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15 MINUTES WITH...
ou play, you pay.” That ’s the
motto The Biggest Loser trainer
and Carnival Australia’s newest
ambassador Shannan Ponton stands by –
in life and on holidays.
In Februar y, Shannan and Carnival
announced a partnership to offer healthy
dining and fitness advice to passengers
sailing on Carnival Spirit and Carnival
Legend, the line’s next ship to be based
Shannan, who says he’s been a fitness
fanatic as far back as he can remember, got
his first taste of cruising on a Carnival Spirit
voyage in November last year.
It was a 10-day South Pacific cruise
with his wife, Kylie, and their
18-month-old son, Maximus.
Shannan said he was amazed
to find such a range of facilities
on board. But, as quickly as he
fell in love with the ship, he
noticed a correlation between
cruising and gluttony.
“You could see it in people’s
eyes, that excitement for the
food and buffet,” he says.
“People go for five meat
pies and then go back
again just because they can.
If you have the buffet food,
so be it, but you can enjoy it
While Shannan says there’s
nothing wrong with indulging
when you’re on holiday, there
is a price to pay for overeating.
And he knows this from first-
hand experience: when filming
The Biggest Loser he and the
team of trainers were told to
live with their contestants for a week and
adopt their poor eating and exercise habits.
As a result, he gained 8.6 kilos.
“ That was from not exercising and eating
way more than I usually would.
“It ’s similar when people go on a cruise.
They gorge on food and don’t really exercise. ”
As part of his alliance with Carnival,
Shannan says he will be encouraging
cruisers to find a balance between holidaying
and health through tailored
workouts and nutritious meals.
He will create group
workouts and do-it-yourself
routines, and the ships’ personal
trainers will be given teaching
techniques and exercise tips –
although Shannan promises
they won’t be as tough as The
Biggest Loser trainers.
He will also put a Shannan
tick of approval on the
healthiest picks from the
Empire dining room menu and
work with Carnival chefs to
create healthy new dishes at the
ships’ Freshie’s Corner.
“ The Shannan-approved
items will take the guesswork
out so people know when they
look at the menu what the best
choices are and what ’s good for
But Shannan says this doesn’t
mean cruisers have to miss out
15 MINUTES WITH...
on the fine dining experience. It ’s more about
“ We had dinner one night at the Chef ’s
Table and the food was decadent. That night
it was all gloves off – the food was amazing –
but the next morning I was working it
off in the gym.
“ To eat healthily, you can have two days
of Shannan-approved food and then on the
third day eat at one of the top restaurants.
That ’s a healthy balance and a good way to
do things on holidays.”
When it comes to alcohol, Shannan
says it ’s important not only to drink in
moderation but also to be aware of the
calorie content of your chosen tipple.
For example, a vodka with lime and soda
contains about 65 calories, while a glass of
red wine has much as 120 calories and a
bottle of beer up to 150 calories.
Unsurprisingly, soft drinks have the
highest number of calories – a standard can
of Coke contains 160 calories and 40 grams
We meet the man who
shows cruise passengers
how to have a ball without
stacking on the kilos.
Words Nahrain John
Shannan’s five top tips
to stay healthy during
1 Enjoy the buffet but
2 Don’t abandon
your regular exercise
3 Drink wisely: choose
a vodka, lime and soda,
which has half the
calories of a bottle
4 Find a balance: if
you’re planning a big
dinner, eat less during
5 Look for the Shannan
tick of approval for tasty
and healthy options.
aboard Carnival Spirit.
formal nights. For Windstar, it’s
“casual elegance”. For Silversea, the
truly casual options are limited to
in-room dining. And everyone rules out
faded jeans, tank tops and baseball caps.
In an industry famed for its proscriptive
dress codes, no prizes for guessing there
is even one for the newest fad in themed
cruising – hop aboard a naturist cruise, and
the dress code is, well, no clothes at all.
There are “clothing optional” cruises, but
who wants to stand around in a tux when
everyone else is having so much fun?
“Our mission is to provide relaxing,
entertaining and health-conscious vacation
opportunities that offer non-threatening,
natural environments where the appreciation,
wonder and compatibility of nature and the
unadorned human form can occur,” says cruise
and travel company Bare Necessities, which
offers a number of naturist cruise options.
And Islands.com reassures in its review
of nude cruising: “You’d think showing it all,
or even some of it, would expose what your
inner critic calls your ‘problem areas’ – and
that this might make you feel unattractive.
“Give yourself about two hours and
you’ll find the opposite. Clothes are evil.
You wouldn’t have a muffin top if it weren’t
for jeans. Lose the bra and say goodbye to
back bulges. Why do you think artists prefer
painting their subjects au naturel?”
At the beginning of 2013, Carnival
Freedom hosted the largest nude cruise with
3,000 unclad passengers. The Big Nude Boat
cruise departed Fort Lauderdale, Florida,
and, once the vessel crossed international
waters, the captain announced that all 3,000
passengers were allowed to strip. What
happened next has gone unrecorded.
Suffice to say that Carnival is not the only
major line to cater for a growing demand for
the ultimate in shipboard freedom. Celebrity
and Star Clippers also offer nude cruising.
And Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa has a clothing-
Here’s some advice from the Islands
website in a blog titled “Dare to go bare”:
“Most new passengers are titillated by the
idea of a nude resort or a nude cruise, but
I tell them quite plainly that it’s not what
they think. It’s not a sexual experience, it’s
a sensual experience.
“It’s the caress of an ocean breeze on
bare skin, cool water cascading over your
body, and no wet bathing suits to mess
with. It’s also about freedom - the freedom
from binding clothes and the freedom
to meet people without any barriers.
Meeting people in a nude setting is a
great social leveller, and everyone instantly
has something in common – the desire to
enjoy nature and new experiences in their
“Passengers also ask questions like, ‘What
do you pack in a suitcase for a nude cruise?’
and ‘Where do you keep your keys?’ and
the answers are simple: costumes for theme
nights, and on a lanyard around your neck.”
If sharing a ship with 2,999 nudists is
too much exposure for your liking, there are
boutique cruise options.
The crew at Saltyboys offer a choice of
gay, clothing optional and au naturel cruises.
They sail around Turkey, Greece, Croatia,
France, Brazil, the Seychelles, the Caribbean
and Thailand, and plan to start sailing in
Australia’s Whitsundays next year.
Saltyboys skipper, managing director and
head nudist Jan-Willem van der Klooster
told Cruise Passenger his company organises
24 cruises a year and says demand is growing.
If Jan-Willem wore trousers, you could say
he had nine years of nude cruising experience
under his belt.
“Apart from some practical rules for
onboard life, there are no black-and-white
rules. The main thing is to behave in a way
that everyone is relaxed with,” he says.
But Jan-Willem said all cruisers, clothed or
not, are expected to help out with the sailing
of the ship as it is one of the best bonding
activities for the crew and passengers.
He also has some advice for first-timers:
“Make sure you have a towel handy.”
Words Peter Lynch
questions like, “Where
do you keep your keys?”’
For back-to-nature types, the
fun starts when the captain
gives the orders to strip off.
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