Monday, February 1, 2010

Overcoming Seasickness

So many would-be cruise vacationers decide that they never want to try a cruise because of their fear of getting seasick. They read or hear stories about people who went on a cruise, got seasick and had the worst vacation ever and then think that they too will be one of those who will have such a horrible experience.

That is a shame to me to know some will just never ever give cruising a try based on other’s experiences or just based on a fear that may be completely unfounded.

So let me try to alleviate some of those fears by explaining some of the ways that a traveler can overcome the sensation of seasickness and have the most enjoyable time on a cruise vacation.

Let’s define seasickness first of all. Seasickness happens when the body, inner ear, and eyes all send different signals to the brain, resulting in confusion and queasiness. It is a problem generally attributed to disturbance in the balance system of the inner ear (vestibular) system. Your sensory perception gets out of synch as these nerve fibers attempt to compensate for the unfamiliar motion of the ship moving through water. The movement of a boat on a fluid sea creates stress in the portions of the brain responsible for balance. Perhaps that stress causes the brain to start malfunctioning as the land based environment it understands is suddenly not behaving as it should (

So you see that it is not a “sickness” such as something we experience when we catch a cold or a flu bug, but it is a sensory sensation that your body and brain gets when you start to feel the motion of the ship. So to prevent or overcome seasickness, then one needs to do something to tell the brain that everything is going be to speak.

So here is the first thing NOT TO DO; do not sit in a confined space once you start to feel the motion of the ship if you have never sailed before. Too many will sit in their cabin and start to feel some movement and then begin to feel a bit queasy. Once that happens, their brain has no other choice but to keep sending the mixed signals and it all starts to go downhill from there.

So then the first thing TO DO is to get up to the top deck and look out at the horizon and let your brain get acclimated to its new environment. Take some deep breaths, take a walk about the top deck of the ship and get used to the feel of things moving around you. To add to that, grab a soft drink or carbonated water with you and sip it slowly while you stroll around outside. Do not stay inside staring at the walls of the ship.

I am giving you the natural remedies first because they are the ones with zero side-effects and will make for a much more enjoyable cruise.

The next thing NOT TO DO is to go eat a heavy meal thinking that food will make things better. If you are in that stage of feeling queasy...the last thing you want to do is eat a big meal before you give your brain a chance to settle down. Again...what you SHOULD DO is get out of your cabin and head to a food and drink venue onboard where you can grab something to drink (non-alcoholic) and maybe some fruit like an orange or some soda crackers. Let your body ease into the cruise along with your brain.

I think I have fully covered the main thing that you should NOT DO which is to stay inside your cabin while you start to feel some motion sickness. We happened to sail on a cruise a while back that encountered some rough seas (which is inevitable if you cruise often). This particular ship was one of the mega ships that has what I refer to as a mall down the center of the ship. You could not see the outside from this promenade (mall) area. As we got further out to sea, you could see the ship shifting and rolling along with the waves and I knew some were going to get sick on this cruise. Well it was not long before I saw some folks scurrying to find the closest restroom and most had been sitting in this area where they could not see what was going on outside. Someone needed to tell them to get up top so they could feel the wind and see the horizon and I am almost sure they would not have had as rough of a time as they did that night.

But if you are someone who would prefer some extra peace of mind, here are some other tips to help you overcome your fear of seasickness or the sensation itself:

1) Make yourself busy. Go and find something to occupy your brain like one of the shows onboard or some music act in one of the nightclubs. Your brain has a hard time telling you how bad things are when it is engaged in other activity.

2) Book a cabin near the very center of the ship and also on a lower level. Simple physics tells you that you will feel the motion of a ship more in the front and also higher up if the ship seems to be rolling a bit side to side. If you are in a cabin that is feeling the motion, go out of your cabin again and find somewhere near the center of the ship to sit for awhile. Most ships have huge atriums near the center and can be a great place to go "occupy your brain" for a while.

3) Wear a pressure point wristband. I have one and wear one on every cruise. I have yet to ever get seasick even during rough seas and my brain tells me it is partly due to my "BioBand" as it is called ( ). These pressure point wristbands apply pressure to an area that is believed to be associated with your body's equilibrium. I am a firm believer in them. They are not that expensive and can be found in stores and on the web.

4) Wear one of the many seasickness preventing patches or take a seasickness preventing pill which can also be found at your local drugstore. These work for most people, but they also come with some side-effects such as dry mouth and drowsiness which is why I prefer to try some of the methods mentioned before.

5) Get a shot/injection onboard if the feeling does not subside and you are afraid the nausea will last the entire cruise. Ships have Dr's onboard which can give you an injection that will make you feel a whole lot better, but again it comes with some of those same side-effects. But you don't have to suffer if you are one that can not shake the queasy feeling.

Seasickness can be prevented all together if you just try some of the things I have suggested and you can have the best vacation ever if you just give cruising a try and don't let the fear of getting seasick stop you from even trying. Do you have some methods/remedies that I did not mention? Have you been seasick before and found a way to overcome the feeling once it started? I would love to get your comments or feedback on this subject.


kristina said...

Great ideas! I'll definitely have to try out the wristband next time. I've tried Dramamine (the less drowsy one) and it still makes me too sleepy. If you have nothing else on hand, smelling ginger or eating ginger also helps calm the stomach. Thanks for the informative post!

Wilson Wonders said...

If you do take medicine and it says not to drink while you're taking it, DON'T! My husband learned this the hard way on his first cruise. Even a little alcohol made him a little loud in the piano bar that night. :-)

SallySue said...

A friend sent me the link to this post because I get really seasick. Thanks for all the helpful information. I checked out (good link), and is helpful too.
Lots of things to try for my next trip on the water!!!