Skip to Content

Avoid Cruise Ship Weight Gain – 7 Easy Things You Can Do

We’ve all heard the horror stories that claim that you’ll put on a pound a day during a cruise, but cruise ship weight gain isn’t inevitable.

I’ve never put on weight on a cruise and in this post, I share with you 7 EASY things you can do to prevent weight gain while still treating yourself. Your enjoyment of the cruise should definitely be your main focus, putting on weight isn’t the end of the world but if you would like to learn how not to, read on.

1 – Set yourself a ‘stair limit’

At the start of your cruise set yourself a number of flights of stairs that you would be willing to walk. Maybe this is two flights, five flights or maybe ten!

If at any point in the cruise you need to go up or down less than this number of flights try to walk. Some stairs are really worth walking up and down too! Below are the stairs on the MSC Meraviglia.

msc meraviglia staircase

Cruise ships can sometimes be up to 17 decks high so I always set my limit as ten flights. If I want to go up or down less than ten flights of stairs I always try to walk.

It becomes a bit of a challenge for me and I enjoy it. I will usually take the elevator if I’m wearing heels though.

2 – Pre plan exercise classes (and stick to it)

Each night you’ll be given a schedule for the next day of your cruise. This is a great time to decide if you’re going to do any exercise classes the next day. Once you have decided, stick to it! On my Princess cruise, I went to Zumba every sea day at 9 am which was so much fun.

Don’t forget to pack your gym clothes!

9 am might not sound too early but on a cruise, that is a really early morning for me. Deciding that I would take part the night before meant that I set my alarm and ACTUALLY WENT. It is so easy to be distracted or just not bother if you leave it until last minute.

Cruise ship zumba princess weight gain

Zumba is definitely one of my favourite things about cruising with Princess. If you’d like to learn a little more about cruising with Princess, here’s a post for you: Golden Princess – Best Bits!

Exercise classes are a great way to make friends with fellow cruisers too!

3 – Hop on a bike

Choosing the right shore excursions can be a really good way to ensure that you don’t put on weight during your cruise. From walking tours to kayaking there is an excursion to suit every fitness level.

I often do my own walking tour in ports, this is not only good for the waistline but the wallet too!

In Talin in Estonia, I took a biking tour organised by Marella Cruises. We cycled 20 miles and it was EXHAUSTING. Sadly it rained a lot during our tour but it was so much fun, definitely a highlight of the entire cruise.

A bike or walking tour is often the best way to explore a new port. You’ll feel a lot more like you’ve explored a place if you’ve visited by bike or foot compared to trying to see the place out of a steamed up coach window!

Active Excursions Marella Bike Tour Weight Gain

4 – Get out of your food comfort zone

It is A LOT easier to eat healthily when somebody else is preparing all of your meals for you. I am quite happy to eat a salad if somebody else is going to prepare it for me and wash up afterwards!

The amount of variety on cruise ships can be vast. Make sure you take advantage of the opportunity and try lots of new foods. The portions onboard are probably smaller than what you would serve yourself at home, for me anyway, so embrace eating. 

Make sure you treat yourself. Below is a dessert from the Avalon Tapestry 2. The quality of food on ships is far superior to anything I’d have at home (although I’d probably give myself a bigger portion).

cruise food dessert weight gain tips

5 – Drink smart

The temptations to indulge in drink is one of the big problems that many cruisers face. It’s very easy for calories to ‘hide’ in drinks. A pint of cider, for example, will set you back around 400 calories! Madness. Think of the doughnuts you could have for that.

Of course, I am not going to suggest that you don’t have a drink on your cruise. If you want to, do it, but all things in moderation. Being mindful of what you drink and choosing low-calorie drinks really can make the world of difference. I’ve heard that prosecco is pretty low in calories! Yum.

Low-calorie alcoholic drink options (under 200 calories):

  • Martini
  • Mojito
  • Vodka Soda
  • Old Fashioned
  • Gin & Tonic
  • Prosecco

The Prosecco was one of my favourite things about my cruise with Marella Cruises, their cruise ships are ‘all inclusive’ which meant that they literally handed me a glass of Prosecco every day when I walked into the theatre. It was dreamy.

Marella Cruises All Inclusive Drinks Table outside theatre prosecco cocktails beers

6 – Use a step tracker + set a step goal

Consider purchasing a Fitbit (or another similar step tracker) for your next cruise. Being able to see my step count always encourages me to walk more. I set myself a goal of at least 10k steps per day but I often do 15 or 20k. My all-time record is 34k!

It’s pretty easy to reach a 10k daily goal on a cruise ship without even really trying. Walking a couple of laps of the promenade deck or between venues will mean you reach this target without too much trouble.

I’ve had various Fitbit’s and other activity trackers. I’ve settled on the Fitbit Charge 2. It also tracks your heartbeat and the number of stairs that you’ve climbed. Amazingly I managed to climb 93 in a day onboard a ship once! I’d definitely recommend the Fitbit Charge 2. (Affiliate link below)


7. If all else fails… head to the gym!

I’ve only ever been on a cruise ship gym to film a tour but I hear that many people love them. If you are going to spend your time on a treadmill I’m sure it’s much more pleasant to be running while looking out at the sea than the usual view of the car park from a gym at home.

I can’t think of a single cruise ship that doesn’t have a gym. Amazingly, even river cruise ships have small gyms.

Gyms on cruise ships are usually open from early in the morning until late at night, they’re usually free to use.

cruise ship gym marella discovery weight gain tips

It is possible to cruise without gaining weight but the most important thing is that you enjoy your cruise. If you have any questions, please do get in touch. I’m here for you!

Where to next?

cruising isnt just for old people facebook group


Monday 13th of May 2019

Thanks for this article. I was wondering how to manage and you have some very sensible tips. I'm adding step counter to my packing list!

Emma Le Teace

Monday 13th of May 2019

Hey Rachel! Thanks so much for commenting. I definitely wouldn't be without my Fitbit. I have it here right now! (Somehow I managed to do 13k steps today despite being in the office for 8 hours, go me!)