Healthy eating is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a cruise. You might instead be thinking of the 24 hour buffet. However it is possible to eat healthy. We do it every time we cruise without sacrificing the enjoyment of eating! It all starts with a positive mindset, some willpower (okay maybe a lot of willpower), and a little creativity.
The Basics of Eating Well on a Cruise
The Buffet – Often times the buffet gets a bad rap, but it can be your best friend when trying to eat well. Start by perusing every option available and then put together the best choices. Of course, salads are usually the best option, but don’t just stick to the salad bar. There are often great choices to add to a salad at the burger condiment bar or the taco salad bar. You can also take a simple baked potato or plain rice and add to it for a healthy and tasty lunch.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask – While eating at the buffet, get to know the chefs that are walking around. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to make special requests. Everyone is usually very accommodating. We tell the head waiter on the first night of dinner about our various diet restrictions. The waiters appreciate this because then for the rest of the cruise they know what to suggest and what needs to be adapted. The last cruise the kitchen created a special and delicious entrée adapted from the regular menu each night. The chef even came out to comment on how he enjoyed the challenge of creating something different for a change.
Every year our family goes on a Caribbean cruise out of Tampa with Royal Caribbean. It is a great way to relax and have fun in the warm tropical weather. This year’s cruise was 5 nights and stopped in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. It was especially nice because we left while Florida was having a bit of a cold spell, but the weather in the Caribbean was great.
We have been fortunate enough to go on a lot of cruises over the years and have become very loyal to Royal Caribbean due to their fantastic loyalty program, Crown & Anchor Society. You can read all about this program here.
The ship we were on this year was the Brilliance of the Seas. She is a medium sized ship that has great amenities and a fantastic crew. This is our favorite size ship to sail on. Here is an overview of our 5 day cruise with our tips. We will also have a list of our best tips at the end!
Day 1: Tampa, FL
We suggest that you head to the cruise terminal around 11am. If you go to early, the ship’s not ready and you have to wait. If you go later in the afternoon, that’s when most other people arrive so you also have to wait. Unfortunately boarding the ship usually requires waiting in a few lines, so be patient and prepared by eating a snack beforehand. Luckily we did not have to wait too long and headed straight to the buffet for lunch.
We always like to take a tour of the ship to see where everything is and what’s going on. It’s good to know where the Guest Services is located, the dining room, and your room. Typically the rooms are not ready until around 1 or 2pm and your luggage should be in front of your door. If it’s not, don’t panic yet! It’s probably on it’s way. When the room is ready we like to unpack and freshen up a little before heading to the Sail Away Party on the Lido Deck!
In the world of cruising, family and budget friendly usually come to mind when thinking of Royal Caribbean cruises, not the finer things. I want to share with you two experiences I recently had on the Vision of the Seas that were quite grand events and elevated my perception of service and epicurean significance.
When reserving the tasting, I did not realize it was Lafite and assumed it was the usual tasting offered on board most ships. It was not! Royal Caribbean has exclusively partnered with Domaines Baron de Rothschild Lafite and this program presents the history and details of these exquisite wines of the region of Bordeaux. Chateau Lafite is a wine estate in France owned by members of the Rothschild family. It is renowned as one of the most famous wine properties in the Medoc. Producing primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, some Lafite Rothschild vintages are the most expensive wines worldwide for purchase.
We had a small group and an excellent sommelier. As is usual in tastings, everyone is quiet at the beginning but are much more chatty as the wine continues flowing! The sommelier is key. Ours was very knowledgeable, but also a lot of fun! I really enjoy wines and informative tastings, but I do not take them too seriously. I want to learn and have a good time. Since the wines are primarily reds, we started the tasting with the one white wine and moved up to the fuller bodied reds and ended with a classic dessert wine. The wines tasted are below. I loved the Bordeaux Blanc which is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc and the Medoc red which was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. They were all interesting to taste. The wines flowed very freely and we were sent home with a beautiful folder packed with information regarding Lafite and the wines we tasted. This is a perfect afternoon endeavor on a day at sea as long as you have time for a nap at the pool before dinner!
10. Fly in the night before to be on the safe side. It will give you more of a cushion in case of weather delays, lost luggage, etc.
9. If traveling abroad, look into an international call package before leaving (contact your cell provider for suggestions)
8. Stay on board on one of the Port Days. That ship will be less crowded and you can enjoy the onboard amenities and maybe have the hot tub to yourself!
7. Make reservations ahead of time for spa treatments and special dining options.
6. Pre-book special Shore Excursions before the cruise. The ones you want me be sold out once you get onboard.
5. Skip the elevator and take the stairs (if possible). This way you can burn off some of those extra vacation calories.
4. Pay attention to the time when going ashore. You don’t want to miss the ship because you didn’t realize you were in a different time zone!
3. Bring a small duffle bag or carry-on bag for the first day of arrival onboard with incidentals that you may need for those first few hours, like your bathing suit and a change of clothing. Usually your staterooms will not be ready when you first get onboard and luggage can sometimes take several hours to be delivered.
2. Bring your important documents (passport or birth certificate, visas, credit cards). Check and double check with the ship for individual requirements. You will not be allowed onboard without these!
Enjoy every moment! The days go by very fast on a cruise and soon you will be back to reality.
What tips would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!
We are very excited to write this post for two reasons. It was requested by a reader and it was one of our most remarkable trips!
Norway is known for its world famous fjords, majestic mountains and spectacular glaciers. Norway encompasses a beauty so stunning it almost does not feel real. The other two gals and I were lucky to visit Norway as part of a trip to Northern Europe. We visited Bergen, Alesund and Geiranger. Cruising the fjords to Geiranger felt like I was part of a movie. The scenery was unbelievable. When we arrived at the bottom of Geiranger fjord we embarked on the most memorable hike of our lives so far. The climb to the top was steep and physically demanding, but entirely worth it. You could drink the crisp, cool glacial water streaming the waterfalls. The view from top evoked a feeling that our small group was the only people in the world. It was July so it was misty, but warm enough to wear pants and a light jacket. The hike down was the most treacherous part as the mist created a slide of mud and foliage. It was thrilling, exhilarating and unforgettable.
The Traveling Gals: Bring appropriate clothes if you are going to hike up a fjord. The youngest had to throw away her shoes and pants after hiking up Geiranger Fjord! So worth it though!
Our next stop was Alesund and even thought it was after 11 p.m. it was bright as can be outside. It is a very interesting sensation when the sun ever fully sets. Alesund is the gateway to the fjords and appropriately named the “adventure capital”. After taking the 418 step walk to the top of Mount Aksla the next morning, we were not only rewarded with a picture perfect view but a huge troll!
The last stop in Norway was Bergen where we spent time at the Fish Market. I love visiting markets when I am traveling. It is like an education in local culture. We also went into local shops and grocery co-ops while walking through streets lined with vibrantly colored wooden houses. We sailed out of Norway on the North Sea and saw all the oil rigs. They were fascinating to see working oil rigs first hand.
After visiting Norway, I am so impressed with the authenticity of the Norway pavilion in EPCOT. The details and atmosphere are spot on with our experience. It was sad for us to see Maelstrom close because it was such a true representation of everything we saw in Norway. Several times in the country of Norway, much to other people in our traveling group’s dismay, we kept saying…wow this is just like EPCOT!
While they do not have a booth for the Food and Wine Festival, there is a great restaurant and bakery at the pavilion. The restaurant, Akershus, has character dining with the Disney Princesses for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We enjoy this restaurant very much, but make your reservations far in advance! The bakery, Kringla, serves sandwiches, pastries, and specialty treats.