Did you know that seasickness is a form of motion sickness? If you suffer from any combination of the following symptoms, then you’re suffering from motion sickness: Dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
In a nutshell, you get motion sickness when your eyes and your inner brain experience a disconnect. You’ll start to feel sick when what your eyes are seeing doesn’t match with your inner ear, which then transmits that information to your brain, and then you could be in trouble. For example, when I’m on an airplane and it makes a wide turn where the plane dips more to one side than the other and I look out the window, oh yes – I’ll start to get a little sick just looking outside for a brief second. Motion sickness can happen when you travel by car, plane, train, or ship, but doesn’t mean if you get sick while traveling by car that you’ll automatically get sick while traveling in one of the other ways.
Why is it important to understand what motion sickness is? I often hear from people that they’re afraid to try a cruise because they get car sick or they’ve gotten sick while on a small boat. As someone who has to drive because as a passenger I easily get car sick, I was pleasantly surprised when I went on a few cruises and found that I didn’t get seasick.
For my first cruise and a few after that, I was as prepared as an 10-year-old Girl Scout. I had packed a hefty amount of Dramamine in my carry on bag and like most of the passengers on that cruise, I wore my Scopolamine patch behind my ear. The best advice I ever received was to put the patch on the day before I started my cruise to help me adjust to the medication in case it made me tired. Even in the rockiest of waters I haven’t gotten sick (knock on wood!). Not sure why that is, but for whatever reason getting seasick has eluded me.
How can you best prepare yourself if you think you might get seasick?
- Go to your doctor and ask for a prescription for a Scopolamine patch.
- Purchase Dramamine or Bonine and have it on hand in case you start to feel sick.
- Ginger pills: A more natural method to help with nausea and seasickness, if you can’t get ginger pills, try fresh ginger or ginger ale, but do realize that the soda probably contains little ginger.
- Visit the ship’s medical facility: If you really don’t feel well, go visit the ship’s doctor. He or she might recommend something as simple as Dramamine or Bonine, but seeing a professional might make you feel better and less anxious.
- Don’t binge at the buffet! Try to eat healthier and less fatty foods and drink plenty of water. Someone suggested eating pineapple because it tastes the same going down as it does coming up. Disgusting, right?
- Don’t drink too much in an attempt to help combat seasickness: May seem obvious, but don’t drink copious amounts of alcohol. This will neither prevent nor help you from getting seasick. You’ll be sick from drinking and that won’t help you if you’re feeling any type of seasickness.
- Book a cabin mid-ship: Try to be as central as you can possibly be on the ship. That means as mid-ship on your deck as well as not too far low or high on the ship itself. You’ll definitely feel more of the ship’s movement the more forward or aft (rear) you are on the ship as well as farther up or down on the ship.
- Avoid a cruise that might sail through choppy waters. For example, those of us living in the Northeast have to travel south to hit the Bahamas or the Caribbean and apparently the waters can be choppy up until Cape Hatteras. If you think that this might affect you, sail out of Florida instead.
Cruising today is nothing like it was in the past because today’s modern ships have stabilizers that limit the movement you’ll feel while on the ship. Some people say that they forget they are even on a ship! But not so fast there sailor! While you may have avoided getting seasick, be prepared for land sickness or “mal de debarquement.” What exactly is that? You’ll feel like you’re still swaying and rocking like when you were on the ship when you’re off the ship. There’s no known treatment for land sickness other than to take what you might have taken to treat seasickness. Many people experience it for only a day or two after they are off the ship, but if your symptoms last longer than that and are debilitating, visit your doctor.
Don’t let the fear of possibly getting sick keep you away from trying a cruise. Consider a short cruise to see how you feel. Once onboard you might be so distracted with all of the entertainment and activity that you won’t even think about getting seasick. You might find that your concern was unnecessary as you had a great time and never got sick at all. So I say to you as the future cruiser, it’ll be worth it giving it a try once to see if you like it and then you’ll be back time and time again.
Are you the kind of person I described above who was afraid to cruise for fear of getting sick and then went and was fine? Let me know!