It is hard to understand what causes motion sickness in some people but not in others. It can be quite debilitating for the unlucky ones. Some folks just don’t suffer from motion sickness at all and enjoy the roughest of seas whilst continuing their daily eating and drinking routine.
Eventually, most people get their sea legs and wonder what the fuss was about. The good news is that there are effective remedies for motion sickness, and these work very well on a cruise. So there is no need to worry or suffer while getting acclimatized to sailing the seven seas when it is so easy to prevent seasickness.
In this post, we share 12 ways to prevent, treat and ideally avoid seasickness altogether while cruising. We have also included recommendations for seasickness medications and natural remedies that, from our experience, work well. But first, let’s take a look at the science behind seasickness or motion sickness and how it may affect you.
Understanding the causes is the first step in preventing seasickness on a cruise or other boat or ship.
What causes seasickness or motion sickness on a cruise ship?
The ancient Greeks and Romans were aware of motion sickness. Even NASA has made a note of it. So if you suffer from motion sickness, you’re not alone and are part of a long tradition.
You get motion sickness or seasickness when there are conflicts with your senses. For example, if you’re on a ride at the fair, and it’s spinning you around, and upside down, your eyes see one thing, your muscles feel another, and your inner ears sense something else.
Your brain can’t cope with all those mixed signals. That’s why you end up feeling dizzy and nauseous.
Your ears play help control your sense of balance. They are part of a network called the vestibular system. This system includes three semicircular canals and two sacs, called the saccule and the utricle. They send information about what’s going on around you to the Brain.
The semicircular canals hold a fluid that moves with the turns of your head. The saccule and utricle are sensitive to gravity. They tell the Brain whether you’re standing up or lying down.
Your Brain takes in all this data, and it usually comes together and makes sense. But sometimes, your Brain gets confusing signals.
For example, if you are flying in a plane, you feel like you’re moving, but your eyes tell your Brain that you don’t appear to be going anywhere. The opposite is true as well. After a long sea voyage, you can stand still on dry land but still feel like you’re moving. The result is the same: motion sickness, aka seasickness.
What are the symptoms of seasickness?
Motion sickness or seasickness symptoms vary from person to person, and some people don’t suffer at all.
The symptoms on a cruise can strike quickly and make you break out in a cold sweat and feel like you need to throw up. Other common symptoms include:
- Increase in saliva production
- Loss of appetite
- Pale skin
In addition, some people get headaches, feel very tired, or have shallow breathing.
How likely are you to get seasick on your cruise?
A common concern, particularly for new cruisers, is the likelihood of getting seasick. For most people, symptoms usually don’t last long. They often go away once you get used to the situation, whether it’s the rocking of a boat or the movement of a train.
Modern cruise ships are designed with a particular focus on guest comfort and have computer-controlled stabilizers to counteract the ship’s movement. Larger vessels are less prone to movement than samller ships. However, you may feel some motion while on your cruise, which is quite normal.
Pre Cruise Advice
DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR STATEROOM LOCATION
Before making the final payment for your cruise, check the ship’s deck plan. Just because you paid for an inexpensive cabin doesn’t mean you are on a low deck, as sometimes the cruises lines upgrade you if space is available. Also, don’t choose a stateroom at the front (bow) or back (stern), even on a low deck. It doesn’t matter how low or high you are; these are the two areas on the ship that moves the most, particularly on high seas. It can get noisy in these locations as well!
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR
If you are concerned about seasickness, make an appointment to see your doctor. Discuss your concerns and ask him to recommend one of several over-the-counter motion sickness medications or prescribe a motion sickness patch (scopolamine) or similar. Also, ask about natural remedies for seasickness like Ginger. Some cruise lines like Cunard provide ginger candy as you leave the restaurant.
When on board your ship, if you are suffering from seasickness, you can ask the ship’s doctor for a shot which usually works wonders and sorts you out in no time.
How to Prevent Motion Sickness on a Cruise
So we have learnt all about the science behind motion sickness or seasickness, and now we will take a look at our top tips and trick on how to avoid seasickness. Of course one of the best ways to deal with seasickness on a cruise is to prevent and avoid it if at all possible.
So here are our top seasickness prevention tips on how to avoid getting seasick on a cruise so you can go on to get maximum enjoyment whilst at sea.
Use Wrist Bands
If you don’t like the idea of medication, why not try motion sickness Wrist Bands, which are proven to alleviate motion sickness and allow you to enjoy travelling and cruising in particular.
One example of this is Sea-Band, a knitted elasticated wrist band, which operates by applying pressure on the Nei Kuan acupressure point on each wrist by means of a plastic stud. Because the bands do not use drugs, they do not cause any of the side effects associated with anti-nausea drugs and can be worn on each wrist whenever you feel nauseous. They are suitable for adults and children.
Examples of Motion Sickness Wrist Bands for Adults, Mums to be and Children can be found here:
Choose Lower Decks
Interestingly, many cruise lines have their most luxurious (and expensive) staterooms and suites on the highest decks, which is not the best place to be if you are prone to motion sickness, so watch out for this. Book a stateroom or suite on a low deck and in the middle of the ship (Midships).
Try to avoid an inside stateroom, so one with an Oceanview or a balcony is good. It is always a good idea to book early to ensure you get the best choice of staterooms. Avoid Guarantee Fares as you never know where you may end up on the ship. These fares get offered when the best staterooms have gone, and the cruise lines have only a limited choice of space left.
Don’t Lock Yourself in your Stateroom
Get out and walk the promenade or stretch out in a sun lounger with a cup of tea or plain water. While it may be tempting to scale the rock-climbing wall, you may want to reconsider until your seasick “wave” passes. Avoid staying locked up in your stateroom. You may want to avoid any designated smoking areas on ships that allow smoking, which can only make you feel worse.
