How to Eat Healthy on a Cruise

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When asked to imagine a cruise vacation, many people think, "The food!" Cruises, which specialize in luxury, are known for their endless arrays of delicacies. Daily buffets, nightly multi-course gourmet meals, 24-hour room service and specialty food events (midnight buffets, chocolate buffets) can seem overwhelming. Further, the limitless availability of food can be intimidating to someone who is dieting or watching his weight or who simply doesn't want to bring a few pounds home as souvenirs. You can, however, enjoy your vacation and the food without tipping the scales.

  • Research your cruise ship's menus online before your trip to get an idea of the offerings. Most major cruise lines make menus available online. For example, if you visit Royal Caribbean's website (www.royalcaribbean.com) and type "menu" into the search box, you'll find a link to the menu of fine-dining restaurant Portofino. On Princess Cruises' website (www.princess.com), you can type "menu" into the search box or choose the "Onboard Experience" link, which brings you to "Personal Choice Dining."

  • Look for healthy options at each mealtime. There will always be offerings such as salad, fruit and fish. The menus will have icons to denote healthy choices; these items will also be noted at the buffets.

  • Talk to your waiter. You will have the same waiter each night of the cruise, and this person can be an incredible resource. The servers are well-versed in the many dietary restrictions and food allergies that passengers bring on board with them. Your waiter can suggest healthy choices and will be more than able to make sure that you get greens in place of a heavy starch or your salad dressing on the side.

  • Find a happy medium. Cruises often offer delicacies that you won't be able to find at home, so allow yourself to sample some of them without going overboard.

  • Know your body. There's no need to go to every buffet and have a midnight snack every night just because it's there. Eat when you're hungry and pass up the other options when you're not. You'll be more comfortable and able to enjoy all of the cruise's exciting offerings when you're not overstuffed and exhausted.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep in mind that cruise ship menus occasionally change; online menus may not reflect exactly what will be offered on your cruise. If you cruise on a specific holiday or into a particular port, specialty menus may be provided for that day. Cruise-ship chefs are incredibly talented and accommodating and may be able to assist you by creating an item you'd seen on an online menu or helping you select something healthy from the existing menu.

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