Will you get seasick on a cruise? Maybe! I sometimes do. I read many guides online that say that you need never worry about getting seasick when cruising, most of these by people who aren’t normally traveling sick.
Will seasickness ruin your cruise? Absolutely not!
Will I Get Seasick on a Cruise?
Some people do get seasick when taking a cruise. This is more common if the cruise encounters bad weather. Guests who are already prone to motion sickness are more likely to feel seasick on a cruise, although the majority of passengers do not get seasick.
If you do get seasick, there are many ways to prevent and treat it.
I’ve been on 22 cruises to date and have been seasick on 4 or 5 times, during this time I’ve devised a number of ways to prevent and treat seasickness. These include what I eat, where I sleep, what I wear, and where I cruise.
I think the fact that I carry on cruising despite being one of the most travel-sick people I know says a lot. I’m much more likely to get travel sick in a car or coach than a cruise ship.
Mum says I could get seasick stepping over a puddle!
Tips to Avoid Getting Sea Sick on a Cruise:
1 – Avoid a Cruise Itinerary With Sea Days
I have never been on a cruise with more than two consecutive sea days, this isn’t by accident. The more sea days you have, the more chance you have of getting seasick. This isn’t just because you’re actually spending more time at sea.
Avoid Transatlantic/Transpacific Itineraries
Cruises with multiple sea days tend to cruise far into open waters, which is usually where bad weather happens. Transatlantic and transpacific cruises often trigger seasickness in guests and I wouldn’t recommend these for a first cruise if you’re worried about seasickness.
If you are able to pick a cruise with no sea days AT ALL this is a brilliant option. A port a day keeps you busy and also keeps seasickness worries away. A typical cruise would be docked until around 5/6 pm and arrive early in the morning so by picking a port-intensive cruise you really don’t have that much sailing time.
Some cruises actually visit more than one place a day!
This is rare but I took a cruise with Celestyal which did exactly this. We have one port in the AM and one in the PM.
What Celestyal Cruises REALLY Like? – Daily Photo Diary and Review
2 – Stay as Central as Possible With Your Cabin’s Location
If you have the option pick a cabin which is in the middle of the ship. Cabins in the middle feel less movement than those at the ends. Similarly, if you can pick a cabin on a lower deck this is usually better.
Often times on cruises I’ve found that the theatre and main dining room/buffet are the rockiest places onboard. These are always right at one end of the ship and you can sometimes feel the vibrations from the engine at the back too.
I took a cruise last year on the MSC Meraviglia and when the engine started you really could tell in the main dining room. We’d be midway through our dinner and then it would start and we would say ‘oh! we must be off!’.
Why I don’t follow my own advice on this one: One word, money! I always prioritise money over seasickness. I often choose a ‘guaranteed’ cabin which means that you don’t get to chose your cabin location. It is cheaper to do this but does mean that you are often allocated the ‘leftover’ cabins at the end of the ship or in less desirable locations.
3 – Treat Yourself to a Balcony Cabin (Or Borrow One)
If your budget allows it, choose a balcony cabin. Being able to open the balcony doors can be a lifesaver if you’re feeling seasick.
I am a big fan of inside cabins and usually cruise in them but when you’re in an inside cabin it is very easy to forget that you’re on a ship at all.
Seasickness is caused by your body being a bit confused, your eyes don’t see any movement but your body feels like you are moving. For some reason your body decides that the best thing for you is to feel unwell, I assume so that you’ll get out of the situation.
You can’t simply get off the cruise ship so reminding your body why you are feeling the movement by reconnecting with the ocean is a big help.
Borrow Somebody Else’s Balcony
Onboard the MSC Meraviglia, we got caught in a bit of bad weather sailing back from Malta. I had an inside cabin but was also cruising with my parents who had a balcony cabin, being able to go across to their room and sit on the balcony helped me a lot. If you are worried about seasickness, considering saving up for a balcony.
