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10 tips to make your next cruise healthier


If you're on a fitness journey or simply don't want to return home from your next cruise feeling overly bloated, there are some things you can do to make your indulgent vacation a little healthier. 

As someone who cruises pretty frequently, I'm weary of going overboard on sweet treats and other snacks. While there's nothing wrong with enjoying all of the delicious food on the ship, it's important to remember that moderation is key. Moreover, consuming too many alcoholic beverages or sugar mocktails certainly won't help you stay in any kind of calorie deficit. 

Here are 10 tips to make your next cruise healthier. 

Read more: Unpleasant cruise ship problems you aren't prepared for

Drink plenty of water


If you don't have a drink package, you'll quickly learn that you will have to go out of your way for a glass of water, as you won't be able to walk up to any bar and ask for complimentary water. 

It's important to stay hydrated while on vacation, especially if you're spending long days ashore in the heat or drinking more alcohol than you usually do. Drinking water is also important to help combat feelings of motion sickness

I'll admit that I could definitely drink more water on cruises. A good tip is to bring your own water bottle from home. That way, you can refill it in the mornings and keep track of your water intake. Plus, you can refill it in the evenings before retiring to your cabin, so you'll have water available if you get thirsty in the middle of the night. 

Speaking of beverages, you should limit your alcohol consumption

alchemy bar onboard carnival celebration

I love a good cocktail or glass of wine, especially when on vacation. Unfortunately, the sugary drinks can be pretty high in calories. If you're trying to stay within a specific daily calorie range, you'll want to limit how much you consume. Instead, you can indulge in some heartier meals rather than drinking your calories. 

Of course, don't completely restrict yourself. It's okay to have a fruity drink during sail away or at dinner; just don't overdo it. Those trying to be a little healthier on their next cruise may want to avoid purchasing a drink package, as you'll feel more inclined to drink to get your money's worth. Without a package, you can ask yourself if you really want a beverage at that moment. 

Read more: Is a drink package worth it on MSC? I tried it to see whether it was worth the money

Go on a morning walk


Rather than sleeping in or starting your morning with a big breakfast, consider going for a walk on the ship's jogging track. It's a good way to get some steps in before the day has truly begun. You won't have to worry about making time in the afternoon to go on a walk; there will likely be other activities that you'll want to attend, such as trivia, live music by the pool, etc. 

I love to listen to music or a podcast while walking, as it makes the time go a little faster. Plus, when I'm traveling with friends or family, it's nice to have a little time to myself, even if it's during a 30-minute walk.  

If you're planning on walking, just make sure that you are on the correct side of the track. There's one side dedicated to runners!

Use the stairs as much as possible


While you might not want to use the stairs to go from Deck 5 to Deck 15, if you're traveling a few floors, you should consider taking the stairs. 

Sometimes, it's quicker, too. When you are sharing a ship with thousands of other passengers, there are bound to be instances in which there's a wait, especially if you don't want to be packed in like a sardine. 

By taking the stairs, you are also leaving space in the elevators for those with mobility issues who rely on them. 

Read more: 20 rules of cruise ship etiquette no one ever tells you (but should)

Skip the buffet


The buffet is one of the complimentary dining venues onboard all cruise ships. Whether you're sailing on Carnival's oldest ship or Princess Cruises' newest one, there will be a buffet that's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There will be tons of yummy options, meaning that it's easier to overeat than you might think. 

While you may not want to eat in the Main Dining Room for all of your meals, it's important to approach the buffet with caution. Rather than filling up on things like fries or greasy burgers, head to the salad bar. You can customize a new salad each day, but be sure you don't forget to add protein. 

I love to start my day with some fresh fruit and eggs, too; however, when I do go to the buffet, I prefer to have my eggs freshly made at one of the stations. I think that they taste better, and it's important to eat foods that you enjoy! 

Read more: 10 things you should never do at a cruise ship buffet

Opt for more adventurous shore excursions 

Woman hiking

It's important to stay active on your cruise, even when you're in port! Instead of choosing the leisurely beach day, consider booking a tour that's a little more strenuous. This can look like a lot of different things, from exploring ancient ruins in Mexico to hiking through the rainforest in St. Kitts or snorkeling in St. Thomas. 

Avoid tours that involve a lot of sitting, as they're not an efficient way to make the most out of your time ashore. While you'll get to see a lot of highlights, you won't have as much time to explore each place. Plus, you don't want to pay for an excursion where you're stuck on a bus most of the time!

Read more: Ultimate guide to cruise excursions

Get plenty of rest 


While it's natural to want to attend every show, stay up later listening to live music at one of the bars, or gamble in the casino, you'll want to make sure that you are prioritizing your rest. You don't want to deprive yourself of sleep and struggle to keep your eyes awake the next morning. 

If you aren't well rested, you won't have any energy to go for a walk, and you might overcompensate with some extra coffee, which will just dehydrate you! 

Wear plenty of sunscreen


Getting burnt is not a fun way to begin or end your trip. Plus, you don't want to subject your skin to the damaging effects of the sun. Make sure that you purchase enough sunscreen, so you can reapply as much as you need. 

If you run out, you'll find that sunscreen on the ship is pretty expensive. When I visited Half Moon Cay, I was shocked to see a single bottle priced at $27. 

Sometimes, though, sunscreen isn't enough. While it took me a while to accept it, I realized that if I want to ensure that I won't return home burnt, I have to wear a swim shirt. 

Splurge on a spa day

Celebrity AquaClass Spa

Wellness is important! While cruise ship spas aren't necessarily budget-friendly, it is nice to treat yourself to a relaxing massage or facial every now and then. To save money, you can see what port day specials they are offering. What's better than saving money and getting pampered? 

Like with morning walks, a spa treatment is a great way (perhaps the best way) to spend time with yourself. You can return to your friends and family afterward feeling rejuvenated. 

There are some treatments, particularly in the salon, that are more affordable than treatments, such as manicures and pedicures. Carnival's website, for instance, advertises a traditional pedicure for only $55. If you're sailing on a Royal Caribbean ship, you can get a traditional manicure and pedicure combo for around $95.

Read more: 7 ways to upgrade your cruise for $125 or less

Utilize the ship's gym 

Gym on QM2

Finally, while not the most fun cruise activity, you should carve out a little time to visit the gym. Oftentimes, there are some amazing sea views, which makes it feel more unique than going to your local gym at home. 

You can even attend a fitness class if you need a little more motivation. Usually, though, they aren't included in the cost of your cruise, so you'll have to pay a little extra. Offerings range from cycling classes to targeted workouts that focus on things like abs.

Things like morning stretches are complimentary, as well as the use of all the equipment in the gym itself. 

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