Many cruisers deal with the effects of seasickness. Dramamine and Bonine are popular remedies—here’s how to choose the right option for you.
If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you know that the excitement of embarking on an adventure at sea can quickly turn sour if you’re prone to seasickness. The rolling waves and motion of the ship can wreak havoc on your equilibrium, leaving you feeling nauseous and miserable.
Thankfully, there are several over-the-counter remedies available to help combat seasickness, with Dramamine and Bonine being two popular choices. I’ll compare the two and help you decide which option might be best for you.
Note: Information provided on this site is for educational and informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice.
What is seasickness?
What most people call seasickness—that queasy feeling you can get in rough seas (or even in calmer waters)—is actually motion sickness.
Motion sickness is a common condition that can occur when there’s a disconnect between what your eyes see and what your inner ear senses. It typically occurs during travel or when exposed to certain motion or visual stimuli, such as being in a moving car or on an airplane or cruise ship.
The inner ear plays a crucial role in maintaining balance and equilibrium. It contains tiny structures called semicircular canals that detect changes in motion and send signals to the brain. When you’re in motion, your inner ear senses the movement.
However, if your eyes are fixed on a stationary object like a book or your phone, your brain receives conflicting signals. This sensory mismatch between the visual and vestibular systems can lead to motion sickness.
A 2019 study published in the US National Library of Medicine claims that almost everyone experiences motion sickness at least once in their life and that “seasickness is the most common and notorious form of motion sickness.”
Common symptoms of seasickness
Seasickness can affect people differently. While some people might be more prone to motion sickness and experience severe symptoms, others could have minimal or no symptoms at all.
The most common symptoms of seasickness include:
- Nausea: Feeling queasy or having an urge to vomit
- Vomiting: Sometimes occurs in more severe cases
- Dizziness: Feeling lightheaded or off-balance
- Sweating: Experiencing increased perspiration without another cause
- Fatigue: Feeling tired or lethargic
- Pallor: Skin may look pale or feel clammy
- Headache: Some individuals may experience headaches or even migraines
If you’re a first-time cruiser, you might be surprised to find yourself suffering from seasickness. Many cruisers find their sea legs after a day or two, and the symptoms subside.
For passengers who continue to feel seasick, taking motion sickness medicine can make you feel like yourself again so you can enjoy your cruise.
Dramamine vs. Bonine: Which remedy should you choose for seasickness?
Two of the most popular OTC motion sickness medications are Dramamine and Bonine. The two formulas are a bit different, so it’s a good idea to compare the two before your cruise to find the best option for your needs.
Both medications contain antihistamines, which have been shown to be effective in preventing nausea caused by motion sickness.
Dramamine: The Classic Choice
Dramamine has been around for decades and has established itself as a go-to solution for motion sickness. The main active ingredient in Original Dramamine is dimenhydrinate, an antihistamine that helps reduce the symptoms of nausea, dizziness, and vomiting associated with motion sickness.
One of the advantages of Dramamine is its availability in different forms, including tablets, chewable tablets, and even a non-drowsy formula. This variety allows you to choose the option that best suits your needs.
The original formula, however, tends to cause drowsiness in many individuals, which can be a downside if you’re looking to enjoy your cruise without feeling sleepy.
Dramamine is often taken as a preventative measure, with recommended dosage instructions advising you to take it before boarding the ship. This can help you build up a baseline of the active ingredient in your system and potentially ward off symptoms before they even begin.
To prevent seasickness, you should take Dramamine Original Formula 30 minutes to an hour before boarding. With the original formula, it’s advised that adults take 1 or 2 pills every 4 to 6 hours following the first dose. You shouldn’t take more than eight tablets in a 24-hour period.
Bonine: The Non-Drowsy Alternative
If the drowsiness associated with Dramamine is a concern for you, Bonine might be a better choice. The active ingredient in Bonine is meclizine hydrochloride, another antihistamine that is specifically designed to target and alleviate symptoms of motion sickness.
Bonine is often touted as a non-drowsy alternative to Dramamine, making it a preferred option for cruisers who want to enjoy their cruise without feeling sleepy or lethargic. This is especially useful if you plan to participate in activities that require you to be alert, like at events around the ship or on shore excursions.
