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What Foods Not To Eat On A Cruise?


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Lorrayne Callis



Embarking on a cruise ship is an exciting and memorable experience. From exploring new destinations to indulging in luxurious amenities, cruises offer a unique way to travel and unwind. One aspect that plays a major role in the cruise experience is the delectable cuisine available on board. With a diverse range of dining options, it’s no wonder that food is a highlight for many cruise-goers.


While cruising provides an opportunity to indulge in a wide variety of dishes, it’s important to be mindful of what foods to avoid to maintain a healthy and enjoyable journey. Certain foods may not be suitable for consumption due to factors such as their preparation methods, potential allergens, or the risk of causing motion sickness. Understanding these considerations will help you make informed decisions about your dining choices and ensure a pleasant cruise experience.


In this article, we will explore the foods that are best left off your cruise ship dining itinerary. From fried and greasy foods to foods with potential allergens, we will highlight the top culinary culprits to be aware of. By being conscious of what to avoid, you can better navigate the dining options available and optimize your culinary adventure on the high seas.


Fried and Greasy Foods

While indulging in some comfort foods is part of the cruise experience, it’s important to exercise moderation when it comes to fried and greasy foods. These foods can be heavy on the stomach and may leave you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable during your cruise.


Common examples of fried and greasy foods include deep-fried chicken, French fries, onion rings, and heavily breaded seafood. These foods are often cooked in oil at high temperatures, resulting in excess fat and calories. Consuming them in large quantities can lead to digestive issues and weight gain.


Instead, opt for lighter and healthier alternatives. Look for grilled or baked options on the menu, such as grilled fish or chicken, which offer a flavorful and nutritious choice. If you’re craving something crispy, consider oven-baked versions of your favorite dishes, like sweet potato fries or baked vegetable chips.


Additionally, be mindful of condiments and dressings that can add extra grease and calories to your meal. Choose lighter options, such as vinaigrettes or salsa, instead of heavy cream-based dressings. Remember, moderation is key to enjoying all the delicious offerings onboard while keeping your health and well-being intact.


Excessive Sugar and Desserts

One of the temptations onboard a cruise ship is the wide array of desserts available. From decadent cakes and pastries to mouthwatering ice creams and chocolates, it’s easy to get carried away by the sweet temptations. However, consuming excessive sugar and desserts can have negative effects on your health and enjoyment of the cruise.


Excessive sugar intake can lead to energy crashes, weight gain, and an increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. While it’s perfectly fine to indulge in a sweet treat or two during your cruise, it’s important to be mindful of your overall sugar consumption.


Instead of giving in to every dessert temptation, choose your treats wisely. Opt for lighter options like fresh fruits, which provide natural sweetness and essential nutrients. If you do indulge in desserts, consider sharing with a friend or family member to enjoy the flavors without overindulging.


Furthermore, pay attention to hidden sources of sugar such as sugary drinks and cocktails. These can contribute significantly to your overall sugar intake. Opt for water or unsweetened beverages as much as possible and enjoy an occasional sugary drink or cocktail as a special treat.


By being mindful of excessive sugar consumption and making healthier dessert choices, you can satisfy your sweet tooth while maintaining balance and enjoying your cruise to the fullest.


Processed and Packaged Foods

When dining on a cruise ship, it’s common to have a variety of food options available at all times. However, it’s important to be cautious when it comes to processed and packaged foods. These foods are often loaded with additives, preservatives, and high levels of sodium, which can be detrimental to your health.


Processed and packaged foods include items like pre-packaged snacks, frozen meals, and canned foods. These convenience foods are designed for long shelf life and easy preparation, but often lack essential nutrients and contain excessive amounts of unhealthy ingredients like artificial flavors and trans fats.


Instead of relying on packaged options, take advantage of the fresh and made-to-order meals offered on the cruise ship. Most cruise lines have a variety of restaurants and dining options that provide freshly prepared dishes using high-quality ingredients. Choose from the extensive salad bars, grilled meats, and vegetable-based dishes to ensure a healthier and more satisfying meal.


Another great alternative is to explore the local cuisine when visiting different ports of call. Trying authentic dishes made with fresh local ingredients can be a highlight of your cruise experience. It allows you to immerse yourself in the culture and flavors of the region while enjoying a nutritious meal.


By opting for fresh and unprocessed foods, you’ll have a more enjoyable dining experience while keeping your health and well-being a top priority throughout your cruise.


High-Sodium Foods

While it’s important to flavor our food, consuming excessive amounts of sodium can have negative health impacts, especially when it comes to high-sodium foods. Cruise ship meals sometimes incorporate ingredients that are high in sodium to enhance the taste. However, consistently consuming high-sodium foods can lead to dehydration, bloating, and increased blood pressure.


