How to Avoid Gaining Weight on a Cruise Ship – or at Least Gain Less

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Round the clock (or almost so) endless food at the buffet. Amazing burgers grilled by the pool. Ice cream bar whenever you want it. Oh and simply ridiculously delicious specialty restaurants. One would think we take a cruise for the food and menu choices alone.

Clearly this is not the ONLY reason, but it is one we all look forward to right?

But my guess is your caloric intake onboard is a bit more than you would normally have at home. That means on a longer cruise your clothes may not fit as well as they did on embarkation day.

But the results can be tempered and they will have little or no impact on your enjoyment of your cruise. Here are a number of ideas, for those who don’t care to spend time at the gym every day, to try and see if you don’t walk off the ship close to the same weight you walk on with.


Day one on the ship find the walking track and find out how many laps you need to cover one mile. Then every single day, at an energetic pace, walk one mile each day. Just this one tiny effort can have a big impact.

Excursion choices.

Speaking of walking, consider shore excursions that are walking or bike tours. Not only are they really enjoyable but as a side benefit you are getting your daily mile (or many miles) in while enjoying the day.

Meal choices.

Appetizer, salad course, main course, dessert and after dinner drinks. How can this not impact you? Make smart choices. As an example pick some of the smaller menu items. They will still taste great but not leave you as full as say a huge T Bone steak every day.

Water water water.

The cruise lines love to sell you the soda package – don’t do it. We all know sodas are sugar loaded and let’s face it water is better for you than diet sodas if that is what you lean toward. Plus drinking lots of water helps to keep you from snacking too much between nonstop meals.

You don’t need to finish every bite.

Simply because they place the food in front of you does not mean you have to be part of the “clean plate club”. You will not be judged if you only eat half of what is presented if that is all you want. On many ships leftover food is minced up and fed to the fishes so you are helping yourself and the ocean. 🙂

Skip an appetizer or desert or share one.

Once again just because it is on the menu does not mean you must have extras at EVERY meal. Or, better yet, split a dessert. A small bite or two can satisfy and make a huge impact vs. enjoying your own.

Take stairs vs. elevator.

I am not talking about waking up from the 6th floor to the 16th (unless you enjoy it). I am saying if it is only 2 or 3 levels up or down walk a little more. I know some frequent floaters who only use the elevators for up and always walk down no matter how many levels it is.

Skip the bread.

My last tip is again a menu choice. Let’s say you order a fish sandwich – consider skipping the bread. Or, look at the other menu items and mix and match whatever with whatever to end up with a delicious meal with less bread or deep fried items.

I hope next cruise you will try some or most of these ideas and see if they don’t have a positive impact on your departure weight and at the same time not detract from your enjoyment of your cruise adventure. I myself did much of the above and after two weeks home I am at the exact same weight as when I started my last 21 day cruise! – René

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Frequent Floaters has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. FrequentFloaters and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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René de Lambert
René de Lambert
René de Lambert has been a travel blogger for over 10 years covering the travel industry - including cruising.


  1. These are great reminders! I’ve had a successful ‘eating plan’ since we first started cruising. I never have dessert with a meal but ‘put it off’ until I really want something sweet, then I savor every bite. Dinners always start with a big salad, then protein and veggies, plus an occasional rice or a potato dish. Sometimes I just have two appetizers for a meal. A recent Princess cruise offered really nice small portions; we appreciated that. I make sure to walk at least an hour every day and always use the down stairs; I can go barefoot on the ship, so no strain on my arthritic joints. Pastries and breads are my favorite … so that’s my breakfast plus fruit, yogurt and juice. I have my breakfast as late in the morning as possible, so can skip lunch. We always have a banana in the cabin for that ‘3 o’clock craving’. Otherwise, I eat whatever I please on the cruise. I don’t know if I gain weight or not, because I ‘stop eating’ when I get home and don’t weigh myself for a couple of weeks.

      • Yeah! I’m exactly the same weight 5 days after we got off the ship, and it was a 2-week cruise. Special foods that I’d never get at home have always been part of the pleasures of travel, so I’m happy to not be deprived.

  2. We take the elevator twice on every cruise, embarkation when we have our carry on luggage and disembarkation for the same reason. The rest of the time we walk up/down every time. I’m not saying that we don’t stop to catch our breaths or have the inclination to cheat, but we’ve promised ourselves that we’ll do it.

    Booking active excursions and/or taking a walk around the port before or after an excursion is another great way to burn some extra calories.

    Waking up early and walking the track (or treadmill if the weather isn’t great) is a fun way to see the sail-in.


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