8 Ways To Avoid Getting Seasick on a Cruise

Seasickness is a motion sickness that happens while traveling through the sea on a boat or ship. Seasickness typically occurs when rough waters rock the vessel more than usual, causing passengers to feel nauseous, dizzy, have headaches, vomit, or be unwell.

Some people are prone to motion sickness and may experience it in the car, on planes, on amusement park rides, on trains, or on boats. However, anyone can experience seasickness when the conditions are rough enough.

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How To Avoid Seasickness on a Cruise

The last thing you want on a cruise is motion sickness that leaves you stuck in your cabin instead of making the most of all the food, drinks, and entertainment onboard.

If not prepared, seasickness can ruin a whole day or, in the worst cases – your entire trip. When it comes to seasickness, prevention is paramount. These are the five best ways to treat and avoid seasickness on a cruise.

Why You Get Motion Sickness

Motion sickness occurs when there is incongruency between the information sent to the brain from your eyes, inner ear, and sensory nerves. Your inner ear canal is responsible for maintaining your balance.

When there is a rocking motion, the fluid inside your ears will move around, indicating significant movement. However, when this information doesn't match up with the data your eyes receive (you can't visually see movement but can feel it), you start to feel sick.

It can be helpful to keep your eyes ahead when traveling in a car and avoid looking down at a book while a vehicle is moving. The same principle can be applied to cruise ships – try getting outdoors and paying attention to the horizon or land.

1. Medication

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There are many prescription medications specifically formulated to treat seasickness. While many different brands may vary by country, you can rely on these ingredients: promethazine, cyclizine, dimenhydrinate, and meclizine.

The most popular brands are Phenergan, Marezine, Dramamine, and Bonine. All four of these are taken orally and work best when taken preventatively. That means you should take it before the onset of symptoms take effect.

These medications effectively treat nausea by blocking certain chemicals responsible for activating the vomiting center in your brain. These medications are available over the counter, so you don't need a prescription to pick them up.

Different medications require taking them at different times. Most of these medications are advised to be taken 2 hours ahead of travel, while others can be taken 30 minutes ahead of travel.

Follow the medication's instructions, and don't mix any medication with alcohol. You may experience side effects like dry mouth and drowsiness, though some non-drowsy formulas are now available at drugstores.

2. Ginger Tablets

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While prescription medication may be most effective at immediately treating the symptoms of seasickness, it's not always ideal for all passengers. If you already take other medications or if you're drinking alcohol, then you don't want to mix prescription drugs with these.

In this case, it's helpful to try a more natural alternative. You can find seasickness tablets that don't contain any prescription drugs, such as natural ginger tablets. Ginger is available in many forms, including capsules, candies, ginger chews, spices, pickled ginger, or whole ginger root.

You should ensure you can tolerate the taste of ginger if you opt for chewable ginger tablets. Otherwise, they may make you feel sicker if you can't stand the taste. Instead, you can try capsules filled with ginger.

Ginger offers other benefits on top of reducing nausea and vomiting. It's also anti-inflammatory, doesn't interfere with other prescription medications or alcohol, and doesn't cause unwanted side effects like dry mouth and drowsiness.

You can often find ginger tablets marketed to treat seasickness in drugstores. Follow the directions to understand how many you can take per day. Ginger is an ancient medicine for nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach.

Though the mechanism by which ginger treats nausea in motion sickness is unknown, many studies have demonstrated that participants who took ginger were able to reduce their feelings of nausea.

3. Sea Bands

Another popular “natural” seasickness treatment is to try using motion sickness bands. The most popular brand is Sea-Bands, but others are sold under other name brands. They all work in the same way – through acupressure.

The bands contain a hard ball that you place on your wrist over a pressure point known as PC6 or nei guan. You can locate this pressure point by placing three fingers across your wrist and using your thumb to press directly below this point to feel two large tendons.

The ball of the band should be placed in the center of the lower wrist. They must be placed on the pressure point on both arms to work correctly.

Many swear by Sea Bands, while others insist they don't work. In my experience, Sea Bands did not work for my seasickness, but I did not put them on ahead of time. It may be worth trying since they're inexpensive, non-invasive, and last your entire trip.

