If you have experienced sea sickness in the past, you may be reluctant to go on a sea cruise now for fear of having a holiday spoilt by it. Are there ways to avoid the trouble at the outset, and are there remedies to take if you do go down with it? The answer is yes to both questions.
But perhaps we should start off with a little reassurance first. If you are travelling on a large and modern cruise liner you are unlikely to suffer sea sickness in the first place. Modern passenger ships have powerful stabilisers, designed to counteract the sea’s rocking motion.
Where you go can greatly affect things. A cruise in the Mediterranean or along Norwegian fjords in summer should avoid any rough seas. A transatlantic crossing in the depths of winter will rough whatever ship you are on. And some people are more likely to be affected than others; children aged 3 to 12, pregnant women, and migraine suffers may all want to take extra precautions.
How can you guard against sea sickness?
Here are some ways to prepare beforehand:
- Try to avoid stress just before joining your ship, if possible. Pack everything two days before so you aren’t rushing around in ever decreasing circles just before leaving home. Leave home and get to the boarding point in plenty of time, allowing for possible transport delays, so you can be as relaxed as possible at arrival. Don’t leave errands to the last minute, and avoid large meals and alcohol just before starting.
- Find a cruise on a large modern cruise liner, not a cheap cruise on an old runabout. Try to choose a cruise where the ship ties up at the dockside at all stops, to avoid the need to take a tender or small boat to get ashore, as just five minutes in such a boat on a choppy sea can be upsetting.
- Book a cabin in the centre of the ship, and as low down as possible, since the motion is less at those points. A large window from which you can see the horizon helps as well.
- Take a supply of Hyoscine (also called Scopolamine) or other sea sickness medicines with you, available from any pharmacy. However this is not so suitable for children or the elderly, and can cause drowsiness. For a long cruise Hyoscine can be applied in the form of a patch lasting three days. And don’t forget the ship will have its own medical staff and dispensary; they can supply tablets for sea sickness.
- Antihistamines also help to counteract nausea. They are perhaps not quite as effective, but they do have fewer side effects.
Once the ship sails, if you begin to feel queasy there are more things you can do:
- Go on deck where there is fresh air, or else open the cabin window if that’s possible.
- Keep your eyes fixed on the horizon, or a fixed point. Failing that just closing them will avoid looking at the movement around you. Reading or playing games may worsen your symptoms.
- Ginger is a popular remedy for nausea. It can be taken in form of ginger tea, ginger biscuits, or even just chewing a tiny piece of raw ginger root. All are available from any supermarket. Mint sweets also help. Keep well hydrated with plenty of water.
- Keep away from any cooking smells, and avoid spicy and greasy foods at mealtimes.
- Ask your family or companions not to discuss sea sickness or similar subjects, and keep away from other sufferers; just having to listen to talk about it can make you feel ill just by power of suggestion.
- Try to stay relaxed; don’t worry about it as that can start you feeling ill. Listening to music can help take your mind off things.
Most people are unlikely to experience sea sickness on a cruise ship, but if you do it is likely to last only a couple of days. Taking out cruise travel insurance will provide cover for various cruise-related problems, including days you are confined to your cabin through illness.
By following these tips, we hope you will thoroughly enjoy any cruise you embark on!