About Getting Sea Sick on a Cruise
Don't Let Fear of Seasickness Ruin Your Cruise
Have you ever decided against taking a cruise vacation because you're afraid of falling seasick? Seasickness is nothing more than motion sickness at sea. Yes, it can be bad. It's far worse for some people than others. And some people don't seem to suffer from it at all.
There are things you can and should do if you are subject to nausea and other symptoms when you travel. So, please don't let fear of contracting "mal de mer" prevent you from enjoying a fabulous cruise vacation!
Perhaps "seasickness" seems worse than "motion sickness" because you can stop the car and get out for a break, but you can't stop a ship and get off in the middle of the ocean. In addition, you may feel a lot more motion at sea than you would a car. So, it would seem to follow that being sick at sea must be a lot worse than being carsick.
Yes, it's true that But don't let that thought stop you.
Consider these things: Large cruise ships are much more stable than you might imagine. There are precautions you can take ahead of time, and 'just in case' remedies you can take with you. You can even select a cabin location where potential rocking and rolling will be less pronounced.
Seasickness Symptoms - What Are They?
Here are some typical symptoms of seasickness. The most common ones are dizziness and nausea. You might get some symptoms but not others. Normally, you won't experience all of these symptoms at once.
- Vertigo (dizziness)
- General Discomfort
Ginger People Gin-Gins Candy - Helps Some People with Motion Sickness
I usually pack a bag of Gin Gins in my carry on, and a couple more in my checked baggage. They've come in handy on more than one occasion for fellow cruisers who didn't think to bring anything along. The nice thing is that these are a 'natural' remedy (ginger has been used forever by seamen) and they don't make you drowsy, like some things do!
The Motion of the Ocean - How much is there, really?
Image by photob, curated from Morguefile
Sometimes there's only a little. . . Sometimes there's a LOT.
Modern cruise ships are remarkablhy stable in normal seas. (See Stabilizers, below) But that doesn't mean you won't ever feel like you are at sea. So how much will you feel the motion of the ocean?
There is no one answer. It depends, in part, on where you are sailing, and weather conditions that you might encounter.
The Caribbean typically has calmer sea conditions than the Eastern Pacific or the North Atlantic. And the waters around the horn of South America are treacherous more often than not.
I've been on cruises that were smooth sailing start to finish. I've also been on cruises on which the seas were rough some or much of the time.
Have you ever experienced motion sickness?
Just in case
Even if you are not normally subject to motion sickness, bear in mind that, on a cruise ship, you MAY encounter a lot more motion than you are accustomed to handling. (And you may not!)
If you'd like to have all your bases covered, just in case, here is a list of travel sickness precautions and remedies that are readily available. These suggestions are based on what is used by my cruising friends. Bear in mind that what works well for one person may be less effective for another. Bring one or more of them with you. Not all will be available on board the ship.
1 - Dramamine and Bonine are available over the counter. Many cruisers prefer Bonine, as it is less likely to induce drowsiness. Follow the directions on the box.
2 - Wristbands that employ acupressure to alleviate nausea associated with sea sickness are made by Psi, SeaBand,Travel Eze, and BioBand. I don't know how these work, but my friends who use them wouldn't cruise without them. They seem to like both Psi and SeaBand real well.
3 - Ginger capsules are used by one of my frequent fellow cruisers, and she swears by them. She begins taking them a couple of days before boarding.
4 - Ginger candy from The Ginger People is what I take along in case someone needs it.
5 - Queasey-Pops are widely used by cruisers, kids, and expectant moms. Very affordable, but not too many in a package... you'll want several packs for a week long cruise, just to be sure.
All of these are are available on Amazon, and you'll find links below. (There are more expensive "systems" available, but the folks I know have been perfectly satisfied with the more affordable products I'm showing here.) Some come in both adult and child versions.
Things to Use - for Preventing Motion Sickness
Bonine is preferred by many cruisers, who say it's doesn't make them drowsey at all.
I haven't tried the gum, but I do know that ginger, in one form or another, works for a whole lot of people.
