19 Tips for Staying Healthy on a Cruise

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It can be a challenge, but believe it or not, staying healthy on a cruise is a real possibility. In fact, if you take the right steps, instead of coming home feeling bloated and having gained a few (or more) pounds, you might even come home healthier than when you left!

These tips for staying physically fit and eating healthy on a cruise should help you avoid the pitfalls of cruise weight gain and help you get the most of your vacation too since you’ll feel your best while on your trip.

Some people go on vacation and make a plan to break all of their typical healthy living rules, but others (likely you, since you are reading this post) want to eat healthy and stay fit when traveling. There can be lots of reasons for that, but one of the most compelling reasons can be to manage a chronic health issue.

Other reasons for staying healthy on a cruise can include wanting to avoid weight gain (the average person gains between 5 and 10 pounds on a cruise!), keep your immune system strong, and feel good while on vacation so that you can enjoy every bit of your cruise as much as possible.

Whatever your reason, the following easy tips are sure to help you achieve your goal.

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19 Healthy Cruising Tips

Make a Plan to Work Out Regularly

You can either set your phone or watch alarm to work out every day at the same time, or sign up for daily workouts offered on the ship.

Regularity, predictability, and accountability will help you stick to your exercise goals.

One great option is to set a schedule to walk laps around the decks for at least 15 minutes a day.

Try An Outside of the Norm Workout

Cruise ships often have innovative options for exercise from yoga classes (who wouldn’t want to do yoga in the middle of the ocean?) and spin classes, but some cruise lines go way beyond the norm so that even your workout times can be just as special as your cruise!

How about a black-light enhanced “Ryde” spinning class that some Norwegian ships offer, or the surf simulator on a Royal Caribbean?

Take the Stairs

While there are elevators that you can take on a cruise, taking the stairs is a much better option. It’s one great way to get in extra exercise without taking up a bunch of time and breaking a sweat.  

Pack Your Own Snacks and Staples

Bringing along some of your own staples and snacks is another great way to keep yourself healthy on a cruise. 

Some ideas of things we’ve taken with us when traveling are:

healthy snacks

Load Up On Salads and Other Veggies

If your plate is full with nutritionally loaded vegetables and salads, there will be less room for fried sides and carbs. 

Plus, the minerals and enyzymes in the food will help you feel your best, and stay regular on vacation, something that can be a problem for many people.

Bring Along Things To Help You “Go”

This is an uncomfortable topic, but one that needs to be addressed. When on vacation, it’s typical for your body to act “different” and for your “plumbing” to slow down or shut off completely. Nothing like constipation to make you feel icky.

Bringing along something like Psyllium Husk, probiotics, or the ever popular Smooth Move Tea is a great idea to keep your digestive system working well and make sure you don’t end up feeling super bloated or worse. 

Make Special Requests Ahead of Time

Sticking to your healthy eating plan will be a lot easier if you make special requests ahead of time. Whether you need gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, or vegetarian meals, call the cruise line early so you’ll be sure to have what you need on board.

Avoid Afternoon Tea (or Plan Wisely)

Cruise lines often have afternoon tea time that, while it can be a fun time to interact with other passengers over tea and treats, if you’re not careful, you can easily add on hundreds of empty calories without thinking about it.

Try skipping the tea and do something active instead, or bring along some of your healthy treats that you brought with you. Or choose the healthiest option from what’s available. Consider calling the cruise line ahead of time to ask for healthier options to be offered.

Avoid Dessert or Choose Healthier Options

There’s no need to skip sweets completely, but making better choices can go a long way when it comes to the dessert table. 

Sorbet, fruit salad, or a fruit parfait are great choices here. Even if you have some whipped cream with your sorbet or fruit, it’s a much lighter choice than most desserts.

Flourless cake is another option that can be a better choice as it doesn’t typically have frosting and is less sweet typically than many cakes. 

If you choose something like pie, leave half or all of the crust, or skip the frosting on that piece of cake.

yogurt and fruit parfait

Avoid or Limit Alcoholic Drinks

While dessert is one of the biggest temptations on a cruise, alcohol is for sure another one. Again, you don’t need to skip it altogether, but having a few sips here and there or making healthier choices is better than indulging daily or multiple times a day.

Alcohol has a lot of empty calories and many specialty alcoholic drinks are loaded with sugar too.

