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What My Worst Seasickness Experiences Have Taught Me About Cruising

If you were looking to take a cruise you read comments like ‘SEASICKNESS HELL’ ‘I FELT SO SICK’ and ‘MY TRIP WAS RUINED BY SEASICKNESS’ would you still want to go?

What if you carried on reading and saw comments like ‘You’ll never get seasick on a cruise’ and ‘Nobody gets seasick when cruising’? What would you think? 

There is so much contradictory advice when it comes to cruising and seasickness. Lots of it comes from people who don’t get travel sick at all – so I don’t know why they think they’re qualified to give advice.

I’ve been cruising for years and in that time I have been seasick on a few cruises – so seasickness definitely does occasionally happen.

The Worst Seasickness I’ve Experienced

The worst seasickness I’ve ever experienced was onboard Fred Olsen’s Bolette.

I took a trip “In Search of the Northern Lights.” It sailed from Newcastle in the UK up to Norway, and the trip was in February.

With hindsight, It probably wasn’t sensible to take a trip across the North Sea in winter, on a smaller, older cruise ship.

Once we had crossed the North Sea and reached Norway, I had a wonderful time. I did manage to see the Northern Lights, so it was all worth it!

Find out about that trip here:

Looking back over the many cruises I’ve taken, there are a number of mistakes I have made in the past that affected how unwell I felt – and I really have felt terrible. 

How Travel Sick am I Usually?

I am a travel-sick person, there’s no escaping that. I have been since I was a child.

I feel unwell in cars, buses, you name it. There’s no way you’d get me on a ferry or anything like that, I often can’t even do the VR headsets.

Usually, cruises are no problem though, and I’ve built my business and life around cruising so it definitely hasn’t put me off. 

Cruising Out of Peak Season Can be a Great Idea (Or Not so Great)

I got seasick in the Mediterranean onboard the MSC Meraviglia.

We were cruising in December and were actually on board for Christmas which was really cool.

The downside of Christmas cruising though is that in December weather is not at its best. We were cruising in the Mediterranean and storms aren’t unusual at this time of year. 

MSC Meraviglia Toulon Mediterranean Cruise

I am a big fan of cruising out of peak season and often cruise in November, January or February, the prices can often be half of what it is in summer and sometimes it’s just nice to get some winter sun.

Given that we cruised over Christmas that cruise wasn’t cheap, but usually cruising in the winter is a great way to get a bargain.

You do have a higher chance of bad weather though, and therefore seasickness.

To learn more about what it’s like to cruise at Christmas, check out this post next:

What is a Christmas Cruise Like? (Onboard Dining, Entertainment and Decorations)

civitavecchia christmas day cruise rome msc meraviglia

I don’t regret the time of year I took that cruise but many would argue that was my first mistake. 

My Cabin Choice is Often Controversial Among Cruisers

The second mistake – according to other people not me – is that I booked a Guaranteed inside cabin for this Christmas trip.

A guaranteed cabin is where the cruise line picks your cabin location for you, it’s usually cheaper than picking your own but that does mean that you might end up with a cabin at the front or the back of the ship. 

Find out more about Guaranteed cabins here:

I Always Book Guaranteed Cabins on Cruise Ships – (Photo Examples, Regrets & More)

We were in cabin 10322 towards the back of the MSC Meraviglia. It wasn’t right at the back, I’ve had cabins further back before – but it probably wasn’t the ideal location for seasickness.

Generally speaking, being in the middle of the ship and as low down as possible, is best when it comes to seasickness. 

Of course, it is a case of priorities. For me usually, I would prefer to save money on my cabin location and just use the things I’ve learnt over the years to prevent or treat seasickness if I have to.

I don’t go on cruises assuming that I’ll get seasick because the majority of the time I don’t. It is a gamble I am happy to take. 

When I sailed on Fred Olsen’s Bolette, I had learnt through past experiences and booked a balcony cabin in the middle of the ship.

Find out all about that cabin here:

Fred Olsen’s Bolette. Cabin Reviews and Cabins To Avoid (Real Photos – I Stayed Onboard)

In the middle is one of the best positions for avoiding ship movement and seasickness – but the crossing across the North Sea was so rough that I think I would have felt ill wherever I was on the ship.

Bolette is an older ship, built in 2000, originally for Holland America Line. Her stabilisers were retrofitted, but she was not as stable as newer, more modern ships.

