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How to avoid overeating on a cruise

08 Jun 2024
Matt Hochberg

Cruise ships are nearly synonymous with food, but that doesn't mean you have to overeat.

How to not overeat on your cruise

Vacation represents an opportunity to indulge, and even if you aren't gluttonous, there are so many opportunities presented throughout the course of your cruise to eat.  Some of this is a matter of convenience, while other food choices are certainly meant to appeal to your sweet tooth.

As an example, Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas has 27 different dining venues to choose from.  That's a lot of food to consider.

While you certainly could eat everything you see onboard, you probably aren't looking to eat quite that much. 

If gaining weight on your cruise is not what you'd like to remember from your vacation, here are some easy ways to not overeat on a cruise.

Focus on unique dishes

When presented with food choices, start by eliminating familiar foods and focus on what you might not get at home.

Every calorie counts, so why not look for something different than what you usually have, rather than ordering a familiar dish you've had a number of times.

Indian curry

This is especially true at the buffet, where you could choose between burgers, hot dogs, or a variety of other food.

When browsing the buffet ask yourself, “is this potato salad going to be better then what I can get at home?” 

Look for small plates at the buffet

There's an entire psychology to overeating, and one good tip is starting with a smaller plate.

Instead of grabbing one of the large buffet plates, go to the salad section and pick up one of the smaller plates.

Use the small plate and fill that up and start there.  

That isn't to say you can only have one plate, but you might have some luck tricking your brain into eating less by still filling your plate.

Exercise to work off the excess food

Fitness Center

If you see overeating as an inevitability, exercise is a good counterbalance.

Royal Caribbean cruise ships have terrific fitness centers that are included with your cruise fare.  Treadmills, free weights, and exercise machines are available to use.  In addition, there are exercise classes that have an extra cost.

Avoid the buffet

Windjammer buffet

If you see the buffet as the largest draw to overeating, don't go there in the first place.

There are plenty of other places to eat on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship other than the buffet.

The Main Dining Room is open for breakfast every day, and is also open for lunch on sea days.


You could order room service and enjoy a meal on your balcony.  Room service has an extra cost to it, but it's a fixed cost and doesn't matter how much food you order.

Some ships have great alternative options to the Windjammer, like the Aquadome Marketplace on Icon of the Seas.

Eat high protein food first

In general, it's a good idea to stay well-hydrated before you eat a morsel of food, and then when you do eat, prioritize your foods:

  1. Eat all of the high protein foods first
  2. Then eat fibrous vegetables and fruits
  3. Save the carb heavy foods and desserts for last

Eat slowly, and drink water before and after a plate of food.

The idea is you'll feel full before you over do it.

Avoid the sugary tropical drinks

Besides food, the drinks on a cruise can add to overeating.

There are many cocktail choices on a cruise, so if you can avoid the sugary tropical drinks in lieu of wine, or liquor and mixers, that might help too.

Ask Main Dining Room waiters not to bring the bread basket

Table for two

When you sit down for a meal in the Main Dining Room, there will be a bread basket waiting for you and this is a giant vat of carbs.

Temptation is tough to resists, so remove the temptation by asking your waiters to not bring you bread in the first place.

Eat like you normally do at home

Steak lobster
Photo by TheMaxRebo

Remember, you don’t have to "get your moneys worth" at the buffet. You don’t have to have two entrees just because you can. It’s not required that you clean your plate.

Try to stick to your normal eating routine at home, in terms of times and frequency you would eat.

Try new things, order your favorites, but don't order two entrees every night simply because you can.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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