How To Avoid Putting On Weight On A Cruise
Once, while dining on a cruise, I declined dessert. Nothing untoward there, you might think?
Apparently not. To emphasise what an oddity I was, my waiter brought me a plate with the word 'nothing' inscribed across it in chocolate.
Many of us lean towards excess on holiday but it's fair to say that cruising is synonymous with food. Among the many preconceptions about cruise holidays is the notion that weight gain is inevitable.
And with good reason. Not only is the majority of food served on board included in the price – meaning you can over-indulge without ever opening your wallet – the buffets on large ships are open 24/7.
A couple of eggs, bacon and sausages and a hash brown and you have notched up 700 calories before the day has begun. And don’t fool yourself that eggs benedict is the healthy option: the eggs might be poached instead of fried but factor in the bacon, muffin and Hollandaise sauce and you’ve notched up at least 418 calories.
Can’t choose which main course to have at supper? No problem; the waiter will bring both choices.
And maybe you'll just about manage the cheese plate after scoffing a chocolate souffle groaning under its own calorie count. Missed dinner? Head for the midnight chocolate buffet.
True, many ocean and river lines now offer excellent salads, low-calorie dressings, 'light' lunch options, round-the-clock fruit and low-calorie and diabetic desserts, not to mention impressive gyms. Yet even in more health-conscious times cruise companies celebrate over-indulgence.
There's no shortage of temptations: Chef Curtis Stone Boards Princess Cruises
But there are plenty of healthy options: Uniworld Brings Wellness To River Cruising
It all adds up
When Princess Cruises launched Royal Princess in 2013, the cruise ship named by the Duchess of Cambridge, it proudly unveiled the first pastry shop at sea. And it will take a strong soul to resist the temptations of master patissier Eric Lanlard, who will be raising the calorie count on board P&O Cruises' new ship, Britannia. One slice of his Black Forest Gateaux and you’ve consumed 804 calories. And that’s before any afternoon-tea sandwiches (300 for a smoked salmon sandwich) and scones and cream (268).
The promenades on Royal Caribbean's Oasis and Allure of the Seas feature doughnut, cup-cake, ice cream and burger outlets. A burger and chips in Johnny Rockets fast-food joint on Royal Caribbean International's ships? That’s a whopping 1,330 calories (for the basic ‘original’ burger), or more than 2,450 if you can’t resist the onion rings and a Coke, as well.
And then there's alcohol to consider. A poll of 3,000 Britons last year suggested that an average cruise passenger consumes 42 bottles of beer, 16 cocktails, seven bottles of wine and two glasses of Champagne on a single voyage.
A bottle of wine is around 622 calories, a G&T 179, a bottle of beer 142 – you're looking at more than 13,000 calories during a single trip (or even more if you opt for that fruity Pina Colada cocktail – 645 calories – instead of a G&T).
Given the recommended daily calorie intake for men is 2,500 and 2,000 for women, it’s no wonder that, according to a 2012 survey, more than half of cruise passengers put on about half a kilogram a day – and that’s a conservative estimate. One cruiser posting on an online forum confessed to gaining two kilograms on a three-night cruise. Many passengers pack larger-sized clothes for later in the trip.
Yet it is not impossible to maintain your figure – or even lose weight – on a cruise. Stick to two meals a day, choose the salad option at lunch (avoiding creamy dressings), skip the bread, eat fruit instead of desserts and seek out the cruise lines with healthy menus and you're halfway there.
Menus in the main dining room and in the Princess and Queens Grill restaurants on board Cunard's three ships have Royal Spa dishes (Canyon Ranch on Queen Mary 2) that detail calorie, fat and fibre content. And all restaurants on Crystal Cruises’ two ships offer a three-course, low-carb menu and dishes free of trans fats.
Royal Caribbean International has gone a step further and has devoted a whole restaurant on new ship Quantum of the Seas to healthy eating. Each of the dishes served in Devinly Decadence, inspired by NBC celebrity chef Devin Alexander, is under 500 calories. Not just that, but there is no cover charge so there is no excuse for not eating healthily.
Seabourn goes one step further with its Spa Suites, located above the ship’s spa. Guests access the suites via a spiral staircase in the spa’s lobby. Abstemious types can avail of an in-suite bar stocked with flavoured water, fruit juices and healthy snacks. Passengers in the spa suites will also have access to a dedicated 'spa concierge' – ideal for those with concrete health and wellbeing objectives.
But you needn't fork out upwards of $A8,500 (the price of an ocean-view Penthouse Spa Suite). As on-board lecturer Dale Templar pointed out, there are others ways to keep active.
Use the stairs instead of the lift. It’s tough for the first couple of days, especially on the ships with 14 or more decks but soon gets easier. Choose excursions that involve walking. Hebridean Island Cruises has Footloose cruises with complimentary guided walks most days, while Rambler's Holidays offers Cruise and Walk cruises on Fred Olsen ships.
Sign up to the keep-fit classes cruise gyms offer or use your time on board to consult a personal trainer. Aerobics, aqua classes and stretch sessions are usually free but expect to pay for high-impact training.
Celebrity Cruises charges about $A15 for a 50-minute yoga class and about $A130 for a 50-minute personal Pilates session. Princess Cruises charges about $A17 for a spinning class and $A28 for TRX Suspension training.
Seek out your ship’s jogging track. Seven laps around Carnival Sunshine equals 1.6 kilometres. And you’ll enjoy sea air and good views in the process.
In short, there is no reason to put on weight on a cruise. It's about choice and resisting temptation.
Go figure – cruise calories in numbers
130: The calories you will burn by walking upstairs for 15 minutes a day.
Two: The number of white or brown bread slices consumed to push you over 100 calories (double that for butter on top).
160: The number of calories a brisk, 30-minute walk around deck will burn. Jog, and the figure more than doubles.
4: The number of 'leisurely' (five kilometres an hour) kilometres you need to walk to burn around 300 calories.
180 calories: What you will burn in one hour of slow ballroom dancing.
30: Number of minutes, depending on your exertion level, you'll need to spend in the pool to burn between 100 and 500 calories.
120: The number of calories in a small glass of red or white wine. A pint of beer or lager weighs in at up to 250 calories. A single gin or vodka with slimline tonic is around 50 calories.
(Calculations are based on a person weighing 65 kilograms unless stated).
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This article was written by Jane Archer from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.