Avoiding Seasickness

Posted November 21st, 2011

Seasickness is hardly fatal, but, with symptoms such as nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting, it can definitely dampen your cruising fun!

Motion sickness is thought to be caused by the visual disorientation resulting from being on an object in motion (a ship, car, plane etc.) competing against our body’s natural inclination for balance. Some research has shown that people can become motion sick by suggestion – they convince themselves that being on a ship, for example, will make them ill. And voila – they become ill. However, some people do genuinely suffer from motion sickness, and if you are concerned that you might develop symptoms, you should arm yourself with preventative measures beforehand.


Medications work to either calm the nerves of the inner ear, or sooth the brain’s vomiting centre, but most motion sickness pills are only effective if they are taken before you feel sick. Many also induce side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, blurry vision and dizziness, which can also be unpleasant while cruising. You may need to experiment to find what works best for you, but you need to consult your Doctor for this.

A common recommendation is a scopolamine patch, which is applied behind the ear at least 8 hours before exposure. They can be effective for up to 3 days. These are only available by prescription, and do come with a long list of side effects.

You may be able to find some over-the-counter medications, but you should speak to the Pharmacist about your options. The stronger, more effective prescription drugs can only be obtained from your Doctor.

Drug-free remedies:

If you don’t like to take drugs, or want to avoid the side effects, there are other options to consider. One of the most popular is the Sea-Band wristband. This is an easy-to-wear acupressure band with a plastic bead that presses against the pressure point located on the palm side of your wrist. This is meant to curb nausea and vomiting without any side effects. They come in both adult and children’s sizes.

You could also try ginger. Studies have found that ginger alleviates nausea associated with motion sickness, when taken in either tea, powder, pill or candy form. Some people also swear by green apples to help ease the nausea.

A few Tips:

  • Acclimatise yourself to shipboard life and spend as much time as possible out on the deck, using the horizon as a point to maintain your equilibrium.
  • Book an outside cabin in the middle of the ship. This is the natural balance point of the ship, and having a window will also give you a constant view of the horizon.
  • Avoid excess alcohol and heavy or spicy foods.
  • If it gets rough, locate yourself in the middle of the ship, as low down as possible.
  • Avoid reading or watching TV if you feel nauseous.
  • Fresh air sometimes helps – try take a walk on the Promenade deck.

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