Don't let motion sickness ruin your dream cruise vacationDon’t let motion sickness ruin your dream cruise vacation — Photo courtesy of michaeljung / iStock Via Getty Images

If you’re preparing for a cruise, you may wonder how to avoid motion sickness. After all, nothing spoils the magic of seeing a whale breach or a sunset at sea like nausea or dizziness. Even the most experienced cruisers could fall prey to seasickness on a cruise ship, but this doesn’t mean you should change your vacation plans. It simply means you should be prepared so nothing comes between you and a fantastic cruise.

To help, we asked Dr. Amber Robins, a family and lifestyle medicine doctor, about the most effective ways to prevent getting seasick on a cruise. She provided simple, yet vital answers to help you feel your best during your next sailing.

What is the best medicine for motion sickness?

“Many people benefit from wearing scopolamine patches that help treat nausea and motion sickness,” Robins states. These patches work with the central nervous system to calm delicate areas like the stomach and bowels. This helps prevent motion sickness instead of merely treating symptoms after they occur.

Since scopolamine is available by prescription, consult your doctor before your cruise to see if the patches are for you.

Over-the-counter medicines to prevent seasickness

Chase the seasickness blues away with over-the-counter remediesChase the seasickness blues away with over-the-counter remedies — Photo courtesy of Piyapong Thongcharoen / iStock Via Getty Images

“Over-the-counter medicines like Dramamine can help improve the nausea that comes with seasickness,” according to Robins. She explains that Dramamine blocks the histamine receptors, which leads to a balanced feeling. Note, however, that since Dramamine is an antihistamine, it may cause drowsiness in some users.

Bonine is another over-the-counter option; its main ingredient is meclizine, which, for many people, treats symptoms without causing drowsiness. The directions on the packaging indicate that Bonine, which acts as a preventative, should be taken an hour before traveling and then once a day, like a daily vitamin, for the length of the cruise trip.

Herbal cures for motion sickness

If you’re searching for natural remedies for motion sickness, Robins says ginger may help. Ginger has historically been used to treat nausea. The natural herb is especially popular with pregnant women suffering from morning sickness. If feeling nauseous at sea, try fighting that queasiness with ginger, which is widely available in the form of capsules or chews.

Do acupuncture bracelets and wristbands help avoid seasickness?

If you’re wondering about the effectiveness of acupuncture bracelets and wristbands for preventing seasickness, Robins says studies are mixed.

“The bracelets are made to push on a specific area of the wrist. For some, this has decreased nausea and vomiting,” she says. “It’s hard to conclude that this bracelet would work for everyone.”

Does staring at the horizon help with motion sickness?

Carnival Cruise Line recommends staring at the horizon to prevent motion sickness, and scientific evidence supports that advice.

Life at sea can be disorienting. The disconnect between the movement of the ship and the movement of your body can affect your sense of equilibrium. Fixing your gaze on the horizon provides a reference point so you can reclaim your sense of balance.

If reading makes you feel seasick, put the book away

Put down the book (or iPad) if you start to feel motion sickness on a cruisePut down the book (or iPad) if you start to feel motion sickness on a cruise — Photo courtesy of Steve Mason / Photodisc Via Getty Images

If reading in a vehicle makes you feel carsick, you’re experiencing disorientation and motion sickness. Unfortunately, those symptoms can also happen on a cruise. If you start to feel nauseous, dizzy, or unwell while staring at a book or screen at sea, put the reading material aside for a while and see if the symptoms improve.

Can shore excursions help fight motion sickness?

Robins says that disembarking from the ship may alleviate the symptoms of seasickness. While this advice may not be practical at sea, it is once you pull into port. Getting back on land can help reclaim your sense of balance. Plus, now you have a great excuse to book some incredible shore excursions when you schedule your cruise itinerary.

How to pick the right cabin to prevent seasickness

Choose a cabin with a balcony for easy access to the horizonChoose a cabin with a balcony for easy access to the horizon — Photo courtesy of baona / E+ Via Getty Images

Choosing the right cabin is important when booking a cruise. According to Carnival Cruise Line, ships rock and sway the most at the edges. If you book a cabin near the middle, you’re less likely to be affected by all that movement. In addition, cabins with windows or balconies make it easier to focus on the horizon if you feel woozy.

Can dehydration cause motion sickness?

“Staying hydrated can help improve symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and vomiting that can come with seasickness,” states Robins. So be sure to drink plenty of water. Since alcohol can lead to dehydration, avoid drinking in excess.

Can the ship doctor help if you’re feeling seasick?

Cruising is truly a bucket-list experience. Don’t let motion sickness spoil your trip. If you can’t find relief from your seasickness, speak to the ship doctor and ask for help alleviating your symptoms. Most cruise lines have motion sickness medicines and other remedies available to passengers at no charge.

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