Stormy Seas

How To Avoid Getting Seasick on a Cruise

Are you going on a cruise and looking to avoid getting seasick?

Seasickness is one of the major concerns for the first time cruisers. Modern ships are designed and equipped to handle rough seas, and passengers’ comfort is a high priority of every cruise line. Unfortunately, like airline turbulence, there are occasions when the ocean is rough, and the cruise ship rocks and rolls!  It is not the norm, and symptoms beyond seasickness symptoms on a cruise rarely go beyond a headache.

We have traveled through some very rough seas. Fortunately, we have never been seasick once.  One time we were cruising in South East Asia, between Vietnam and Thailand and the Captain told us we had no choice but to sail through a category two typhoon. The ocean was rough, and we were rocking quite a bit, but I have to admit I was okay. Rick got a nasty headache – and I did see a few people getting sick.

Rough Seas

Modern Cruise Ships are built to maximize passenger comfort in addition to being very stable even when the seas are rough. Keep in mind that cruise lines want you to be comfortable and enjoy it. For this reason, they do everything they can to avoid very rough conditions.

I have a good friend of mine that used to work on a cruise ship as a future cruise consultant, and he gave me some tips to mitigate the risk of getting seasick. Some of these can be done at the time of booking and before you board the ship, others that you can do while onboard.

Things You Can Do To Avoid Getting Seasick on a Cruise

Pick a cabin on a lower deck, midship.

Lower deck midship cabins move the least during rough conditions. Ideally, pick a balcony cabin, so in case you start feeling some nausea, you can go outside and get some fresh air.

Related: (Here are some tips on picking the right cruise ship cabin to avoid getting seasick)

Pick a “seasick friendly” Itinerary

Avoid itineraries with a lot of sea days. Alaska cruises are usually the perfect itinerary for people that have never cruised before. Most of the cruise is done in the inside passage, protected on either side by land, and the ocean is usually very calm.  Your ship is never too far from land.  Also, looking at the shore is a great way to avoid getting seasick on a cruise.

By contrast, itineraries that are notorious for seasickness include cruising the Drake Passage, the Tasman Sea, and off the coast of Vietnam.

Think Seasonality

To maximize the chances of getting calmer seas, avoid cruising at the beginning and the end of the season in each area. The best time to cruise is in the middle of the season. For example, for the Caribbean: avoid Early November or the beginning of April, in the Mediterranean avoid early May or late September. Usually, at the beginning or end of the season, the weather starts to become unpredictable, and the ocean might be rougher. On the same topic avoid hurricane season in the Caribbean or tropical storm season in Asia.

Alaska is an ideal itinerary for those looking to avoid seasickness
Cruising Glacier Bay

Avoid Itineraries With Lots of Sea Days

If you’re prone to seasickness, stick with a seven-day cruise max. This way if you get sick, it is only for a week.  Example: If you think you might be seasick, I would avoid a transatlantic cruise or a 15 day Hawaii cruise with five sea days in each direction. On our South America and Antarctica cruise, we had 5 sea days in a row and most of them in a rough sea with big waves. We obviously, do not recommend that cruise if you are prone to seasickness.

When you’re in port, go for long walks, this will also help mitigate the chances of getting sick.

Start Taking the Medication Early

If you’re seasick, have had symptoms in the past, or are only afraid of getting sick, start taking motion sickness medication the day before boarding.  Don’t wait until the symptoms begin as it might be too late.

Don’t Convince Yourself you’ll get Seasick on a Cruise!

Lastly, this might seem the silliest of all the tips, but it is essential: The vast majority of people that get seasick are the first-time cruisers. They are so afraid of getting seasick that they convince themselves and they get sick. So, go on a cruise and avoid worrying about getting seasick and you’ll likely be just fine in most sea conditions.

Things You Can Do if You Feel Seasick on a Cruise Ship

Use the Anti Seasick Patch

The seasick patch goes behind your ear works like this: put it on the night before boarding if you want to maximize the efficacy. If you don’t have patches with you, most cruise ships provide them at the front desk. Just go and ask.  *Note: The patch does have some drawbacks.  For example, it’s known to cause dry mouth.  Also, doctors warn not to use two; rather, just one as using more than one patch at a time can apparently cause cardiovascular issues.

Avoid Triggers that Might Make you Feel Seasick on a Cruise

If you feel some mild seasick symptoms onboard your cruise, avoid anything that will make it worse like reading, playing cards, looking at your phone or tablet. Avoid smells that might make your symptoms worse – i.e., the buffet. Move to the middle of the ship, avoid the theatre that is usually in the front. Also, move to a lower deck where the movement of the ship is less. Go outside and walk around the ship in the fresh air, take a long breath, and look at the horizon. Don’t drink too much alcohol, switch to herbal tea, ginger, or peppermint is best!

Get The Jab

The medical center (usually located on the lower decks of the cruise ship) provides a seasick remedy that they call “The Jab.” It is an injection that will make you sleep for a few hours and get rid of your seasickness. This remedy should be kept as a last resort for a few reasons: first, it is not cheap, and second, you will be sleeping for a long time missing out on your cruise.

Ginger Tea for Sea Sickness

Ginger is a fantastic natural remedy for motion sickness and can be found at the buffet on your cruise. You can also buy some candied ginger and keep it with you and eat it occasionally. Ginger ale works very well too, and it is available at every bar on the cruise ship. You can also ask any of the restaurants, and they will get you some pickled ginger – the one that is served with sushi. Or you can ask for sliced ginger and make a pure ginger tea with it and some lemon juice.

Ginger Tea - Helpful to prevent getting seasick on a cruise ship

Drink Ginger Ale

If ginger tea isn’t to your liking, try Ginger Ale instead.  It settles your stomach, and you can have it either with any meal or on its own.  Also, ginger ale is found on just about at any bar on the ship!

Try and Relax on Your Cruise

If you start feeling seasick, go outside, sit on a lounger, breathe some fresh air, and look at the horizon.  It’s a simple remedy but works well on a cruise for mild sickness.

a calm sea- most helpful to avoid getting seasick on a cruise

Cruise Ship Acupuncture

Try acupuncture: the acupuncturist on-board a cruise ship might be a little expensive, but their anti seasickness remedy really works and works fast.

Hang out in Bed, Rest or Watch a Movie and Relax the Seasickness Symptoms

A Bed on a Princess Cruise Ship

I’ve found that laying in bed and resting or watching a movie does wonders to help ward off even the most severe sea-sickness.  And what’s an extra couple of hours in bed if you’re on a cruise ship?  You can even order room service!

Acupressure Wrist Bands

Another remedy is the wrist bands. They work on a similar concept as acupuncture, only, they use pressure.  Acupressure wrist bands help you avoid getting seasick on your cruise by applying pressure on trigger points on the wrist. Some people find them very useful to avoid getting seasick on a cruise.  A word of caution, however.  You will need to wear the band on each wrist!

Picking the Right Food on the Cruise To Avoid Getting Seasick

For your meals, avoid soups and liquid food as they tend to aggravate the symptoms.  Solid food, especially starchy and dry food like bread, tend to make you feel better.  The exception would be ginger ale/tea.

Can you Still Get Seasick After Your Cruise?

While rare, Mal de Debarquement can occur after sustained movements, such as traveling on a cruise ship.  The symptoms are usually light, as though the person is shaky, or bobbing around – even though they are on land.  While there is no known cure, symptoms typically go away after a short period.  The official diagnosis is made by an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor.

I hope these simple tips will help you.

-Happy Cruising!

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