How to Prevent Seasickness on a Cruise

prevent seasickness
Darkening sky often means one thing for seasickness-prone cruisers: Nausea ahead. - Photo by Thinkstock

Few things can make your cruise grind to a halt like getting seasick. If you’ve ever been one of the unlucky ones who regularly experience seasickness, you know what we’re talking about. And if you’ve never sailed before, the thought of getting sick on a cruise is most likely in the back of your mind.

While you may hear a lot of horror stories about the norovirus on cruise ships, you’re much more likely to encounter a bout of motion sickness. Thankfully, there are several effective methods of seasick prevention that will keep you from experiencing motion sickness, and a few others that will help you combat the symptoms if you’re already feeling nauseous. Here are the best ways to not let rough seas and seasickness ruin your dream cruise vacation.

 

How to Avoid Seasickness on Your Cruise

1. Choose a ship with fin stabilizers.

cruise ship sea sick seasickness stabilizers

You won't see the stabilizers, but you'll feel (won't feel?) the effects. - Photo by Wikipedia Commons

These large, underwater “wings” on the left and right of the ship help keep it straight and upright. The newer the ship, the more advanced the stabilizers, which will keep the vessel steady in rougher conditions. Most ships have two stabilizers, but larger ships like Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-Class ships have 4 - two on each side.

How this technology works is truly fascinating. Marineinsight.com provides detailed information on how these stabilization systems work and the different types.

If you don’t know if they’re making that big of a difference or not, just check out this video of what it looks like when a ship turns the stabilizers off:  

2. Select your itinerary carefully.

itinerary seasickness sea sick nausea cruise

Some itineraries are rough year round, while others are only choppy at certain times. - Photo by Thinkstock

Though storms and high winds can occur anywhere and at any time, certain regions are known for particularly increase the risk of seasickness for passengers. If you’re highly prone to getting motion sickness, try to avoid rough seas on your cruise. Booking cruises like ocean crossings, Mediterranean sailings during fall and winter, or the Caribbean during hurricane season (June through November), means you’re practically asking to get sick.

If you’re going to cruise one of these types of sailings, make sure you’re fully prepared to combat these high-risk conditions for motion sickness. Everydayhealth.com provides some helpful tips such as:

  • Be well rested before sailing.
  • Get plenty of fresh air.
  • Eat, but light foods. Saltines, bread, pretzels. Ginger is also helpful. Heavy and greasy foods can enhance symptoms and risk.
  • Wear an acupressure wristband.

3. Know which cabins are more likely to make you seasick.

best cruise cabin seasick sea sick

We've circled the sweet spot for cabins. - Photo by Alexander Cher

Choosing a cabin on a cruise is one of the most important decisions you will have to make. Choosing for luxury and space is very important. But the location of your cabin is also crucial for seasickness prevention.

Passengers in bow cabins — at or near the front of the ship —and staterooms in the highest decks will feel the most motion and the worst location for cruisers who regularly get seasick. If you’re worried about getting sick, looking into midship cabins. These cabins are least motion-sensitive. It’s important to note, that these cabins are usually the first to be sold out, so you have to hurry.

4. Pack seasickness medication.

transderm scop sea sick seasickness cruise

Transderm Scop is worth going to your doctor for a prescription. - Photo by Transderm Scop

There are several types of medications for seasickness. You can find a pull list from Webmd.com.

Effective medications for most which don’t need a prescription include: Acupressure wristbands. The bands focus on the pressure point that is clinically proven to relieve nausea. The good part is they are reusable. Antihistamines, such as Dramamine. But, the most effective and long-lasting anti-seasickness drug is Transderm Scōp, A small prescription patch applied behind the ear. Best of all, it’s less likely to make you drowsy than over-the-counter medications, and more likely to work than homeopathic options.

5. Act quickly.

cruise ship seasick seasickness act fast

Spring into action the second you see dark clouds on the horizon. - Photo by Bryan Busovicki

Preventing seasickness once you’re already on the ship is all about paying attention. In fact, the first symptom can be as harmless as yawning. If winds are picking up and you start to notice heavier rocking, you can follow these easy steps:

  1. Take your choice of seasickness prevention medication.
  2. Move to a less motion-sensitive area of the ship.

Acting quickly before encountering rough waters and a storm can go along way into keeping yourself healthy.

Join The Discussion

What has worked best for you for alleviating seasickness?

14 Comments

Posted by ScubaBadger

You could of for a very handy app you can have with you full time and not worry about drugs.. Look up a product called nevasic - it's been clinically trialled by Westminster College of Medicine - their results published in the Journal of Travel Medicine.

