Eating Onboard: How to Cruise Without Gaining Weight

I am pleased to say that I gained very little weight after 19 days eating onboard the Island Princess. We sailed from Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal and up to Vancouver. If you have never been on a Princess Cruise ship before, I am here to tell you the food is expertly prepared, appetizing, and flavorful. The fear of gaining weight is real, but the choice was still my own.

Gluttonous, continuous eating onboard is possible, and sadly, I think it was the goal of a few of the passengers. We, however, opted to stick to three meals a day (plus morning coffee, afternoon tea, and an occasional soft serve ice cream). With few exceptions, all food is included in the cost of the cruise. The Island Princess had three specialty restaurants that had a cover charge, plus passengers pay additional for specialty coffee drinks, soft drinks, bottled water, and alcohol.

My best tips are below, but first let me tempt you with a bit of food porn:

A dinner time favorite, I loved this scallop dinner when I sailed with Princess cruises.

This scallop meal is one of my favorite dinners. I know my photos are heavy on seafood, as that is what I like. There are meat, chicken, and vegetarian options every meal.

Eating onboard a cruise ship can be healthy too. I ordered a side of vegetables with dinner on the Island Princess.

Although not on the menu, I frequently requested a side of vegetables. Healthy choices are always available.

Chocolate covered strawberries, and champaign on the Island Princess

We were greeted in our cabin with beautiful flowers, chocolate covered strawberries, and champagne.

A chocolate dessert on the Island Princess

I can’t always stick to the diet.

A latte served on a Princess Cruise Ship

I know, I am a bit of a coffee snob. Therefore I opted to purchase a coffee card that gave me a discounted price for 15 specialty coffees during the cruise. This is a latte. If you are like me, remember to ask for it in a glass mug, or it will come in a take-away container.

Handmade pizza served at lunch time at a specialty restaurant on the Island Princess

One of the daily lunch options is handmade pizza at the Italian specialty restaurant. There is no extra charge for this, and it is as good as it looks.

British Pub lunch, and eating onboard option on the Island Princess

This meat pie is served at a British Pub lunch, another specialty option at no extra charge. On the pub menu are also traditional items like fish and chips or bangers and mash.

Healthy eating onboard a Princess Cruise ship

Healthy eating onboard is always an option. I started most mornings with a fruit plate. This one is a bit more elaborate than most as it was served in a specialty dining room that offers breakfast only to those passengers with suites.

Antipasto started our dinner at one of the specialty restaurants.

We opted to try dinner at Sabatini’s specialty restaurant (cover charge). Antipasto started our meal, which was a called “Trattoria,” a tapas style meal offering small samples of a huge variety of foods.

The antipasto above was followed by hot appetizers, pasta, a lobster tail dinner, and then these three desserts. Now I understand why people pay extra for specialty restaurants. The handmade attention to every detail, and delicate flavors, makes this meal worth the extra money.

The antipasto above was followed by hot appetizers, pasta, a lobster tail dinner, and then these three desserts. Now I understand why people pay extra for specialty restaurants. The handmade attention to every detail, and delicate flavors, makes this meal worth the extra money.

Paella at its best onboard the Island Princess

Mouthwatering and blissful, paella on the Island Princess perfectly matched my memories from our home exchange in Spain.

Cheese tray available on the Island Princess from room service.

Room service is available 24/7. This cheese tray also came with a plate of individually wrapped crackers that are not very photogenic.

Galley tour onboard the Island Princess cruise ship

On average there are 24,000 meals prepared daily. We took a galley tour, and were pleased to see the kitchens are immaculate with stainless steel walls and ceilings.

Caribbean shrimp severed as an appetizer onboard a Princess Cruise ship

As we passed through the Caribbean some of the menu items reflected the local cuisine.

The sweet tray at afternoon tea on Princess Cruises

The sweet tray at afternoon tea. There are also finger sandwiches, cookies and my favorite – the fresh, hot scones served with jam and cream.


Are you wondering, how I cruised for 19 days, eating the foods above without gaining too much weight. 

Sorry to say it, there is no secret, it’s the same as every day life. Calories in versus calories out. If you don’t want to gain weight on the ship, you need to make good choices, and get some exercise. The latter is easier, as there is both a gym and a walking track. Plus there are plenty of active onboard options like Zumba, line dancing, ballroom dancing, swimming pools, basketball court, and a 5K breast cancer walk. Personally, I upped my goal, striving for 15,000 steps per day on my Fitbit Charge HR.

Aside from the dining rooms and specialty restaurants, the Island Princess has several eating onboard options including a Horizon Court buffet (open from 5.30 am to midnight), Princess Pizzeria (poolside), Swirls Ice Cream Bar (poolside), Bar and Grill (outdoors), La Patisseria coffee shop, room service, and bar snacks served in 9 locations.

