COLUMN: Celebrating gluttony on the high seas

‘You’re going to have so much fun, and you’re going to gain so much weight.”

Not quite “Bon Voyage!” but such were the words of a friend of mine earlier this month as my wife and I got set for our Caribbean cruise.

And while my friend’s words were meant to get us, as first-time cruisers, excited for our honeymoon trip – her weight-gain remark wasn’t meant as a negative – they also served as something of a warning.

The message was repeated to us once we boarded our ship and met other more-experienced cruisers who knew all about how to successfully achieve maximum gluttony.

“The average weight gain on a week-long cruise is seven pounds,” they told us.

The trick, you see, is to discover a meal between breakfast and brunch – I called mine ice cream. I mean, seriously, the serve-yourself soft-serve machines were literally right there at every turn. And while I may be a somewhat reformed fat guy – weight loss having been a topic I’ve covered in this space before – I’m not made of stone.

Plus I was on vacation. Which is what I assume the large man in front of me in the breakfast buffet line thought on the cruise’s last day, when he decided to slather his biscuits in hot fudge.

Breakfast of champions? Maybe not, but he was far from alone in that regard.

The guy who took apart three burgers to make one giant, super burger? Vacation.

The fellow at dinner who ordered two entrees because he couldn’t decide between them both? Vacation.

The man who decided to forego the small bowls at the ice-cream stand in lieu of filling up an ice bucket? Vacation.

(OK, that last one didn’t happen, but I considered it).

To my credit, I steered clear of the fudge and the double dinners. Small victories.

And while I wasn’t exactly on my best behaviour the entire week, I had a hard time blaming the cruise industry for it.

Cruise ships have been, for better or worse, long thought of as floating buffets. You know this going in. You think Vegas is the epicenter of excess? Take to the high seas, and Vegas looks positively… sensible.

Rather than shy away from the image, however, the ships seem to have embraced it – why else would something called the midnight chocolate buffet have been invented?

Of course, it’s the job of the cruise lines to make sure people enjoy themselves, and if that means asking dinner guests to choose between the 18-ounce steak and the other 18-ounce steak, then so be it.

It’s not all bad, either. There was fruit at the buffet. The dining room offered wholewheat toast at breakfast. I heard a rumour that there was a gym onboard somewhere, too, though I never thought to look for it.

Short of posting a security guard next to the bacon at the burger stand’s condiment bar, what else are cruise ship operators supposed to do?

At some point, people have to look out for themselves.

I was conscious of what I was doing the entire time. And if wanted to eat healthier, I could have made that choice. Instead, I took the weight-gain comments not as a warning so much as a challenge.

That’s why I counted the apple pie at dessert as one serving of fruit.

(OK, two servings. I was on vacation, remember.)

I’m kidding, of course. I wasn’t actually attempting to gain as much weight as possible, but after nearly a year spent trying to shed pounds, I decided it was time to stop worrying about it all, if only for a week. If I learned one thought over the last year, it’s that weight gained can just as easily be weight lost, if you work at it.

So with that in mind, I came home, unpacked, and the next morning, stepped on the scale.

Seven pounds? Pfft, seven pounds is for amateurs.

I gained nine.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.

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