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How to avoid cruise motion sickness


For a lot of people, the most worrisome part about going on a cruise is the thought of getting seasick, and it is a valid concern! Why would you want to feel ill during your vacation? 

The good news is that there are ways you can prevent yourself from feeling seasick during your cruise, and it is actually not as common as you may think! 

Even if you are not prone to feeling motion sickness, it is smart to think ahead, as you never know when you will encounter unfavorable sea conditions. 

Here are some of the best ways to both avoid and relieve motion sickness, so you can have the best cruise vacation. 

What causes seasickness? 


When you start to feel seasick, it is because there is a conflict between the your eyes, the motion of the ship, and your inner ear, where is where the vestibular system is located. 

This system helps create a sense of balance and spatial orientation through sending information to your brain regarding balance, motion, and the location of your head and body in relation to your surroundings. In other words, what you see if different from what your inner ear senses, and this causes you to feel nauseous and dizzy. 

What are the symptoms of seasickness?

Those who experience seasickness may feel a range of mild to severe symptoms, including dizziness, fatigue, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweats. 

Thankfully, modern cruise ships are built with stabilizers that help to curb the effects of the ocean's movement onboard the ship. The newer the ship, the more advanced that technology will be.

Pack the right medication


High up on your packing list should medication that treats motion sickness. Dramamine and Bonine are both popular choices, with the latter's base being meclizine hydrochloride, a synthetic antihistamine that causes less drowsiness than Dramamine.

Today, though, Dramamine has released non-drowsy versions of their product, and both brands have developed natural products that use ginger. 

If you happen to forget medication, you can speak with Guest Services or visit the onboard medical center. It is better, however, to come prepared! 

Read more: Bonine vs. Dramamine for Motion Sickness: Which Is Better for a Cruise?

Make sure you are well rested before the cruise


You will want to get a good night's rest the night prior to your cruise, as exhaustion can worsen the effects of motion sickness and make you more susceptible to feeling ill!  

If you are flying, this is another good reason to arrive the day before the cruise begins. While it is just good practice so you do not miss the ship, you will be able to sleep a little bit later and not worry about missing a flight or connection. 

Read more: The 13 best cruise tips the pros use all the time

Choose the right stateroom

MSC ocean view cabin

While it might cost a little bit extra, if you are concerned about feeling seasick you should choose a cabin that is located in the middle of the ship, or midship. 

Since cruise ships sway and move from side to side while sailing, a cabin in the middle of the ship acts as an "equilibrium" point. Additionally, the cabin should be located on a lower deck, as they tend to feel less movement than higher decks. 

Walk outside


It might seem counteractive, but if you begin to feel ill, walk outside and look out at the horizon. The combination will help to negate any seasickness symptoms that you are feeling, as it will help you get a sense of balance. 

Avoid sitting backwards or sideways


Sitting in the opposite direction as the ship's movement can confuse your body. If you can, try and find a seat that is facing forward, as sitting in the same direction can help alleviate feelings of seasickness. 

Get an acupressure band


Another common and natural remedy to combat seasickness is wearing an acupressure band. The wristbands work by applying pressure to to P-6 pressure point on your wrist, which is known to reduce the feeling of nausea. 

Plus, they are rather inexpensive and can be purchased for less than $15 from Amazon. 

Stay hydrated and be cautious of your alcohol intake

Bottled Water

You are on vacation, so it makes sense that you might want to splurge on a drink package and indulge in a few more alcoholic beverages than usual. However, it is important to stay hydrated. This means that you will want to limit your alcoholic and caffeinated beverage intake. 

Staying hydrated will also help with any digestion issues that may arise while onboard because, let's face it, not all of us are used to eating three course dinners every single night and snacking on unlimited soft serve. 

Read more: Unpleasant cruise ship problems you aren't prepared for

Eat apples and drink ginger ale or peppermint tea


6-gingerol, an active compound found in ginger, helps with curbing the effects of motion sickness. This makes ginger one of the best natural remedies for seasickness, so you might want to pack some ginger tea bags, candies, or supplements. Alternatively, you can order a ginger ale. Note, though, that you may have to pay extra for it, as most mainstream cruise lines do not include soda products in their base fare. 

If you like tea more than soda, you will appreciate the benefits of peppermint tea, as it has antibacterial properties that aid in reducing nausea. Peppermint tea also helps ease stomach cramps, as it relaxes stomach muscles. 

Finally, snacking on green apples can help settle your stomach, too; they contain pectin, a type of fiber found in the cell walls. It might be a good idea to grab a few green apples from the buffet or any other eatery onboard to keep in your stateroom in case you start to feel ill in the middle of the night!

Book a cruise with a port intensive itinerary 


If the ship is docked and you are off exploring in port, you will not have to worry about feeling the ship rock! There are some cruises that only have one day at sea. Sometimes, you might be able to find one that does not have any. 

Not only will you spend less time on the ship, but you will be able to cross off more destinations from your bucket list!

You should also take note of the bodies of water that are prone to strong currents and winds, such as the Bay of Biscay and Gulf of Alaska. Even the Caribbean can be subject to unfavorable weather, especially during the latter portion of hurricane season. 

Look into getting a scopolamine patch


Scopolamine patches require a prescription from a medical professional; however, one patch lasts for up to three days. It is placed behind your ear around eight hours before you need the medication to work. Unlike some of the above remedies, scopolamine is more of a preventative measure. 

Do not forget to eat


If you are feeling under the weather due to motion sickness, you may not have much of an appetite. That, however, does not mean that you should skip out on meals. If you cannot stomach anything large or heavy, try snacking on crackers, bread, soup, bananas, or any other plain food.

You should also avoid anything that causes you to get an upset stomach, such as greasy, fatty, or spicy foods. They will not help you feel better any faster! Taking it easy at the buffet one day means that you will be able to get back to enjoying your cruise vacation sooner. 

Avoid books and screens


So you picked up the perfect beach read before your cruise but have started to feel seasick. Unfortunately, reading can often increase the effects of motion sickness, regardless of whether it is on a phone, e-book, or handheld copy. 

If, however, you really want to catch up on your reading, make sure that you keep your line of sight towards the book and do not look downwards. 

Why am I still dizzy after a cruise?

Carnival cruise ship sailing from Miami

Just like it took you some time to get your sea legs, your body may need time to adjust to being back on land. Do not worry if you feel like you are moving when you get off of a cruise ship--it is normal!

If it has been a couple of days and you are not feeling any better or your symptoms are interfering with your day-to-day life, you should go see a medical professional, as you might be suffering from a condition called mal de debarquement syndrome. 

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