How To Avoid Seasickness on a Cruise Ship: Practical Tips from Expert Sailors

By Alan
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Filed Under: seasickness

Going on a cruise should be a dream vacation, but seasickness can turn it into a nightmare.

I know from bitter experience. But it was something else that triggered my seasickness, and fortunately I wasn’t on a cruise when it happened.

But first, I need to tell you a little story about my childhood. As a kid, I was always getting car sick. My Dad, couldn’t drive around the block, without having to stop to allow me to…..well you can picture the scene.

And each time it happened, my Mom gave me Dramamine which (to me) was this foul tasting tablet. Taking the tablet was as bad as the sickness. Yuck!

Eventually, by the time I hit my teens, I had grown out of my travel sickness issues.

Years later, I would start cruising – and was I susceptible to seasickness? Not one bit.

Well, not until a certain fishing trip.

Is Seasickness All In The Head?

Alan Hutchison from Cruise Nonstop on a fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico 2005
Yours Truly Trying To Look Normal – 2 Minutes Later I was Hanging Over The Side

We were on a short vacation in Naples, Florida in September 2005, and we arrived just as Hurricane Rita was passing through the Gulf of Mexico on her way to Texas. For the first two days of our trip, the weather was pretty wild.

On day 3, my buddy Lou decided it was fair weather for some sea fishing. Sounds good, right. Well, I had never been sea fishing, and Lou nagged us all and told us we needed to take some dramamine as a precaution.

So I did. And that was the trigger. Suddenly I was that little kid again in the car – I started to feel nauseous before we even got to the dock. Sure as fate, 10 minutes into our 4 hour trip I was hanging over the sides shouting for Huey.

I’ve never been seasick since, because I’ve never taken Dramamine since – my seasickness was all based on a psychological trigger from my childhood.

However, for most folks who suffer from it, seasickness is not just in the mind and the trigger is the motion of the sea.

Understanding and Preventing Seasickness

Young teenager suffering from seasickness on a boat
Seasickness is a horrible feeling – but you can help prevent it

Seasickness can put a damper on any cruise experience. However, with a few helpful tips and remedies, you can potentially keep it at bay, or at least keep it under control and enjoy your time on the ship comfortably.

Recognizing Symptoms and Causes

Seasickness is actually caused by a miscommunication between your ears and your eyes.

Seasickness happens when your inner ear senses motion that doesn’t match what your eyes see. This messes with your balance.

Symptoms often include nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. You may also feel lightheaded or may even develop a headache.

Recognizing these symptoms early can help you take swift action to prevent it from escalating.

Modern cruise ships have stabilizers to reduce side-to-side motion. While this helps a lot, it cannot stop the front-to-back rocking motion of a ship. The heavier the seas, the stronger that motion is.

Individual sensitivity to this motion varies, and some people still get seasick even in what might appear the calmest of seas.

Key Prevention Strategies

Looking down into Central Park on Oasis of the Seas
You’ll Feel Less Movement on Larger Ships Like Oasis of the Seas

Choosing the right cabin: Book a cabin in the middle and lower part of the ship. As it’s near the center of gravity it’s actually the most stable part of the ship. A cabin with a balcony can also allow you to step out for some fresh air.

Stay on deck: Spend lots of time on deck and keep your eyes on the horizon, which helps your body maintain its equilibrium.

Hydration and rest: Drink plenty of water and get enough sleep. Being well-rested can help your body better adapt to the ship’s motion.

Diet and Medication Tips

Certain foods and remedies can help prevent or soothe seasickness.

Ginger: It’s a well-known natural remedy. You can consume it as ginger tea, ginger ale, or even raw.

Peppermint can also calm your stomach.

Medications: Over-the-counter options like Dramamine and Bonine can be effective. However, you really need to take these before you start feeling sick for the best results.

Dramamine Motion Sickness Non-Drowsy, 18 Count
$6.98 ($0.39 / Count)

Modern cruise ships are stabilised and fortunately, most people don't suffer from seak-sickness. But in heavier seas that can change and you should always be prepared just in case. Dramamine has been a household name for the relief of travel sickness symptoms for decades.

02/18/2024 04:48 pm GMT

Acupressure bands: These wristbands apply pressure to specific points on your wrist to relieve symptoms. They’re a non-medical alternative you might find helpful. Reviews vary, but I do know people who swear by them!

Popular Choice for Travel Sickness
Motion Sickness Wristbands
$4.99 ($1.25 / Count)

If you can't take Dramamine for seasickness then these are the next best thing. I know people who swear by these. The motion sickness wristbands work using acupressure techniques, so are safe for anyone to use, including pregnant women. They are also an aid to help relieve morning sickness apparently.

02/18/2024 04:53 pm GMT

Slow-release patches: Available on prescription, a scopolamine transdermal patch is attached to the skin just behind the ear – it looks like a small round sticking plaster. These are very effective and if you do suffer from seasickness, it is worth discussing this option with your Doctor.

Avoid heavy, greasy meals which can worsen symptoms. Stick to light snacks and plenty of fluids to keep nausea at bay.

Top Tips From An Expert Sailor

Making the Most of Your Cruise Experience

As mentioned above, if you are prone to seasickness, cabin placement is crucial, so you need to plan your cruise carefully. You might also need to consider the time of year and potential weather issues.

Choosing the Right Cabin and Ship

Your choice of cabin can greatly affect your comfort.

For better stability, pick a cabin in the middle of the ship and on lower decks. This location typically experiences less motion, reducing the chances of seasickness.

Cabins with a balcony or window also allow fresh air and a view of the horizon, which can help keep nausea at bay.

Larger ships are generally more stable due to their size. A stateroom located away from the ship’s aft section, which can be more prone to motion, is ideal.

Researching the ship’s layout and reading reviews can offer insights into the best cabins for your needs.

Travel Considerations and Timing

When planning your trip, consider the season and weather. Calmer seas are common in certain areas and seasons, making travel smoother.

Check the itinerary for ports of call that interest you and look for travel periods known for mild weather.

It’s also wise to plan travel around your own schedule so you can relax before and after the cruise.

Arrive early to avoid stress and have time to acclimate. Avoid overpacking, as carrying heavy luggage can add unnecessary strain to your journey.

Planning Ahead Is Key

Ultimately planning ahead is key to avoiding or at least coping with seasickness. Ideally speak to your doctor before travel to discuss any medicines that you can take.

Alternatively, try one of the over the counter remedies likes Dramamine or Bonine. The accupressure bands are definitely worth a shot as well.

If you have never cruised before, work on the assumption that you will not get seasick – many people don’t. But as a precaution, have a remedy available to hand – just in case.

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Alan took his first cruise in 1991 and has been cruising ever since. When he is not writing articles for you'll find him either on a cruise ship (he's the guy in the kilt), or on the golf course!

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