07/18/2013 02:00 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Cruise Weight Loss: How To Avoid The Inevitable Gain

Cruise ships are notorious for being all-you-can-eat binges that leave passengers feeling ship-like themselves.

A poll published by the Daily Mail last year showed that on average passengers gained a pound a day aboard cruise ships.

But it doesn't have to be that way. It's possible to cruise healthfully -- in fact, as the Telegraph proved, you can even lose weight at sea.

Whether you're avoiding the dreaded extra-poundage souvenir or are hoping to kickstart a fitness plan, here are five ways to cruise guilt-free.

1) Eat at meal time -- and that's it.
cruise buffet

Cruises are veritable all-day-every-day feasts. There's food everywhere. Snacks are abundant and there's no limit. Just because it's all-you-can-eat doesn't mean you should eat it all. Avoid the midnight snack buffets and between-meal binges. Have a light snack, such as fruit, between meals to stave off ravenous hunger that could cause buffet mania.

2) Exercise. What else is there to do?
cruise exercise

Bored on board? Workout. Set aside a solid chunk of your day for physical activity and mix up your fitness routine as much as possible. Get to know the ship's fitness center and take some time to study the schedule of classes and activities. If you're sticking to basics, get your tan on while running or walking around the ship or swimming laps in one of the (many) pools the ship likely boasts. Many cruises offer classes that go beyond your typical yoga/pilates/spinning selections. Cruise Critic has taken an extensive look at the ships with the most innovative activities -- from Kinesis walls to on-board surfing to jogging clubs that make working out a group effort.

3) Shore excursions are your friend.

Put shore time to good use. Rather than lying out on the beach (let's be real, you'll do plenty of that onboard) take advantage of any opportunity to get some physical activity in. Go on a hike, take a biking or kayaking tour, go snorkeling or, at the very least, take a blood-pumping walk on the beach or in a nearby village or town.

4) Drink in moderation.
cruise drink

It can be tempting to maintain a steady buzz for your entire time at sea, but considering the fact that many drinks have, at a bare minimum, at least 100 calories, those beverages are going to add up quickly. Stay far away from the sugary, frozen drinks and indulge responsibly with wine, light beer or liquor and a light mixer like diet soda or seltzer. Shots, anyone?

5) Build-in some bad and make up for it with good.

It's inevitable you'll indulge here and there. If you go in with a plan and budget in dessert or that daiquiri you've been craving, and you're doing everything else right, you'll be fine. Just beware the mindset of "just a little bit" -- those little bits add up.



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