruise. It can be easy to be grabbing sodas, cocktails and cold beers at every turn but those calories add up and don’t keep you hydrated. Liquid calories are huge contributor to weight gain on or off a cruise ship so choose your liquids wisely. Choosing water as your main beverage means a few things. First off, thirst can masquerade as hunger so by sipping water regularly you’ll avoid eating when all you really needed was a thirst quencher. Staying hydrated also helps keep energy levels up so you’ll have the pep you need to take part in on board activities and shore excursions.

Take full advantage of health and fitness amenities

Staying Healthy on the High Seas
eGuide Travel, Pacific Dawn jogging track via Flickr CC BY 2.0

We’ll get to specifics on what various cruise lines are offering in terms of helping passengers stay fit, but in general, every cruise ship is going to have some kind of fitness amenities you can take advantage of. Whether it’s a fitness center, jogging/walking track, swimming pools, fitness classes or other activities that get you moving such as mini golf or unique shore excursions that involve some from of fitness, research your stay-fit options in advance so you’re ready with a plan once you get on board.  Quick tip: When you do hit the gym, do so at quieter times like while the ship is in port.

Cool cruise ship health and wellness options

Cruise ships are getting more creative with their wellness options which is good news for passengers hoping to stay mindful of healthy living while at sea. Here are a few cruise lines that offer particularly unique options.

Staying Healthy on the High Seas
Roderick Eime, Royal Caribbean International via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Royal Caribbean International: It’s not hard to put fitness first on board a Royal Caribbean International ship, which boasts cruises to the Bahamas and Bermuda, among a variety of other destinations. First up: surfing. These ships are the only ones to give you the option to catch a wave courtesy of a nearly 40-foot long surf simulator. It’s included in the cost of your cruise but you can also take a lesson for a nominal fee. In addition, climb the rock wall, go ice skating or inline skating, head to the boxing gym or sign up for fitness classes like yoga, spinning or Pilates.

Crystal Cruises: Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercises and Crystal Cruises is making walking even more of an effective workout through their exclusive Walk on Water (WOW) program. Designed by fitness expert Debbie Rocker, WOW utilizes weighted cotton vests to maximize calorie burn while walking and building strength and includes a day-to-day guided waking program. The walks take place on the ship’s 360° Promenade Deck so you’ll be walking with a spectacular view. Crystal also offers a Nordic Walking Program wherein you can take advantage of complimentary Nordic walking poles.

Staying Healthy on the High Seas
slgckgc, Rope Course on the Norwegian Breakaway via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Norwegian Breakaway Class: Norwegian’s fleet of ships offer several ways to stay fit and healthy. On the Norwegian Breakaway Class ships for example passengers have some unique options including Flywheel cycling classes (similar to SoulCycle), high-intensity boxing classes, a rock climbing wall and a ropes course that will have you climbing, balancing and twisting your way through 40 different elements.

Windstar Cruises: If water sports are more your speed in terms of staying fit while you cruise, this smaller cruise line has an extensive Watersports Platform, which it runs off of each yacht’s stern. The open air platform is where you can go (weather permitting) to dive off for a swim, or make use of the complimentary equipment including stand up paddle boards, kayaks and snorkel equipment, or try your hand at sailing, water skiing, and windsurfing.

How do you stay healthy while cruising? Share your tips in the comments.

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Featured image: istockphoto/BraunS

Staying healthy on the high seas was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Jessica Padykula
Author: Jessica Padykula (91 posts)

Jessica Padykula is a Toronto-based writer and editor who regularly covers travel and lifestyle trends. When she’s not writing or researching a story she can be found planning trips to places near and far in a never-ending quest to travel the world.