Cruise Sea Sickness: Don’t Let Motion Sickness Ruin Your Voyage!

Getting cruise sea sickness while moving through the ocean waves.

There is nothing worse than spending hundreds of dollars on your dream vacation, only to have it ruined by a bad case of cruise sea sickness. If you are someone who struggles with this common ailment, it can even be enough to keep you from taking a cruise in the first place. Fortunately, there are a number of remedies to this troublesome nuisance that can help you to enjoy the vacation that you have worked so hard to earn. Whether you are looking for medications to prevent you getting sea sick in the first place, or you’re looking for traditional home remedies to help with symptoms, we’ve got some great tips that are sure to help you get your sea legs on your next cruise vacation!

Understanding Cruise Sea Sickness

First, let’s get an understanding of what it actually means to be “sea sick.” While we may attribute different labels to this experience based on where it occurs (sea sick, car sick, air sick), these are actually different colloquial names for the same phenomenon: motion sickness. It happens when the motion sensed by your inner ear does not match what your eyes are seeing. This confuses the brain and can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and discomfort in some people. And while it is a “sickness” in name only, as it has no actual effect on your overall, long term health, it can make passage on a ship unbelievably unbearable if not managed properly. And it is much easier to prevent than it is to remedy, so taking precautions is your best bet to enjoy your cruise if you have a history of motion sickness.

Pack the Right Gear

Probably the most important tool you have to fight cruise sea sickness is medication, whether that is over-the-counter or prescription. At your local pharmacy, you can get antihistamines like dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) and meclizine (Bonine), which help by suppressing the signals from the inner ear to the brain. You can also get Scopolamine (Transderm Scōp), which is administered through a patch that you place behind your ear and will help prevent you from getting sea sick for several days. If you forgot to purchase these ahead of time, head to the front desk or to any shops on board, as they will typically have something for purchase.

There are also some prescription medications that you can ask your doctor about, such as a stronger antihistamine called Promethazine, which also causes drowsiness and can help you sleep, as well as Ondansetron, which is typically used to treat nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. If you prefer to steer clear of any type of medication, you can try home remedies, like ginger products (ginger candies, teas, or capsules), acupressure wristbands or bracelets, or aromatherapy with essential oils that have soothing properties.

Choose Your Cabin and Cruise Wisely

While it may not be immediately obvious, selecting the right cruise and the right cabin can make a huge difference in preventing cruise sea sickness. When picking a cabin, select one that is in the middle of the ship and on the middle deck. The closer you are to the center of the ship, the less you will feel its movement as it rocks back and forth, reducing the amount of motion sickness you will experience. You will also want to pick a destination that resides in calmer waters, as some itineraries are more likely to sail through choppy seas. The Caribbean is notorious for its tranquil waters, and is a great option for when you are trying to avoid getting sea sick.

Related: Cruise Cabins: Which Class is Right For You?

Onboard Activities That Will Make You Sea Sick

While it can be difficult to avoid getting cruise sea sickness when you are spending entire days out at sea, there are definitely things that can trigger it or make it much worse. Keeping your gaze on the horizon or on a fixed point on land can help stabilize your senses, and you definitely want to avoid reading or looking at screens, as that is likely to have the opposite effect. Breathing techniques and calming exercises have also been known to help manage symptoms, and getting good rest is a key component to recovery. Stay hydrated and avoid heavy meals to help with nausea, and try to find distracting activities that don’t make your symptoms worse, like listening to music or wading in the pool.

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