How Not to Gain Weight on a Cruise

This post was most recently updated on May 13th, 2019

Operation No Weight Gain On a Cruise

According to polls of cruisers, the average weight gain on a cruise is 5 to 10 pounds for a week long cruise. That’s a lot and not what I had in mind as a trip souvenir!

When we planned our cruise (read my Disney cruise tips here). My goal was to come back equal, having not gained any weight for our 5 day cruise. I also didn’t want to feel deprived or like I was on a diet…was I successful? Keep reading to see.

Here’s my journey and my tips.

Day 1 at sea: sleep deprived, feeling sea sick

I could’ve given up the first day because I weighed myself at the gym when we looked around the ship. Find the gym and scale so you can track yourself. The bad news is, I was already up a pound. This isn’t going so well but there were some factors…

Sleep: We were up at 2:30am to leave for the airport (mistake, next time fly in the day before and pay for a hotel nearby) and that means being awake to eat much earlier than usual and not having a lot of good options.

I ate breakfast at around 8am. When we finally got to port, we were completely exhausted and I felt motion sick before we even left land. I popped a Bovine pill and in an hour felt a lot better. 

Food is available 24 hours a day on board and it’s a big appeal to cruising, so I better get serious if I’m going to make my goal…

This blog post was my food journal and I updated it on my iPad every day and after most meals.

My Eating Goals

To accomplish my goal of not gaining weight on my cruise, the first goal is to get a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables and fruit at every meal.

I brought a water bottle so I could stay hydrated -hooray for lemon water in the gym! I didn’t drink soda very often – maybe 3 times but I requested 2 glasses of water at dinner and made sure to drink water at meals. I don’t drink alcohol so that saved me a lot of calories and $!

At first I was going to drink a weight loss powder in my drink, take supplements and all this crazy stuff but then I reconsidered. I’m on my first cruise and I want to enjoy myself, not start a new regiment. I’ll save that for when I get home!

Lunch: We ate a late lunch on the ship and they had the best steamed asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. I also had salad and delicious crab claws. The crab is a lot of work to eat which slows me down so I eat less, plus it’s one of my favorite foods.

In our walk around the ship I noted a place on deck that has fresh fruit all day. We also passed the soft serve ice cream machine and couldn’t resist. To save calories I sometimes skipped the cone and ate the ice cream in a bowl. I don’t really love the thin cones they had and if I weren’t trying to watch my weight, I’d bring my own sugar cones!

Dinner: For dinner I wasn’t hungry so I mostly tasted bites from my husbands dishes but then ate a small sundae for dessert. But I ate the bread (2 slices). It was so good. With butter.

Lack of sleep didn’t help.

Early to bed. We’re all exhausted. Slept well.

Day 2: Working out on a Ship

Though I wanted to join an exercise class, none of the times worked well for me. So I worked out on the elliptical around 10am and burned 250 calories. The machines reward you with an incredible view out the front of the ship. But the drawback is you feel a little tippy and I had to hold on some.  

Breakfast and Lunch: I skipped breakfast (wasn’t hungry) and ate lunch about 11:30 am. I had to hurry before the buffet closed at 11:45. I could see my in-laws washing their hands about ready to go eat and have an internal debate whether to go slower and eat with them or hurry without them so I don’t have to wait for the next meal. I’m so hungry I decide to look for them after I get my food. It’s their second meal (lunch) because they’re early risers. They’re a bit seasick, last night rocked a lot. Took a chewable Bonine tablet. I highly recommend getting some before you go (affiliate link). No more sea sickness the rest of the trip (but I did feel it when I got home, weird enough).

I ate more steamed asparagus (it wasn’t there the whole trip so I’m glad I ate it every chance I got), eggs with tomatoes and cheese. Muesli and oatmeal, cantaloupe, honey dew, banana.  

I’m still full and it’s an hour to dinner. We have the early dinner time – 5:45 time. Restaurants for dinner are assigned. Last night we had a live band and entertainment.

Dinner was a bust but I know next time to ask for more vegetables or whatever I need even if it’s not on the menu (like broccoli). I ate 2 desserts. At least they weren’t big desserts! The last night I asked for a bowl of strawberries and poured a little cream on them for dessert – delicious!

Mesmerized by the view!

Day 3: Walk the Deck (not the Plank!)

