When you’re on a vacation that includes all-you-can-eat food and limits your movement to walking on a ship in the middle of the ocean, it may seem like a dream trip for the lazy. But cruises don’t have to mean food comas and naps on deck all day. Here are 7 ways to keep cruise vacations active and healthy.

Don’t treat your meals like a free for all.

It’s true that one of the perks of taking a cruise is the fact that you not only don’t have to worry about where you’re going to eat dinner, you don’t have to bring your wallet either. Everything is already paid for and if at dinner, you can’t decide between the steak and the lobster, why not order both? As tempting as a lunch buffet and all-you-can-eat breakfast can be, it’s important to remember your nutrition goals. Try not to go overboard on the sugars and instead load up on all of your favorite fruits and vegetables—it’s rare to have so many in one place! Instead of stacking your plate high with food, serve yourself small portions of the items you want to try. If you’re hungry later, you can make that trip to the snack bar.

Take advantage of your free time and take a new gym class.

Many cruise ships offer workout classes throughout the day in their fitness studio. If you don’t have a gym at home or aren’t part of something like ClassPass, a cruise is the perfect opportunity to explore new types of workouts. Many offer boot camp-style classes, spinning classes and Pilates. Give something new a try without having to buy an entire package.

Try all the amenities, including the volleyball court and the rock wall.

Ships these days are equipped with countless activities including volleyball, basketball courts and rock climbing walls. Find out if there are certain times the areas are open or reserved and find away to fit a visit into your onboard routine. If you want to stay active but on your own terms, find the ship’s jogging path and take a few laps. You can’t really beat the view. The Carnival cruise line has ships with what they’ve dubbed “SkyFitness.” On the deck they have punching bags and workout bikes, letting you leave the traditional gym behind at the port.

Don’t sign up for the unlimited sodas deal.

Ahead of the trip, many ships offer you additional packages you can purchase for your time onboard. While we highly encourage you to check out the spa deals, stay away from the unlimited soda offer. The price may be a good deal, but the carbonated beverages aren’t good for you (even the diet ones). Not purchasing the package will make it easier to choose water with lemon when hydrating on the sundeck.

Make a point of exploring on your docked days.

When your ship sidles up to the port of an exotic land, try to avoid the urge of walking 100 feet and plopping down on the beach for the day. Not only is this the least active way to enjoy your time on land, it means you’re seeing less of what the town has to offer. You don’t have to do ziplines and bike tours to remain active—exploring local shops and markets will get your steps for the day and open your eyes to something new.

Sure, the glass elevator is pretty, but take the stairs.

This solid rule of thumb for staying active doesn’t change just because your location does. Rather than riding in the beautiful elevators located in the lobby of the ship, make the effort to walk the stairs. Save the elevator rides for when you’re running late to your dining reservation.

Visit the dance floors for some after-hours cardio.

The ship’s cruise director will likely keep you updated on all events happening throughout the day, whether that’s a bingo game in the afternoon or dancing to 70’s music in the club at night. We encourage you to check out the dance floor and let loose—one of the best ways to get moving after dinner. Plus, no matter how bad your dance moves are, you’ll likely never see the other guests again after the vacation.

*Photo Credit: Carnival


Author: Allison Klibanoff