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Fun and Fat Free Cruising

This year more than 10.5 million people will go on a cruise. Almost all of them will have a fabulous time but when they step on the scales after they get home, they will let out a shriek at how much weight they have put on.

However, going on a cruise can be both fun and healthy. You can eat, drink and be merry without packing on the pounds by following our ten simple steps for fun and fat free cruising.

Now before you all roll about laughing, let me explain that I have just come back from my first ever cruise. I ate three meals and some a day, drank more than my doctor would have liked me to yet I didn't put a single pound on for the seven days we were at sea. I appreciate that most of us go cruising to get away from it all and have a good time.

Many of us even go on a diet before sailing so that we look our best as we lounge by the pools but there really is no need to put on a lot of weight while we are at sea only having to shed it all once we get back home.

Follow our ten easy steps and you will have a great time on your cruise and look fabulous when you arrive home.

1. Eating

Enjoy the fabulous food - that is one of the main reasons we all go on cruises. The cruise lines go to great lengths nowadays to make sure that there are plenty of healthy options and portions sizes are large enough to fill you up without adding unnecessary calories. My wife and I cruised on the Carnival Glory and the food ?and service - was fantastic. However, if like us, you do overindulge every now and then go to step 2.

2. Exercise

Get into the gym and get on a treadmill ? even if it's only for 15 minutes (although 30 minutes is better!). It will speed up your metabolism and help burn off unwanted calories. The first full day at sea the gym is normally packed with people with good intentions. You may even have to wait to get on an exercise machine. The second day the lines are not so long and after a couple of days you can usually take your pick of machines. Exercising after breakfast is a great idea as it allows you to burn off those eggs, bacon and pancakes with the bonus that your elevated metabolic rate will continue to burn off additional calories for another two or thee hours as you bask in the sun.

3. Spa

Pamper yourself. Enjoy a relaxing massage and then dive into the steam room or sauna. You'll feel great and you'll lose a few more unwanted pounds.

4. Walking

Going for a walk may seem a strange idea on a cruise ship but you have miles of decks to saunter along. Wear a hat and sunscreen and carry a bottle of water and after a couple of circuits you'll know the layout of the ship, have checked out the best places to sunbathe and burned off enough calories in time for your next meal.

5. Swimming

Swimming is great exercise and even if you can't actually do laps because of all the other people in the pool, you can tread water for a few minutes each day which is great exercise both for burning off calories and strengthening and toning muscles.

6. Stairs

You can often wait several minutes waiting for elevators on a crowded cruise ship. Take the stairs instead ? it is often quicker and it will do you more good. If you are on a large cruise ship with 12 or more decks, take the elevator up three or four decks and then walk up the rest. Don't overdo it, but if you use the stairs regularly you will get great aerobic exercise and by the end of the cruise you will notice the difference in your leg muscles.

7. Shore Excursions

Take advantage of shore excursions because you'll get to see some really interesting places and you'll probably get the opportunity to do some more walking ? around shops, around ancient monuments, or go snorkeling, swimming and so on.

8. Drinking Enjoy your tipples but drink a lot of water as well. It will help keep you hydrated and that is good for your metabolism and general wellbeing especially in hot weather. If you do have a few drinks too many, drink lots of water the next day and think about step 2!

9. Dancing

It doesn't matter how old you are, find a bar or nightclub aboard that is playing your kind of music and get up and dance. It doesn't matter if no one else is dancing or how well you can dance ? the chances are you will never see any of your fellow cruisers ever again!

10. Romancing

You've dined, wined and danced now it is time to take a moonlight stroll along the deck with your partner. While burning off calories may be the last thing on your mind that is what you'll be doing ? and what better way to end the day!

Don Philpott spent 20 years as a senior correspondent with Reuters/Press Association wire service traveling the world on assignments. He has had more than 5,000 articles and 56 books published on travel, security, wine, food, and diet and health.

He recently completed a five year project writing a series of 22 travel guidebooks on Florida and the Caribbean. His latest book The Trailside Cookbook, was co-authoried with his wife Pam and was published by Firefly in March 05. He is host of http://www.wineinfo101.com, a wine and food appreciation website and senior editor of Florida Features which specializes in articles on Florida and the Caribbean. He is a member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association and the North American Travel Journalists Association.

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