Read more about our life onboard from my initial impressions of the Island Princess.

Tempted? Do  you think you could enjoy 19 days eating onboard without gaining too much weight? Would you eat less, exercise more, or just worry about it when you get home?

If you are tempted, please share on social media including Pinterest:

Eating onboard a cruise ship with gaining weight is a challenge especially with all the delicious options available.

This post is linked at BeThere2Day for Wordless Wednesday on Tuesday, Life Thru the Lens, Through My Lens, Monday Escapes, and Our World Tuesdays.

Disclaimer: In addition to VIP treatment onboard the Island Princess we were provided with many complimentary extras. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.

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  1. says

    Your pictures look absolutely amazing! And it actually reminds me of an all you can eat buffet we liked to go to in Japan. The food was fantastically prepared, with specialty dishes that were brought out every 30 minutes or so. If you took your time, you could sample a small but of everything without stuffing yourself too full.

    I know when my parents went on their cruise, their temptation wasn’t the limitless food, it was the open bar. They went on an Alaskan cruise and when they came back they said, “Once you’ve seen one iceberg, you’ve seen them all. We mostly just drank.” I remember thinking that it must have been a waste, except they didn’t end up paying for it. 😛

    • says

      Neither our Panama Canal cruise, nor our Alaska cruise a few years ago had an open bar. Too bad your parents didn’t love Alaska, I know I did. They probably should stay out of the Panama Canal as well – as the locks might not be interesting enough to hold their attention.

  2. says

    24,000 meals a day?! Holy cow! And all the food looks spectacular! I’d end up twice as big as when I boarded. I’m trying not to be super jealous, but with your awesome pics and details every few days, it’s getting harder and harder! 😉

    • says

      That is exactly what I thought. It sure is more than 3 meals per day, per person – again going back to those on the ship that are there to stuff themselves. As for our trip, the blog point here is only about 2/3 of the way, there is a few more really interesting destinations to come.

  3. says

    Hi Rhonda – it all looks wonderful … and yes we can choose carefully – not get carried away and take advantage of the exercise options … love all the photos … it is mind over enjoying some deliciousness but not stuffing ourselves unnecessarily … I wonder what they do with the left overs?

    The whole looks to be an amazing experience … and I’m looking forward to seeing more – cheers Hilary

  4. says

    I agree. Hubby and I want on a 17 day cruise to Hawaii and back. We exercised every single day and made good choices. I gained two pounds. I was happy with that.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  5. says

    Our cruise ship had a wonderful gym. Nothing like running on a treadmill while watching the waves. Plus there are so many offshore excursions where you can spend some calories.

  6. says

    Wow, all the beautiful and delectable food. On my 8 day cruise, I try not to gain anymore then 5 lbs. It’s very difficult but it can be done. What amazes me are those people that pile up their plates with food and goodies and then leave the plates close to full and leave the room. That really gets me angry. It sounds like you & your hubby are enjoying this cruise. Good for you Rhonda. See ya later my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

    • says

      Wow, that’s more than half a pound per day. I worked way too hard taking it all off to do that right now. We didn’t eat in the buffet very often, so I didn’t see too many of the people piling the food

  7. says

    Wow, that is quite a parade of food. We took a seven day Alaskan cruise and all went well. The food was great, but we stayed active enough to maintain our weight. I would recommend cruising to anyone. It is a wonderful way to travel.

    • says

      We did an Alaska cruise a few years ago, and I think I over ate. I have learned a bit of self discipline since then. But as you can see, I didn’t go hungry, nor did I cheat myself out of the treats I wanted.

  8. says

    All the meals look so appetizing. Attracted by the meat pie at the English pub, though. And the caribbean meal as well.
    All of these photos are delightful. Now I’m ready for a cruise 😀

  9. says

    Great advice Rhonda. We’ve been on two cruises (one on the Sapphire Princess) and we have witnessed how much passengers “pig out” on these cruises. Anybody would think they were starving!! My husband and I like to watch what we eat and exercise daily to keep the weight at bay, however on both cruises I have put weight on – but not a lot!

  10. says

    I have always wondered how to handle a cruise with all that beautiful food, I dont think I would take up exercise, just take loose fitting clothes and “try” to eat small portions, that said, it still might not help. Everything looks wonderful and great to share on Oh my Heartsie Girls WW his week, thank you!

    Have a awesome week!

    • says

      Dare I tell you, it is . . . everything is delicious, and should you happen to order something that isn’t to your preferences, they will take it back and get you something else.

  11. says

    I waited to read your post last becasue it looked so enticing 🙂

    Hmmmm…. I think I’d have to up my exercise intake so that I could splurge. I am a coffee snob too. 😀 I love that you said that. What a fun post, but now I am hungry. 😀

    So glad you found me over at my blog.

    Lisa at Life Thur the Lens

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