Foods You Should Avoid on a Cruise — and What to Eat Instead

Here's how to keep your stomach happy on your next cruise.

Cruising has come a long way when it comes to its culinary offerings. There are ships with Michelin-starred chefs, others highlighting local cuisine, and even vessels with a dozen or more restaurants to choose from.

While all of this sounds divine, there are few things passengers may want to skip. Here are the foods experts say you should avoid on your next cruise.

Don't overdo it on the spice.

According to Nancy Mitchell, a registered nurse and contributing writer at Assisted Living Center, it may be a good idea to avoid high-fat and spicy foods that could "irritate the stomach lining and aggravate nausea." Mitchell adds, "Digestion can be much slower for people with digestive issues, and greasy foods tend to put a brake even further." She recommends avoiding these foods from the night before boarding your cruise.

Don't forgo the water.

It can be tempting to swap out all your usual drinks for beverages with tiny umbrellas, but as Mitchell notes, consuming plenty of water can help reduce the chances of dehydration and headaches, which are associated with seasickness.

And as a bonus tip, Mitchell says, "Carry along some mint sweets or a mild ginger drink to sip on in case you start feeling queasy — these are great for relieving symptoms of nausea."

dessert buffet in a cruise ship restaurant
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Think twice about open-air dining options.

Buffets can be a great option for a grab-and-go meal, but with the ongoing pandemic, Aimee Takamura, director of wellness and sustainability at Restaurant Associates and a registered dietitian, suggests it may be best to avoid them for now.

"If something doesn't look quite right — the color of fish is gray-blue or glossy, salad greens look wilted — skip it. These are signs that food may have been sitting at room temperature for a while," says Takamura. "Also, avoid compromised foods. For example, if you see someone use their bare hands to grab ready-to-eat food, or the serving utensil falls into the dish, notify a server and have them remove the contaminated items."

Skip foods that have triggered you in the past.

Now may not be the time to retry a food that has caused you some discomfort in the past. Instead, DJ Mazzoni, a certified dietician, nutritionist, and medical reviewer at Illuminate Labs, suggests eating conservatively, so you don't run the risk of ruining your entire cruise with a bout of heartburn, or worse.

"Don't eat foods that have been triggers in the past or that you haven't consumed before," says Mazzoni. "Getting food poisoning on a cruise is doubly uncomfortable, due to the potential to become seasick, so it's best to play it safe."

Dining Room Buffet aboard the abstract luxury cruise
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Skip the alcohol if you're feeling seasick.

This tip may be obvious, but it's worth mentioning: Avoid booze if you're feeling queasy.

"Don't drink alcohol if you get seasick because it can further disorient you and cause vomiting," says Mazzoni. If you do feel it coming on, experts agree that sipping ginger ale may help, along with eating bland foods such as crackers or plain bread.

But remember, you're on vacation.

Yes, it's a good idea to avoid things that may cause you to get sick, but as Takamura notes, you're on vacation, so try to live it up, even just a little.

"Eat what you really love, and skip what you don't. The more in tune you are with your eating experience, the less likely you are to eat just to eat," says Takamura. "A surefire way to overeat is to deprive yourself of meals or what your body is craving. Listen to your body and eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full."

Takamura adds, "Enjoy the foods that make you happy, and be thankful that you can."

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