Seasickness, or motion sickness at sea, is a highly discussed topic among hopeful cruisers, first time cruisers and seasoned sailors alike. This is mainly due to the fact that it affects each individual differently. It’s something people worry about, but the issue can be mitigated for most travelers with a few simple tips.
What is Seasickness?
Seasickness is a battle between your eyes and inner ear. The brain relies on messages from your eyes, inner ear and muscles to determine how the body is moving. When one is off, or sending different messages, you can become nauseous or queasy. Usually this happens within 48 hours at sea while acquiring your "sea legs".
When the ship begins to move you can get those sea legs working by spending as much time as possible outside on deck. Use the horizon as a point to maintain your equilibrium. Your senses will be happy – visual input will agree with inner ear.
How to prevent and treat seasickness prior to sailing
- Pick a larger ship: How much you feel the ocean’s movement will depend on the type of ship you’re sailing. The smaller the ship, the more movement you’ll feel. Keep in mind that no one can predict 100% how smooth sailing the ocean will be.
- Pick the right cabin: Book your Oceanview or Balcony stateroom near the middle of the ship in one of the lower decks. Many modern ships of today have a great stabilizer that comes out under the water that keeps the ship from rocking back and forth. Being able to see out will help you get your bearings.
- Select the right itinerary: If you think you’ll be plagued by seasickness, pick an itinerary with a lot of ports of call and less sailing. This will give you an idea of how cruising will affect you and give you plenty of time on land to recover.
- Prepare for embarkation day: Avoid alcohol, eat right and spend as much time on deck as possible when the ship begins to move. Stare at the horizon to help get your sea legs.
How to cure seasickness onboard
- Staying hydrated during your cruise is vital, as dehydration can make you feel more seasick.
- Avoid alcohol, as alcohol can increase dehydration and make it worse.
Natural remedies: You can seek out natural remedies in either natural form, liquid form or candied.
Over the counter medications that many cruisers pack: The key with these drugs is to take the first pill about an hour before the ship even starts moving.:
- Antihistamine, meclizine. Not all antihistamines reduce the symptoms of motion sickness so if you pack one, be sure it will work for this purpose. Talk with your doctor to pick the best option for you and your family.
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine) also works for some people.
- Dramamine (dimenhydrinate), an antiemetic, is another drug that can be used.
- Adults who know they have a severe propensity for seasickness can talk with their doctor about scopolamine. It can be prescribed as a transdermal patch that you affix behind your ear, and it stays there for three days. You can put on a second patch on Day 4 if needed. (The patch isn’t right for kids.)
- Ship Doctor: If you get very sick, make an appointment with the ship’s doctor who may give you any of the above drugs or promethazine (a combined antihistamine and antiemetic) or ephedrine.