Skip to main content

6 Tips to Help You Not Gain Weight on a Cruise

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.

Work out center on the Norwegian Epic

Work out center on the Norwegian Epic

Most people gain weight when they go on a cruise. In fact, the average cruiser gains 5 - 10 pounds on a 7-day cruise according to some recent polls taken on a cruise review website. That's a lot of weight and is not healthy. Some people don't mind the weight gain and plan to lose it when they get back, but weight gain on a cruise CAN be prevented or at least minimized.

Here are 6 of the best tips on how not to gain weight on a cruise:

1) Don't overeat! Ha...hard to follow with 24-hour buffets and a sit-down dinner every night. But there are so many choices and so many healthy foods that it is possible to eat healthy on a cruise, and still feel satisfied. I know a few people who indulge themselves the first few days in enjoying the variety of food available, then get back to healthy eating after they have had a chance to try the variety. There are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, salad bars, and fish on every cruise.

There is also a choice of many types of breakfast foods, like pancakes, french toast, and waffles, but there is also cereal, yogurt and most every type of fresh fruit you can imagine that is also available.

2) Use the stairs on a cruise ship instead of the elevators. Using the stairs, especially when ascending, will burn a lot of calories. It's easier to go down the stairs, but going up stairs instead of taking the elevator will burn more. The more stairs you walk up, the more calories you burn! Try to remember this tip especially before and after a meal to help burn off at least some of the calories from that delicious cruise ship food.

3) Work out! Every large cruise ship that I have ever been on (this includes the Holland America, Norwegian and Princess cruise lines) have wonderful fitness centers with all types of equipment. I have seen everything from stair masters, incline bikes, treadmills, weight machines and free weights. Some even have spin classes, and most have aerobics, yoga and Pilates classes you can also take. There are also at least two pools on the larger ships, and although crowded during certain times of the day, you can find quiet times when no one is in the pools. This is especially true on port days, and during the dinner rush. The Caribbean Princess, Sapphire Princess, and P&O's Azura Retreat area both have "swim against the current" pools which burn extra calories and give swimmers a great workout.

4) Shipboard recreation areas are full of calorie-burning activities such as a basketball and tennis courts. Royal Caribbean lines and the Norwegian Epic have rock climbing walls, and many Royal Caribbean ships have ice skating rinks. Some ships have a jogging track on the top level, but if you are prone to sea sickness, it's probably best to stay away from that as the view and height are both incredible but combined with the motion of jogging may upset weaker stomachs. Also, if you aren't into formal exercise or recreation, you can just walk the promenade deck. Many ships have a mid ship deck that goes all the way around the ship. Promenade decks on both Princess ships, Princess Dawn and Princess Sun have promenade decks that are 1/3 mile long, so three laps around equal 1 mile. It's often a nicer view too than on a treadmill in the ship's fitness center. I have seen whales and dolphins while taking fitness walks around the promenade decks on the way to and from Alaska.

5) Dance, dance, dance! Okay, so maybe you don't want to go the actual "workout for the purpose of getting in shape" route but still, want to burn calories. All the larger cruise ships have lounges with dance bands of various types, from jazz to disco to ballroom. Some cruise lines offer ballroom dancing and line dancing classes as well. And they often have special parties, such as a fifties night, dancing to the eighties, country night, etc. You can just eat by day, and dance it off each night! And you'll have a lot of fun doing it as well.

6) Book active cruise excursions when you have days in port. There are any number of cruise excursions you can take in each port stop. You can see which ones require the most energy ( and will, therefore, burn the most calories) by a small logo next to the description. The logo will have a description next to it such as easy activity, moderate activity, or difficult or possibly strenuous activity. Obviously, to burn more calories, you would want to choose the difficult or strenuous choices which usually include hikes, kayaking, canoeing, etc. There are other choices which also burn calories and won't cause you so much strain such as snorkeling, scuba diving or horseback riding. The choice is yours. My advice would be to stay active, but enjoy yourself while doing it.

There you have it...6 tips to help you go on a cruise and not come back with 5 - 10 more pounds than when you left! Enjoy your next cruise!

Swimming pools on the Norwegian Epic

Swimming pools on the Norwegian Epic

Choose an active shore excursion, like snorkeling in Nassau, Bahamas

Choose an active shore excursion, like snorkeling in Nassau, Bahamas

Walking track on the cruise ship the Royal Princess ship.

Walking track on the cruise ship the Royal Princess ship.

Here's a video of the gym and jogging track on the Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas cruise ship so you can see what a cruise ship gym looks like...

Explore Mayan ruins on a Mexican cruise excursion. If you go in the summer, the heat alone during an outside shore excursion will make you sweat and burn extra calories!

Explore Mayan ruins on a Mexican cruise excursion. If you go in the summer, the heat alone during an outside shore excursion will make you sweat and burn extra calories!

Scroll to Continue
Walk around the promenade deck of your cruise ship. Some ships are so large that one time around is 1 half a mile.

Walk around the promenade deck of your cruise ship. Some ships are so large that one time around is 1 half a mile.

Go bowling if you are fortunate enough to be on a ship with a bowling alley aboard!

Go bowling if you are fortunate enough to be on a ship with a bowling alley aboard!