4. Foods & Drinks for Nausea

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First and foremost, you want to ensure you're well-hydrated to prevent feelings of sickness and nausea. If you're not drinking enough water, consuming other medications or foods in the hopes of relieving your symptoms will only have negligible effects.

Another component of being hydrated that is often overlooked is making sure you're maintaining a proper balance of electrolytes. If you're running around, sweating, drinking alcohol, and eating a poor diet, you likely need more than just water.

Electrolyte tablets or drinks meant to replace lost electrolytes can help. It is vital if you have been vomiting. If you're feeling sick, you should limit your consumption of alcohol and stick to more bland foods that are low in acidity, spice, and grease until you feel better.

Foods like green apples, bananas, saltine crackers, and plain toast can help soothe an upset stomach and prevent nausea and vomiting. Ginger or chamomile tea can also calm an upset stomach.

5. Wear a Patch

A medicated patch containing scopolamine is placed behind your ear, steadily releasing active ingredients that ward off nausea and vomiting. While this is one of the most effective medications for seasickness, you will need a prescription.

Scopolamine blocks acetylcholine from affecting the nervous system by releasing scopolamine which binds to its receptors. It prevents acetylcholine from stimulating the Area Postrema (the brain's vomiting center).

It lasts three days, so you can put it on and forget about it. However, remember that this prescription medication is released into your body and causes side effects like dry mouth, drowsiness, and disorientation.

It would be best not to drink alcohol while wearing the patch. The patch is not recommended for children and may come loose if you frequently go swimming or showering. If it falls off, you will need to apply it again. The patch should be used preventatively, so you should put it on at least 4 hours before travel.

6. Breathing Exercises & Getting Fresh Air

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It might sound silly, and it's often difficult to get people to try it, but you can control feelings of nausea by manipulating your breathing. Try performing deep belly breaths by breathing in slowly through the nose, holding the breath for 3 seconds, and slowly exhaling through the mouth.

2015 study found that 86% of pregnant women struggling with nausea and vomiting found relief through meditation. Another 2015 study found that focusing on controlled breaths from the diaphragm decreased motion sickness symptoms thanks to the effects of breathing on the parasympathetic nervous system.

It would help if you also tried to get onto the outdoor deck for fresh air. While you're out there, try looking at the horizon rather than focusing on things inside the ship or in the water. Looking out can help your brain reconcile the conflict between your inner ear and visual perception.

7. Stay Low & in The Middle of The Ship


If you're worried about experiencing seasickness on your cruise, you'll want to choose a stateroom in the middle of the ship, ideally on a low deck. The center of the ship, logically, experiences the slightest movement compared to the front or back of the ship.

The lower decks also experience less movement since they're closer to the water than the top decks. If you're on level 14 and feel queasy, move lower and to the middle. Moving lower mitigates the rocking motion you will feel, which can make a big difference through the night.

If you are prone to developing motion sickness when you travel, it may be worth it to pay to choose your cabin to avoid being stuck at the extreme ends of the ship, where a rough day at sea will feel even more extreme.

8. Emergency Shot

As a last resort, if you have tried all of these methods to prevent and alleviate motion sickness, and to no avail, you are still nauseous or vomiting, then it's time to call the medical center. Every cruise ship has a fully staffed medical center stocked with emergency medication, including a shot that they give passengers experiencing severe bouts of seasickness.

The shot is expensive – typically over $100 for one shot and it will probably send you right to bed because of the intense drowsiness accompanying it. The shot contains an antihistamine and a sedative. However, it can be a lifesaver when you've been vomiting all night and nothing else is helping you.

Knowing this is an option can put you at ease, but it is not a preventative method. It is a treatment in urgent cases where other methods have not worked, and the passenger is extremely sick.

Final Thoughts on Seasickness

There's no need to work yourself up about seasickness before heading out on a cruise. While it can be stress and anxiety-inducing to think about the possibility of getting seasick on your cruise, anticipating it can often be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of thinking about getting sick on your cruise, prepare accordingly.

Pack all of the medicinal and food essentials, take medication ahead of time, tread carefully on alcohol and greasy food, and pay attention to how you feel. If the worst comes to the worst, there's always an emergency shot that can provide relief, so worry not, and enjoy your cruise!

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.