Travel Vets Weigh In On Conquering Seasickness

The plague of seasickness can ruin what should be a delightful cruise vacation. But if you're proactive in managing seasickness, you'll have less chance of losing your lunch, five-course dinner, sunrise breakfast ... all of it. Whether you're heading off on a two-day sightseeing tour or a two-week cruise, here are some tips from travel vets to ensure you can make the most of it.

And it all starts with preparation. Preventing seasickness begins before you even step on the boat. On the r/Cruise forum on Reddit, a user responded to the post "Motion sickness on cruises" with the following advice: choose a large ship that can hold over 2,500 passengers and pick a route that tends to sail through smoother waters. Their example for cruises to Alaska is that sailings from Vancouver skip the rough waters that Seattle departures often endure.

Choosing the right cabin is also important. In the Cruises forum on Tripadvisor under the post "Seasickness and Cruising — please help!," cruisers recommend getting a cabin as close to the center of the ship as possible; another r/Cruise agrees with this and favors getting a cabin below the lido deck. Being close to the center of gravity of the ship can mean you feel less of the rocking motion. Over on Facebook in the group Carnival Cruise Lines Chat, Tips And Fun, one commenter advises getting a cabin with a balcony so you can have access to fresh air when needed or at least getting a window so you can look out at the horizon.

Motion sickness medication

If you know you're going to feel ill or if you start feeling sick while onboard, medications for seasickness are your friend. But which one to take? The experts have opinions. Bonine (the brand name for tablets with meclizine) and Dramamine (which contains dimenhydrinate) are mentioned thousands of times on forums, but Bonine seems slightly more popular. Back in the r/Cruise forum on Reddit, one cruiser loves Bonine because it's non-drowsy— and it works! —and another commenter, among many others, seconds this advice while responding to the question "Motion Sickness on cruises?" Users say you must begin taking your pills before you get on the ship, preferably the night before.

However, for those who suffer badly from seasickness, the advice is to visit the doctor before your cruise and get prescription medication. Specifically, several Reddit users in the r/Cruise forum responded to the post "First time cruiser worried about motion sickness. Best solution?" with a recommendation for the Scopolamine transdermal patch as the most effective method for preventing seasickness. Finally, if you prefer a more natural remedy, tons of cruise vets go for ginger. 

One commenter, responding to "Motion Sickness on cruises?" on Reddit, has some money-saving advice for those who are planning on taking medication: skip the drinks package, as many seasickness pills shouldn't be mixed with alcohol. While you might not be able to enjoy sunset cocktails onboard, you should be staying hydrated. Plain old water is your friend when you're feeling queasy, so make sure to drink plenty.

More unusual tips to prevent seasickness

Travel vets have other, less regular recommendations to conquer seasickness. Long-time cruisers Dan and Mikkel Woodruff, who run the blog Sometimes Sailing, advise eating green apples. A Reddit user backs this up in the r/Cruise forum by saying adding salt to your apples can make them an even more effective anti-nausea food. The Woodruffs also recommend carrying peppermint oil around with you to sniff when you're feeling nauseous.

Meanwhile, another user favors putting an earplug in just one ear; their logic is that this will make your brain recognize that something is wrong with your inner ears (which help control your balance) and your brain will then discard the signals that are making you sick. If you're feeling ill, you may as well try anything. Finally, just as people don't tend to get motion sick when driving a car, a Redditor wonders whether steering the cruise ship would have the same effect. They say it's worth a shot asking the captain if you can take the wheel. Though perhaps try some of the more conventional seasickness remedies first.