Seasickness on Cruises: How to Avoid It

If you’re planning your first cruise, you’re probably dreaming about the pool-side days, incredible eats, and breathtaking sights that await you.

But you also might be a little nervous, especially if motion sickness is something you struggle with when you travel.

What is Seasickness?

On a boat, motion sickness is commonly referred to as seasickness. Seasickness can happen when your brain gets confused about your body’s position in the space around you.

For example, when you’re in your cabin, your eyes see a stable floor and unmoving furniture. But your muscles, joints, and the motion-sensing organs in your inner ear sense the subtle shifting of the ship on the water. And before you know it, you may lose your sense of equilibrium and start to feel sick.

The symptoms of seasickness can include nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and sweating.

How Likely am I to get Seasick on a Cruise?

About 1 in 4 people are prone to motion sickness. But while seasickness on cruises can happen, it’s no reason not to take the cruise vacation of your dreams.

The size of most cruise ships means the sensation of movement you might feel is much less than what you’d experience on a little dinghy in the same waters. And cruise ships are designed with stabilizers to minimize side-to-side rocking, helping stave off seasickness for many travelers.

Plus, modern-day advanced weather forecasting technologies allow cruise ships to stay well out of the kind of rough waters that commonly cause seasickness.

It’s still possible to develop a bit of seasickness on cruises. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid it. At CloudBlue Travel, our cruise experts have all the tips on cruising, including how to stay feeling like a million bucks for every memory-making moment of your trip.

From taking medicine for seasickness and staying hydrated to choosing the right ship and cabin, here’s our guide to staying seasick-free on the cruise of your dreams.

How to Avoid Getting Seasick on a Cruise

1. Take Motion Sickness Medication

Even if you’ve got a stomach of steel and have never had a problem with motion sickness before, it’s never a bad idea to pack some motion sickness medicine, just in case — you never know if you or someone you’re traveling with might get hit with a bit of seasickness.

Antiemetic medicine for seasickness is readily available over-the-counter at most drugstores or grocery stores. These include brand names such as Bonine or Dramamine.

If you’re particularly sensitive to motion sickness or seasickness, you can see your doctor about getting a prescription for a stronger medication, like scopolamine.

Children ages 2 to 12 years old are particularly susceptible to motion sickness, so if you’re planning to cruise with children, be sure to pack kid-approved medication, such as Dramamine for Kids. For the teens in your family, regular Dramamine will do the trick.

If you prefer more natural remedies, you can try ginger chews. These natural candies have been found to calm the feelings of nausea associated with seasickness.

If you realize once you’re aboard you forgot your medication, your ship’s medical center will have everything you need to get back on your feet again.

2. Eat Well and Stay Hydrated

When it comes to avoiding seasickness, you can do your body a big favor by staying as healthy as possible before and during your cruise.

This means eating well-rounded meals (an empty stomach increases your sensitivity to motion sickness). Also be sure to drink plenty of water, as dehydration can aggravate the symptoms of seasickness.

In addition to drinking lots of water, you may also want to be mindful of engaging in activities that lead to dehydration, such as drinking too much alcohol. We know this can be hard when you’re on vacation, but your stomach will thank you later!

3. Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon

Seasickness happens when you lose sense of your balance and place. For this reason, it can be quite helpful to regularly reset your equilibrium by focusing on the horizon for a while.

Although the ship is moving, this movement is relative to the horizon, which is steady and sure. By reminding your brain of this stability, you can avoid feeling nausea.

Plus, the fresh air you’ll get on deck while you enjoy the view can help calm your senses and mediate discomfort.

On the other hand, if you only focus on things close to you, seasickness can be amplified. So if you’re struggling on your cruise, you may want to lay off the smartphone or books and magazines, as this can further confuse your sense of place and make you ill.

4. Book the Right Cabin

The very middle of a cruise ship is its balance point where movement is minimal. Because of this, a cabin on the outside of the ship (while perhaps offering the best views of the sea) is also prone to more extreme motion.

So if you think seasickness if something you’re likely to experience, booking a room near the middle of the ship on a lower deck — movement is more noticeable the higher up you go — is probably the better choice for your overall enjoyment of your cruise.

5. Choose Your Cruise Wisely

Sensitive travelers can avoid the worst of seasickness by choosing a cruise that’s less likely to cause it in the first place!

If you’re concerned about experiencing motion sickness at sea, then choose your cruise wisely. A few tips to choosing a cruise to avoid seasickness:

  • The larger the ship, the better. Sensations of movement are minimized on bigger ships.
  • Avoid multiple days at sea. Having the opportunity to get on solid land at ports every day can minimize the amount of seasickness you experience.
  • Choose calmer waters. There are no guarantees for smooth sailing, but generally the open ocean tends to be a bit rougher than seas such as the Caribbean or Mediterranean.
  • Cruise at the right time. Again, no guarantees here, but choosing to cruise when weather is at its calmest (aka not hurricane season) may be a good way to avoid seasickness.

Of course, there’s more to planning your first-ever cruise than just avoiding seasickness. From packing all the right things (and leaving behind the extra weight) to getting to your disembarkation port in comfort (not to mention on time), there’s a lot you can do in advance of your dream cruise to make sure you set sail as smoothly as possible.

If you’re planning your first cruise ever, be sure to read our rookie’s guide to cruising »

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