The Captain Usually Warns You If Bad Weather Is Expected

When Meraviglia’s Captain made an announcement over the tannoy saying that we were expecting high winds I did think about it briefly.

I wasn’t worried though, it never crossed my mind that I would be feeling so rough within a few hours. I carried on eating and drinking as normal. 

What I should have done at this point but didn’t, is headed back to my cabin to get my trusty travel sickness pills.

If I had done that, I think it’s unlikely that I would have ended up in such a bad way!

Now I ALWAYS take travel sickness pills if bad weather is mentioned. Better safe than sorry!

Included Drinks Package

On our Meraviglia cruise, we had an included drinks package included as part of an MSC promotion.

I don’t usually purchase drink packages that include alcohol. As I had the promotion, I did my best to make the most of it, and tried lots of different drinks.

A particular favourite of mine were the “Beertails” that they served in the British pub.

msc meraviglia pub british bar drinks alcohol
MSC Meraviglia’s British Pub

A Beertail is basically a cocktail but made with beer or cider. There are a couple that are particularly nice, my favourite being the Spiced Apple Pie.

It was a mistake on my part to drink alcohol when bad weather was threatened. I didn’t make myself feel sick by drinking too much – but lining your insides with bubbly beer and cider cocktails isn’t the best idea.

If I could go back in time, I’d limit how much I drank – or maybe just drink something that isn’t so bubbly. 

The Movement On This Ship Was Not Ideal

If I am feeling seasick on a cruise, usually sleeping is like a reset button and I’ll wake up feeling much better. 

The way that the ship was moving on my Meraviglia cruise made it almost impossible for me to stay in bed.

When you’re in an inside cabin the beds are normally going sideways across the ship – which meant that as the ship moved side to side I would feel myself going up and down the bed. 

I don’t want you to think that this meant that I was actually sliding around up and down the bed – even in the worst storms things usually don’t move around much on cruise ships.

You might find that the coat hangers in the wardrobe rattle but that’s about it.

I think people have ideas about cruise ships rocking and everything smashing – but that really isn’t the case at all. If things are falling off the shelves or smashing, the ship has a big problem.

I Booked an Inside Cabin – But Spent Time on a Balcony

Booking an inside cabin is another thing that many people will advise you not to do if you are prone to travel sickness and I think I’d agree on this one, more than the location.

If I could pick an inside cabin with a great location, or a balcony with a poorer location, I’d pick the balcony.

Being able to get fresh air when you’re feeling seasick is the best thing, and if you can afford a balcony, go for it. If you can’t though, don’t worry.

My parents were also on this cruise and they had a balcony cabin.  If you are cruising with somebody else who will lend you their balcony, that’s good. 

 I spent some time sat on their balcony and the fresh air helped, I really started to feel better.

I Made My Own Bed on The Cabin Floor

I knew that sleep would make me feel better but the bed was making me feel worse – so I decided to make a makeshift bed on the floor going across the room.

This meant that I didn’t have that horrible up-and-down feeling, I was rolling from side to side. I fell asleep pretty quickly after that. 

seasickness bed on floor msc meraviglia

I took an almost identical cruise, on MSC Meraviglia a couple of years later and didn’t have any problems with seasickness.  That cruise was in January, and the weather was better.

Storms At Sea on P&O’s Ventura.

I took another memorable cruise on P&O’s Ventura, down to the Canary Islands from the UK.

Again, this was a Christmas cruise in December. I was cruising as part of a large family group – half of us got seasick, and half of us didn’t!

The position of my balcony cabin was high up on deck fifteen, towards the front of the ship. Again, not a good location for ship movement and seasickness.

Find out more about the best locations onboard to avoid seasickness here:

What is The Best Cabin Location on a Cruise For Avoiding Seasickness? (I’ve Tried Them All!)

There were days and days of storms and bad weather on my Ventura cruise. I had to buy extra seasickness pills from the ship’s Reception!

I spent a lot of time in my cabin and took travel sickness pills. My brother bought me some bread rolls from the buffet because I hadn’t eaten much. For me, bread is one of the best things to eat when I don’t feel well.

Find out all about that cruise with far too many “sea days” here:

Smaller Ships May Feel The Movement More

I was lucky enough to be invited on to the Super Yacht Emerald Azzurra, sailing around the Greek Islands,

It is a small, luxury, modern ship that only holds around a hundred passengers.

