Cruising with Diabetes

Written by Bonnie Sanders Polin, PhD

We love to cruise and have done so many times, but the food on a cruise ship has always been a concern for people with diabetes.  We all have only so much will power to insure eating only what's allowed on our meal plans. But take notice, cruise lines are finally getting the message from repeat passengers, particularly health and fitness oriented clientele, and are lightening up in their galleys. Most cruise lines now use the American Heart Associations's recommendations as their guide to produce menu items that get less than 30% of their calories from fat.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, for example, offers Ship Shape spa selections at every lunch and dinner on the line's 10 ships.

London restaurateur Michel Roux, a 3-star French chef, is the designer of Celebrity Cruise Line's Lean and Lite menus.

On Carnival Cruise Lines, a low-calorie Nautica Spa is available at lunch and dinner.

Costa Cruise Lines offer healthy menu items with an Italian accent, while Princess Cruise Line's contribution to lighter eating is the addition of sorbets and fresh fruit to the dessert tray and a top-notch aerobics class on the 7-day Caribbean cruises.

Jeanne Jones, noted cookbook author and designer of the spa cuisine for the Canyon Ranch Health and Fitness Resorts developed the Sail Light alternative menus for Windstar Cruises.

Depending on the ship, besides the popular light fare, you'll also find aerobics classes, well-equipped fitness facilities, paddle tennis courts, golf driving ranges, personal trainers for hire, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

Diabetes -specific Cruises

Cruises specifically for people with diabetes are being planned through Specialty Group Cruises (for information, call 1-800-228-0558).

On all of these sailings, special workshops will be conducted by doctors, dietitians, and diabetes educators from the renowned Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, MA. Space is limited on each cruise, so if you're interested, book early.

Another note-worthy group of cruises geared for health and fitness (though not specifically for people with diabetes) is offered by Sheila Cluff, owner of two California health spas, The Oaks at Ojai and The Palms of Palm Springs.

All cruises will offer low-fat, low-sodium, and vegetarian cuisine and special exercise classes by Ms. Cluff.

Before You Go on a Cruise: Travel Tips for Diabetics

Just a few words of advice before booking a cruise:

Bon Voyage!  It is possible to travel safely with diabetes; it just takes some extra planning.