Choose wine instead of a frozen drink, for example, or ask for a smaller size of whatever drink you would like to try and don’t drink it all. 

Eat a Wholesome Breakfast

Skipping breakfast will likely set you up for eating more and making worse choices as the day goes on. Eating a good breakfast with protein and fat is a great way to start off with lots of energy.  

Carbs can be great for breakfast too, but make sure to balance them with protein and fat and to avoid refined carbs, opting for whole grains instead.

healthy breakfast of eggs, salmon, and avocado toast

Stay Hydrated

Keeping yourself hydrated is important to feel your best so make sure to drink water–a lot of water. Most experts recommend drinking at least half of your body weight.

As a bonus, dehydration is often mistaken for hunger, so if don’t drink enough, you’re more likely to overeat.  

One way to make sure to drink plenty of water is to have a bottle of purified water (tap water is loaded with impurities) with you at all times and sip it throughout the day.

glasses of water with lime

Skip the Buffet

This is a no brainer. Whenever possible, choose a restaurant with sit down options instead of a buffet. Buffets easily lead to overeating and are best avoided.

If you are disciplined with buffets, you can make great choices like loading up on veggies, salads, and healthier entrees, but it takes resolve. So if you don’t have enough of that, it’s best to stay away.

Bring Health Supportive Supplements

You might be tempted to leave these behind, thinking that you don’t want to be bogged down, but don’t. Having what helps your body work best along for the cruise is always a good idea.

And if you don’t already take them, I highly recommend taking a good probiotic with you as well as liver support and supplements to help with sleep. Having ginger capsules or other digestive stomach support is a good idea as well in case you encounter sea sickness en route.

Choose Healthier-themed Restaurants

When possible, make a healthier choice when selecting where you will eat your meals. 

For example, a spa or mediterranean-themed restaurant is likely to have better offerings than a southern, fried food flare venue.

Choose Healthier Entrees and Sides

Of course one person’s “healthy” might not be the same as another, but avoiding a lot of refined pasta dishes and opting for lean meats and fish is one great way to make a healthier choice for most people.

Make a good choice for your lifestyle from the many fantastic options that the restaurant menus offer. When selecting from the buffet (which might be best to avoid if possible), choose sauteed, broiled, or salad based entrees or over deep fried entrees or those in cream sauces. 

For sides, consider choosing vegetables or sweet potatoes over fries. Choosing whole grain over refined grain products is another way to choose wisely.

salad with grilled chicken

Request Smaller Portions

If portion control is hard for you, request smaller portions when ordering your meal. Most restaurants will be glad to assist.

Practice Sunscreen Safety

One thing is for sure–you will likely be in the sun a lot while on and off the ship. Make sure to know facts about sunscreen safety and this post about spray sunscreen safety is worth reading as well.

Get Enough Sleep

If you don’t tend to sleep well away from home, here are some tips to help you get your zzzzs at sea. 

Go to bed early–you’ll be tempted to stay up late for all kinds of events, but getting to bed early will ensure a better night of sleep.

Bring along an eye cover and use a white noise app on your phone.

Essential oils and magnesium are known to help with sleep so consider bringing along any natural sleep remedies that work for you.

Do “Fit” Things at Port Destinations

Instead of lying on the beach (though the vitamin D will do you good, you can get that on the ship), try some morning yoga, go hiking, biking, kayaking or canoeing, or run in a local 5K! 

Do a sight seeing tour during your shore excursions that includes walking–so many great ideas!

Pamper Yourself with Spa Experiences

Cruise ships spas often have special offerings to pamper yourself in the health arena. Try acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, reflexology, massages, and more. Some cruise lines even have thalassotherapy pools, which are said to be good for circulation and pain relief!

Other “out of the norm” spa experiences are the Viking snow grotto (said to stimulate the circulatory system), and the Seabourn cruise line “wellness guide” which has daily yoga and wellness seminars on every sailing. Hot stone massage, seaweed body wraps, and “thermal suite” hydrotherapy are some other options to enjoy.

Enjoy Yourself

Of course, make sure to have fun while doing any of this. See these options as opportunities and not burdens.  Your body will thank you for it and your vacation will be that much more enjoyable!

It’s entirely possible to be healthy and have fun–in fact they often go together and what better place to put them together than on a cruise?

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  1. Thanks for the tips! This will be a big help for travelers like me! This pandemic is very depressing because of the travel ban.