For people who suffer from seasickness, the thought of boarding a ship can fill them with dread. Getting seasick isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun vacation activity! But seasickness symptoms can be eased with a variety of methods. Here’s how to avoid getting seasick on a cruise.
From natural remedies you can easily find on board, to prescription meds, to alternative medicine therapies—there are lots of effective ways to avoid seasickness on a cruise.
Read on to find out which methods might work for you to prevent seasickness on your next cruise. Some of the tips might surprise you!
How to avoid seasickness on a cruise
Seasickness, which is actually just motion sickness, can cause dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. About one-third of people are highly susceptible to motion sickness, and most of the rest of us can feel at least some symptoms under extreme conditions.
Thankfully, most modern cruise ships have sophisticated stabilizers that work to counteract the feeling of motion that can cause some people to feel seasick. For most passengers, these stabilizers work well enough that most people feel no motion sickness symptoms at all.
But if sea conditions are rough, or if a person is highly susceptible to feeling seasick, the stabilizers may not be enough. So what do you do? Here are eight practical tips to help you avoid getting seasick while cruising.
1. See your doctor first if you know you’ll get seasick on a cruise
If you have a history of seasickness, you might want to visit your doctor prior to your cruise. They may prescribe you a scopolamine patch that you apply up to eight hours before. The patch can be effective for three days. There are also stronger prescription drugs that your doctor may recommend.
But what if you unexpectedly experience seasickness when you’re already on board, and you aren’t prepared?
You can usually buy OTC medication in the ship’s shop, but you’ll pay a premium price. You can ask at the passenger service desk, and they can usually provide you with some complimentary tablets. Be warned that the medicine does not work quickly. It does the best job when taken the night before the cruise, and then again an hour before sailing.
2. Pick the right stateroom location
When experiencing rough weather at sea, the higher the deck you’re on, the more pitching you’ll feel.
I was once on a ship in the Caribbean where the Captain was trying to avoid a pretty bad storm. Our ship, the Caribbean Princess, had a huge nightclub on the highest level – Deck 19.
As Mr. SBC and I don’t have any problems with motion sickness, we hung out with the bar staff in the empty nightclub for a while. We were pitching quite severely—it was actually really hard to walk without almost falling over! But when we headed back to our stateroom on Deck 8, the motion was hardly noticeable.
If you know you’re prone to motion sickness (or you aren’t sure, but don’t want to take any chances), book a stateroom on the lowest deck you can, preferably mid-ship. These rooms will have the most stable feeling if you happen to pass through rough seas.
Don’t book a guarantee stateroom if you think you might get seasick! Although you can get the cheapest room in your desired category, you won’t be able to select your room’s location. You could end up with a room on the highest deck.
Plus, if you book a slightly more expensive cabin of your choosing, you may receive perks that would make up the difference that you would have saved (think onboard credit, a beverage package, or free wifi, depending on what promotions your travel agency and the cruise line are running).
You might also like: The 10 Worst Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid
3. Avoid cruises with tender ports
If you think you might get seasick on a cruise ship with modern stabilizers, make sure you avoid booking a sailing that has tender ports.
Some ports of call aren’t deep enough for large cruise ships to dock, or they just don’t have enough berths to allow all the visiting ships to tie up in port.
Instead, the cruise ship drops anchor in the harbor, and passengers are ferried to shore on smaller boats called tenders.
These tender boats are usually pretty small (some ships actually use the onboard lifeboats). You’ll really feel the motion of the ocean in a tender boat, especially when the seas are choppy!
Read your potential cruise itinerary to find out if there are any tender ports in store for you, or ask your travel agent.
4. Pack some basic seasickness remedies in your cruise first aid kit
Although no one in my family has ever suffered from any severe motion sickness, I always carry some basic remedies in my cruise first aid kit just in case.
Sea-Bands are soft terry loops that you wear on both wrists. They contain a plastic stud that stimulates the P6 acupressure point to help relieve nausea and vomiting.
Bonine is an antihistamine with anti-nausea and anti-spasmodic properties. Bonine can cause drowsiness, and remember that alcohol can make that drowsiness worse.
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5. Find some natural seasickness remedies on the ship
Seasickness medicine often takes a while to kick in. While waiting for the medicine to work its magic (or if you’re averse to taking medication), many cruisers swear by eating green apples. You can usually order green apples and crackers from room service.
Another natural remedy for seasickness is ginger. If you can’t find ginger candy in the shop, you may have an easier time finding ginger tea, or even ginger ale.
Other natural seasickness remedies include peppermints, milk, bananas, apple juice, and chamomile tea.
6. Try acupuncture or acupressure to combat seasickness
Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for motion sickness, although it’s not as popular as other methods. Many people are reluctant to try acupuncture, but it’s painless (I promise!)
To be most effective, it’s best to have at least one acupuncture session shortly before your cruise. Many onboard spas now offer the therapy on board to continue your series of treatments.
If you’d rather try a less invasive method, doing a simple self-acupressure technique can also help seasickness symptoms. Acupressure at the P6 or Neiguan point has been shown to relieve symptoms of motion sickness.
To do this, just follow these simple steps:
- Position your hand with your palm facing up.
- Lay the first three fingers of your other hand horizontally across your wrist, with the ring finger at the base of your palm.
- Place your thumb on your lower wrist just below your three fingers, and press to feel two large tendons.
- You can now remove your three fingers.
- The P6 pressure point is located where your thumb is, between the tendons. Apply gentle pressure to this spot for 2-3 minutes, moving your thumb in circles and applying firm but gentle pressure.
- Repeat these steps on your other wrist.
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7. Consider trying aromatherapy to help with motion sickness
Certain essential oils can help with nausea caused by seasickness. The most common oils recommended are peppermint, ginger, and lavender.
Although electric essential oil diffusers are prohibited by some cruise lines (Disney comes to mind as one that specifically doesn’t allow them), you can always carry around a small bottle to take whiffs as needed. Or consider buying an aromatherapy necklace you can refill with your favorite scent.
8. Take your vitamins
There are several vitamin supplements that might help reduce the symptoms of seasickness. Some preliminary studies have shown a correlation between low levels of serotonin in the brain and motion sickness.
Vitamin B-6 is often recommended to help with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, and it’s essential in the production of serotonin.
You’ll need to start taking supplements regularly at least a few weeks before your cruise to notice a difference. Of course, check with your doctor before adding any new vitamins or supplements to your routine.
Do you tend to get seasick on a cruise? What are your favorite seasickness remedies for cruises? I’d love to hear in the comments below!