Seasickness is one of the major concerns people have who’ve never cruised before. Modern ships are designed and equipped to handle rough seas, and passengers’ comfort is a high priority of every cruise line. Unfortunately, like airline turbulence, there are occasions when the ocean is rough and the ships rock. It is not the norm, and symptoms beyond seasickness symptoms on a cruise rarely go beyond a headache.
We have traveled through some very rough seas. Fortunately, we have never been seasick once. One time we were cruising in South East Asia, between Vietnam and Thailand, and the Captain told us we had no choice but to sail through a category two typhoon. The ocean was rough, and we were rocking quite a bit, but I have to admit I was okay. Rick got a nasty headache – and I did see a few people getting sick.
Modern Cruise Ships are built to maximize passenger comfort in addition to being very stable even when the seas are rough. Keep in mind that cruise lines want you to be comfortable and enjoy. For this reason, they do everything they can to avoid very rough conditions.
I have a good friend of mine that used to work on a cruise ship as a future cruise consultant, and he gave me some tips to mitigate the risk of getting seasick. Some of these can be done at the time of booking and before you board the ship, others that you can do while on board.
Things You Can do Before Your Cruise
Pick a cabin on a lower deck in mid ship.
Lower deck mid-ship cabins move the least during rough conditions. Ideally, pick a balcony cabin, so in case you start feeling some nausea, you can go outside and get some fresh air.
Pick a “seasick friendly” Itinerary
Avoid itineraries with a lot of sea days. Alaska is usually the perfect itinerary for people that have never cruised before. Most of the cruise is done in the inside passage, protected on either side by land, and the ocean is usually very calm. Your ship is never too far from land and, looking at the shore has a calming effect on the seasickness symptoms.
To maximize the chances of getting calmer seas, avoid cruising at the beginning or the end of the season in each area. For example, for the Caribbean: avoid Early November or beginning of April, in the Mediterranean avoid early May or late September. Usually, at the beginning or end of the season, the weather starts to become unpredictable, and the ocean might be rougher. On the same topic avoid hurricane season in the Caribbean or tropical storm season in Asia.
Avoid Itineraries With a Lot of Sea Days.
Stick with a seven-day cruise max. This way if you get sick, it is only for a week. Example: If you think you might be seasick, I would avoid a transatlantic crossing or a 15 day Hawaii cruise with five sea days in each direction. When you’re in port, go for long walks, this will help mitigate the chances of getting sick.
Start Taking the Medication Early
If you are seasick, have had symptoms in the past, or are only afraid of getting sick, start taking motion sickness medication the day before boarding. Don’t wait until the symptoms begin as it might be too late.
Don’t convince yourself you’ll get seasick.
Lastly, this might seem the silliest of all the tips but it is very important: The vast majority of people that actually get seasick are first time cruiser. They are so afraid of getting seasick that they convince themselves and they actually get sick. So tip number one go on a cruise without worring of getting sick and you’ll be fine in most sea condition.
Things You Can Do if You Feel Seasick on Board
Use the Patch
The patch that goes behind your ear works the same way: put it on the night before boarding if you want to maximise the efficacy. If you don’t have patches with you, most cruise ships provide them at the front desk. Just go and ask.
If you start getting some mild symptoms on board, avoid anything that will make it worse like reading, playing cards, looking at your phone or tablet. Avoid smells that might make your symptoms worse – i.e. the buffet. Move to the middle of the ship, avoid the theatre that is usually all the way in the front. Also move to a lower deck where the movement of the ship is less. Go outside and walk around the ship in fresh air, take long breath and look at the horizon. Don’t drink too much alcohol, switch to herbal tea, ginger or peppermint is best!
Get The Jab
The medical center provides what they call “The Jab”. It is an injection that will make you sleep for few hours and get rid of your sickness. This remedy should be kept as last resource for few reason: first it is not cheap, second you will be sleeping for a long time missing out on your cruise.
Ginger is a fantastic natural remedy for motion sickness. You can buy some candied ginger and keep it with you and eat it occasionally. Gingerale works very well too, and it is available at every bar on the ship. You can also ask any of the restaurants and they will get you some pickled ginger – the one that serve with sushi. Or you can ask for sliced ginger and make a simple ginger tea with it and some lemon juice.
Try and Relax
If you start feeling sick go outside, sit on a lounger, breathe some fresh air and look at the horizon. This usually works well for a mild sickness.
Try the acupuncture, the acupuncturist on board is a bit expansive but the remedy really works, and works fast.
Another remedy are the wrist bands. They work on similar concept as acupuncture, apply pressure on trigger points on the wrist. Some people find them very effective.
Picking the Right Food
For your meals, avoid soups and liquid food as they tend to aggravate the symptoms. Solid food, especially starchy and dry food like bread, tend to make you feel better.
I hope these simple tips will help you.