Travel Tips

6 Ways to Avoid Getting Sea Sick on a Cruise

Nothing can ruin a cruise faster than getting seasick or motion sickness and it’s a big concern for new cruisers. As someone who gets motion sickness easily, I’m a huge advocate in preventing motion sickness before it starts because once you feel sick, it’s much harder to feel better again.

Preventing Motion Sickness

1. Book your cruise on a large, modern ship. You are less likely to feel the motion of the ocean on a large ships because they’re less likely to be rocked by rough waves and newer ships have the latest technology in stabilization.

2. Consider the itinerary and season of the cruise. Choose an itinerary with fewer sea days on open seas and where the route does not take you into rough open ocean for a long period of time. You should also avoid sailing during hurricane season for the area you are traveling to.

3. Book a midship cabin on a lower deck with a balcony. You’re looking for the ship’s center of gravity because it won’t pitch as much as other parts of the ship. Dr. John Bradberry, medical director for Carnival Cruise Lines, suggests that passengers who are susceptible book a cabin near the middle of the ship and below the waterline. He also suggests avoiding overeating and consuming too much alcohol throughout the cruise. (Source: Los Angeles Times)

I personally recommend a balcony as well because, if you start to feel sick, you can get fresh air immediately. Some people also report that looking at the horizon helps and you can do that as well.

4. Wear Sea Bands. Sea Bands are acupressure bracelets that put direct pressure on an acupressure point on the inside of your forearm under your wrist. Even after taking meclizine, I often having a hard time sleeping when the ship is rocking so I put these on and it makes me feel completely stable. It’s like magic and it’s natural.

5. Take meclizine before the you board the ship and every morning while on the cruise. Personally, this alone gets me to 98% motion sickness free. Meclizine is sold under the brand names Bonine or Dramamine (Less Drowsy Formula). Most pharmacies will also have a generic or store brand meclizine and you don’t need a prescription to purchase it. Even if you don’t think you will get sick or don’t feel sick, take it every day anyway. It’s better to prevent motion sickness before it starts than to get sick and risk ruining your cruise. It will also help if you take a shore excursion that involves riding a ferry, as ferries can often be a rough ride. During a recent ferry from Naples to Capri, there were many people who got sick and were vomiting. I didn’t know the ferry ride would be so rough but I was covered because I took meclizine that morning. Trust me, getting sick really put a damper on the day for those people. In addition to take one pill every morning, I may take an additional pill per day if the cruise is particularly rough or I know I’ll be doing an excursion that may cause me to get sick (ferry or small boat ride, twist & turns car trip, etc.) but check the label of the meclizine you purchase to see what is a safe amount to take in a 24-hour period.

I easily get motion sickness so I purchased Rugby Travel Sickness 100 ct tablets from Amazon. They are low priced and work really well for me.

6. If your motion sickness is pretty severe, you can try wearing the Scopolamine patch (such as Transderm Scōp). This is small patch that is available by prescription only and lasts for 3 days. It is very effective for treating motion sickness but is known to have strong side effects, such as dry mouth and drowsiness.  Some people have reported that the drowsiness was so bad that they couldn’t function. For me personally, my mouth became so dry that I was literally coughing and hacking constantly and so hard that my chest and throat began to hurt. It seemed worse than being seasick so I discontinued use of the patch after trying twice. However, the side effects aren’t as bad for others and they LOVE the patch. If you decide to try it, use it BEFORE your vacation while at home so that you can see what side effects you’ll experience and then you can make the decision if it’s fine for you to use it on your cruise.

For me, taking Bonine every morning prevents most sea sickness. For the first few nights, I usually wear Sea Bands when I go to sleep because oddly, I feel the rocking more when I’m laying down. I’d say that the combination of the two works wonders but there have been a couple of times when I was on a small boat or ferry during an excursion and still got queasy. So that brings me too…

Treating Motion Sickness

So what do you do if you were unable to prevent motion sickness and you start felling sick?

1. Sit or lay down and close your eyes. Sometimes just not seeing the ship bobbing up and down is enough to cure nausea.

2. If you are not already there, move to the middle of the ship on a lower deck.

3. Go outside. Getting fresh air can make you more comfortable and looking at the horizon will help your body regain its equilibrium. If you don’t have a balcony, you can always go out to public open areas of the ship. If you are unable to get outside, try looking at the horizon out of a window or open a window to let in fresh air.

4. Ginger is an all-natural remedy to seasickness with no risk of drowsiness. The most common forms of portable ginger are ginger capsules, ginger candy, crystallized ginger, and ginger gum. I always carry ginger capsules in my purse and they have definitely helped when I felt unexpectedly queasy on a roller coaster or in a car. I also find that ginger ale soothes my stomach and drink it on flights. Supposedly, there is actually very little real ginger in it but hey, it works for me! On a snorkel cruise, I started feeling sick and the bartender opened a ginger capsule and dumped the crushed ginger into a cup of ginger ale. It was very good and helped me feel a lot better, along with laying down.

Hopefully, these tips will help you have a more enjoyable cruise!

3 thoughts on “6 Ways to Avoid Getting Sea Sick on a Cruise

  1. I bought the sea bands in hopes they would really work but they do not seem to make a difference. Maybe I am not wearing them correctly? Any tips?

  2. Lisa – It’s really easy to wear them too high on your wrists. Make sure the little bead sits on the inside of your wrist 3 finger widths away from the bottom of your hand. The bands should also be snug. Once you wear them for a few hours, you should definitely see a dent in your wrist from the bead. If you aren’t, then the bands aren’t tight enough. If they still aren’t making a difference, they may not work for you and you probably need to look into taking meclizine. The bands alone don’t work for me either but they help when used in addition to taking meclizine.

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