On one level there’s a walking track around the ship. It’s popular in the morning and it’s sort of fun plus the views are amazing and it doesn’t make me dizzy. The hard core runners came later in the day.

For breakfast I had muesli, cantaloupe, banana (which are so delicious), watermelon and pineapple. For an activity I went to a cooking demo and ate a small slice of apple strudel they passed around.

Lunch was crab, broccoli, cauliflower, a small serving of flank steak and about 6 fries. Later I had mango and strawberry soft ice cream.

For dinner, I just shared off my husband’s plate so it was more of a tasting than a meal.

Worked out for 45 mins. and burned about 375 calories. By 3pm, I’m not hungry at all and went really light on dinner. My goal for tomorrow is to eat less so I’m hungry by dinner time.

Tomorrow is Jamaica! 

 Day 4: Ya Man, We’re in Jamaica!

Early deoporture to make our excursion. I had oatmeal with almond milk, muesli and fruit for breakfast. I found some broccoli greens which were ok.

We did the river float excursion. When you get off the ship there’s a nice town square with American and Jamaican shops. There’s a place to get your hair braided, for example. Outside of this things are primitive. There’s not really anywhere to eat so next time I’d pack some snacks (bring from home or leftover room service from the day before). 

We did the rafting trip on bamboo rafts since we could include the entire family (including our 7 year old). They can’t fit everyone on one raft so we split up into groups. Lesson learned, bring plenty of cash for tips for the bus guide and the river guide and any other things you want to buy. Funny how there was someone on every bend waiting to sell us something.

Even though it was highly stressed to bring, we didn’t need insect repellent. I heard that’s only in the mornings and evenings. Didn’t need the towel either, since it was too cool to jump in.

Food has to be sealed, so unopened cereal from the buffet works but you can’t bring food.

Since we didn’t have snacks we were back in the ship around 1pm and quite ready to eat. There wasn’t anywhere to eat in Jamaica that I could see. Last call is 4:30pm so we didn’t have a lot of time after we ate.

Back at the buffet, I had crab, white fish, jerk chicken (mmmm), and vegetables. Today the buffet included food from Jamaica. Our guide’s favorite food, goat curry was even on the menu.

Dessert was banana and strawberry soft ice cream. I’m worried about not being hungry for dinner. I even try to eat small portions of a variety of food but I’m still not hungry by dinner time.

Dinner was pirate night.

We were celebrating my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary!

Before dinner I walked over a mile around the deck. I tried to run up the stairs but couldn’t manage it. My son and I played ping pong and foosball (not very well) for a while. My clothes feel tighter and I feel like I’ve put on weight. This is the point I better either change into looser fitting clothes or be more careful.

The ship’s track (and shuffleboard)

7 Simple Tips for Not Gaining Weight on a Cruise

  1. Eat vegetables and fruit at every meal. Try to get 5 servings or half your plate.
  2. Don’t eat when you’re not hungry. It’s really hard but it’s important. If you eat too much at one meal, stretch out the time until the next one. If you’re not hungry for dinner, don’t go or go really light. If I weren’t with a group I would’ve skipped dinner some nights to avoid the temptation but the family wouldn’t be happy with me so I went anyway (and ate a few extra calories but oh well).
  3. Avoid cream based soup or heavy, calorie-rich dishes or limit yourself to what you really want. If it doesn’t taste good (a lot of the desserts looked better than they tasted), just eat a bite or two and set it out of reach so you don’t finish it.
  4. Eat small portions of dessert – order off the kid’s meal if you need to.
  5. Get exercise every single day even if it’s laps around the ship.
  6. Take the stairs every time if you can (the elevators are slow anyway).
  7. Weigh yourself at least every other day to see where you’re at.

If all fails, make sure to bring drawstring pants, lol!

Final Result

Ok, so how did I do? I actually did gain weight but just one pound. I really didn’t want to feel like I was restricting myself too much but I didn’t go crazy (ok, sometimes I did a little).

I’m happy with my result. I’m pretty certain that if I wasn’t including exercise and not overdoing it I would’ve gained a lot more. I’m not disappointed with how I did because I know I can lose that pound when I get home.

I found it a lot easier to sleep on a cruise than at home and I’m sure that and the lack of stress helped too. It was a lot of fun and now I feel confident I could do it again on our next cruise that’s coming up this September!

Any comments or tips you want to share? I’d love to hear them!

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