Avoiding Seasickness while Cruising
Want to try cruising but concerned about seasickness? I was too, and since I'm a travel specialist, I decided that it was time to set aside my fear of being stuck in my room on a giant ship for a few days with motion sickness and take a cruise! I hope that this post will help others who, like me, when asking frequent cruisers if I’ll get sick, have heard only “the ship is so big; you’ll hardly feel it move. You’ll be just fine!”
I based my speculation that I would get seasick on a dreadful dolphin watch trip from 25 years ago, where I spent the entire time laying prone on a bench and praying that the trip would end. I’m also usually queasy on other small watercraft trips, and I start to feel weird if I swim/float in the ocean for too long. This is why I took precautions to not get sick, because once seasickness starts, it’s tough to shake.
I was all about prevention! Though I did talk to my doctor and have her give me a prescription for the scopalomine patch, I opted not to use it. Some of the side effects concerned me, and having not tested my reaction to it before, I packed the patches, but did not use them.
What I did do, however, was take a Bonine (Meclizine) tablet before our flight and then one each day afterward. I prefer Bonine over Dramamine because it does not make me sleepy, though after 3 days on it, I do feel a little foggy.
I also wore SeaBands. I love bracelets, so I didn’t mind them, though reviews are correct that they push into the inside of your wrist and make it sore. However, they work by acupressure and not medication, which I appreciated since I was already taking Bonine, plus I had planned on having some drinks while onboard. The bands come in different colors and are stretchy fabric. They reminded me of a hair scrunchie from my teenage years. On them, they have a hard plastic bead that you line up with a certain spot on the inside of your wrist to put pressure there.
I am happy to report that while I was doing these things (Bonine once per day and wearing Seabands), I was fine. You can feel the ship moving; I noticed it most at dinner, in the movie theater and when laying in bed. It's a bit disconcerting, but didn't make me feel ill. I got a bit courageous on my last day and decided not to take any Bonine OR wear the seabands, and that was a poor choice! I did get sick on our last night; but I think there were some contributing factors why.
In addition to not taking any Bonine and not wearing the Seabands at all the last day, I’m certain that our late night meal at the delicious Palo, along with lots of Prosecco, probably didn’t help the situation. I woke up shortly after midnight when the coat hangers in our closet were clacking against each other, and the privacy curtain between our bed and the rest of the cabin was swinging back and forth.
According to our servers (I talked to them about this the following morning), this is common when the ship is returning to port; when the ship moves from the warm waters of the Caribbean back to the colder Atlantic, it causes some big waves and rough seas. Had I known this might occur, I would’ve continued the medicine. I also wouldn’t have let myself lay awake and worry myself into being sick. Lesson learned for my next cruise and hopefully, a help to any of you who are wondering how you will do!
We cruised on the Disney Dream (you can read my first time cruising post here). The Dream is a massive ship, and I know that I would hesitate to be on a ship much smaller than that. For most of the time, you can hardly tell that the ship is moving. We noticed it in the movie theater for sure, but it’s not unpleasant or scary – it just feels like your chair is rocking. It’s not much, but when you are being still, you notice it a slight bit. Also, I found I got a bit disconcerted when we were walking down a hallway with large windows and you could see the sea moving by quickly, in the opposite direction in which we were walking. Very neat to watch, but made me feel a little ‘vertigo-y’.
One more tip: if you are prone to motion sickness, I would encourage you to always pay the extra for a verandah. Being able to be outside with fresh air makes a huge difference. Though you can head to any of the decks and sit outside, being able to have a drink on a private verandah and watch the moon over the ocean, have coffee outside while still in your pjs, and watch the ship pull into port and dock, makes for some very special vacation memories.
Here we are before our date night at Palo. And below, is the daughter who is nervous about boats/water. She loved being on the verandah watching us dock at each port. This is Nassau. Notice Atlantis through the morning haze in the third photo!
If you are nervous about letting seasickness spoil your trip, don’t be. Try it! I would encourage to you to try a short cruise, start medication the day before you leave, don’t eat heavy meals or drink too much, and get a stateroom with a verandah. Another idea is to try a river cruise, where you don't have to be concerned about the potential for large ocean waves.
If you need help planning a first (or fifteenth) cruise, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy (seasick-free) sailing!