Let’s get one thing straight: You’re about to go on vacation. A really, really incredible vacation! And if there’s a good time to let loose and indulge, it’s on a really, really incredible vacation. But, if you’re working toward a major weight loss goal or are adhering to a special diet like Keto or Atkins, knowing how to maintain your current eating plan while traveling might bring enough peace of mind to actually relax and enjoy your upcoming adventure.
The newly amped up Navigator of the Seas is packed with dining options that you’ll want to take advantage of during your three- or four-day trip. (This cruise experience is designed specifically for people who are short on time and need or want to pack two week’s worth of fun into a long weekend.)
Note that every dining venue on the ship offers gluten-free and vegetarian options, plus customizations for most dietary needs. If anything is on your mind, just tell your server. But while you wait to vacay, here are my favorite places aboard Navigator of the Seas to eat healthfully:
The Pool Deck: El Loco Fresh
One of the first things you’re going to want to do after you get on board (second only to the safety drill, of course!) is explore the pool deck and its exhilarating water slides. Work up an appetite by trying The Blaster, where five water jets propel you and a friend through more dips and drops than any other waterslide at sea, and the Riptide, the only headfirst mat racer on the ocean (with a see-through curve right off the ship!). Then head to El Loco Fresh (Deck 11), stationed next to the resort pool and splash pad and full of healthy Mexican fare. It’s buffet style, and you start with the protein—chicken, pork, or beef. You may want to skip the sour cream on top, but you won’t miss it with their tangy salsa verde.
One of my favorite things about Royal Caribbean: the crew. Everyone is friendly and ready to delight you during your stay. So I had to ask them about their favorite ways to eat healthy on-board, too. The Navigator’s art gallery director, Yuri R. from Ukraine (you’ll find each crew member’s home country on their name tag), loves El Loco Fresh too. “Tacos from El Loco Fresh are one of my top healthy choices on board Navigator of the Seas,” she says. “On most days, my ideal taco starts with a flour tortilla topped with chicken, or beans if I want to eat vegetarian. For toppings, we have a whole dedicated station that includes several salsas. I keep it simple by adding pico de gallo, cilantro, jalapeños, and a bit of lime juice. The combination of savory, spicy flavors is perfect, and I can easily grab this lunch on the go.”
The Restaurants: Windjammer Marketplace
With 12 special dining venues on the ship, there is no one healthiest place to eat—nor would you want to limit yourself to the same locale night after night. That said, the Windjammer Marketplace (Deck 11) is complimentary and buffet style, offering the most flexibility when filling your plate. It’s also open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Choose from fresh salads, soups, sandwiches, grilled steaks, roast chickens, and seafood. The Main Dining Room (Decks 3 and 4)—while more formal—is also free of charge and offers a wide range of options for all three meals. If you’re a fan of New England style seafood, you’ll love the menu at Hooked Seafood (Deck 4). I couldn’t get enough of their fresh oysters. Antonio S., an engineer cadet from Croatia, joins me in loving the grilled salmon with veggies as an entrée. “My ideal meal is one that’s a good source of protein complemented with healthy sides—simple and light, yet filling,” he says. “Hooked Seafood, our New England-inspired restaurant on Navigator of the Seas, has one of my favorite dishes: the freshly grilled salmon with seasonal vegetables. I’ve always felt that a dish full of colorful food tends to be the healthiest. I enjoy every bite and always leave feeling full and not stuffed.”
The sushi at Izumi (Deck 14) is also some of the best I’ve ever had. Consider working a cheat day into your trip, and on that night, go family style at Jamie’s Italian By Jamie Oliver (Deck 11), followed by drinks at the Polynesian-themed Bamboo Room (Deck 5) off the promenade. Note that you can also eat there, too. Ingrid B., of guest services and from Guatemala, is a regular. “On days when I need to fuel up before work but I’m not feeling too hungry, I go for the ahi tuna poke from The Bamboo Room,” she says. “The dish is smaller than others but it’s protein-packed and full of several of my favorite flavors. It does the trick to hold me over until I can grab a quick snack on my break. Plus, these poke-filled wonton cups make the dish easy to eat and add a nice crunch.”
Grab ‘N Go: Cafe Promenade
A complimentary dining destination, Cafe Promenade (Deck 5) is the perfect place to grab a smoothie, yogurt, or veggie-packed wrap after a workout at the Fitness Center (Deck 12), a treatment at the Vitality At Sea Spa (Deck 12), or on your way out of the ship to explore for the day. Bonus: It’s open 24/7 and is close to all cabin room decks if you’re looking for a late-night snack.
Perfect Day at Coco Cay: Skipper’s Grill and Chill Grill
First, congratulations on booking yourself one of the most epic days ever. Good luck choosing what to do first—what with 13 waterslides (including the tallest slide in North America!), a 1,600-foot long zip line course, snorkeling, a helium balloon, and more. Around noon or so, mosey on over to Skipper’s Grill (Thrill Water Park) or Chill Grill (Chill Island), where you’ll find table after table of build-your-own-salads, healthy sandwiches and tacos, and fruits and veggies galore. Everything is free, and when you consider how many calories you’ll burn walking around these 125 acres, you should 100 percent pour a round of self-serve beer. Or do a few laps at Oasis Lagoon—the island’s largest freshwater pool—ending up at the swim-up bar for an ice-cold cocktail. There are also three Snack Shacks throughout the island.
Kid-Friendly: Johnny Rockets
Right across from El Loco Fresh (another superb kid-friendly option), is Johnny Rockets (Deck 11). While burgers and fries may not be what first comes to mind when you think “healthy,” consider the stress relieving potential of kids who aren’t whining over their broccoli and are instead happily munching on fries with ketchup! Eat the burger without the bun (or with, it won’t hurt you!) and call it a parenting win.
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