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How do I avoid sea sickness?

Don't worry too much about this: Big vessels like cruise ships don't move around nearly as much as small boats.

However, if you are sensitive to motion sickness on land, consider the following steps to minimize problems on your cruise....

1. Get a preventative. Before your cruise, pick up one or more of the following:

  • Accupressure wrist-band. Many sailors and cruisers swear by a drug-free option. It works for most (but not all) people, and is a good option if you are already taking medication for another condition. We recommend ACU-STRAP Motion Sickness Relief Band
  • Scopalamine patch. This is the most popular prescription medicine for preventing seasickness. You must get a prescription from your doctor, and it should only be worn for three days at a time. The patch is worn behind the ear and provides a small, continuous dosage of the anti-nausea drug scopolamine.
  • Over-the-counter pills. Dramamine-type anti-nausea pills are available under a range of names: Marezine, Bonine, Phenergan, Sea-Calm. They make some people feel sleepy, but don't have the more serious potential side effects that Scopalamine does, so they are generally available without a doctor's prescription. These are usually available at the front desk. Take them before you feel sick. (Usually the ship will tell you if the weather will be rocky on any particular day.)
  • Ginger. Pregnant women and sailors have been using ginger for years to ward off nausea. Ginger comes in many different forms. Two good options are Anti-Nausea Ginger Gum 24 Count and Nature's Way Ginger Root, 550 mg, 100 Capsules.

    Sadly, ginger ale soda doesn't have any actual ginger, so if you are already aboard your best option for getting ginger is to go to the sushi bar and eat some pickled ginger.

2. Avoid open seas. Crossing the Atlantic or Pacific (e.g., on the way to Hawaii) is frequently choppy. Spring and autumn sailings on the West Coast are also often rough. The Caribbean and other areas occasionally get high waves, but in general they are much better than cruises in the open ocean.

3. Avoid end-of-season sailings. This does not apply to the Caribbean or Mexico, which are warm year-round. However, some places stop in the early autumn, because the weather is too cold in the winter: Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and South America. Avoid autumn sailings for these destinations because the incoming cold weather makes for choppy seas.

4. Look for extra-large ships. The larger the ship, the less it will get tossed around. Waves that would make a 50-person sight-seeing boat bob like an apple will barely affect a 3000-person ship. On mammoth ships like Royal Caribbean's Freedom-class vessels (i.e, Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, and Liberty of the Seas), you may feel like you're on bedrock rather than afloat.

5. Choose a low and central cabin, with a window or balcony. The closer you are to the ship's center of gravity, the less you will move around. A window or balcony helps because if you start to feel sick, looking out at the horizon helps reorient your sense of balance (and your stomach).

6. Be nice to your stomach. Don't stuff yourself, and be moderate in your consumption of rich foods and alcohol. Nothing encourages sea-sickness more than a night of heavy drinking followed by a greasy breakfast.

If you still get seasick, read if you do get seasick...

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