Wondering how to stay keto or low-carb on a cruise? Let me help. I’ve successfully done it 5+ times, and it’s really not that difficult if you understand a few basic rules.


  • On keto, it’s safe to have straight clear spirits or liquor. No liqueurs (lots of sugar in those) such as kahula, coconut rum, chambord, amaretto, blue curacao, triple sec, etc. and try to avoid specialty vodka flavors (e.g. strawberry vodka, marshmallow vodka) as they may have sugar.
    • Safe: vodka, tequila, gin, rum, whisky, bourbon
    • Absolutely no mixers other than diet soda or soda water, or perhaps some olive brine in a dirty martini. Everything else is loaded with sugar. Everything. A single drink with a sugary mixer will knock you out of ketosis. You can add a lemon or lime wedge, but NO LIME JUICE. Most bars use the heavy-sugar-added sweet lime juice. You may be able to get away with a single bloody mary (uses tomato juice as the mixer) but keep in mind tomatoes have carbs. But… (see next bullet)….
    • Bring your own sugar-free mixers for drinks! I like the Sqwincher Zero Qwik Stiks because they have electrolytes and help keep you hydrated. They come in various flavors. I also like the BeMixed drink mixers, which come in Ginger Lime, Margarita, and Cucumber Mint. Tabooze sugar free packets are another good option, and they have some classic flavors such as mojito, margarita, and martinis.
    • Just order a vodka soda (careful not to order tonic! It has sugar unless it’s diet tonic. You want seltzer water), or vodka on the rocks, or double tequila shot on the rocks then add in your sugar-free mixer.
  • Dry wines and dry champagnes are safe. Avoid sugary wines such as Moscato, Riesling, and White Zinfandel
    • Safe: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfindel (not white), Merlot, Pinot Zoir, Beaujolais, Brut Champagne’s or sparkling wine
    • You could also order a white wine spritzer (wine + seltzer) and add in one of your own sugar-free mixers
  • Beer: No beer is keto, because keto is wheat-free. However, if your goal is low-carb vs keto, then you’re safe with Michelob Ultra. Bud Lite, Miller Lite, and Coors Lite are somewhat safe, but Mich Ultra has the lowest carb count so you can drink more without getting knocked out of ketosis.
  • Note that while you drink alcohol, most fat-loss will cease as your body prioritizes getting rid of the alcohol. Although if you’re going on a cruise I doubt your goal is fat loss. You likely just want to stay in ketosis and not gain weight. In this case, alcohol is fine.


  • The breakfast buffets have many keto options: Sausages, eggs, bacon, Canadian bacon, ham, cheeses
    • Add butter and cream cheese. They usually have packets of these.
    • Avoid scrambled eggs because most places add pancake batter to eggs to make them fluffier and get more output to save money. Go for the hard-boiled eggs, or stations where you see the chef actually crack a real egg.
  • Drink coffee with a couple half and half’s (or real cream if they have it) and a splenda or stevia packet, or just plain water. All other options are usually juices, which are high in sugar.
  • If you eat in the dining room, order eggs any style (avoid scrambled unless your server guarantees they are free of pancake batter), sausage, bacon, ham, cheese, etc. I like to get Eggs Benedict without the muffin which is then just a poached egg on top of canadian bacon with some hollandaise sauce (which is essentially just butter and egg yolks, so completely keto).


  • The lunch buffet is easy because there is always a salad station, and always a station with various meats and cheeses. There are also usually burgers and hotdogs, so you can get one of those without the bun, and top it with mustard or mayo (no ketchup). There is sometimes a carving station with prime rib or similar meat, which is also safe. Just avoid any sugary sauces on top.
    • Avoid the dessert bar. They usually have sugar-free options, but sugar-free does not equal low-carb or keto. The dessert is usually still loaded with flour and gluten, and very high in carbs.
      • The only thing you may be able to get away with is a tiny serving of no-sugar-added ice cream. This still has natural sugars from lactose in milk, so it has to be a really small serving.
  • Another option is to go to one of the burger joints on the ship, and get a cheeseburger, no bun, no fries.


  • Dinner in the main dining room can be a little difficult because all prepared plates come with a carb in them, or they ruin something by adding breadcrumbs on top, but with some good knowledge of what is keto, you can navigate around your plate when your chosen dish comes. You can also order multiple dishes and just pick out the protein and vegetable.
    • Dining room dinners are also hard because you’re usually hungry, and the servers throw a nice warm pile of bread on your table. My advise? Don’t come starving. You need to be satisfied enough to wait past the bread for the main dish to come.
    • Here are some options for dining room: Order a salad but make sure the dressing is not a sugary one (ranch and blue cheese are normally safe) and toss any croutons or fruit that come on top. Order proteins that come in cream-based or cheese-based sauces. Order non-breaded proteins. Order vegetables which are not tossed in some sugary sauce. Similar to lunch, avoid dessert, even “sugar-free” except maybe a tiny bowl of no-sugar-added ice cream. Opt for the after-dinner cheese instead and have them serve it with a nice warm unsweetened latte or an espresso.
  • If you go to one of the paid restaurants, the servers are usually able to customize the dishes. This means if something comes with potato, you can substitute it. There are usually also various protein-based appetizers such as beef carpaccio or tuna tar-tar, etc which are safe.


  • Try not to schedule a cruise right after you start on keto. Ideally you want to be fat-adapted because cravings are extremely easy to overcome once you are.
  • If you are hungry when you go to a buffet, just put a little keto food on your plate. You may want that pancake or panini, but first try a few keto foods and within a few minutes your craving will pass, and you’ll be safe to go get seconds of keto food.
  • Really know your keto food. You might not have internet, unless you bought it on a ship that has it, so your ability to google is nonexistent. Understand what foods are keto and print out a cheat sheet if you need to.
  • Don’t be concerned with your calories or hitting exact macros. Just eat as close to keto as possible and don’t cheat. Cheating will take you out of ketosis for likely the rest of the trip, and any food you eat after, including keto food, may end up in your fat storages since you’ll be running on glucose as fuel again. You’ll also feel like you have to drink 3x more water than normal, and you’ll bloat up real fast. If you want to fit in a bathing suit, don’t cheat while on the cruise! Yes the food looks delicious, but you don’t need it, and there are plenty of satisfying options that are keto.
  • Don’t even go by the pizza bar. But if you do… and if you really must, get a slice and just scrape off the cheese and toppings and then ditch the crust. If you have no willpower, don’t even try this. Just run away from the pizza bar.
  • Don’t go near the usually 24-hour soft-serve stations.
  • Don’t ever get too hungry. You need to have at least some willpower when you navigate around a cruise with 324923849302493248 options of sugar and grain, and if you’re starving this makes it a lot harder.