The Captain predicted rough weather one particular night, and I immediately took some travel sickness pills.

There was a lot of movement of the ship, probably because of its small size. Luckily, I didn’t feel too ill…

Travel sickness pills and taking other precautions – like limiting food and alcohol – works best for me. I find that for me It is far better to prevent seasickness than treat it.

Find out about that amazing trip, watch the rocky seas and see me struggling to walk down the ship’s corridors here:

Rough Seas on Britain’s Biggest Ship – P&Os Arvia

I took a cruise in October on Britain’s biggest ship, P&Os Arvia.

It sailed from the UK to Barcelona in Spain and back. We had some rough weather, a change of Itinerary, a medical evacuation – and even picked up a “lost” lifeboat. ( Luckily it was empty…)

Being such a large, modern ship it dealt with the sea conditions very well.

I took my trusty seasickness pills and didn’t suffer from seasickness too much – although other members of my family were ill.

Find out about that eventful cruise here:

Travel Sickness Pills are Great

I very strongly recommend that you take travel sickness pills when you go on a cruise, even if you’ve never been travel sick before, they are absolutely amazing, little pieces of magic.

Kwells are my personal favourite brand. They do make me a little bit sleepy, but nothing too bad.

It’s definitely worth trying a few brands as some will make you feel drowsy.

My recommendations are as follows:

UK Travel Sickness Recommendation,

US Travel Sickness Recommendation.

Port Stops Missed Through Bad Weather

When the sea is rough, ships often have to make last-minute itinerary changes, or miss port stops altogether.

When we sailed on P&O’s Ventura, we were due to stop at Madeira on the way down to the Canary Islands.

We got very close to Madeira before the Captain decided it was just too windy to dock – and sailed away again.

We were all very disappointed, as we were looking forward to a day on land, after a rough couple of days at sea.

Changes to the itinerary do happen quite regularly and they should be expected when cruising. Sometimes it can be a bit of a magical mystery tour, but that’s all part of the fun. 

Initially, I was a bit annoyed because all I wanted was for the ship to dock so that I wouldn’t feel seasick but the cancellation of the next port meant that we could sail where the weather was better and the movement would calm down. 

On P&Os Arvia, the Captain felt it was too dangerous to try and dock in Lisbon because of high winds. He arranged that we would go to Gibraltar the following day instead.

This suited me well, Gibraltar is a very interesting place to visit, and the weather was far better there!

I took my first cruise when I was 11 and I rarely feel unwell. Even being as travel-sick as I am, I don’t usually get seasick on cruises unless we get caught in a storm or the ship is very old or small.

Food to Eat When Feeling Seasick

Green apples really work for seasickness – and Ginger does too.

I always used to eat Ginger biscuits in the car if I was going on a long journey. Green apples help with the acidity and ginger biscuits – well I have no idea – but they’re tasty, so why not? 

Green Apples

After taking my seasickness pills, putting on my seasickness band and eating a green apple I normally try to go to sleep. When I wake up again, I am normally feeling much better.

For more ways to prevent and treat seasickness, check out this post:

13 Actionable Tips to Prevent and Treat Seasickness on a Cruise 

Do Travel Sickness Bands Work?

I really don’t know if the acupuncture seasickness bands do anything to help – and I definitely wouldn’t rely on them by themselves.

They’re really cheap and not too uncomfortable to wear so you have little to lose by giving them a go.

I recently bought some expensive wristbands that work by emitting low-level electrical pulses to your wrist.

(I really only bought them because I had some onboard credit to use in the shop onboard Norwegian Prima.)

They are advertised as “A drug-free way to control the debilitating symptoms of Motion Sickness, whether travelling by air, land or sea…”

Having small electric shocks to your wrist is certainly one way of taking your mind off feeling seasick – but not one that I would personally recommend!

Missed Port Cover On Your Travel Insurance

If you are on a cruise where a port is cancelled due to bad weather, you might be able to get ‘missed port’ compensation – which is a fixed cash sum for each port missed.

To find out how to get this, check out this video next:

Before You Go

Never sail without taking out adequate travel insurance! Read my step-by-step guide on finding and taking out a travel insurance policy here:

Cruise Travel Insurance – Why You Need it and How to Get It: (Step by Step Illustrated Guide)

Find out what could happen if you don’t have adequate travel insurance here:

5 Cruise Nightmares Caused by Not Having The Correct Travel Insurance (Real-Life Examples)

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