This post came to me like a flash last night. Cruising for chubby people – what a great idea for a post! My husband and I were picking our excursions for our upcoming cruise to Aruba. I think it’s definitely fair to say that we are chubby people ourselves. It was a little intimidating looking through the list of excursions because there were several of them that were definitely beyond our physical fitness and abilities.
I got to wondering if there are other people who are avoiding going on a cruise because they have some mobility issues due to their weight, their age, or a particular disability. I think travel is definitely a bit intimidating for anyone who fits into a category like that. You don’t quite know what to expect, and no one wants to end up in a situation where they are going to be embarrassed or might even have the possibility to get hurt. That is a perfectly legitimate concern. So if there is anything I can tell you that will make you more comfortable about going on a cruise, that would be terrific.
One – The TV Ads Show a Distorted Picture of Cruises
We’ve all seen the cruise ads on TV and they are all full of a bunch of thin, healthy and attractive looking people, right? Well, ignore them. This is just advertising and the ad companies pay a lot of money to make things look all attractive and wonderful to sell more cruises.
However, the reality is, you’re going to see the same types of people you see everywhere around town. There are usually several thousand people on a ship and they come in a great range of ages, races/nationalities, and many different sizes and ability levels. Every cruise we’ve ever been on has people with canes, walkers, scooters, wheelchairs, etc. There are even a few special cabins fitted with grab bars and special layouts to accommodate folks with a variety of disabilities.
Don’t feel like you’re going to be self-conscious about your size, because for the most part, no one cares. Everyone is so busy enjoying themselves that they aren’t bothering about what you look like in a swimsuit or a pair of shorts. They’re busy drinking rum punch and soaking up the sun. You’re on vacation. Do your thing and enjoy yourself. It’s not a beauty contest.
Try Some of These Cruise Items
I just bought a pair of these ladies board shorts. They’re a bit more modest than the traditional swimsuit styles and I know I’d feel more comfortable in them than in a regular swimsuit. Plus they’re really cute! Comes in about 10 colors and patterns in sizes up to 3X.
There are also all sorts of swimdresses and outfits that you can wear at the pool or on an excursion without feeling uncomfortable. I usually prefer styles like this cute and modest swimdress from Amazon. I like a longer skirt that covers up some of the areas I’m more self-conscious about.
Follow up: I bought both the board shorts and this swimdress. The board shorts, I ended up returning. They were tight and not at all stretchy and just didn’t fit. However, the swimdress is ADORABLE! It really is super cute and very comfortable. The little boy shorts fit perfectly and are super comfy and the handkerchief skirt is just the right length to be cute and not frumpy-looking. Plus the keyhole part makes it just a little bit sexy.
Or Amazon has some really cute pool coverups that can also double as casual dresses for dinner.
Update: I bought this dress too and I just LOVE it. In fact, I’m ordering another one in a flowered print. It’s cool, comfy, and doesn’t wrinkle one tiny bit! I took it out of the Amazon packaging and there wasn’t a single wrinkle. Plus – pockets. That hits all my requirements for a great travel dress.
But on the other hand, if you’re uncomfortable being at the pool or wearing something revealing. You don’t have to. There are tons of things to do on a ship. There are trivia games, contests, piano bars, ship tours, spas, buffets, or just taking a delicious afternoon nap in your lovely cabin. It’s your vacation – so you should be able to do exactly as you please.
Two – Do a Bit of Research
The nice thing is that a cruise is a very safe environment compared to a lot of travel options. When we were in New Orleans last year, we had a bit of trouble with the older streets. The sidewalks were broken and uneven and sometimes the porches would intrude onto the sidewalk. At one point, I tripped and almost had a very bad fall.
I’ve heard Europe is quite challenging to walk around with steep hills and cobblestone streets in some places. And miles and miles a day of walking. But a cruise ship is so padded and safety gated, it takes a bit of imagination and probably some alcohol to manage to hurt yourself. I’ve often thought it seems like a floating playpen for grown ups.
If you’re concerned about mobility issues, talk to the cruise line. Share your concerns. Get on the chatboards and talk with previous cruisers. Many of them may have tried cruising for chubby people and they can tell you if they experienced any difficulties. I’m trying to remember if I ever had any issues with fitting into a restaurant booth or using a restroom stall, or even getting on or off the ship. I really can’t think of any. Everything I remember was pleasant and spacious.
Here’s something I discovered about flying. If you’re a bit heavy, you know how embarrassing it is to have to ask the cabin attendants for a seatbelt extender – ugh. You know what? You don’t have to! Did you know you can bring your own? How brilliant is that? It even comes in a handy travel pouch. It’s complete FAA-approved and this model has two different latching mechanisms (apparently Southwest has a weird version). Gives you from 6″ extra room up to 24″.
