The thrill of booking your first cruise is still fresh in your happy heart and you’re daydreaming of the cute outfits you’re going to pack and the excursions you’ll book. Suddenly, the thought crosses your mind, “Oh no! What if I get seasick on my cruise?” or if you’re cruising with kids, “Even worse, what if my kids get seasick?!”
Seasickness, like all motion sickness, is caused by confusing sensory input in our brains. When what our eyes see doesn’t match the input from our vestibular system (that’s the inner ear and other balance mechanisms), the conflicting sensations throw us into a state of nausea, vomiting, cold sweats and a whole list unpleasant symptoms that have the potential to ruin your vacation!
Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to prevent seasickness and to alleviate symptoms if they do come up.
Will You Get Seasick on Your Cruise?
Calm your worries, my dear, seasickness is not a huge a concern as you might think. Cruise navigation systems allow the crew to maneuver around most storms and rough water so your journey should be relatively stable. And even if you should encounter some waves, modern cruise ships have stabilizers that reduce the roll of the ship even in substantial waves. (If you want to geek out on the science of how they do this, check out this video.)
On our cruises, I have not experienced seasickness at all during traveling days. Only on the night and morning going back to our original port and debarkation point did I notice any movement of the ship. Since our vacation was coming to an end, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on any fun while feeling a little green.
When those unsettling feelings did start to arise, I took note of symptoms immediately and took action to minimize the effects as soon as possible, more on that in a minute.
How to Prevent Getting Seasick On Your Cruise
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather PREVENT seasickness than have to treat it. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you don’t ever lose your sea legs. If you’re travelling with kids, I suggest you implement these tricks and tips for them since they’re not going to be as quick to observe seasickness symptoms and may not tell you until they’re really bad.
Get a good night’s sleep!
Even though you’re excited and having SO much fun, being well-rested is important to help keep you having a good time. If you have early morning excursions, try not to stay out too late at the shows! And give your kids, and yourself time for a nap in the afternoon.
Don’t cruise on an empty stomach!
I think cruise ships figured this one out long ago and decided it was smart to have food available 24/7 for their passengers to entice them to keep eating! Seriously, having a little bit of food in your stomach can help prevent nausea. Just steer clear of spicy, greasy, or highly acidic foods.
Even when a ship is rolling, the center of the craft is relatively stable. If you’re feeling tossed about, get toward the middle of the ship on a lower level. On the Carnival Vista, you might head to the Lobby Bar. On Royal Caribbean’s line, the Royal Promenade is a good choice. On Norwegian Escape, guest services is a good mid-ship lower deck location. Before your cruise, check out your ship’s deck plans to find a spot to chill should you get green around the gills.
Keep in mind that fresh air and a view of the horizon may help too, so if your ship has a walking deck on a lower level, you may find this to be the better location while waiting out the waves.
Avoid Reading and Screens.
Sinking into a good book on a deck lounger might sound like your version of paradise, but keeping your eyes up is important. If your kids love their iPads and handheld devices, you may need to limit their use during your cruise. Eyes up for most fun!
Watch the Horizon.
And, with your eyes up, you should be looking at the horizon as much as possible. Watching the waves toss behind the ship may be one of the coolest experiences onboard, but keeping your eyes out at the horizon can help your body adjust to the movement.
Consider booking a room with an exterior window or balcony if you think motion sickness may be a problem for you.
A lot of people don’t know this but staying hydrated can help ward off the symptoms of seasickness. And it’s too bad they missed the memo because one of the main activities onboard–drinking alcohol–leads to dehydration.
Whether you bought the beverage package or not, be sure to stay hydrated while on board. Try drinking one glass of water between each other drink you consume.
And be sure your kids are getting enough to drink too. Squeeze in some water or lemonade instead of just sodas! They’ll appreciate not getting sick.
Many people swear by these acupressure bands to ward off nausea. Will it work for you? I can’t be sure, but they’re cheap and easy to have on hand. I’ve always taken them with me on our cruises, but I have rarely needed to use one.
If you don’t have an acupressure band, you can try it out yourself by using the thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand to put pressure on either side of your wrist.
Talk to Your Doctor Ahead of Time.
If you KNOW you’re going to get motion sick because you get queasy just thinking about a road trip, call your primary care physician before your trip. Your local doc can prescribe medications for you to ward off seasickness.
Just be sure to have your prescription filled ahead of time and packed in your carry-on bag so you have access to it. Though your ship will have over-the-counter medication to treat seasickness, they don’t have a pharmacy to fill the Rx from your doc.
How to Treat Seasickness on Your Cruise
If the worst happens and you do get seasick, don’t panic. It’s easy to think this will ruin your trip, but that fear will only make things worse. Calm your mind and remember, it’s (sort of) all in your head. You can take steps to feel better and enjoy the rest of the trip.
Here’s the best tips for what to do if you do find yourself a little woozy.
Get Some Fresh Air
Feeling crummy makes me want to go back to my cabin, but getting outside is generally a better choice. Like we said before, viewing the horizon is a natural antidote for seasickness, and fresh air seems to be on par with it.
Call Room Service.
If you are in your cabin, call room service. They’ll be prepared for this. They can send up a snack that’s just right for the landlubber stomach: green apples, saltine crackers, and ginger ale! These foods have been shown to reduce the effects of seasickness. They may even be able to send you some over-the-counter medications if you forgot to pack yours.
Try Ginger and other natural remedies.
Ginger is excellent for motion sickness. At the first sign of nausea, I pop a few capsules. I keep some in my carry on suitcase whenever we are traveling, whether by plane, car, or cruise ship. If you’ve got a snorkeling excursion, you may want to bring it along then too!
Other natural remedies include inhaling lavender or peppermint essential oils or sipping chamomile or peppermint tea.
There’s some evidence that sitting upright, with your head supported by a pillow is better for you than lying down. Try sitting on a deck chair with a rolled up towel for a pillow.
And of course, if you’re feeling sick, don’t feel like you’ve got to prove your sea-worthiness by fighting it off on your own!
Take a Dramamine or Benadryl and chill. This vacation is supposed to be relaxing.
Your ship should medication available if you need it. Just ask guest services.
What to Pack to Treat and Prevent Seasickness on Your Cruise
- Ginger Capsules.
- Acupressure Bands.
- Tea bags.
Enjoy Your Cruise, Nausea-free!
Pack up your seasickness medications just in case but don’t fear. Cruise ships are built to be stable, they know how to avoid rough waters, and the staff are polite, helpful, and totally prepared to handle seasickness.
And you know, sitting on a deck chair with a pillow and a cup of chamomile tea or ginger ale doesn’t sound too bad actually. Hey, maybe we can get through this after all!
Let me know in the comments where you’re sailing to and if you’ve got any other secret tips for seasickness.
Wherever you’re headed, enjoy the journey!