Common examples of high-sodium foods include processed meats like bacon, ham, and sausages, as well as canned soups, sauces, and snacks. Even seemingly innocent condiments like soy sauce and salad dressings can be surprisingly high in sodium.


When dining on a cruise ship, one way to reduce sodium intake is by opting for freshly prepared dishes instead of pre-packaged or processed options. Many cruise lines have chefs who can accommodate dietary preferences and provide low-sodium alternatives.


Additionally, be mindful of your condiment choices. Use salt sparingly, and opt for lower-sodium alternatives like herbs, spices, and fresh lemon or lime juice to add flavor to your meals.


Lastly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout your cruise. This will help flush out excess sodium and maintain a healthy balance in your body.


By being mindful of high-sodium foods and making conscious choices, you’ll be able to enjoy your cruise without the discomfort that excessive sodium intake can bring.


Raw and Undercooked Seafood

While seafood is often a highlight of cruise ship cuisine, it’s important to exercise caution when it comes to consuming raw or undercooked seafood. While sushi and sashimi may be tempting options, they can carry a risk of foodborne illnesses if not prepared and handled properly.


Raw or undercooked seafood, such as oysters, clams, mussels, and certain types of fish, can harbor harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause food poisoning. These pathogens can lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.


To reduce the risk of foodborne illness, it’s best to opt for cooked seafood options. Grilled, steamed, or sautéed seafood can be just as delicious and pose a significantly lower risk. When ordering seafood dishes, ensure that they are cooked thoroughly and served hot.


It’s also important to pay attention to any local travel advisories and recommendations regarding the consumption of raw or undercooked seafood in the ports of call you visit during your cruise. Different regions may have specific guidelines or precautions, and it’s essential to follow them for your safety.


By being aware of the potential risks and choosing cooked seafood options, you can still enjoy the delicious flavors of the ocean while minimizing the chance of foodborne illness during your cruise.


Unpasteurized Dairy Products

While dairy products can be a delicious addition to your cruise ship dining experience, it’s important to be cautious when it comes to unpasteurized dairy products. Unpasteurized dairy, also known as raw milk or raw cheese, has not undergone the process of pasteurization, which involves heating the milk to kill bacteria and pathogens.


Unpasteurized dairy products can carry a higher risk of bacterial infections, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. These infections can cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms and pose a greater risk to certain individuals, including pregnant women, young children, and those with compromised immune systems.


When consuming dairy products on a cruise ship, it’s best to opt for pasteurized options. Most cruise lines offer a variety of pasteurized dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese, which are safe to consume. These products go through rigorous safety measures to ensure they are free from harmful bacteria.


If you’re unsure about the pasteurization status of a dairy product, it’s always best to ask a crew member or dining staff for clarification. They can provide information about the safety and quality of the dairy products available on board.


By choosing pasteurized dairy products, you can still enjoy the creamy goodness without compromising your health and well-being during your cruise.


Questionable Local Cuisine

Exploring the local cuisine is often a highlight of any cruise, offering a chance to savor new flavors and experience the culinary traditions of different regions. However, it’s important to exercise caution when it comes to consuming questionable or unfamiliar local cuisine.


While trying new dishes can be exciting, it’s essential to consider the source and preparation of the food. Some regions may have different food safety standards and practices that differ from what you are accustomed to. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of the potential risks and take necessary precautions.


If you’re visiting a port of call and considering trying local street food or dining at local establishments, look for hygiene practices such as cleanliness, proper food storage, and safe food handling. The popularity and reputation of a food stall or restaurant can also serve as an indication of its quality and safety.


Paying attention to food preparation methods can also be beneficial. Avoid raw or undercooked meats, seafood, and eggs, as they can carry a higher risk of foodborne illnesses. Opt for thoroughly cooked and piping hot dishes instead.


Additionally, if you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, it’s important to communicate your needs to the local establishments to ensure that your food is prepared accordingly. Language barriers can sometimes pose a challenge, so it may be helpful to have a translation or allergy card that outlines your dietary requirements in the local language.


By exercising caution and being mindful of the local cuisine, you can still have an enjoyable and memorable culinary experience during your cruise while minimizing any potential risks to your health.


Heavy and Rich Dishes

Dining on a cruise ship often presents an opportunity to indulge in a variety of rich and decadent dishes. While it can be tempting to indulge, consuming heavy and rich foods excessively can leave you feeling weighed down and uncomfortable during your cruise.


Heavy and rich dishes are typically high in fat, calories, and often contain ingredients like butter, cream, and cheese. These foods can be difficult to digest and may lead to feelings of sluggishness or even digestive discomfort.