4 – Choose a Mid-Sized Ship
I often see sea sickness-related advice which says that you should choose the biggest ship you can find. I would disagree with this, some of the newer and bigger ships aren’t designed for ocean travel, they’re designed to have the best facilities onboard.
As a result, the huge mega-ships aren’t always the best for seasickness. I loved my cruise on the MSC Meraviglia but I felt the movement on her a lot more than I have done on some smaller ships.
I would recommend cruising on a cruise ship which contains between 2000 – 4000 passengers. This seems to be the ideal size for me.
New(ish) Ships Are Best
Whatever you do, don’t go for a really old ship. Ships from the 90s and later are fine but if you stray much earlier than that you might be more likely to feel seasick. Stabilisation systems have come a long way in the last few decades. Many older ships have been retrofitted with better stabilisers but if you are worried about seasickness its better to pick a newer ship. Better safe than sorry!
5 – Don’t Over Indulge in Food or Drink (But do Eat!)
When cruising, don’t over indulge in food or drink. This one can be really tricky as for most eating and drinking is one of the most important parts of cruising. It is much better for you to eat small, regular portions to keep your stomach full but not overeat to the point where you might feel unwell.
Eating particularly greasy or unhealthy foods always increases my chances of getting seasick.
When I was on P&O’s Britannia, I was sat in the Beach House restaurant having just finished a massive meal when captain Wesley made an announcement to warn guests that the sea might be ‘lumpy’. I knew at this point that I had eaten too much but it was too late.
I was fine but still regretted eating all of the churros and marshmallows!
Minimising alcohol can be the trickiest part (one or two drinks can actually make you feel better as you stop worrying about feeling seasick…).
On the MSC Meraviglia, I had an unlimited drinks package so tried many beertails. I wasn’t sure if it was the seasickness or the beer making me feel unwell but I always blame the seasickness.
Tips to Treat Feeling Sea Sick on a Cruise:
6 – Head Outside to Find Fresh Air
As soon as I feel a little seasick I head straight to the top decks to try and find some fresh air. A lot of the time this works and I don’t need to follow any other of the steps in this guide.
This works best if you are cruising somewhere which is either windy or rainy. Stepping out into warm air doesn’t help as much as feeling the rain on your face.
Walk a Lap of The Promenade Deck
Not all cruise ships have full promenade decks but I love the ones that do. A lap or two of the promenade deck is usually enough to make me feel better.
Many cruise lines are not building ships with promenade decks anymore because they take up a lot of space and cruise lines would generally prefer to keep people spending money inside than walking around in circles on the promenade deck.
That said, Norwegian Cruise Line has incredible promenade decks on a lot of their ships. The promenade is called ‘The Waterfront’ as is lined with restaurants and bars. It’s a brilliant place to spend a day or an evening.
7 – Medicate!
If I am still feeling seasick at this point I take seasickness medication. I usually take Stugeron or Kwells but there are many brands available. Stugeron and Kwells are the only brands that I have found which don’t make me feel drowsy. If you are feeling particularly seasick you might want to go to sleep but usually, I don’t.
Is this what everybody else feels like? This is AMAZING! – Me whenever I take seasickness mediciation.
It is definitely worth taking medication if you are feeling that unwell, there is no point struggling through and not enjoying your cruise.
It is worth noting that you can usually get seasickness pills for free from reception. Cruise ship medical centers will also have them and many offer a seasickness injection for those really struggling with seasickness. You usually have to pay for the injection and it makes you sleep for quite a while so I wouldn’t recommend this apart as a last resort.
If you do need medical care, you’ll find a fully trained medical team on board along with medical supplies and a medical centre. To find out more about what happens if you need medical care, including what the cruise lines can and can’t offer, check out this post:
8 – Sleep it Off
Probably the easiest thing you can do when you feel seasick is to sleep it off. I’ve had many daytime naps when feeling seasick and I usually wake up feeling much better.