Cruise Weight Gain

Cruise Weight Gain Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. 1) How much weight does the average person gain on a cruise?
    • 1 - 2 pounds
    • 3 - 4 pounds
    • 5 -7 pounds
    • 7 - 10 pounds
  2. 2) What types of activities do most cruise ships have onboard to help burn calories?
    • Horsebackriding and triathlon competitions
    • Hangliding and canoeing
    • Basketball courts and jogging tracks
    • Water ballet and water polo
  3. 3) Instead of using elevators, you should use what to burn calories onboard a cruise ship?
    • Escalators
    • Stairs
    • Floor to floor trampolines
    • The rock climbing wall
  4. 4) What do you have to go around on 3 times on many ships to equal 1 mile?
    • The dance floor
    • The Promenade deck
    • The buffet line
    • The jogging track
  5. 5) Which one of these is NOT a choice of shore excursion descriptions?
    • Easy
    • Easy, breezy, lemon peasy
    • Moderate
    • Strenuous

Answer Key

  1. 5 -7 pounds
  2. Basketball courts and jogging tracks
  3. Stairs
  4. The Promenade deck
  5. Easy, breezy, lemon peasy

More cruise articles:

© 2012 Karen Hellier


Daniel Long from All Over on May 30, 2014:

It's just too hard NOT to eat all of that food!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on January 08, 2013:

Monis Mas,

Well, I am glad that it shows through in my writing! My husband is planning our next cruise across the table from me as I write this...Panama Canal!

Agnes on January 05, 2013:

I can tell you enjoy it very much, Karen!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on January 05, 2013:

Monis Mas,

There are some great cruise deals out there! If you go, make sure to write a hub about it. I want to read all about it. I LOVE cruising!!!

Agnes on January 05, 2013:

Good tips, and beautiful photos - I wanna go on a cruise now!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on November 18, 2012:

I just returned from a 28 day cruise to Hawaii, American Samoa, and French Polynesia and am happy to announce I only gained 2 pounds in one whole month! Yee ha! Now to get back to my daily exercise routine and eating a bit less to drop those pesky little critters!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on September 12, 2012:


You may find that as you become successful in your new writing career, you will want to take your husband on a cruise to celebrate your success! A cruise is a wonderful source of inspiration for many hubs, complete with picture sources not only from the ship, but from all the ports visited! Thanks for stopping by!

Melanie Chisnall from Cape Town, South Africa on September 12, 2012:

Good to know about all the exercise equipment, healthy food and activities on board these cruise liners! I am so envious looking at your images as well.....some day, one day.... Thanks for sharing, I'll keep this in mind if I ever have the opportunity to have a holiday on a cruise ship! Voted up and interesting :)

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on July 31, 2012:

Yes it does're a poet and don't know it...or didn't till you wrote that! Thanks for reading and sharing.

talfonso from Tampa Bay, FL on July 31, 2012:

Information I can use - thanks for writing on how not to gain weight on a cruise! (Hahahahaha - that rhymes, doesn't it?) I'm Pinning, sharing, and printing this out!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on July 01, 2012:


Good for you. That's the key though, to only eat what you love, and stop before you are full. For many people, cruises are an excuse to stuff themselves silly because it's all laid out before them, and they don't have to do any prep work.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on July 01, 2012:


That's great. Many people that I know stuff themselves till they are ready to burst on a cruise, and don't ever use the work out equipment. I think it you are a person that tends to eat a lot at home, and aren't in a workout routine, the same people do the same on a cruise, but there's even more for them to eat!

carol stanley from Arizona on July 01, 2012:

I have never gained weight on a cruise. The thought that my clothes might not fit when I return is enough to keep me from this happening. I found that I ate everythingI loved....That is the key. Only eat what you love, when you are hungry and stop before you are full.

Angela Joseph from Florida on May 19, 2012:

I still don't understand how people gain weight on a cruise. For me a cruise is an opportunity to get in some much-needed exercise that I usually don't have time for at home. When in port, I go on a lot of tours that involve walking, and on the ship I use the gym or jogging track on mornings. As for eating, I sample a little of everything, but fill up on fruit and salads. I actually lose weight on a cruise.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 15, 2012:


Thanks for reading and commenting. Sounds like you enjoyed yourself on your cruise, and glad the heat helped keep off the pounds! Unfortunately, on a cruise, it doesn't matter to me if it's hot or not...I want to try all that delicious food!

Ciel Clark from USA on April 14, 2012:

Hi Karen, good information! I went on my first cruise a couple of months ago and the first couple of days I ate a lot. (Just nice to eat food prepared by someone else!). It's funny-- I didn't even notice the gym until almost the last day... Luckily it was so hot-- that cuts my hunger a lot. Voted up and useful!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on March 28, 2012:


I hope you get the chance to go on a cruise. theya re wonderful. Use these tips and you will be fine!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on March 28, 2012:


I hope you do get the chance to go on a cruise someday. It's a wonderful way to take a vacation. Very relaxing. Thanks for the nice comment!

Dianna Mendez on March 28, 2012:

I can see that I would have a tendency to gain weight if I ever go on a cruise. The abundance of food at all hours is a great temptation. Thanks for the suggestions on how to keep the pounds off. I am sure they will help others to combat those unwanted extra pounds.

SusieQ42 on March 28, 2012:

I love your hub, Karen. Great info about cruises as I've not been on one YET! God bless, Susieq42

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on March 26, 2012: make a good point! LOL! Sorry, had to say that. I had no idea it takes 1 week to take off every pound you add. That's quite depressing, and I will remember it the next time I cruise, although i do work out most days so don't hit the 7+ pounds thank goodness!

point2make on March 26, 2012:

Access to food 24 hours a day is a tough temptation to ignore for many of us while on a cruise. You are right though putting 7+ pounds on during a week's cruise is not healthy at all. Eat but don't forget to exercise. Moderation is the key to an enjoyable and healthy holiday. Don't deprive yourself of the many gastronomic delights available on a cruise ship just don't overdo it. Remember for every pound you add you will need a week's worth of exercise to take it off once the cruise is over.

Related Articles