Cruise It and Lose it!

So, as I’m sure most of you saw on Facebook, Tyler’s Grandma and Grandpa Jelsing celebrated their 50th anniversary this week, and took the entire family (all 18 of us!) on an Alaskan cruise!  We were completely overwhelmed with gratitude, and I had the most relaxing week of my life.  But there were several things that I did not expect when we went cruising, so I thought I’d briefly outline what it was like onboard the Golden Princess (pictured above).

First and foremost, a cruise is what you make of it.  Many of the kids/teenagers said that they were bored at sea and there wasn’t enough to do.  False.  Our cruise had tons of opportunities, it was really about what you take advantage of.

We took ballroom dancing classes, participated in game shows (Jeopardy, balderdash, the Newlywed Game), attended a martini demonstration, a vodka tasting, I sang in the karaoke competition, and we attended the main shows in the evenings (comedian, illusionist, singers and dancers, etc).  There was always several things going on, and we found ourselves always busy, even on days at sea.

There were a couple things about the cruise that really caught me off guard.  When traveling in a group of 18 people, you don’t realize just how dependent on cell phones we have become until you don’t have them anymore.  You had to establish times and places you were going to meet early in the day, and occasionally have chance encounters with people on the ship.

Attire was also a bit different than I expected.  I brought mostly denim, casual skirts, and tee-shirts.  While off the boat in Alaska, we really needed the warmth and casual clothes for walking around the glacier parks and towns.  But on the ship, especially for evenings, people step it up.  I knew we had a formal night, but once we got on the ship I found out there were actually two formal nights, and the rest of the nights dress was “smart casual” where they would let you in with nice denim, but you were definitely under dressed.  I really regretted not bringing a pair of slacks, dressier footwear, and dressier tops.

The Staff on our ship was absolutely fantastic!  We read that there were 1100 staff members onboard the Golden Princess, only 25 of which were from the USA (this includes the bulk of the entertainment staff).  533 were from The Philippines, the rest from a wide variety of countries.  Even though sometimes their English was difficult to decipher, everyone was so friendly and helpful!  We easily had 10 wait staff assist us with every meal.

By the way – it wasn’t far from this waterfall that a 1 year old male black bear walked right across our path, about 75 feet in front of us!  It was the most exciting and terrifying moment I’ve ever had.

How to Lose It while you Cruise It:  Many people who cruise choose to eat at the buffet, lay by the pool, and generally exclusively relax and take it easy.  We decided to approach our cruise a little differently.  While we had access to insane amounts of desserts, beverages, and all kinds of unhealthy food, we also had access to a gym and fresh fruits and veggies 24/7!  We established rules for ourselves so we could both avoid gaining weight on the cruise.  Here were our rules:

 –  Always take the stairs.  I didn’t realize how enormous cruise ships were!  It really is essentially a skyscraper turned on its side floating in water.  We lived on deck 5 and the buffet was on deck 14, but most of our activities were on decks 5-7.  Still, we only took the stairs when I was hurting from a workout, and the rest of the time we always walked.

 – Avoid the buffet.  While we went to the buffet a handful of times on our cruise,we definitely preferred the sit-down restaurants – gourmet at least 4 star caliber food included in the price!  The selection was fantastic, changed every meal, and was in gourmet sized portions (relatively small) but we were served four courses at every meal, and we were rarely disappointed.  We had the chance to try decadent foods we’d never be able to afford normally (caviar, escargot, lobster tail, king prawns, quail, pheasant, duck, etc).  We always each had a dessert, but only one per meal (it’s incredible how easy it is to eat desserts all day long) and tried to lean towards the slightly less-bad options (like the blueberry frozen yogurt that changed my life).

 – If you do eat at the buffet, study your enemy.  Whenever we approached the buffet, we looked at every single item on display, so we didn’t just start grabbing everything that looked good.  We also always started with a salad to fill up on veggies and fruits before the other stuff.  And again – even with all of them on display in front of you – only one dessert per meal.  Pro tip – it’s not cheating to try your husband’s dessert if he gets a bite of yours, too.

 – Take advantage of opportunities to work out in new ways.  Tyler and I loved taking ballroom lessons (we learned basics of waltz, tango, swing, salsa, and merengue) which did actually work a bit of a sweat.  I did workouts on the treadmill and took classes in yoga, total body conditioning, and zumba, all of which I don’t currently have access to without a gym membership.  I also saw lots of passengers getting their workouts in by walking/running around the outer decks of the ship.

Fun fact:  Canadian pubs are bigger on the inside.

Following these rules, I managed to actually lose a couple pounds during the two weeks I was gone (one week at the coast, one week on a cruise)!  After a couple of months either gaining or maintaining weight, it was so encouraging seeing the number on the scale go down again, especially after a cruise!  We really did not feel deprived, we enjoyed the full extent of our cruise, just kept a handle on it rather than use it as an excuse to go crazy, and that one week did not leave us with loads of extra weight we’d have to work off later.

If we had that kind of money, we would definitely go cruising every few years.  Because it really is a complete disconnect from reality that allows your to just immerse yourself somewhere else and leave everything else behind.  We loved our experience, and we don’t regret a single minute of it!

One Response to “Cruise It and Lose it!”
  1. Margaret Wetterling says:

    Excellent, most excellent!

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