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What My Worst Seasickness Experience 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 read comments like ‘you’ll never get seasick on a cruise’ ‘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 number of cruises, so it definitely does happen.

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The Worst Seasickness I’ve Experienced

The worst seasickness I’ve ever experienced though was onboard the MSC Meraviglia. 

Looking back, there were a number of mistakes I made that affected how unwell I felt and I really did feel unwell, it was horrible. 

msc meraviglia galleria meraviglia main promenade
The Central Street of The MSC Meraviglia

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 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)

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

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

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 the peak of summer and sometimes it’s just nice to get some winter sun.

Given that we cruised over Christmas this 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: 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 this cruise but many would argue that was my first mistake. 

My Cabin Choice is Controversial Among Cruisers

The second, according to other people, not me is that I booked a guaranteed inside cabin.

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. 

We were in cabin 10322 towards the back of the ship.

It wasn’t right at the back and 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 so it is a gamble I take. 

The Captain Warned us About The Bad Weather

I didn’t think that I would get seasick when I went on this cruise but when the 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 usual. 

What I should have done at this point but didn’t, is head 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.

I think I was just feeling overconfident at this point, I’m very used to cruising and not feeling seasick so it didn’t really raise any concerns with me, at that point. 

We Had a Drinks Package (Included in Our Cruise Fare)

When we booked we had a drinks package included as part of the promotion. I don’t usually purchase drinks packages that included alcohol but because I already had the promotion I did my best to make the most of it, and try as many drinks as I wanted to.

A particular favourite of mine was the beertails that they served in the British pub.

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

I took a cruise recently onboard the MSC Virtuosa which also included drinks and I went back again to the pub to try the beertails again. 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.

This was probably a mistake on my part to drink at this point. I didn’t make myself feel sick by drinking too much, but lining your insides with bubbly cider cocktails isn’t the best.

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

I Left Dinner Early

We went to dinner after this and I don’t remember at what point I left dinner but I didn’t make it through the courses.

Usually when you cruise you’re barely able to feel the ship moving, sometimes I forget that I’m on a ship at all but the MSC Meraviglia main dining rooms are right at the back and for some reason, the seasickness just hit me particularly bad at this point. 

I thought to myself it’ll be okay if I can just get out of the restaurant and to my cabin, I’ll feel much better, I can take a seasickness pill and then get on with the rest of my cruise.

msc meraviglia main restaurant
MSC Meraviglia’s Main Dining Room

On every other cruise, I’ve been on, that’s worked but it just didn’t this time. 

I went back to my cabin and took my travel sickness pills, my brother bought me some bread rolls from the buffet because I hadn’t eaten much at dinner and for me, bread is the best thing to eat when I don’t feel well.

I think it’s the best thing to eat anytime, to be honest, you can’t beat good bread and MSC does bread well. 

Travel Sickness Pill 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.

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

emma cruises seasickness stugeron

I went to a cruise ship naming ceremony recently and took some pills for the taxi ride there and managed to stay awake all day no problem. 

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.

I Booked an Inside Cabin, But Spent Time on a Balcony (It Was Great!)

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 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.

We Were Going to Miss The Next Port Stop

The weather got worse and the captain announced that we would be missing the port the next day and instead of having a day 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. 

I took my first cruise when I was 11 and this was the first time I had felt this 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 something happens. 

After taking my seasickness pills, putting on my seasickness band and eating a green apple I decided to try to go to sleep.

Green apples really work for seasickness and ginger does too.

Green Apples

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. 

I did had some ginger chewing gum at one point, that was weird.

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 seasickness bands do anything and I definitely wouldn’t rely on them by themselves.

But they’re really cheap and not too uncomfortable to wear so at this point it was kinda an all hands on deck situation and I had nothing to lose. 

The Movement of The 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 this cruise though made it almost impossible for me to stay in bed. When you’re in an inside cabin the beds are normally going width ways 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 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 Made My Own Bed on The 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 and I fell asleep pretty quickly after that. 

seasickness bed on floor msc meraviglia

The bed I made was actually quite comfortable and I of course put the bed back together in the morning so nobody would know. I took an almost identical cruise, on the same ship a couple of years later and didn’t have any problems with seasickness. 

I was unlucky on this cruise, my cabin choice, time of year sailing and beertails in the pub didn’t help but it of course hasn’t put me off cruising.

I still book guaranteed inside cabins but now I try to limit how many bubble cider cocktails I put in my stomach and if the captain mentions a storm, I’ll usually take seasickness pills straight away and keep a green apple or ginger biscuits close by. 

If you are on a cruise where a port is cancelled due to bad weather like this one, you might be able to get ‘missed port’ compensation which is a fixed amount for each port, to find out how to get this, check out this post:

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