Contributed by guest author Alexandra Mulliner.

Sure, you’re on a cruise, not a diet. But that doesn’t mean you need to pack on a pound for every day you’re sailing. With some minor tweaks to your vacation style, you can avoid cruise weight gain, and won’t wind up feeling bigger than the ship you set sail on.

Eat the Fancy Stuff

You paid to be on this cruise; why not eat the most expensive food? Take the time to check out the dining room, where you’ll score gourmet, three-course meals with smaller, controlled portions. Order grilled seafood, steamed vegetables, and salads with vinegar-based dressings. Keep in mind, sauces and dressings are often laden with salt, which can cause bloating. Request your entree sauces on the side and use them sparingly to avoid being mistaken for a puffer fish during your snorkeling excursion.

If you still find yourself at the buffet, avoid the cheap, fried food, and head to the salad bar. Of course the fries are tempting, but don’t give in. If you do, by day three of eating processed junk you’ll be placing an embarrassing order for prune juice.

Resist the Urge

Don’t even let the waiter put the basket of assorted breakfast croissants or dinner rolls in front of you. Once they hit the table, there’s no amount of willpower capable of resisting them.

Be prepared, desserts are everywhere you turn. Since it’s practically impossible to deny, limit your sweets to just the two formal dinners the cruise offers in the dining hall. On the other nights, distract yourself by ordering a cup of Peruvian coffee or an herbal tea with lemon slices.  It won’t be as delicious, but at least your pants will fit tomorrow.

Sip Smartly

Don’t be tricked by the free juice available on the ship. Juice is packed with sugar and stripped of fiber, which is a recipe for weight gain. Some cruises let you bring a limited quantity of your own non-alcoholic beverages onboard, so pack some sparkling water. To give it an extra kick, add some lemon slices, which are always available at the drink stations on the ship.

Booze with Benefits

The frosty piña coladas taste amazing, but is there really any booze in there? Skip the sugar-loaded froufrou cocktails. Choose wine, which has the added benefit of antioxidants, or sip on a club soda mixed with your choice of alcohol for a lower-calorie buzz.

Stay in Shipshape

Tone up that bikini bottom by taking the ship’s stairs instead of the elevator, especially when you’re heading toward food. If your cabin is on the first level that could mean several flights of stairs between you and the salad bar. Losing weight on a cruise is usually unheard of, but many ships also include outdoor tracks and indoor gyms with ocean views, so you’ll burn calories without missing out on whale sightings and sunsets. The top deck also frequently features things like a sky-high basketball court and mini-golf course. If that’s not your thing, try the ping-pong tables, ballroom dancing events, or yoga classes offered by most cruise lines.

Pamper Yourself

After your workout, re-enter vacation mode by rinsing, hydrating, and heading to the whirlpool, steam room, or sauna in the ship’s (most likely) impressive gym and spa. The real secret is the gym’s showers. They’re private and spacious, with jets that spray from every direction. Unlike the dinky showers in your stateroom, these luxury ones offer a spa-like experience so you can actually enjoy bathing, without flooding your cabin or stepping on the toilet as you reach for the shampoo.

Cruising should be a fun, relaxing experience, filled with new adventures and luxury. With some willpower and a game plan, you won’t confuse your whale photos with your bikini shots.

Alex_MullinerAlexandra Mulliner is a wellness enthusiast, novice hula hooper, Certified Health Coach, and lover of all things natural. She’s originally from Virginia, but after backpacking around South America, she settled in Ocean Beach, San Diego. Between resisting California burritos and perfecting her pigeon pose in hot yoga class, she provides nutritional counseling and runs a healthy lifestyle blog: