Plans are being drawn up in secret to cut back on food waste aboard cruise ships and to discourage obesity, World of Cruising can reveal.

Passengers will be supervised in self-service buffets to prevent them putting too many servings on one plate, and dining room waiters are to be instructed to refuse requests for second helpings.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is drawing up the new guidelines which it expects operators to have put in place in 12 months’ time. While the changes will be considerable, they say they do not expect passengers will be forced to choose between either surf or turf when ordering the most popular item on the dinner menu.

In Miami, CLIA spokeswoman Emma T. Plate said the move was in line with the organisation’s proposals to reduce fuel costs, and innovations such as energy-saving light fittings on new-build vessels.

“Cruise ships have never been more efficient,” she said. “Operators have made huge strides in recent years increasing their green credentials by cutting back the amount of fuel burnt. Having seen the cost benefits of this policy, it is a natural progression to reduce the amount of food provided.

“It’s an oft-repeated adage that guests arrive as passengers and leave as cargo after a cruise holiday spent eating more than they need to. There are also cost implications in carrying the weight of unnecessary food and in safely disposing of the left-overs.

“We expect passengers to resist the changes at first, but they will be grateful when they realise the money that they currently have to spend on a new, larger wardrobe can be saved instead to pay for their next holiday.”

Royal Caribbean spokesman Phil Miyup said: “It is astonishing to watch passengers in our Windjammer buffets apparently competing to see how high they can pile their plates, even at lunchtime. It’s not unusual to see them demand three or four slices of meat from the carvery, plus roast potatoes, baked potatoes and fries, plus a pasta dish, chilli con carne and chicken pie, topped off with sushi and an ice cream.

“Under the new policy, they will be permitted to fill their plates at only one servery and they will be discouraged from returning for seconds.”

Cunard spokesperson April Fish added: “ Passengers need not be concerned that they will be forced to choose between fillet steak and lobster tail for their gala night treat. But we will be adjusting portion sizes so that no single item on our dinner menus contains more than the recommended daily calorie intake for a healthy adult.”

An NHS Healthy Eating advisor told World of Cruising that the government welcomed CLIA’s proposals and looked forward to cruise menus carrying the same “traffic light” information as displayed on supermarket ready meals in the UK.

However, one regular passenger, who asked to remain anonymous because of his activity on a well-known travel review website, said: “I hope this is not the thin end of the wedge. Passengers have always been expected to over-indulge and they should be left to make their own choices. But there will be ways around it. If I want to order cabin-service breakfast and then take myself to the restaurant for another helping, who will stop me?

“I shall be campaigning as vigorously as I can against these plans. If this is allowed to go ahead, there could be no stopping them. Who knows, they might even get rid of the wafer-thin mints left on cabin pillows each night.”

UPDATE: As one or two of you suspected this was indeed an April Fool’s joke! Rest assured food is not being rationed on-board cruise ships (not yet at least!) and will continue to be one of the major selling points of a cruise ship holiday.