Is seasickness keeping you from boarding a cruise ship? Hopefully, this blog will settle some of the unease and give you some options so you can start booking your first cruise.
Let us start off with a question, “what is seasickness?” The definition given by the National Ocean Service is as follows: “Seasickness is a result of a conflict in the inner ear, where the human balance mechanism resides, and is caused by a vessel’s erratic motion on the water. Inside the cabin of a rocking boat, for example, the inner ear detects changes in both up-and-down and side-to-side acceleration as one’s body bobs along with the boat. But, since the cabin moves with the passenger, one’s eyes register a relatively stable scene. Agitated by this perceptual incongruity, the brain responds with a cascade of stress-related hormones that can ultimately lead to nausea, vomiting, and vertigo. Seasickness usually occurs in the first 12 to 24 hours after “setting sail,” and dissipates once the body acclimates to the ship’s motion. It’s rare for anyone to get or stay ill beyond the first couple of days at sea-unless the vessel encounters really rough waves.” (oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/seasickness.html)
If you are a first-time cruiser, I would suggest trying a 2, 3- or 4-night cruise to start. The vast size, engineering, and innovative designs of today’s ships also help to reduce the occurrence of seasickness. When choosing your itinerary, avoid those that spend a lot of time on open water. Select a stateroom in the middle of the ship. Lower-level staterooms are also a good choice. If you have always dreamed of a balcony, chose the lowest balcony that is more centrally located on the ship. The most movement occurs on the forward (front) and aft (back) decks of the ship. Also, upgrading to an ocean view or balcony stateroom will give you the opportunity for fresh air and a view of the horizon. Another option available to seasick-prone travelers are river cruises. They have similar experiences, such as luxury dining and guided excursions, but calmer waters, smaller vessels, and smaller capacity.
I perused my local pharmacies to see what was available in the way of over-the-counter medications (OTC) and remedies. I searched CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. I also looked at Amazon. At my local CVS, I found Sea Bands and Sea Band Ginger Gum. At Walgreens, I found an off brand of Sea Bands, Dramamine Ginger Chews and Organic Belly Comfort lemon ginger lozenges. At Walmart, I found Motion Eaze topical oil. Motion Eaze was recommended to me by an avid deep-sea angler. On Amazon, I found a plethora of items from Smart Glasses, fancy relief bands costing upwards of $100, aromatherapy inhalers to patches behind the ears. At all these locations, Dramamine and its generic brand were offered. In preparation for our first family cruise, my dad’s physician prescribed him a compound anti-nausea cream that helped him tremendously. He also tried a prescribed behind the ear patch on previous boating experiences. Personally, I suffer from seasickness, but I am an avid cruiser. To date, I have not been seasick on any of my cruises. I have personally tried Dramamine, Sea Bands, and Benadryl. My least favorite has been Dramamine because I tend to sleep my vacation away. I know they have the non-drowsy formula, but the sleepiness still happens to me. I always pack it for those “just in case” moments. I have done well with Sea Bands for my last few cruises.
If you have never been seasick on a cruise; therefore, unprepared for the event, what can you do once on board? Well, there are a lot of options. Most, if not all, have motion sickness medications for sell in their onboard shops and some cruise lines will deliver the medication to your stateroom. Various cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, offer seasick medications free of charge at their on-board Medical Center. If you are experiencing an extreme case of sickness, the ship’s medical center can provide injections for a fee. Ships also offer onboard acupuncture sessions for seasickness in their spas for a fee.
Most of the cruise lines offer helpful information regarding seasickness and prevention. A few tips given were as follows:
1. Seasick medications can cause dehydration and headaches so stay hydrated! Drink water, low acidity juices such as apple or carrot, or ginger ale. Avoid milk and coffee.
2. Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day to keep the stomach full. While onboard, you could enjoy your meals and snacks at one of the open-air restaurants or sitting areas so you can have views of the horizon and feel the breeze off the ocean.
3. Limit and/or avoid alcohol intake because it can increase dehydration.
4. According to Dr. Shore from Royal Caribbean, smelling newspaper print may work. He states there is no scientific proof of why it works, but he states it seems to diminish the sensation of nausea.
5. Keep moving! Stay on deck as much as possible or on your balcony.
6. If you are truly worried about vomiting, carry a plastic bag with you. Just having it on hand may eliminate the anxiety of a possible event.
7. Remember, seasickness usually diminishing after 12 to 24 hours because hopefully you have acquired your sea legs!!!
I hope this blog has given you some reassurance about cruising. Now, let me help you get on board and start having FUN!
(Regarding the picture: This was taken in 2021 on a 1/2 day private fishing charter in Costa Rica. I just had to watch my son catch a rooster fish! I forgot to take my Sea Bands on this trip. I did try the prescription compound cream and Motion Eaze. The seas were not calm on this day. My son didn't catch the rooster fish and I didn't chum-LOL! I did not go fishing the next day because it was a full day on the water. He caught a huge sailfish!!!)