Instead of choosing the heaviest and richest options on the menu, consider opting for lighter and healthier alternatives. Look for dishes that include plenty of fresh vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These choices can provide essential nutrients and keep you feeling energized without the heaviness.


If you do decide to indulge in richer dishes, consider practicing moderation. Share with a dining partner or opt for smaller portion sizes to savor the flavors without overloading your stomach.


Furthermore, be mindful of the sauces and dressings that accompany your meals. Cream-based sauces and heavy dressings can add unnecessary calories and fat. Opt for lighter alternatives such as vinaigrettes or ask for the dressing on the side to control the amount you use.


By making conscious choices and opting for lighter alternatives, you can still enjoy delicious meals on your cruise without feeling weighed down by heavy and rich dishes.


Foods with Potential Allergens

When dining on a cruise ship, it’s important to be aware of foods that may contain potential allergens, especially if you have known food allergies or sensitivities. Allergens such as nuts, shellfish, gluten, and dairy are commonly found in many dishes and can pose a risk to your health if consumed unknowingly.


To ensure your safety, communicate your allergies or dietary restrictions to the cruise ship staff. Most cruise lines are equipped to handle special dietary needs and can provide alternatives or modifications to accommodate your allergies. It’s essential to inform them in advance, so they can make necessary arrangements and ensure your dining experience is enjoyable and safe.


When dining at specialty restaurants or trying local cuisine during excursions, exercise caution and ask about the ingredients used in the dishes. Language barriers can sometimes pose a challenge, so having a translation card or a document outlining your allergies in the local language can be helpful.


It’s also crucial to be vigilant about cross-contamination. While cruise lines take measures to prevent cross-contamination, it’s important to be aware that shared utensils, preparation surfaces, and cooking equipment could come into contact with allergens. Communicate your concerns to the staff, and they can guide you on the best options to avoid cross-contamination.


By staying informed, communicating your allergies, and being proactive about checking ingredients and potential cross-contamination, you can safely navigate the culinary offerings on your cruise ship without compromising your health.


Foods That May Cause Motion Sickness

Motion sickness can be a concern for some individuals when cruising, and certain foods can exacerbate this condition. While susceptibility to motion sickness varies from person to person, there are certain foods that are known to increase the likelihood of experiencing it.


Greasy and fatty foods, such as fried foods and heavily sauced dishes, can potentially trigger or worsen motion sickness symptoms. These foods can be harder to digest and may contribute to feelings of nausea and discomfort while the ship is in motion.


Spicy foods, including dishes with heavy spices or chili peppers, can also be problematic for some individuals prone to motion sickness. Spicy foods can irritate the stomach lining and potentially worsen symptoms of nausea and gastrointestinal discomfort.


In addition, certain strong odors like seafood or heavily pungent foods can trigger motion sickness symptoms in sensitive individuals. It’s best to avoid foods with strong odors if you are prone to motion sickness or if you find that strong smells trigger your symptoms.


For those susceptible to motion sickness, it’s advisable to opt for lighter and more easily digestible foods. Choosing bland foods like crackers, plain rice, or boiled potatoes can help mitigate the sensations of nausea and provide some relief. It’s also important to stay hydrated and sip on ginger-based products like ginger ale or ginger tea, as ginger has been known to ease nausea symptoms.


If you’re concerned about motion sickness, it may be helpful to consult with your healthcare provider before your cruise. They can provide recommendations or suggest over-the-counter medications or remedies that may help alleviate motion sickness symptoms.


By being aware of the foods that can potentially trigger motion sickness and making appropriate choices, you can minimize the discomfort and enjoy your cruise to the fullest.



When embarking on a cruise ship adventure, being mindful of your food choices can greatly enhance your overall experience. By avoiding certain types of food, you can maintain a healthy and enjoyable journey. Stay away from fried and greasy foods that can leave you feeling sluggish, and be cautious about consuming excessive sugar and desserts that can have negative effects on your health. Processed and packaged foods are best avoided in favor of fresh and made-to-order meals. Watch your sodium intake to stay hydrated and prevent bloating. Be cautious about consuming raw or undercooked seafood and unpasteurized dairy products to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses. Use discretion when trying questionable local cuisine and opt for lighter alternatives to heavy and rich dishes. Be mindful of potential allergens and communicate any dietary restrictions to cruise staff. Lastly, be aware of foods that may cause or worsen motion sickness.


By making informed choices and taking necessary precautions, you can enjoy a fantastic culinary experience during your cruise while maintaining your health and well-being. Remember to embrace moderation, try new flavors in a safe manner, and savor the delightful cuisine options available on your voyage. Bon voyage and bon appétit!