For the fashion minded, these are available in pain black, a selection of colors
Help Keep the Cruise Ship from Rolling
Most of today's cruise ships are equipped with Stabilizers that reduce the effect of "roll" from waves and wind. Roll is the term for the side to side rocking motion of a ship.
Stabilizers do not mitigate pitch or yaw. (Pitch is when the ship dives up and down, front to back, and yaw is when the bow, or front swings 'off course' to the left and right.)
They are like fins or paddles that extend out from the side of the ship, and change their angle with sea conditions to cancel out some of the effect of roll.
Photo: Ship Stabilizer by Templar52
So, the good news is that today's passengers are less likely to have motion sickness than previous generations of ocean travelers.
However, if you are still worried, simply avoid cruising during hurricane season, as stabilizers are no match for the wind, waves, and swells a tropical system can generate.
When Kids are Subject to Travel Nausea - Try One of These
My granddaughter often experienced travel sickness when she was younger, and she took children's formula Dramamine. Later on, she discovered Queasy Pops, and changed to them. Both seemed to work for her.
Not all people react the same to all of these, so you may have to simply find the one that works best for your child.
What I Used Once
But Only Once.
I don't use anything. Perhaps it's just that after some 35+ cruises, I've "got my sea legs." I sure hope it stays that way, as I do love to be at sea!
Once, I took Dramamine. Knowing that Hurricane Jeanne was fast approaching our port of departure, and that we would be sailing through unusually rough seas, it seemed like a wise precaution. I don't remember the first 24 hours of that cruise, because I couldn't stay awake! I can't tell you if the Dramamine was effective in preventing anything except alertness. And yes, it was the "Less drowsy formula."
Now, I usually take along several packages of Gin Gins. I've never needed them, though we've been in some fairly rough seas now and then. But I it was nice to have some on hand to give to a few shipmates who were feeling a bit queasy.
Lately, I've been reading about a product called Motion-Eaze, which sounds impressive. (Click HERE to check it out.)
What I read is that: 1) it is all natural; 2) a drop behind the ear does the trick; 3) it works even after symptoms are already present. (Many other products must be used beforehand.)
I have no personal experience with this product, but would love to hear from anyone who has. Did it work for you? Was it effective even after you already felt sick?
Favorite Seasickness Prevention or Remedy - (a poll)
What is Your Favorite Seasickness Preventative or Remedy?
High Seas Stir Up a Ship's Swimming Pool - And Create Quite a Display
Here's a brief video showing the effect of moderately high seas on the water in a ship's swimming pool. I imagine that a few passengers might have been feeling some effect, as well. A lot of people have commented that they wouldn't have wanted to be on this ship. But, is sure is fun to watch from the stability of dry land.
Are You Susceptible
to Travel Sickness?
Seasickness and motion sickness are the same thing, so if you normally are affected by plane travel or get car sick, there's a good chance you may be subject to seasickness, as well.
If you are prone to motion sickness in general, discuss the matter with your physician. He or she will help you determine what might be the best seasick medication for you on an extended sea voyage.
"The Patch," or Scopolamine requires a prescription, and does have possible side effects. Make sure you are aware of them if you chose this precaution.
Suggestions Regarding Mal de Mer - or Getting Sick from the Motion of the Ocean
Here are some things to take into consideration when planning a cruise if you are concerned about the possibility of succumbing to mal de mer.
- Try cruising on a newer, larger ship.
- Bear in mind that cabins nearer amidships, and on lower decks, will "move less" than those on either end or on upper decks.
- Hurricane Season is June 1 - November 30, but PEAK activiey is usually August - October. Avoid the Caribbean during this time.
- Bring your motion sickness remedy of choice with you rather than waiting to obtain something on the ship. See below for some suggestions if you don't already have a preference.
- If you begin to feel affected, try keeping your eye on the horizon, or get where you can feel fresh air in your face, or lie flat on your back.
- Though it may seem like the last thing you want to do, try to eat something. Try apple wedges and saltine crackers.
Do you have a favorite motion sickness remedy to share? Or a story about sailing in rough seas? Or maybe, you'd just like to leave a friendly "Hi there."