Some people find the very slight rocking of the ship to be relaxing.
I’m usually in an inside cabin so I can sleep at any time of day or night. When you’re in an inside cabin and turn the lights off it’s night-time!
9 – Eat Bland, Basic Foods
When I feel seasick, I live on a diet of bread and fruit. Avoid eating heavy meals and definitely, don’t eat anything particularly greasy or fatty.
It’s important not to let your stomach get empty or you’ll end up feeling worse. On occasion, I have felt seasick and decided to take a nap and sent my brother to the buffet to get snacks for me. Thanks, Max!
The bread shown on the photo below might not look like much but it is SO good.
10 – Green Apples & Ginger
I recently heard about eating green apples for seasickness but I thought ‘hah, that’ll never work’. I’m here to tell you, IT DOES. I don’t know why, or how, but eating green apples really can help with seasickness.
They’re the perfect amount of sweet and crisp to take away that nauseous taste in your mouth. They’re pretty kind on your stomach too so it’s a win all around.
Many people also say that you should eat things with ginger in them. I took this to mean that I should eat ginger biscuits and I have in the past bought ginger biscuits on long car journeys to try and stop myself from getting travel sick (and just because they are YUMMY).
I recently bought some ginger flavoured chewing gum which was meant to have the same effect, I tried one packet and never bought it again, the chewing gum looked like little fish food pellets. Very odd.
Crystalised stem ginger also works and has traditionally been given out on lines in the bygone age, when stabilisers were either not present or much less effective.
11 – Wear an Acupuncture Band
I’m not sure if these actually work and I don’t know anybody that does. I do have one and I wear it when I feel like I might get seasick because I don’t think there is anything to lose by wearing one. Even if it works 1% or just works as a placebo, I am happy with that.
The bands work by pressing into the middle of your wrist with a little bump of plastic which sticks out from the band.
It isn’t really uncomfortable but does feel like you’re wearing a tight watch or wristband. They really do indent your wrist.
I remember using one on one of my cruises and I could see the mark for almost a full day afterward.
You can pick up the bands really cheaply online or in any supermarket. I’m sure I saw some in Poundland (UK) once upon a time!
12 – Look at The Horizon
If you are feeling seasick, it might be time to put down your phone/tablet and look out at the horizon.
Sitting on a balcony or on the top deck looking out to sea can be a really good way to remind your body that you are at sea and that the movement that you are feeling is really happening.
It can be a bit odd sitting in a restaurant or a bar and watching the horizon if you are in bad weather or a storm, the level of the ocean seems to rise and fall. Despite this, you really don’t consciously feel the movement of the ship very often. It’s our subconscious minds that are the problem!
13 – If All Else Fails Sleep on The Floor (I Did)
In a worst-case scenario sleep on the floor if you have to. On my MSC Meraviglia cruise, I was in an inside cabin, which meant that my bed was going sideways. When the ship was moving, I could feel myself going up and down the bed, which was just horrible.
I decided to move my bed to the floor so that I could move side to side, instead of up and down and it was SO much better.
Is Cruising Worth The Seasickness?
I don’t mean to scare you with this post if you are taking your first cruise. It is very rare that I feel seasick when cruising but obviously had to talk about my seasickness experiences in this post.
I ADORE cruising and I don’t go on cruises assuming that I will be feeling seasick. Even if I do feel seasick, it might be for an hour or at the very most, a day. With the tips in this post, you’ll be prepared even if the worst should happen.
Can You Get Seasick on a River Cruise?
I took my first river cruise a couple of months ago and it is a firm NO from me. River ships move much much less than ocean ships, there isn’t the constant hum that you get used to on ocean ships, they barely move at all. I would never ever worry about getting seasick on a river cruise.
Taking a Cruise: Recommendations and Resources
Book a Cruise
Get Travel Insurance
Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide
Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.
This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.