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Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Great Weight Debate: Will Cruising Tip the Scales?

I have a friend who refuses to cruise because she’s terrified of all that food. That she’ll weaken in the face of a cake, crumble at the sight of a cookie and come home with mounds of pounds.

Fact or fiction?

Over a 10-day cruise, reports, the average person packs on four pounds. And some put on even more.

Well, why not? We’re on vacation, we want to have fun, get our money’s worth and all that. But there are things we can do to have our cake and eat it too—and save all that guilt for some other day:

Lose before you cruise. Want the ultimate motivation? Go shopping for a bathing suit. There’s nothing like a view of yourself in the fitting room mirror to make you suddenly lust for kale and kiwi. And since misery loves company, check out’s Lose Before You Cruise discussion thread.

What gets measured gets done. Consider investing in one of those nifty fitness tracker bracelets. Even if it doesn’t motivate you to work out, everyone else will think you do. 

Court fun and fitness. Shoot some hoops, climb a wall, don a pair of skates—the Royal Caribbean ships in particular give you lots of ways to get fit while having fun. And don't forget about dance classes, to help you boogie before you binge.

Courting fun and fitness on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas
Walk in circles. The ships generally have a walking/jogging track. The best is on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class, which has separate lanes for walkers and joggers, and loops around the entire length of the ship. You not only get great views of the ocean, but a few chuckles from the signs overhead.

Walk to port—and then all around it. Taxis may be plentiful and the locals persistent, but ignore them all and walk your way to town. It’s a painless way to exercise while getting to know where you’ve docked. The walk from Crown Bay to St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie even marks the mileage for you.

Just say go. Perhaps not our favorite part of the ship, but those treadmills look out over the water. Stationery bikes let you choose your route. Many machines have their own TV; bring your headset to plug and play. In short, it’s about as pleasant as it will ever be to do time in the gym. And you’ll rarely compete for the equipment.

You won't have to compete for equipment on Celebrity's Equinox
Stay inspired with a little help from your friends. Enroll in a fitness class—all the ships have them. It helps when you're all in the same boat.
Keep your weight by skipping the wait. Forget the frustration of long waits for an elevator and take the stairs instead.
Make your own rules. You could, for example, decide to eat one big meal and two light ones each day. Or gorge Day 1 and 2, but load up on salad, fruit and veggies Days 3 and 4.

Be a fusspot. I’m from a family of thin people—not naturally thin, but deliberately thin. Our secret? Being really picky about what we consume. There was a great line in the movie Ratatouille; when the food critic was asked how he stayed so thin, he answered,“If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow it.”

Search out the better stuff. There’s healthier fare everywhere—in the main dining room, buffet and even in special (free) venues, like Celebrity’s AquaSpa CafĂ©.
Lighter fare in Celebrity's AquaSpa Cafe

Learn to lose. Many of the ships have lectures onboard on nutrition and weight loss. This will give you a head start on the diet just waiting for you to get home.

Most important of all. Whether you do any of the above, or nothing at all, there's one thing you should know. Whatever you put on now will come off later. When the vacation ends, just go back to what you usually do, and then watch the pounds melt away. It's worked for me on 20 cruises and will work, too, for you.