Three – Choose Your Cabin Carefully
Most cruise lines let you select your own cabin and that’s a good thing. Those ships are HUGE and it can be a lot of walking. Like a LOT. But by choosing your cabin location wisely, you can minimize some of that. Think about what you like to do and look at the layout of the ship. It’s shown somewhere on every cruise line website.
Comfy shoes are going to be your BEST friend on a cruise, believe me. I’m actually shopping for some good choices for Aruba. You don’t want to wear your flip-flops unless they are really well broken-in or you’ll have blisters on the first day. Deck shoes are a good choice – stylish, comfy and good traction –
These Sanuk Yoga Sling Sandals have over 7,000 positive reviews on Amazon. So, of course, I’m going to buy a pair. I’m also getting the deck shoes too, actually. That’s one hazard of researching Amazon items for these posts. I buy about half of them!
Update: Yup, I bought the shoes too – both pair (yeah, these posts are a little hard on my credit card!) They’re both very comfy and my husband thinks the sandals are very sexy – probably will wear them for some of the casual dinner nights.
Obviously, you’re going to be eating at least 3 times per day, and the dining rooms are often at the front or back of the ship. But if you have kids, look to see where the kids area is located. You’re going to be going there several times a day too. I’d pick a spot somewhere between the two. If you like the shows and entertainment – same thing. Pick a spot in the middle. Surprisingly, one of our best cabins was located directly below a dining room. We never heard a peep of noise and we only had to go up one level to get to our meals – win-win.
Four – Pick Your Excursions Carefully
This is one area where you DO need to be cautious. If you’re a bit mobility challenged or a bit on the heavy side, you can definitely get hurt by choosing the wrong excursions. We always take a lot of time and do our research carefully when selecting excursions. Ziplines are a no for us. Those Segway tours – in the words of comedian John Pinnette – are a “nay nay”. A friend of mine fell off one in Vegas and broke her leg. Painful and very embarrassing. I’m very cautious on anything where I don’t have stable and grounded footing.
Fortunately, the activities are all described very well and there are reviews you can read with specifics about people’s experiences. Many of them have posted weight limits. We chose the glass-bottomed boat over the kayak tour for that reason. The kayaks looked cool and probably would have been fun, but I had some doubts about being able to get in and out of the boats safely. And we were well over the posted weight limit. The glass-bottomed boat tour was a much better choice for us.
Water excursions are a bit challenging for me. In addition to being heavy, I’m not a great swimmer and I get very nervous under water. Snorkeling is awesome, but scuba is just beyond my abilities. I just panic if I get a drop of water in my mask. I had to have a 1-hour class with my nephew who is a certified scuba instructor to be able to manage basic snorkeling. So I was incredibly proud of myself when I was able to do a snorkel excursion in 30 feet of open ocean in the Bahamas. That was a huge victory for me! I have another one already booked for Aruba.
Try the Helmet Dive
But this helmet dive excursion is just perfect for someone who is nervous in water or isn’t up to a strenuous scuba experience. My husband and I have done this helmet dive three times before on various trips and it was AMAZING. You never even get your face wet, you have guides with you the whole time, you can breathe normally and you’re usually in about 15-20 feet of water. It only lasts about 20 minutes, but it’s completely WONDERFUL. Look at my face – I am grinning ear to ear.
Disclaimer – there are still some restrictions on the helmet dive. You can’t have ear tubes or eardrum issues, can’t have high blood pressure or heart problems, etc. You will have to sign a very serious waver to participate. But it was awfully cool each time!
Five – Just Go For It
Don’t let a little bit of fear or embarrassment keep you from doing something you genuinely might want to do. I guarantee that there are hundreds of people on cruises THIS WEEK with exactly the same issues as you have. And they are out there living their lives and enjoying themselves in the sun. Go join them. If there are things you can’t manage, or make you uncomfortable, don’t do them. Focus on the fun things you CAN do, and get out there and enjoy yourself. Maybe I’ll see you in Aruba.
In the meantime, you can join my cruise list. There’s a signup box at the bottom of this post. This week, I am sending out a post about how to get around a ship. I am a ninja about navigating around a cruise ship and I’ll share all my BEST secrets!
Here are some other posts you might enjoy:
7 Tips for Sharing a Cruise Ship Cabin
Tips for Cruising with a CPAP Machine
25 Fabulous Tips on Packing for a CRUISE