Monday Myth Buster – Myth: Cruising makes you fat
Fat is a big issue and global obesity rates continue to climb. In the West we are surrounded by daily temptations to indulge and being overweight has become to a large extent normalized.
For people who strive to eat healthily and to exercise on a daily basis, a holiday – ship-based or otherwise – can be a real test of willpower. The break in routine, exposure to new and exciting foodstuffs and that seductive inner voice which impels you to treat yourself can all see the pounds pile on.
But if these factors are what is responsible for added holiday heft then there is no reason why you should gain more weight on a cruise than you would on any other holiday. If you’re still worried that going on a cruise will be a fatastrophe then here are five ways to keep things light:
Modern cruise ships attract world renowned chefs and the fine dining options available are mouth-wateringly amazing. If you want to indulge and beat the bulge then plan your calorie intake.
Making dinner reservations on your first day on board means you can look forward to specific blow-outs rather than one long gourmet gorging session. You can even use a calorie tracking app like My Fitness Pal to help you stay on target.
Avoid the temptation to snack by and polish up your culinary skills by taking an on board cookery class with Oceania, Crystal, Azamara, Carnival, Disney, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Silversea and Viking. Or find a gourmet cruise that offers trips ashore to forage and explore local markets followed by chef demonstrations; you’ll burn off enough calories to tuck in without widening your waist.
You may think that every cruise is a floating food-fest with 24-hour buffets and all inclusive boozing but this is simply not the case. Cruises offer a growing number of restaurant and dining options including vegetarian, sushi and lighter bites so you can easily avoid making every day cal-horrific.
Regent Seven Seas and Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 have all integrated the healthy Canyon Ranch Spa dining menu on board, whilst Oceania rolled out fleet-wide vegan menus earlier this year and added a cold-pressed raw juice and vegan smoothie bar to their ships Marina and Riviera.
This year also saw the launch of the first all vegan ocean cruise by Cruise & Maritime in association with Vegan Travel. This week-long cruise around the Norwegian Fjords includes guest speakers, a wellness programme featuring Yoga and Pilates, and daytime activities such as vegan cheese making. For vegan river cruises to Europe and beyond, check out veganrivercruises.com.
Alcohol is high on calories but with cruise lines these days partnering with some of the best mixologists in the world – for example Brian Van Flandern’s work with Seabourn – you can ditch the booze (and the hangover) when it comes to cocktails, without sacrificing flavour.
If you do fancy a tipple then drink plenty of water and alternate between alcoholic and soft drinks to reduce your fat and sugar intake and enable you to make that early morning shore excursion without grimacing. Switching beer and sweet wines for dry wines and spirits such as gin, whiskey, tequila, vodka and rum will mean you consume fewer calories, but watch out for those sugary mixers.
Exercise on board and off
These days many cruises have gyms and fitness trainers on hand to keep you in shape. Start the day with a swim and after lunch you can try a cutting-edge workout like Kinesis, TRX suspension training or kick-boxing on Royal Caribbean.
There are also boundless activities to enjoy outside of the gym which are so much fun that you won’t even notice you are exercising such as surfing, rock climbing, croquet, virtual reality gaming, on deck dance classes, ice skating and waterparks, whilst on tall ships cruise line Star Clippers you can work up a sweat mast-climbing or helping to raise the sails.
Shore excursions are another great way to get active and keep trim. Choose from a vast array of options including kayaking, hiking, and diving. You can even take a ‘cruise and walk’ holiday with Fred Olsen and enjoy ambles along coastlines, up volcanoes and across glaciers in partnership with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays.
River cruise lines like AmaWaterways, Amadeus, Avalon, CroisiEurope and Tauck often have bikes on board so you can head out and explore the countryside at each stop.
Take some time to rebalance
Anxiety, lack of sleep and a bout of the blues can all lead to over-eating and make us more likely to reach for a sugary treat, junk food fix or high calorie glass of ‘vino destructo’.
Find your inner calm by simply enjoying a good old fashioned lie in followed by breakfast in bed delivered to your suite by your own personal butler on Silversea, Regent Seven Seas and Hapag-Lloyd cruises.
Head to the spa for a relaxing massage and a calming beauty treatment before soaking your cares away in a hot tub on Oceania, Carnival and Princess cruises. Find inner tranquility through yoga with Celebrity Cruises or, punch out your anger in a full size boxing ring on Royal Caribbean.
Keep your mind occupied with thoughts of something other than food by attending an on-board lecture or talk with Voyages to Antiquity, and Norwegian Cruise lines or take an art class with Oceania. It is common for cruise lines to offer free classes covering photography, art, social media, star gazing and languages so down that cutlery and feast on knowledge.
Words Sarah Glayzer