Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

How to prevent seasickness on a cruise

14 Sep 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

One of the most common concerns of first-time cruisers is feeling seasick. No one wants to spend their vacation nauseous and miserable, so knowing a few tips and tricks to prevent seasickness is helpful before your cruise.

Women on pool deck

It is certainly possible to feel seasick on a cruise ship, especially if you’re sailing through a notoriously rough body of water, cruising on a smaller ship, or if you picked a cabin in the very front or aft of the ship.

The good news, however, is that seasickness is not nearly as common as you might think, and many passengers hardly notice the ship moving at all! 

Here are our top ways to prevent and relieve motion sickness on a cruise ship so you can enjoy your cruise vacation as much as possible.

In this guide:

What to know about seasickness on a cruise ship

What causes seasickness on a cruise?

Seasickness occurs when there are conflicts between your senses while in motion. When your eyes, ears, muscles, and joints send mixed signals to each other, your body can get confused. This disturbs the inner ear, where the body’s balance mechanism is found, causing you to feel dizzy and nauseous.

While on a cruise ship, it’s possible to feel seasick due to the ship moving through the sea while everything onboard appears to stay in one place.

Is seasickness common on cruise ships?

While it’s certainly possible to feel seasick on a cruise ship, it’s not very likely. Royal Caribbean’s ships are huge vessels, a far cry from a sailboat or kayak. In fact, you may nearly forget you’re on a ship at all once onboard!

Related: Things not to worry about on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Cruise lines do everything they can to reduce the motion felt by passengers. Modern cruise ships are constructed with stabilizers–fins that jet off the starboard and port sides of the ship–to help counteract the ocean’s movement so there is less turbulence felt onboard.

The ship’s captain will do everything possible to avoid high winds and rough seas, too, whether sailing quickly to outrun a storm, sailing in circles in one place, or changing the itinerary altogether. This helps ensure that your cruise will not encounter high seas whenever possible.

Related: How fast can a cruise ship go to outrun a storm?

What itineraries are most common for seasickness?

Cruising in protected waters can bring a lower possibility of feeling seasick compared to the open ocean. Transatlantic and transpacific cruises, as well as itineraries with extended time in the open ocean, can mean rougher seas.

If you’re prone to seasickness, consider choosing a port-intensive itinerary with little time spent in the open water. On a Greek Isles or Adriatic cruise, for example, you’ll spend nearly every day in port and time sailing will be on the (usually) calm, protected waters of the Aegean and Adriatic seas.

Related: Ultimate Greek Isles cruise guide

Certain bodies of water, including the Bay of Biscay above Spain and the Gulf of Alaska, are prone to strong currents and high winds, which can cause many passengers to feel seasick.

Additionally, cruising off-season can sometimes mean encountering less than favorable weather, which can lead to a higher chance of feeling seasick, such as late fall in Alaska or hurricane season in the Caribbean.

Related: When is the best time to cruise to Alaska?

Will I feel less motion on a newer, bigger cruise ship?

Newer ships have more advanced technology and stabilization systems, meaning that you should, theoretically, feel less motion on a bigger ship compared to a small cruise ship.

That being said, this is not always the case as there are many factors at play when it comes to seasickness (weather, ship’s location, stateroom location, etc.).

In fact, Matt from Royal Caribbean Blog felt seasick when sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, despite this ship being the largest cruise ship in the world!

Related: 12 differences between the big and small Royal Caribbean cruise ships

More often than not, though, choosing a larger ship instead of a smaller ship on the same itinerary should help prevent seasickness. If you’re worried about feeling seasick on a cruise and are choosing between Symphony of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas, for example, Symphony of the Seas would be the better option.

Top ways to prevent seasickness on a cruise

Motion sickness medication

One of the most foolproof ways to avoid feeling seasick on a cruise is to take motion sickness medication. Be sure to pack Dramamine or Bonine tablets with you for the cruise even if you don’t anticipate feeling sick. If these medications make you drowsy, consider purchasing the non-drowsy version of the medications.

If you forgot motion sickness medication, you can purchase tablets at a shop onboard or ask Guest Services if they have any free packets of motion sickness medication available.

You may also want to consider getting a prescription for a seasickness patch (scopolamine patch) before the cruise. These patches work by delivering scopolamine to your body slowly over the course of several days.

Watch the horizon

Looking out at the horizon can help maintain your sense of balance on the ship. If you’ve booked a balcony or outside view cabin, spend time looking at the horizon if you’re feeling nauseous.

If you have an inside cabin, head to a public space with windows onboard (somewhere midship is preferred) to have a view of the horizon as you sail through the choppy seas.

Additionally, many passengers find that sitting in the same direction of the cruise ship’s movement can help negate feelings of seasickness. Instead of sitting backwards or sideways when the ship is moving forward, find a chair facing forward. 

Eat ginger and green apples

Ginger is one of the best natural remedies for seasickness, as one of its active compounds, 6-gingerol, can help you feel less nauseous and dizzy.

Consider packing ginger tea bags, ginger candies, or ginger supplements with you in case you start to feel seasick. Ginger ale is available at bars and restaurants onboard, which can be an easy way to alleviate your seasickness.

Green apples are another natural way to combat seasickness, as the pectin found in the apples helps settle the stomach. Green apples can be found at most cafes and eateries onboard, including the Windjammer, Cafe Promenade, Park Cafe, and more.

Acupressure bands

Outside of medication, some cruisers find that wearing an acupressure band helps combat seasickness. These bands work by releasing pressure to stimulate the pressure point P-6 on your wrist, which can help to reduce nausea.

Pick a midship and lower cabin location

One of the best ways to combat seasickness is to book your cruise cabin in a midship location. Because ships tend to sway and move side to side in the water, a midship location can be the “equilibrium” point on the ship.

Related: What is the best location on a cruise ship?

Cabins on lower decks typically feel less movement than those on higher decks, so if you’re worried about seasickness, consider a cabin on decks 2-4 rather than 12-14!

While it’s still possible to feel movement in a midship location, you’ll definitely feel less motion than picking a cabin in the very front or very back of the ship.

Remember to eat

While you may not feel hungry on days with rough seas, it’s important to eat something small every few hours. Crackers, bread, soups, bananas, and other plain foods are recommended.

Avoid eating greasy, fatty, or spicy foods and dairy products, as these can increase stomach issues when you’re already not feeling well.

Lastly, don’t forget to stay hydrated throughout the day to avoid dehydration.

Avoid reading books and staring at screens

While reading a book may be an enjoyable pastime on your cruise vacation, it’s one of the worst things you can do when it comes to preventing seasickness.

Many cruisers find that reading (whether a physical book, e-reader, or phone) can increase feelings of seasickness and nausea.

While you likely won’t have an issue on days with calm seas, you’ll want to put the book away if your cruise ship is sailing through rough waters.

Planning a cruise? Start here: