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How to Prevent Seasickness on a Cruise

cruise ship wake
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One of the biggest deterrents to taking a cruise is the fear of getting seasick.

And I’ll confess up front – I did get seasick really bad on one cruise.

As a result of that, I learned a lot that I will share with you.

To help set your expectations, I’m going to outline what we’re going to cover in this article.

Because it’s a pain to have to read an entire blog post just to find out the answer to one simple question.

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Am I right?

So, here’s what we’re going to cover in this article:

  1. What I should have done to keep from getting seasick
  2. How cabin choice can affect seasickness
  3. What things you can do to avoid creating seasickness
  4. Recommendations from medical and cruise industry experts about motion sickness

Let’s give you what you might likely came here for, shall we?

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front of large cruise ship in port

What I Should Have Done to Prevent Getting Seasick

While sailing aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam, I got seasick really bad.

The worst symptoms didn’t come until dinner.

More on that in a bit.

What I could have done to prevent getting seasick should have started that morning.

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I normally don’t eat until about lunchtime.

So not having anything on my stomach isn’t a big deal. I’ve fasted for as long as 36 hours with no negative side effects.

If you are similar, please don’t do this on a cruise!

Eat something solid for breakfast.

Before I go on, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way:

I’m not a doctor; I don’t play one on TV. Speak to your trusted medical professional for medical advice.

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I’m only telling you what was recommended to me and how I applied it to other cruises.

Ok. Back to the story.

Eat Something for Breakfast

Eat something substantial for breakfast.

Even if you are not hungry.

If you wake up and encounter rough seas or the seas get rough as the day progresses, having something on your stomach will prevent you from getting nauseous.

Based on my experience, avoid limiting yourself to things like fruit and yogurt.

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Go for things that will sit on your stomach longer like eggs or some other proteins.

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mountains at cruise port viewed from deck of cruise ship

What I Should Have Done to Prevent Seasickness

I went to Guest Services and they gave me motion sickness medication.

It took almost until the next morning to feel better but it did work.

What I should have done was to go to guest services on the first day of the cruise and ask for seasickness medication.

Pro Tip: The very first thing you should do when boarding the ship is to get seasickness medication from guest services. It’s FREE on every major cruise line sailing out of the United States.

Get FREE Seasickness Meds fro Guest Services

It’s FREE from guest services.

Why, you may ask, would the ship give such a useful medication away for free instead of making you pay for it in the ship’s store?

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The answer is, if you feel sick and are locked up in your cabin recovering, you can’t spend money at the bars, casino, shops, and specialty dining.

Therefore, it’s in their best interest to give you this valuable medication at no cost.

Back to our story.

After you get the seasickness medication, take one pill immediately.

You should not drink alcohol while you’re taking these pills.

By taking the medication at the beginning of your cruise (which I did not do on the Nieuw Amsterdam ship), you will limit the likelihood of getting sick.

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You could also purchase Dramamine and take it a couple of days before your sailing is scheduled.

Let me tell you about the story I promised earlier in this post.

Rough Seas on a Cruise

When I was on Nieuw Amsterdam, I got really bad by the time dinner arrived.

We were eating at the steak house specialty restaurant.

One of the waiters saw I was sick and was nice enough to make me ginger tea from fresh ginger like his family does back home in India.

That definitely helped me from getting worse. But not enough to make the problem go away.

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What’s the lesson?

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Drinking ginger tea from the tea station in the buffet might be a way to help mitigate or lessen the effect of getting seasick.

How Cabin Choice Affects Seasickness

While rough seas will make the ship rock regardless of where you happen to be on it, selecting the right cabin could help mitigate the onset of seasickness.

We have a post all about how to pick the best cabin for your cruise.

We go into detail about the considerations you need to pick a cabin that will be less prone to getting you sick.

  • Select a cabin as close to the middle of the ship as possible.
  • Select a cabin on the lower decks.
  • Do NOT pick a cabin in the front (fore) or aft (rear) of the ship.

As we discussed earlier, this will not prevent you from feeling the ship rock if the seas are rough.

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But it will lessen the undulations or rocking motion of the ship.

Things You Can Do to Limit the Chances of Getting Seasick

We’ve already given you a couple of things you can do to limit the probability of getting seasick including:

  • Eating breakfast early and not going long on an empty stomach
  • Selecting a cruise cabin closer to the middle of the ship on lower decks

Here are some more.

When enjoying the outdoors while on a ship, avoid staring off into the distance as you will see it bobbing up and down.

Even on the smoothest, calmest, sunniest day, the ship will still rock because it’s on the ocean.

You won’t notice it going about your daily activities.

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However, if you stare at the railing or off into the distance, you will notice that it will gently rise and fall.

Observing this could trigger symptoms of seasickness.

Medical & Cruise Industry Experts and Seasickness

As I said earlier, I’m no medical professional.

Everything I have shared with you is from my personal experience of being seasick and the steps I took to get better and prevent it on later cruises.

If you want to understand the science behind getting seasick, consider these references:

Dr. Thomas Stoffregen, a prominent researcher in motion sickness, emphasizes the role of sensory conflict. He states, “When the visual and vestibular systems send conflicting signals to the brain during boat travel, it can lead to symptoms like nausea and dizziness.”. – The Neurophysiology and Treatment of Motion Sickness – PMC

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Dr. Lucy Yardley, a psychologist specializing in health behavior, highlights the individual variability in susceptibility. She notes, “Some people adapt quickly to motion, while others experience persistent symptoms. Genetic factors likely play a role.”. – Moving in a Moving World: A Review on Vestibular Motion Sickness

Captain Grace O’Malley, a seasoned cruise ship captain, advises passengers: “To prevent motion sickness, focus on the horizon, stay hydrated, and choose a cabin near the ship’s center of gravity. Medications like scopolamine can also be effective.”. – Oxidative stress and motion sickness in one crew during competitive offshore sailing

Enjoy a Cruise Worry-free of Seasickness

Hopefully, I’ve addressed your concerns about seasickness.

By selecting the right cabin when booking your cruise deal, eating breakfast early, drinking ginger tea, and taking Dramamine or seasickness medication a few days before your cruise or no later than embarkation day, you can lessen or eliminate the possibility of getting seasick.

And with the insight of industry experts, you can enjoy your cruise without worrying about the motion of the ocean.