Many people suffer from motion sickness, whether in a bus, car or in the middle of the ocean while on a cruise. Seasickness can happen to anyone, even the most seasoned seafaring travellers, however, there are several ways you can help yourself feel better when queasiness strikes, as we explain in this blog post.
What is motion sickness?
Motion sickness is caused by a repetition of movements when travelling and is commonly referred to as travel sickness when in a bus or car and seasickness when on a ship or boat.
The Motion Sickness Guru states that the condition occurs “when the brain receives conflicting messages from various parts of the body that sense and respond to movement”. The NHS further explains that “the inner ear sends different signals to the brain from those that your eyes are seeing. These confusing messages cause you to feel unwell”.
What are the symptoms of seasickness?
The symptoms of seasickness can vary from person to person; however, many individuals can experience a strange taste in their mouth, or more saliva than usual, the lower jaw and throat may also feel tense.
The Motion Sickness Guru wrote on their blog: “You may find yourself yawning a lot and feeling weak and short of breath. Your skin may go pale (or the proverbial green), and as your body diverts blood away from the surface of your skin you break into a cold sweat.
“Dizziness typically follows, then nausea, culminating in active vomiting. Intense nausea and repeated vomiting can be completely debilitating. As noted above, sufferers may also develop a headache (often intense). Rarely, and only in the most severe cases, the dizziness progresses to breathing difficulties and fainting.”
Ways to help prevent seasickness
Think about your location on the ship
There are many ways to avoid seasickness, some are medicinal, but others can be much simpler, as Billy from Cruise Habit told us: “Staying mid-ship on a lower deck as often as possible, including booking your cabin in that part of the ship can be helpful. A ship pivots and sways in high seas or windy conditions, and this means that while the far front and aft (rear of the ship) areas move up and down quite a distance, the centre of the ship doesn’t travel up and down nearly as much. The same is true for side-to-side motion.”
Billy further explained that cruising is an excellent way to enjoy a holiday which can take in a multitude of destinations: “Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of cruisers are not negatively affected by the motion of modern cruise ships, and those who are generally don't suffer the affects so strong as to keep them from having a great vacation.
“Cruising is an excellent way to enjoy a holiday. The value proposition is also hard to beat because while different lines have different offerings, cruises generally include entertainment, dining, lodging, and of course transportation to various ports of call. These things come together along with a sense of disconnect that must be experienced to be believed, and if you decide to take the plunge, you'll likely be one of the nine out of every ten first time cruisers that decide to take another.”
Sarah from Cruising with Kids also suggests thinking about where you spend your time on the ship: “Choose a stateroom cabin on a centrally located lower deck to minimise movement. If you do feel a little nauseous, I find the tablets from the concierge desk cure it in no time at all.”
Sarah also told us why her family enjoy cruise holidays over any other type of trip: “Cruising is a wonderful choice for a family holiday as you can guarantee the kids’ clubs are to a high standard, when our boys were younger this meant we got to enjoy a good balance of family and adult time. Now they are older it is less about clubs and more about finding the best cruises for family adventures together. Cruising is the best way to see the world with younger children. But as they grow to teens it just gets better.”
Ask your doctor about anti-seasickness medication
Many bloggers we spoke to for this article recommend medicinal products to help combat seasickness. Kathy from The Quiet Cruiser takes an over-the-counter motion sickness tablet called Bonine or Dramamine Natural: “Being someone who does get motion sickness on amusement rides, I've always been a little worried about getting sick on a cruise.
“However, I have never actually had a problem with seasickness while cruising. On the morning that I'm going to start my cruise before I even get on the ship (this is important), I take Bonine, this works well without making me sleepy. I then take one pill each morning and evening of the cruise. Sometimes towards the last half of the cruise, I'll switch to Dramamine Natural, which is basically ginger pills.”
Kathy said sometimes passengers still don’t feel quite right once they are on dry land: “You may find that when your cruise is over, and you've been off of the ship for a day or two, you get land-sickness and are walking a little crooked. Basically, you're still rocking with the ship on dry land. Bonine also helps with this.”
Gavin and Luke blog at Holidays at Sea and describe a cruise as the best way to holiday because: “You wake up somewhere new every day, there is amazing food, great service and entertainment on tap.” The pair enjoyed their first cruise in 2014 and since then have discovered a variety of ways to help combat seasickness: “There are a number of over-the-counter medications available for seasickness. Pop to your local pharmacist and speak to them about the different tablets, even if you don’t normally suffer it’s always wise to pack some.
“If you are suffering from seasickness on board, head to the ships’ reception desk and ask for some advice. Some cruise lines we’ve been on sell seasickness tablets at reception and this has been so handy when we have forgotten to bring our own.”
Acupressure wrist bands
Another popular way to help with seasickness is acupressure wrist bands because they are a non-medicated relief from nausea. Sea-Band wrist bands help to apply pressure via a plastic stud within the band to a section of the wrist called the Nei-Kuan point. Sea-Band says that pressure on this point relieves nausea and vomiting.
Try to eat
The last thing you probably want to think about when you’re feeling sick is food. However, eating can help the symptoms of seasickness as Everyday Health states: “The best foods are light and bland, like crackers, plain bread, or pretzels. Having some food in your stomach is better than having an empty stomach but be careful not to eat too much.
“Ginger is also a well-known natural remedy for motion sickness, while peppermint may have calming effects on the stomach. Many people find that eating crackers along with drinking water or soda helps.”
Becky from The Owlet told us what she eats when she’s feeling nauseous on a cruise: “Try eating something with ginger or lemon in, or a green apple as these are supposed to be cures for seasickness. I also find drinking a sugary, fizzy drink can help me feel less sick.”
Catherine blogs at Diapers on a Plane and described a cruise as “the perfect vacation for everyone and has everything anyone needs”, she also said her family has discovered that keeping a “full tummy” can often help prevent seasickness: “Seasickness generally makes people not want to eat, but if you can keep your tummy full then less acid is moving around and makes you less susceptible to feeling ill.”
Looking out to sea
Passengers may feel clammy, hot and sweaty when seasickness hits, so heading on deck to breathe in the fresh air and looking out to sea may help as Abi from Inside The Travel Lab told us: “Gaze lovingly, long and hard at the horizon! Never take your eyes off it! Get fresh air if you need to and avoid anywhere stuffy and hot. If things are getting really bad, have a paper bag with you just in case. Usually, seasickness passes with time.”
Claire from First initials at Sea usually finds that chewing fresh ginger does the trick of alleviating seasickness, but if this doesn’t work, she suggests venturing out on deck: “Try to be as close to the middle of the ship as possible, take in some deep breaths while focusing on the perfect perspective of the endless horizon. This has been a great help and benefit for me, I also can’t get enough of those views, so this method is a bonus.”
Claire said that despite suffering regularly with motion sickness, she would choose to cruise over other types of holiday: “I cruise more often than travelling on a bus, train, or plane. After all, on average, with seeing nine destinations in 14 days, no luggage allowance, no delays and witnessing marine life in its own habitat, I ask you; what better way is there to see the world?”
Billy also said looking out to sea can help you feel better when you’re feeling a bit “green behind the gills”. He told us: “Part of what contributes to traveller discomfort is the disconnect in our brains from the movement we feel and the movement, or lack thereof, that we see. This is why most don't suffer these maladies while simply riding in the front seat of a car, but many do if they're riding in a car and look down to read a book or mobile phone. In short, if the motion of the ocean is making you feel a bit off, stare that ocean down.”
Planning ahead and being prepared with a variety of remedies, or simply knowing where to be on a ship are all things you can do to help yourself feel better when seasickness strikes.