Cruise with caution: staying healthy on the high seas

For many people, a cruise is a dream come true. And despite the pitfalls of all-you-can-eat buffets, the truth is, cruises can be just as healthy and active as you want them to be. So pack your sneakers, swimsuit and dancing shoes, and follow these tips. You'll return from your vacation in ship-shape!

Cruise with caution: staying healthy on the high seas

Aim to burn more calories

  • Burning more calories on the cruise than at home should be simple — you can easily fit in at least 30 minutes of walking during the average shore excursion.
  • And on a moderate-size ship, you can log more than a kilometre (must over half a mile) with just four laps around the promenade deck, which is designed just for that (no deck chairs in the way).
  • That's not even counting the exercise you can do in the swimming pool, in the gym or in the ocean (snorkelling, anyone?).

Consult a sample menu

Ask for a sample menu or find it online and bring it to your dietitian, who can help you figure out how to make choices that will fit into your eating plan, so you're not overwhelmed when you get there.

Pick a “prize” at the buffet

  • From the outside, a cruise liner looks like a ship. Once you're on board, it looks more like a floating smorgasbord.
  • Before you fill your plate, eyeball the entire buffet table and choose one small, indulgent item as a treat to yourself, so you, too, can feel as if you've been part of the fun, without going "overboard."

Give germs the rub-out

  • It's easy to pick up a stomach virus on a cruise ship. Feeling nauseous not only ruins your day, it'll make controlling your blood sugar much more difficult.
  • The solution is literally at your fingertips; wash your hands frequently. Do it after you touch items that other passengers frequently touch and right before meals.
  • For extra protection, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket and use it right before your food arrives. You'll kill off any germs you picked up opening the dining room door.

Sign up for an active activity

  • Some shore excursions, like eating at a famous local restaurant or seeing sites by bus, barely require getting up off your backside.
  • But others, like biking excursions or snorkelling trips, provide a great workout.
  • Some cruises even let you pre-book shore excursions. Just make sure that you choose ones that are a good match for your physical abilities. If you have any doubts, talk to the activities director.

Be careful on shore

  • The food on cruise ships is usually safe, but depending on what country you're in, the same isn't necessarily true when you venture ashore.
  • Avoid raw fruits and vegetables, tap water, iced beverages and food sold by street vendors. You can also play it safe by brining some snacks along.
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