Food vs Fitness


There is a paradox on-board every modern mega-cruise ship. Half of the public rooms and facilities are dedicated to providing food and drink, while the other half are aimed at fitness, sport, exercise and beauty treatments. (O.k. it’s probably NOT 50/50 but you get my point!)

Now, they do say that the average cruise passenger gains one pound per day in weight, although personally I am very sceptical of this statistic. I believe that the salt content in the sea air simply make ones clothes shrink a size or two.

The Food

There is little doubt that the consumption of food on-board a cruise ship has moved well beyond the act of purely providing nutrition. The food punctuates the days. The evening meal, in particular can be the highlight of each day. Even on the budget cruise, the cruise lines aim to provide a worthy evening meal, although they do not always succeed, of course. The chefs have the power to surprise, impress or disappoint. Likewise the waiters have the unparalleled ability to pamper or frustrate.

Food on-board ships, has actually become a form of entertainment. Cookery demonstrations, vegetable carving and even napkin folding lessons are commonplace on cruise ships. On-board the Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, for example, you can actually pay to watch the chef prepare your chosen meal in an open kitchen, before consumption.

The ‘Gala’ midnight buffets are now going out of fashion somewhat. However, they were such works of art, that passengers were invited to their own photo-call before the food is actually eaten. The Norwegian Cruise Lines used to offer a Chocoholic midnight-buffet which deserves a special mention. Everything presented was made of chocolate, and this includes a fountain and a giant ship model. It is possible to actually gain weight just by viewing such a buffet. I think this strange phenomenon must be due to the inhalation of the high calorie chocolate vapour within the air.

Unfortunately the traditional midnight buffets are being replaced by 24 hour Pizza etc. I hope that it does not taste like it’s been cooked for 24 hours, too.

The Fitness

Then we have the vast gymnasiums with a multitude of machines of torture. In addition, there thousands of square feet of Beauty Therapy and spa facilities on available on most modern ships. Unfortunately the prices are as extensive as the facilities. They offer massage and beauty treatments utilizing mud, seaweed, and essential oils. (They never used to be essential, did they?) There are also hot-tubs, spa pools where you can bath in a cocktail of minerals. Most cruise lines now offer yoga, aerobics, tai chi and Pilates. For the uninitiated, these are not ‘dishes of the day’ but apparently forms of exercise.

There are deck pursuits on offer such as jogging, paddle tennis, basketball, shuffleboard, coits, and table tennis. Royal Caribbean’s fleet, for example, offer in-line skating, miniature-golf, an ice rink, surfing simulator (with real water), bungi-trampolines, boxing and a climbing walls.

Personally I’m not convinced about the merits of ‘boxing’ at sea but it may yet prove to be the ideal method for resolving customer complaints. You could simply challenger one of the managers to a few rounds.

Food vs Fitness

Fortunately Food and Fitness are not completely at odds with each other. Modern cruise ship menu’s always contain ‘Healthy’ options – some low in fat and others sugar free. Some ships even have dedicated ‘Juice-Bars’ offering natural blended drinks made from fresh fruit.

Mind you, the tradition of putting a chocolate on your pillow each night is a clear indication that the culture of ‘fat’ still has the lead over that of ‘fit’. Mind you even this practice is dying out. (Maybe they should also leave a fresh pair of sweat pants on your pillow, too?)

However  in  support of the lazy, who I am a ‘champion’ for: a recent cruise industry survey revealed that the top three reasons people liked to cruises were:

1) pampering

2) multiple destinations

3) and dining.

I’m please to report that the gymnasium was way down the list.

Carnival Cruise Line recently offered on-bard sessions called: “Detox for Weight Loss” and “Secrets to a Flatter Stomach.” Personally, I would suggest the secret of a ‘flatter stomach’ is not to book a cruise in the first place!

Malcolm Oliver

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