Caribbean Cruise Protects Passengers From Overeating

By ,   April 9, 2017 ,   Cruise Industry

Weight Watchers International Inc. will host a 7-night, wellness-themed Caribbean cruise in early May aboard 4,300-passenger MSC Divina, sailing out of Miami.

The company which is dedicated to weight loss is joining forces with a purveyor of expansive buffets to market cruising as a viable vacation for those aiming to shed pounds. And many, many people are battling bulges unsuccessfully, with more than a third of Americans medically obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As Weight Watchers transforms from a pure weight-loss enterprise into a health-and-wellness company, the idea of embarking on its first cruise was a logical thing to do, said Ryan Nathan, the company’s vice president of products, licensing, and e-commerce.

Despite the abundance of food, drink, and sloth that mass-market cruise lines sell, a week in the Caribbean also offers the opportunity to take the opposite approach: Sleep well, exercise more, and peruse more menu options, with more relaxed lunches and dinners than most people face at home. The ship also offers members an exercise bicycle that faces the sunrise and a jogging track on the open deck, said Rick Sasso, chairman of MSC North America.

The company, of which entertainer Oprah Winfrey owns nearly 15 percent, reformulated its business focus in late 2015 with a “Beyond the Scale” campaign that aims to help customers “shift their mindset” from weight loss to overall fitness, encouraging everything from becoming less sedentary to eating better. New York-based Weight Watchers said its members lost 15% more weight in the first two months following the new program, compared to results with the prior program.

Prices for the MSC cruise began at USD 945, and all of Weight Watchers’ 500-cabin bloc on the cruise has been sold, a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers said. MSC was stunned by how quickly half the Weight Watchers' block sold out, Sasso said. A second MSC-Weight Watchers cruise is planned for November, with additional sailings likely.

MSC is also offering menu options that will list Weight Watchers’ points values to help cruisers know whether their selections fit within their personal weight-control plans.

On board, Weight Watchers staff will host meetings for “real-time guidance and support” and present customized fitness programs, cooking demonstrations, and seminars from wellness experts. The week-long voyage will also have 4 ports of calls at which passengers can hike, snorkel, dive, and pursue other physical activities, Sasso said.