How To Prevent Seasickness on a Cruise – 9 Easy Tips

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how to prevent seasickness on a cruise ship

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If you are prone to motion sickness, you might wonder how to prevent seasickness on a cruise ship. Symptoms such as nausea, cramps, tiredness, and headaches can be a downer on your cruise vacation.

Don’t worry!

With some preparation and knowledge, you can significantly reduce your chances of experiencing motion sickness and fully enjoy your time onboard.

You can treat and avoid getting seasick on a cruise with over-the-counter medication, natural remedies, fresh air, and selecting the right cabin and itinerary.

Adjusting to the movements of a cruise ship may take some time, but the good news is, for most passengers, these symptoms usually subside once you get your “sea legs” and your equilibrium returns. Whether you’re prone to seasickness or preparing for a cruise, here’s what you need to know to prevent seasickness on your next cruise.

What Causes Seasickness on Cruise Ships?

Woman looking over balcony on a cruise shipPin

Seasickness, also known as motion sickness or “mal de mer,” occurs when your body’s balance system, specifically the inner ear, conflicts with the erratic motion of a cruise ship. (Source)

Your inner ear detects up-and-down and side-to-side acceleration changes as you move along with the vessel. When the vessel’s movement and your vision don’t align, your brain receives mixed signals making you feel sick with symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, lack of energy, and loss of appetite. 

Symptoms of seasickness generally occur in the first 24 to 48 hours after setting sail. Once your body acclimates to the motion and you get your “sea legs,” the symptoms usually dissipate.

The susceptibility to seasickness varies by individual, but if you’ve ever felt motion sickness when traveling in a car, plane, or on an amusement park ride, you may be more susceptible to seasickness on a boat.

If you are prone to these symptoms, preparing before embarking on the cruise is good. Over-the-counter medications like Dramamine, Meclizine (also known as Bonine), or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can help prevent or alleviate seasickness.

You can also visit the onboard medical clinic to treat seasickness.

What Are the Symptoms of Seasickness on a Cruise?

Nausea is the most common symptom you’ll encounter when experiencing seasickness. You might feel queasy as the boat rocks back and forth, up and down. In more severe cases, it could even lead to vomiting.

Dizziness often accompanies nausea and is another common sign of seasickness. As your inner ear struggles to make sense of the motion, dizziness escalates, making you feel lightheaded or off-balance.

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite. 

You might also experience tiredness or headaches as your body adjusts to the ship’s motion. These symptoms might make you feel unwell and hinder your ability to enjoy your cruise vacation fully.

Symptoms of seasickness on a cruise include:

How to Prevent Seasickness on a Cruise

The best way to remedy the unpleasant effects of motion sickness on a cruise is to prevent seasickness from the beginning.

The seasickness remedies below work to prevent and treat symptoms of motion sickness. Whether it’s your first or tenth cruise, even seasoned cruisers can experience motion sickness.

Here are nine easy ways to prevent seasickness on a cruise.

Pack Your Medicine

how to prevent seasickness on a cruise shipPin

Many over-the-counter or doctor-prescribed motion sickness medications and seasickness patches help alleviate seasickness symptoms. Pack your medicine if it’s your first cruise or you’re prone to motion sickness.

Over-the-counter medications like Dramamine, Meclizine (also known as Bonine), or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can help with seasickness prevention.

Don’t panic if you forget to pack your seasickness medications.

Visit the guest services desk, and they will be able to find you a patch or tablet to help you combat seasickness.

If you need a more potent remedy, you can also visit the ship’s doctor, who can prescribe motion sickness pills to combat the symptoms of motion sickness.

Tip: Pack essentials like motion sickness medication in your carry-on bag or purse. When you first board the ship, it might be several hours before you receive your luggage.

Natural Remedies

If you prefer to avoid medication, several natural remedies are available to minimize seasickness.

Ginger is easy to keep on hand when you are on a cruise. You can find ginger in various forms, including powder, pill, candy, and tea. (Source)

Sucking on a peppermint candy or smelling peppermint oil has also been shown to combat seasickness.

Healthline says Chamomile tea can help if you get seasick on a cruise.

