How Cruises Work

What About Seasickness?

This is one of those questions that you, as an individual, have to consider. A clue that you might be prone to seasickness is that you become nauseated in a car or airplane or sailboat. If you're concerned that seasickness might be a problem for you, check out your itinerary, looking closely at geographic factors that could influence the motion of the ocean. (Some spots are known to be a little rougher, like the cruise through the Strait of Magellan and that stretch of ocean between Manila in the Philippines and Hong Kong.) However, that doesn't account for those unforeseen occasions when the ship passes through a storm and becomes a little rocky for walking and dancing. Here are a few anti-nausea aids and old sailor's cures:

  • The old stand-by antihistamines, such as Dramamine and Bonine. These tend to make you drowsy but are better than the alternative. The key is to take the tablets BEFORE you're seasick! Once the nausea hits, they don't do much good. (Most ships offer free tablets at the reception desk.)
  • Some cruisers swear by the gray, stretchy wrist bands, made by SeaBand or TravelGarde. These place nodes at acupuncture points to relieve the symptoms of nausea. Some people are very successful with them; others say they get no benefits. (It'd be nice if they'd make these things in fashion colors!)
  • Also not pretty are the round cardboard ear patches, which were for several years removed from the U.S. market. The patches generally contain about 1.5 mg. of scopolomine, which reportedly reduces nausea by suppressing a reflex that minimizes the distance between input perceived by the inner ear and visual input. Each patch, worn behind the ear, lasts about three days. Side effects include blurred vision and headaches. Consult with your doctor, since these are by prescription only in the United States.
  • Some of the "folk" and nontraditional cures even work. Ginger root, which can be bought in any drug store or health and vitamin store, is a popular treatment. And one ship captain's cure-all: eat crackers, which are salty, and apple slices, which are acidic, and the combination acts as a calming agent in your gut. He also says to avoid your natural inclination to drink soda or ginger ale when you're nauseated. "It's just more in there to slosh around," he grinned.
  • Everybody knows it's folly to stare at those big waves! Look at the horizon instead, experts say.
  • If all else fails, you can always visit the ship's doctor for a super-duper antihistamine injection that works more quickly and effectively than a pill. You'll have to pay the doctor and you'll probably sleep for a day or so, but if you've ever been seasick, you know that it's worth it!