CRUISE TIPS: Will I Get Seasick on a Cruise?

seasickOne of the most common questions I am asked by people who have never been on a cruise is whether or not they will get seasick. Last week I read Marty and Barbi Cooper’s blog post, “Cruising and the Motion of the Ship” from their blog “Around the World Every Day” where they discussed the movement one feels when on a cruise ship. They mentioned how a friend of theirs gets extreme motion sickness and the realization of connecting that with abstaining from cruises hit them. Is it possible that people are simply not cruising because they think that they will get seasick?

The first couple of cruises I went on I did go prepared. I brought my Scopolamine patch, that funny little beige dot you’ll see being worn behind the ear of half the cruise ship passengers. Put it on the day before you sail to become accustomed to it and bring extra as they work for three days in length. Like most anything, some people love the patch and others choose other methods of dealing with seasickness. My friend, Lynn, happens to like Bonine, which is a pill you can take to help with motion sickness. Don’t forget the wrist bands that are available that provide pressure at a certain point on your wrist, an accupressure type of remedy. I used these and despite them looking well, ridiculous, all I felt was like I had my ponytail holders on my wrist — they felt uncomfortable and tight and I took them off fairly fast.

Here’s the thing to remember about cruising in the 21st century. Most large ships have what are called stabilizers and they help the ship stay straight and upright, thereby reducing the movement of the ship pretty much altogether. Think of a cruise ship as a resort at sea. After the first day, you will have acquired your sea legs and will hardly notice that the ship is moving. Seasickness occurs as a result of a disconnect between what you see and what your inner ears sense. When you are on land, you not only see the land around you, but you sense how you move across it by walking, driving, riding a bike, etc. On a cruise ship while at sea, you lose your visual references and so begins the disconnect. With the stabilizers, the movement of the ship is far less and as a result, so is the disconnect between what you see and what your inner ears sense. In addition to getting carsick easily, I have had major surgery on one of my ears and have an equilibrium imbalance on land so I thought I would be on the floor on a cruise ship, but no problems for me. The worst I have ever felt the sway of a ship was on our cruise that left from New York to the Bahamas over Thanksgiving 2009. People were clutching the walls and the crew put out seasick bags by the stairwells, but I didn’t feel a thing. Those waves at that time of year can be quite rough and it did affect some although I don’t know if it was the seas that affected them or perhaps overindulging in alcohol?

If you are hesitant about cruising because of the fear of becoming seasick, try a short 3- or 4-night Bahamas cruise. These ships certainly aren’t small boats and it’s a good way to get acquainted with cruising. I certainly won’t go as far as to say you don’t feel anything while on a cruise ship, but what you feel is so minimal that if you have been putting off going on a cruise because of it, reconsider what you are missing. With your cruise fare covering your accommodations, food, and entertainment, cruising is one of the most affordable vacations you can take while taking you to ports of call you might never have visited before. Take a chance you might be pleasantly surprised!

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