Posted by Wyn

Over the counter Bonine is great, just take it midmorning before you cruise. It's chewable and doesn't make you as drowsy as the other meds. Try to get a midship cabin and spend most of your day hours on the pool deck when the ship is at sea. You can also bring ginger candy or some crystalized ginger with you. Ginger ale doesn't really work as there is practically no ginger in it. If you can find ginger tea ( health food stores, Whole Foods) bring it along and have that each morning. It is also good for an upset stomach.

Posted by LinD

Is it possible that you can get some meds from the ship, sometime I might forget to take my own.

Posted by TaraBonVoyage

The Transderm Scōp works wonders. The only downside was that I had blurred vision for 48 hours after I had taken it off. I thought I needed glasses!

Posted by CruiselineQ

I've found having some ginger helps. But not exactly easy to walk around with raw ginger!

Posted by CrusinTim

I disagree with the circle pic (#3) showing cabins least likely to get you sick. In my opinion, midship or lower afford you the least chance of getting seasick. I explain to new cruisers that when choosing a cabin for the least movement, imagine an upside down bell. The lower you go, the least movement. Also keep in mind that there is a good reason why cruise ships feed you from the time you board and throughout. The more solid food you have in your stomach as opposed to liquid, the least likely you will get sick. Even though the seas seem to be calm, there is some movement and your stomach with lots of fluids swishing around is the first thing you will feel (seasickness).

Posted by sonnyt

Most ships stock seasickness pills either at Guest Services or in the guest medical area. Ask at guest services first. They generally give them out for free.

Posted by sonnyt

Also, there are ginger pills and ginger gum for easy access to ginger.

Posted by ScottNWDW

On my very first cruise on the Carnival Holiday (11-16-85) we left Miami and Hurricane Kate changed directions and started sailing towards us. We sailed into the outer bands until we passed Cuba and sailed between the Dominican Republic and Cuba to calmer waters. Everyone was confined to the ship interiors on the second day of the cruise. The cruise director said to avoid seasickness was to keep your stomach full and keep eating, hence the reason for so much food on a cruise. Worked for me ever since! Some of my cruise companions did not eat as much and they got sick, I did not.

Posted by Test2

Test's

Posted by prityinbrown

First cruise ever in 2017. 10 day Caribbean, Panama Canal and Central America Nov/Dec. I get sea sick on amusement park rides but I took no sea sick meds with me but I did have a 10 day supply of Ginger Crystals in Packets. We ran into 2.5 days of rough seas that made veteran cruisers incapacitated and that had their bands, Dramamine and bonnier tabs. I found myself passing out my Crystals as I didn't need them. I found the rocking of the ship very soothing and couldn't figure out why I wasn't like those in my group, turning green and the "elite" cruisers throwing up my guts. I'm a user of Essential Oils and I had taken along with me my go to oils, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Peppermint and Lavender. I also had a mini portable usb/battery operated travel diffuser (a non-heating diffuser). I put a couple drops each of Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Lavender on the disposable cotton pad to keep my room smelling fresh and to help me fall off to sleep... don't know if that did the trick. But one thing I've been doing for years is apply Tea Tree (Face, neck, bottom of feet) and Peppermint (bottom of feet) straight with no carrier oils. I'm not sure if the application of peppermint to the soles of my feet did the trick as our feet are part of what our body uses to balance itself, besides brain and inner ears. My 2nd cruise, single and solo, will be 49 days around South America. I'm keeping the same routine but bringing more ginger crystals and possibly ginger essential oils to apply behind my ears if I get into trouble.

Posted by Beveridges

Thanks everyone. Prityinbrown, thanks for the essential oil tips. I love mine and now I know which ones to bring. A diffuser such a great idea. I have a car size. Now on the list to bring. :)

Posted by BooksNCruises

Green apples are an old sailors remedy for seasickness. It was suggested by a crew member and works like a charm. Now we always keep a couple in our cabin just in case. Granny Smith apples 🍏 are yummy anyway.

Posted by 36years

I find Bonine best, but it's important to realize that no matter what medication you choose, it should be either worn or ingested starting the day prior to sailing and continued through the day after the ship returns. Your mother was correct when you felt ill in the back seat and she told you to roll the window down. Getting wind in your face is invaluable. I believe any cabin from just forward of the mid-ship elevator all the way back to the stern are the steadiest cabins on any cruise ship. There is a reason so many suites are on the fantail as well as the highest priced balconies. Cabin pricing, in reality, is based on the most comfortable area of any ship as well as the best view. In my opinion NCL's Havens, that are located, for the most part, in the bow are very poorly located for the price.

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