How to cruise and lose ... five pounds.

 Every travel adviser owns an extensive collection of cruise passengers' complaints: the waves were way too loud to sleep, the sand on the beach was the wrong color, there was nothing to look at from the ocean view stateroom balcony except for the ocean ...

 One of my all-time favorites though: there was too much food in the cruise ship buffet, which, of course, resulted in a few extra pounds by the end of the week long sailing. I really should resist the temptation to point out that nobody obligated anyone to eat everything at the buffet and the sole purpose of the abundance of choices is to provide a good selection for us picky eaters.

 Instead, please let me list a few simple ways to fight extra calories and enjoy your cruise regardless.

  Start your day by running or walking on the upper deck. The view is so breath-taking, it'll easily make up for a losing the extra hour of sleep. Some ships have a dedicated running track, so you'll find yourself in the good company of like-minded people.

 Opt for the dinners at first sitting - and then spend an evening dancing. Even if you are not a world champion in ballroom dancing, try it anyway. There is little chance that your boss, co-workers or neighbors will be around, so, go ahead, have fun being among total strangers and get a great work out along the way.

  Eat just a few bites of anything especially tempting. Oh, no, I would not dare to suggest that you'll skip altogether all those Creme Brulees and Beef Bourguignons. However, very reputable and extremely scientific studies (yes, I also wonder how they do it) have found that the first two bites of anything you crave are actually the most enjoyable. Then the pleasure goes down quickly with each nibble.

  Choose the active shore excursions, which will take you walking, biking or mountain climbing, and not the ones which make you sit in the bus for a good half of the day. If laying down on the warm sand is your favorite sport, spend more time swimming or walking along the beach, it does wonders for your tan as much as to your waistline.

  Before going for lunch at the buffet, check the spa's cafe, as it usually provides plenty of salads, vegetable soups and fresh fruits deserts... Surprisingly, I've found that to diet - or, rather, eating healthy - is even easier on the cruise ship than at home because a healthy meal is always readily available. You can eat often and in smaller portions - every dietician's dream which is normally difficult to integrate into our busy day schedule.

  Drink cautiously, or not at all. Alcohol has tons of calories and mixing those liquors with sugary sodas or juices makes the calories add up even faster. Skipping the extra drink would also make your final bill leaner and healthier.

  Most of the contemporary cruise ships have state-of-the-art gym facility, so put them to good use. They're free, except for the yoga and Pilates classes. Well, not exactly free, but you've paid for it already, so to use it to the fullest extent would make perfect sense.

 Actually, look at the whole ship as a multi-floor exercise machine: forget the elevators, use stairs. After all, you are in no rush, right? Stairs work the quads and gluts, and experts say that 10 minutes of stair walking (both up and down) burns about 100 calories. If you're sailing on a large and modern cruise ship, there is a good chance to find rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks and surfing machines there.

 If you are part of the multi-generational family group offer to baby sit for a couple hours - ok, for an hour - a very energetic toddler: they tend to run non-stop, and that means so will you. It'll probably take you a few more hours to find the hiding parents to give the child back, so your dessert at dinner that night will be well earned.

 Skip this midnight buffet or bring your camera. By the time you'll stop taking pictures, there will not be much left to eat anyway.

When you'll get back home, people you know might get suspicious about your new slim and youthful look and start asking questions. If you like them, you will let the secret out about the transformative cruise vacation. If you don't... Isn't it great to feel powerful sometime?