Over the past 50-plus years, Weight Watchers has evolved from a diet to a mantra: "Live life fully" -- inspiring its members to focus more on a healthy, holistic, fun lifestyle than what's on the scale. The program's longstanding (and growing) community is proof of its success, and the official Weight Watchers Cruise is yet another way the company is helping its dedicated followers enjoy a fun, healthy life. .
Cruise Critic is onboard MSC Divina for the second annual Weight Watchers Cruise, which sold out with about 900 members and their guests -- making mostly for groups of sisters, a mother and daughter, or best friends on the ultimate girlfriends' getaway.
MSC Cruises has been investing in its wellness program, and its partnership with Weight Watchers is the icing on the "4 Smart Points" cake. Two more Weight Watchers cruises are open for booking (May 2018 and August 2018) and another is in the works for November 2018 -- all on the line's brand-new ship, MSC Seaside, which debuts later this month.
Whether you're a Weight Watchers member looking to mix up your vacation routine or someone who might be interested in joining the program, here are five reasons to pack your bags and get onboard one of the next sailings.
1. You don't have to be a member to join in on the fun.
Maybe you're a Weight Watchers member, but the person you want to bring isn't. Or you're not member at all, but the cruise sounds interesting. Rest assured: Non-members are also welcome to sail with the group. You'll just need to book the cruise through Weight Watchers to ensure you or your non-member travel buddy get access to all the Weight Watchers-exclusive activities, menus, gifts and more. We've met a handful of non-member Weight Watchers cruisers (mostly friends, relatives or spouses of a member) who said the cruise has actually inspired them to join the program themselves.
2. Weight Watchers and cruising is not an oxymoron.
Throw away any fears you have of gaining weight on a cruise. Special Weight Watchers menus -- breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks -- allow cruisers to stick to their points without sacrificing good food or worrying about what they can and can't eat. A section of the buffet is even roped off just for Weight Watcher cruisers, and includes special Weight Watchers stations labeled with point totals.
At breakfast, for example, you'll notice items like center-cut bacon (1 Smart Point per slice), turkey sausage (1 Smart Point per link) and scrambled eggs (2 Smart Points per 1/4 cup). Meanwhile, dinner in the Main Dining Room starts with crudite (0 Smart Points), while entrees might include bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with roasted veggies (3 Smart Points) and surf and turf (5 Smart Points). The regular menus also are on offer for those who want to splurge with their Weekly Smart Points (essentially bonus points). Special Weight Watchers cocktails are available at most bars.
The ship goes through an entirely separate shopping/provision process for the Weight Watchers menus to ensure the proper foods and ingredients are in stock.
3. The activities are fun and informative, but not obligatory.
Learn how to throw the ultimate Mexican-themed party, wake up with sunrise yoga on the pool deck, brush up your Instagram food photo-taking skills, or find about the different types of hunger and ways to combat them. The Weight Watchers itinerary includes a handful of fun and informative activities -- but there's no pressure to attend all of them, and you can come and go as you please. Most of the activities also are led by Weight Watchers-approved experts, so you know you're in good hands.
On our cruise, we're joined by Weight Watchers' chief scientific officer, Gary Foster (the brains behind Smart Points); an Instagram influencer and Weight Watchers ambassador who goes by the moniker 'Rachel's Healthy Plate'; and Weight Watchers chef and recipe developer (and professional party thrower) Julie Hartigan -- who has been invited to pretty much everyone's house for Thanksgiving.
4. You can still enjoy a classic cruise vacation.
The Weight Watchers Cruise is a partial charter. In other words, those roughly 900 people onboard are part of a special group that benefits from the Weight Watchers programming, while also having the ability to enjoy a classic cruise vacation -- complete with trivia, karaoke, a girls' spa day, theater production shows and of course, the chance to get off the ship in each port.
The great thing about the Weight Watchers Cruise is even when you're not with the group, you're still in good hands. One little perk we love is the fact that every day, Weight Watchers sends each cruiser a little gift with a message. Some of the gifts on this sailing have included a beach tote, plastic water bottle and bag of Weight Watchers-approved snacks for cruisers to bring ashore and munch on if they get hungry.
5. You'll build new, genuine friendships.
We can't tell you how many groups of women we've spoken to who easily could have passed for lifelong friends, but actually just met on this cruise. The Weight Watchers community is a large network of likeminded, supportive individuals who embrace the mantra and love to hear stories of how others got involved. While a number of those friendships began onboard, others previously had communicated with each other through the Weight Watchers member-only Connect app. The app also makes it easy for those who met onboard to keep in touch after the cruise. Who knows, maybe you and your new posse will plan to go on the next Weight Watchers Cruise together!
--By Gina Kramer, Editor