Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Secret . . . .

Holland America Zaandam
You hear it all over the ship. “I think I gained 10 pounds!” One of the best reasons to go on a cruise is the food; even on the least expensive cruises, they food is gourmet quality. There is normally at least four courses; appetizer, soup or salad, main course, and desert. This is of course in the formal dining rooms; if you choose to go to the Lido Buffet, you can have as many courses as you like. People come on a cruise and they suddenly lose all self control – people who would normally eat pretty carefully, suddenly pile their plates with anything under the glasses. Why stick with the Italian menu when you can get regular food, Italian, Asian and possibly even Mexico. People stagger to their tables with plates piled high. The ships encourage it, the cruise staff constantly remind you of all you can eat, and the amount of food is the standard joke for all the entertainers. You can't escape the food, and to make it worse, there is often special food events at midnight, and just in case you missed something, there is 24 hour room service. As a result, people are always complaining about how much food they are eating – they're not doing anything about their eating, just complaining about it.
The Dining Room - Pounds to Gain

Now, I do not seem to have as much problem as most; my clothes seem to still fit at the end of the cruises. I do however have to work at it. And I'm willing to tell you my secrets.

First, I usually try to eat in the Dining room. The servings are smaller, and although you do get four courses, they are pretty reasonable. If you go to the buffet, it is just too tempting to sample everything. If I go to the Buffet, I use it for lunch, and instead of moving around the buffet table sampling everything, I do not pick up plates, drinks or utensils until I walk around examining what is available on this particular day. I then choose one thing, and that is all I get. On this cruise for example I discovered that the Asian menu was excellent, and they serve it in nice small bowls. If I ordered rice and one of their Asian dishes I ended up with a very tasty reasonable lunch.

The Buffet - Too Tempting
The other secret is the gym. Hidden way up in the front of the ship is a very well equipped gymnasium; stationary bicycles, elliptical machines, treadmills, and a whole slew of exercise machines. The best thing is that although other venues on the ship can be crowded, with the age and health limitations of many of the passengers, the gym is usually deserted. I have never had to wait for a stationary bicycle to free up, and the exercise machine I want to try is rarely being used. On this ship, there are perhaps four other people who regularly use the gym, so it is never a problem working out. There are of course always someone who comes in, looks around and tries out some of the machines – sit down, read the instructions, try to work it, change the setting to minimum and do five or six reps. They rarely come back.
I go to the Gym every day and do the same work-out every day. This keeps my back and knees in shape for exploring the ports of call, and it also lets me work off some of the extra food I have been eating. I only hope that the ships do not actually put two and two together and discover that their gyms are used more by their staff than the passengers. They may decide to take out the gym and add another wheel-chair accessible card room or a Polka bar.

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