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How to Take a Luxury Cruise and not Gain Weight

Is it actually possible to take a 10-day luxury cruise without returning 10 pounds heavier? We asked ourselves this pressing question as we prepared for our first-ever cruise, aboard the Regent Seven Seas Explorer. We knew that the ship was renowned for its luxuriousness, and we’d been warned by friends and family that we’d be surrounded by food and drink 24/7. Sure, the first couple of days might be OK. But TEN? That required some planning and thought. So as we packed our suitcases, we made some health and wellness plans. We just returned from our voyage, and we’re happy to share the answer to our query. Yes, dear reader, you can have a huge amount of fun on a cruise and not gain weight. Here’s how.

[Full disclosure: in April 2018 I was appointed to the board of the parent company of Regent Seven Seas]. Based on our recent experience, here are 10 ideas for how to have a wonderful time at sea while not blowing your nutrition and fitness regime.

1. Work out every day for at least 30 minutes. That was the advice we got from a trusted friend before we departed, and it turned out to be extremely helpful guidance. The gym is never going to be easier to get to than when you’re on vacation, at sea, and only a few short flights of stairs away. So we built exercise into our routine right from the start, and we made it to the gym at least once a day, every day. Our ship had group exercise options every morning, as well as two well-stocked rooms full of exercise equipment. The alternative to exercising inside was speed-walking on the upper deck (you can’t really run, it’s a bit too slippery). Lots of our fellow passengers did this every morning (one did it every evening after sundown, which was clever as it was much cooler and a lot less crowded). Our rule? The number of workouts per day must equal the number of desserts eaten: two desserts? Two trips to the gym . . .

Entrance to the Fitness Center, Regent Seven Seas Explorer © Dandelion Chandelier

2. Become a pescatarian. What better place than at sea to limit your intake to only fish, seafood, vegetables, grains and fruit?

3. Don’t overeat at breakfast. Another friend warned us that you should strive to eat your normal breakfast, not your Sunday-brunch-wild-abandon favorite meal. Waffles every morning is not going to end well. There are several more waves of food and drink coming your way later in the day. Pace yourself!

This was our dessert (one night) © Dandelion Chandelier

4. On a related note, don’t feel obligated to drink at every meal. It would be extremely easy to do so — start the day with a mimosa or Bloody Mary, have a glass of rose at lunch, cocktails in the early evening and fine wine and spirits until the wee hours of the night — no one will stop you. You could drink all day. But maybe don’t.

5. Go on a cruise that has a Canyon Ranch spa. The luxury cruise ships with partnerships with Canyon Ranch are a fantastic choice if you want to stay fit and manage your weight while you journey the high seas. You can order from their menu from time to time, you can get a nutritional overview as the cruise starts, and if you want, you get a personalized plan for the duration of the journey to help you stay on track. You can also have a personal training session or two to help you stay motivated.

Speed-walking on the Upper Deck under the stars on the Regent Seven Seas Explorer © Dandelion Chandelier

6. Book a personal training session. Or three. Any luxury cruise line is going to have a personal training program of some type. If you schedule it and have to pay for it, you’re a lot more likely to get in your workout that day.

7. Have a fitness-wellness buddy. It doesn’t have to be your travel companion, or even someone else on the ship. Although that would work. The point is to have someone to whom you can feel somewhat accountable — who can celebrate with you when you work out every day, or nudge you in a friendly way when you miss a day. Everything’s better with two, said Pooh, and that’s true here, too.

8. Reward yourself with a low-calorie treat. On our recent voyage, we stopped in for a French press coffee every day after our workout. It was fragrant, delicious, and made us feel almost as cheerful as a strawberry margarita — with a lot less guilt.

9. Intermittent fasting is becoming a Thing, and it does make the decision rules on your food intake extremely simple: try doing 12 hours on, and 12 hours with no food intake. Can’t hurt!

The Pool Deck Stairs on the Regent Seven Seas Explorer © Dandelion Chandelier

10. Never take the elevator. Cruise ships are generally 9 decks high or more — so if you just decree that at no time will you take the elevator, you’d be surprised how much exercise you’ll get over the course of 10 days. There can be no exceptions, though. Stopping for a rest between floors is allowed. And no, you should not have a drink or a cookie in your hand while you’re climbing.

There you have it! 10 defenses against cruise weight-gain. Head for the high seas confident that you can wear the same pair of jeans when you disembark that you rocked when you strode on board for the start of your adventure. Bon voyage!

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