5 Ways to Beat Sea Sickness

How to Avoid Sea Sickness on a Cruise

Hey Owlets,

Cruise ships are absolutely my favourite type of holiday and in recent years they’ve gained a lot of popularity, but unlike traditional holidays they come with the risk of a very unique illness - sea sickness and you might think “I’ve been on boats before, I’m fine” but I thought that too and I was very wrong, no one is immune. In 2017 I went on my first cruise and by day three I felt drunk (no, I wasn’t), like I had flu (I didn’t), tired, sick and like I had a migraine all at the same time and it was all due to sea sickness. Having said that, I don’t want to put you off if you’ve not yet been on a cruise because it’s hands down the best thing I’ve ever experienced and seasickness can be very easily treated - here’s my tried and tested cures so you can get on with feeling better and enjoying your holiday.

How to Avoid Sea Sickness on a Cruise
MS Independence of the Seas
Go Prepared

When I went on the first cruise I threw some seasickness tablets (if you’re in the UK I find Stugeron are the most effective) in my bag and figured I’d take one if/when I needed it - I quickly found out that that’s not how you’re meant to take them at all when I was feeling more and more sick and thinking “these tablets are doing nothing”. According to the on-board doctor the best way to take sea sickness tablets is to start taking them around 3 days before you sail so the medicine builds up in your system before you experience any movement, then continue taking them throughout the cruise and for two days after you return to avoid “land legs” where the floor feels like it’s moving. I was told to take one tablet in the morning and one at night, but obviously this will vary according to the instructions on your specific tablets.

How to Avoid Sea Sickness on a Cruise
P&O MV Oriana
Drink Plenty of Water

I feel like water is one of those cure-alls for everything. Whether you have a headache, motion sickness or you’re just a bit tired everyone will tell you to drink water, but it honestly does help. If you’re being sick then of course you’re going to lose liquid, but even if you just feel sick you’re probably not going to want to eat or drink anything and being dehydrated is going to make the symptoms so much worse.

How to Avoid Sea Sickness on a Cruise
Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas
Eat the Right Foods

If you start to feel ill while on board then watching what you eat can really help you to feel better (or worse!)- in particular avoiding spicy or greasy foods are known to make people feel more sick so if you’re suffering then it’s best to give the curry a miss. When I was ill on board I got chatting to some of the crew who gave me their favourite remedies to try. One of the waiters recommended trying something acidic to cut through the sickness - she swore by eating green apple and drinking lemonade. Another remedy is eating plain crackers because it helps to put something in your stomach so you don’t feel worse by not eating, but doesn’t have anything in it that could possibly make you feel worse. Of course another favourite is ginger, but I can’t stand it so I stuck to plain crackers and acidic fruits.

How to Avoid Sea Sickness on a Cruise
Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas
Find the most Stable part of the Ship

If you think of a seesaw the ends go up and down whereas the middle stays still - this principle is pretty much the same on a  cruise ship. When choosing your cabin you always want to choose somewhere in the middle and as lower deck as possible as this is where you’ll feel the least movement. If you haven’t been able to choose the perfect cabin and you start to feel ill then head for a venue as close to the centre of the ship as possible and on the lowest deck (typically indoor cafes tend to be around deck 5 so head for something like that) and if you’ve walked from either forward or aft you’ll most likely instantly notice the difference. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do about rolling, but the cruise line wants their passengers to feel comfortable so if the rolling motion becomes too strong the captain will put out the stabilisers, so just cross your fingers for either calm seas or seas that are rough enough to justify the stabilisers!

How to Avoid Sea Sickness on a Cruise
CMV Marco Polo in Cork, Ireland
Seek Help if you Need it

Out of all of the advice I’ve given you this would hands down be the one that I would go back in time and tell myself - don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. A lot of people are worried about visiting the on-board doctor, either for fear of giant medical fees or because you’re afraid of wasting their time, but the truth is that 99% of what the medical team deal with are small issues like seasickness and minor injuries from silly accidents - that’s what they’re there for. As for the medical bills, when you’ve already paid to go on a cruise it’s pointless not enjoying it for the sake of saving money - especially when you can normally claim back the fees on your insurance. I freely admit that I’m ridiculously stubborn, so it wasn’t until the third day when I was completely out of it and had only managed half a banana the whole time I’d been on board that Dad dragged me to the medical centre. Because my case of seasickness was severe I was given an injection and within two hours I was totally cured but I also saw them prescribe stronger anti-sickness tablets than what they give out normally, so you might not necessarily need an injection. To give you an idea of cost, for an examination, the injection and tablets for the two weeks I was charged $45 on board a Royal Caribbean ship, but charges will obviously vary between to different cruise lines.

Hopefully with the weather worsening and rougher seas on their way for Winter you’re a little more prepared to fight back when you start to feel unwell. If I’ve missed something that’s worked for you please let me know and I’ll add it to the list - happy cruising!

Need some more advice for your first cruise? Here's how not to overpack and how to dress on formal night.

Love and Feathers, 
The Owlet 💜 
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