Book the Best Cabin to Avoid Seasickness

Choosing the right stateroom location can make all the difference. Opt for a cabin on the lower decks in the middle of the ship. The lower decks are closer to the vessel’s center of gravity, minimizing the amount of motion you’ll feel.

Booking a cabin with a window or balcony provides a direct view of the horizon, helping you maintain balance.

A balcony cabin is best because of the fresh air and view of the horizon.

If the lower levels are booked, stick to cabins near the ship’s middle on a higher deck to minimize motion sickness.

Avoid booking staterooms near the front or back of the vessel—the bow and aft experience lots of movement from the ship bouncing over the waves.

Get Fresh Air

A loving couple enjoying a cruise ship vacation from their balcony cabin overlooking the ocean horizon at sunsetPin

If you start feeling seasick, don’t confine yourself to your cabin. Step out onto the deck, find an open window, and take in some fresh air.

Fresh air can do a world of good to combat seasickness. The fresh air reduces uncomfortable sweating and helps calm your nerves.

Head to the pool deck or onto the balcony if you’ve booked balcony accommodations.

Pick a Big Cruise Ship

Oasis of the Seas docked beside Serenade of the Seas at Cozumel MexicoPin

One helpful trick to combat seasickness is to keep your eyes on the horizon. This visual cue can help your brain and body better understand the ship’s movements, reducing the sensation of motion sickness.

The feeling of seasickness on a cruise is primarily a result of the ship’s movement. Larger ships don’t rock as much as smaller ships.

Modern cruise ships, particularly larger ones, have advanced stabilizers, significantly reducing motion. When selecting a cruise, consider opting for a more prominent, modern ship that may provide a smoother ride.

If you are worried about seasickness, stick with the newer and bigger ships, such as Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class or Carnival’s Excel class.

Remember that even when you sail on the world’s largest cruise ships, you’ll still feel some rocking. But it will be more manageable than sailing on a smaller vessel.

Choose Your Destination Wisely

Photo of a glacier taken from Celebrity cruise ship in AlaskaPin

If you know you are susceptible to seasickness, avoid voyages that spend much time sailing in open water. For calm sailing, you will want to stick with cruise itineraries in the Mediterranean or Caribbean (especially ones that depart from San Juan, Puerto Rico).

Some destinations are more prone to rough waters, particularly during hurricane season. Research your destination beforehand, and avoid areas with a high likelihood of rough seas during your voyage.

You will want to avoid cruise destinations known for rough seas and bad weather, such as Alaskan cruises. Although Bahamas and Caribbean cruises have relatively calm waters, you’ll want to avoid taking a cruise vacation during hurricane season.

Although cruise lines avoid hurricanes and bad weather, the waves will be choppier.

In addition, you will want to avoid any cruise itinerary with back-to-back sea days. Back-to-back sea days usually indicate that the ship will sail through open seas for an extended time, prone to more giant waves.

Watch the Horizon

It initially sounds counterintuitive, but it helps to focus your eyes far out into the distance. Seasickness is caused by confusion in your body’s senses, and focusing on the horizon can help your body re-adjust and get back in sync.

Remember to Eat

If you’re feeling seasick, you’ll want to avoid alcohol and greasy or acidic foods. Consuming alcohol can increase dehydration and exacerbate the symptoms of motion symptoms.

While skipping meals when feeling seasick might be tempting, maintaining a consistent eating schedule is essential. Eating regular, light meals will help settle your stomach and help ward off an upset stomach caused by seasickness.

It’s essential to eat, even when you don’t feel well. An empty stomach can make the symptoms worse.

Ensure you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.

Try Acupressure and Acupuncture

If you’re open to alternative treatments, consider trying acupressure wristbands or even acupuncture treatments onboard the ship to help alleviate seasickness symptoms. These methods can be an effective, non-medicinal option for those seeking relief. (Source)

Wearing a device like an acupressure wristband around your wrist is another natural way to prevent seasickness.

We highly recommend the popular Sea-Band(Amazon) if you’re looking for a natural way to reduce or avoid motion sickness. My cousin used to get seasick on every cruise until we found these wristbands.

Article by

Marcello De Lio

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