How to Prevent Seasickness on a Cruise

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Fear of seasickness is one of the main reasons people are scared to go on a cruise.  And I don’t blame them.  Being nauseated and/or throwing up is definitely one of the most miserable feelings imaginable.  However, it doesn’t need to be a problem.  Many people enjoy their cruises completely FREE of seasickness and you may be one of them.

Contrary to popular believe seasickness is not inevitable for most people on a normal cruise.  Based on my unofficial research, I would estimate that only maybe 20% of the population is susceptible to seasickness.  I fully expected to struggle with it on our first cruise.  I get nauseated on a kid’s swing, or any kind of a spinning ride like the Mad Teacups, but on cruises, I actually find the ship’s motion quite pleasant.  Go figure!

But unfortunately, it’s one of those things that you don’t actually know until you try it.  So, you want to go in expecting the BEST, but fully prepared for the WORST.  There are actually a LOT of different things you can do.  Here’s a very simple one – adjust your attitude.  Don’t dread the motion of the ship – expect it and plan to enjoy it.  Mind over matter and if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!

I can guarantee you – the ship WILL move – every ship does, large or small.  It isn’t overwhelming or unpleasant, unless you choose to see it that way, but you WILL feel it.  So, go with it and plan to consider it a pleasant and relaxing feeling.  Me, I love nothing better than the gentle motion of the ship rocking me to sleep.  Some nights when I can’t sleep, I remember that feeling and I drop right off.

Various remedies for seasickness
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Simple Things to Avoid Seasickness

Here are a few very simple, common-sense things you can do to minimize your chance of illness.

–  Keep hydrated – This means WATER, not just soda and alcoholic drinks.  I tend to get dehydrated on cruises because I’m so busy, so I have a case of water delivered to my stateroom on the first day of the cruise.  Then I’ll remember to drink it more often.

–  Get enough sleep.  You’re on vacation.  Take a nap if you can, or at least try to sleep in a bit.

–  Try to stay facing the front or back of ship rather than the sides.

–  The central area of the ship typically has less motion, consider avoiding the entertainment areas at the extreme front or back of the ship.

–  Don’t watch the motion of the water, especially when eating.  Ask for a seat not facing a window at meals.  The crew will be happy to accommodate your request.

–  Avoid reading or staring at a computer screen when you can see the horizon behind it.

Planning Your Cruise – Think Ahead

–  Pick a larger ship – they are heavier and have better stabilizers.  We went on a pirate ship excursion in Mazatlan.  It was soooo much fun, but that little ship would sway back and forth about two feet every few seconds.  I kind of enjoyed it, but it was definitely a huge difference from our large cruise ship.  Take that into account when planning your excursions.

–  Review the route of your destination to see if it goes through rougher waters.  The Gulf of Mexico has a good reputation for smoothness.

–  Pick the best season for calm seas – typically Summer or Fall.  Hurricane season hits around the end of the year and early in the year.  Not recommended for the tender stomach.

–  Choose your cabin carefully.  Mid-ship on a lower deck seems to be the best choice and definitely make sure your bed is facing the front or back of the ship rather than the sides.  Ships tend to roll slightly from side to side rather than back to front.


–  These Ginger candies or gum are a recommended remedy.  I would bring a bag on board with you just in case – they are expensive in the gift shop.

–  Green apples are known to help with nausea

–  Cruise ships are accustomed to dealing with seasick passengers, so don’t hesitate to request any of the typical foods you prefer when you’re feeling ill.  Tea, toast, rice, Sprite, bananas, crackers, all can be brought directly to your cabin.  The pursers desk typically keeps a supply of seasickness pills handy if you ask them.

–  Be very cautious about the foods you consume while ashore.  Other countries have very different ideas about food cleanliness and purity.  And don’t even THINK about drinking foreign water or ice.  You are usually fine in a larger establishment with a good reputation, but some of the little hole in the wall places, be very cautious.  And watch some of the too-rich shipboard foods as well.

Medications and Remedies for Seasickness

Visits to the onboard clinic are extremely expensive, so I strongly suggest you bring along a kit of your own preferred remedies on board with you.  Not just for motion sickness, but any kind of tummy trouble from exotic or rich food, foreign water, etc.  Here are some links to help you build your own anti-seasickness kit:

–  These motion sickness patches are considered to be very effective.  I just bought a pack for our upcoming Aruba Cruise.

–  The Reliefband 1.5 is an expensive choice, but it’s said to be very effective.  It’s also said to be very good for morning sickness and chemo-related nausea, so it might be worth the investment.

–  Dramamine does cause drowsiness.  In my case it was a nearly catatonic “drowsiness” so I avoid it completely.  However, I did find a less drowsy version.  I prefer Bonine, although I did find myself still feeling a bit dizzy days later, so I’d try the bands and the patches first and save these for any really persistent nausea.  These are all available on the ship, but plan to pay about a 40% premium price for them.  Be smart – bring them with you.

–  Acupressure wristbands.  I haven’t tried these myself, since I haven’t been sick, but I see tons of people on ships wearing them, so they are a popular choice, and they certainly seem like a useful tool.  I think the trick is to either put them on BEFORE you even get on the ship, or at the very first sign of queasiness.  Don’t wait until you’re already green around the gills.

Various remedies for seasickness

Other posts you might enjoy:

5 Tips for Cruising for Chubby People

Tips for Cruising with a CPAP Machine

7 Must-Have Items for a Great Cruise Experience

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