Get Some Fresh Air
If you’re trying to get by without medication and start to feel a bit queasy, a good solution is to get out on the deck and stare at the horizon.
This age-old technique is a proven technique and easy to do. Despite the movement of the ship, staring at the horizon and focusing on it does wonders to stop you from feeling poorly. The other sure-fire way to fix seasickness is to sit under an Apple Tree!!
Don’t Drink too Much Alcohol
While some people feel better after a drink or two because it may help calm their nervousness about becoming seasick, like anything to excess, it can have adverse reactions, especially if you are taking any motion sickness medication. Stay off the booze for a while…
Do try to keep your stomach full despite the urge not to eat if you start to feel queasy. Eat simple foods, non-greasy and non-spicy, which will help prevent nausea. Don’t overeat, though. Ginger is good for calming seasickness, and as mentioned, some ships will have this available when you leave the restaurant.
Choose Calmer Waters for Your Cruise
One way to reduce the risk of seasickness on your cruise is to look at itineraries that take in calmer waters. It’s a fact that more intense waters with strong or unpredictable currents will make for much more motion and increase the potential for seasickness while on your cruise. Alaskan cruises and Caribbean cruises are generally better options. Be sure to avoid the Caribbean hurricane season.
While the seas can be unpredictable, some cruise itineraries generally have calmer seas than others. If you’re concerned about getting seasick, avoid the Bay of Biscay, trans-Atlantic crossings and other itineraries where the sea can sometimes be quite rough.
All good travel agents can help and guide you through the various options available and share their own experiences with you.
Try Some Ginger
The top remedy recommended by anyone who works on a cruise ship is Ginger. This natural remedy seems to calm upset stomachs and reduce nausea. Anything with Ginger will do the trick, including non-alcoholic Ginger Beer, raw Ginger, Ginger candy and Ginger tea.
Some cruise lines, such as Cunard, offer Ginger candy in the evening after dinner when the seas are rough.
Recommended Products include the following:
It may sound simple, but keeping maintaining your fluid intake is another big help in avoiding seasickness. Dehydration is recognised as a major trigger for motion sickness.
Seasickness and related medications cause dehydration and headaches. Drink water, low-acidity juices like apple and carrot, or clear soup, and avoid milk and coffee. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water will help prevent feelings of seasickness and nausea. It is quite often the case, when you are on a cruise you may get too much sun and most likely drink too much alcohol, which can lead to becoming dehydrated.
By keeping your body hydrated, you are less likely to suffer from nausea, headaches, dizziness and upset stomach.
Top Cruise tip – Be sure to take a refillable water bottle, to stay hydrated on your cruise.
Current bestsellers include the following:
Eat a Green Apple
A great little cruise tip that works to help get over seasickness on a cruise is to eat a green apple. A firm favourite with crew and passengers, anecdotal evidence suggests eating green apples can help with seasickness.
Green apples can help prevent seasickness on a cruise
Green apples are incredibly high in pectin, a soluble fibre that turns water into a thick gel in your intestines. This slows down your digestion and settles your stomach. Green apples are also high in fructose, or plant-based sugar, which helps keep your energy levels up.
So humble green apples can be a great way of warding off that queazy feeling of seasickness.
Bonine or Dramamine
In our experience, this option worked very well, alleviating seasickness symptoms without causing any drowsiness.
It is always a good idea to take a pack or two as part of your cruise medical kit. Don’t wait to buy them onboard your cruise as you can be sure the shop will be closed just when you need them.
Motion Sickness Patches
If you’re prone to motion sickness, scopolamine patches, which are placed behind the ear, effectively prevent seasickness.
Ideally used before symptoms begin, these patches are a preventative treatment and must be changed every three days. They may only be available by prescription, so talk with your doctor to see if they’re right for you.
Acupuncture probably isn’t at the top of the list when it comes to treatments for motion sickness, which is odd as it used the same meridian points that respond to acupressure, which is used in Wrist Band/Sea bands. Perhaps it is the thought of the ‘needles’ that puts people off, but who knows.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) provides useful background information on acupuncture as a cure for seasickness.
As always, please do check with your doctor before embarking on any form of acupuncture.
Acupuncture can help prevent seasickness on a cruise
Don’t leave it until it’s too late!
If you ignore the signs and seasickness sets in, it’s a challenge for even the best medication to relieve it quickly. If you are at all concerned, remember better be safe than sorry.
Follow the instructions and take your medication before the ship sets sail. By the time you are out to sea, the chance of feeling seasick will be greatly reduced. You can prevent getting seasick.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
How do you not get seasick on a cruise?
Tips to avoid getting seasick on a cruise ship
- Get a cabin in the middle of the ship and as low as you can go. …
- Drink plenty of water.
- Keep something in your stomach. …
- Get as much fresh air as possible on one of the top decks.
- Look out over the forward part of the ship. …
- Keep an eye fixed on the horizon.
What is the best thing for seasickness on a cruise?
According to many guests, some of the best seasickness tablets for a cruise include Dramamine or Bonine. These medications can be taken before nausea arises to help lessen the severity. They may also be taken to ease the feeling of sickness as it occurs. Be aware that these may cause drowsiness in some guests.
How likely are you to get seasick on a cruise ship?
How Common is it to Get Sick on a Cruise? 15% of people have reported feeling seasick while onboard. In our experience, we can add another 10% of passengers that will suffer from other illnesses, such as colds, flu and hangovers.
What is a trick to avoid seasickness?
Get fresh air. If you are feeling seasick, it is often helpful to go out on an open deck or balcony and look toward the horizon. Doing so helps your eyes “see” the motion, which will then send signals to the brain more in alignment with what the inner ear is “telling” the brain.
Last update on 2023-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API