Similar to Dramamine, Bonine works best when taken as a preventative measure, typically about an hour before boarding the ship. By doing so, you can ensure that the active ingredient is in your system and ready to combat any motion sickness symptoms that may arise.
The dosage recommendation for Bonine is one or two chewable tablets per 24-hour period.
You should avoid consuming alcohol or operating heavy machinery (like driving a car) while taking either of these medications.
What are the side effects of Dramamine and Bonine?
While many people don’t experience any negative side effects when taking seasickness medication, the following are some of the most common side effects of both Bonine and Dramamine:
- Dry mouth, nose, or throat
Because Dramamine is stronger than Bonine, it is more likely to make you feel sleepy. If you’re concerned about this or other potential side effects, consult your doctor or pharmacist before beginning any medicine.
Who can take Dramamine and Bonine?
Bonine is advised only for people over the age of 12. However, children as young as two years old can take Dramamine.
People who have a history of breathing problems (like asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis), glaucoma, or an enlarged prostate shouldn’t take Bonine or Dramamine. The medications also aren’t recommended for those with impaired liver function, thyroid problems, or cardiovascular disease.
Both medicines are generally considered safe for pregnant women, but it’s advised to check with your doctor first.
Making the decision: Dramamine or Bonine
When it comes to choosing between Dramamine and Bonine, the decision ultimately depends on your personal preferences and how your body reacts to the medication. Here are some key considerations to help you make an informed choice:
- Drowsiness: If you’re concerned about feeling sleepy during your cruise, Bonine’s non-drowsy formula may be more suitable for you.
- Effectiveness: While both medications are designed to combat motion sickness, individuals may respond differently to each. It may be worth trying one and switching to the other if you don’t experience satisfactory results.
- Strength: Original Dramamine tends to be stronger than Bonine, making it a good choice if your symptoms are severe.
- Ease of use: Bonine is a chewable tablet, and you only need to take one or two doses per 24-hour period. Original Dramamine tablets must be swallowed whole and you’ll need to take another dose every four to six hours.
- Cost: Both Dramamine and Bonine are available at about the same price point per tablet. However, you need to take more Dramamine tablets over the course of the day, so Bonine is overall less expensive.
Ultimately, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before starting any medication, as they can provide personalized advice based on your medical history and current medications.
Additional tips for combating seasickness
In addition to taking seasickness medication, there are several other strategies you can use to help prevent or minimize seasickness symptoms during your cruise:
- Choose your cabin wisely: Opt for a midship cabin or one that is on a lower deck closer to the waterline, as these areas tend to experience less motion.
- Focus on the horizon: Fixing your gaze on a stable object, such as the horizon or a distant point, can help reorient your senses and alleviate nausea.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help prevent dehydration, which can worsen seasickness symptoms.
- Avoid heavy meals: Opt for light, easily digestible meals before and during the cruise. Heavy or greasy foods can exacerbate nausea.
- Try alternative remedies: Some cruisers swear by natural remedies like ginger candy or acupressure wristbands. Eating green apples or drinking ginger ale are other natural options. While the efficacy of these remedies may vary, they’re worth considering if you prefer a non-medicated approach.
By combining these strategies with the appropriate medication, you can increase your chances of enjoying a smooth and seasickness-free cruise experience.
Read more: How to Avoid Getting Seasick on a Cruise
Smooth sailing ahead
Seasickness should never stand in the way of enjoying a memorable cruise vacation. Whether you choose Dramamine or Bonine, both over the counter medications have proven track records in combating motion sickness and allowing passengers to enjoy their time at sea.
Remember to consult with a healthcare professional, weigh the pros and cons, and take the necessary precautions to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable cruise.
Do you get seasick when you cruise? If you’ve taken Dramamine or Bonine to prevent motion sickness, which do you prefer? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
More resources for your cruise
- How to Avoid Getting Sick on a Cruise
- The 10 Worst Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid
- How to Have the Best Embarkation Day on a Cruise
- The 19 Best Cruise Accessories You Need to Pack
- How to Save Money on a Cruise: 22+ Tips and Tricks
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