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How to beat seasickness on a cruise ship

07 Jul 2023
Elizabeth Wright

Whether you are going on your first cruise or are a seasoned veteran, a common concern for many is seasickness. Nobody wants to spend their vacation feeling ill, especially when you are spending it on a floating city. 

Ocean waves from balcony

You never know when rough seas will hit, causing you to feel the motion of the ship more than usual. 

Thankfully, there are many ways that you can prevent yourself from feeling the effects of seasickness, and you should familiarize yourself with them prior to your cruise. 

Some of these methods require you to purchase remedies in advance. 

Here is how you can beat seasickness, so you can have the best cruise vacation. 

Editor's note: Royal Caribbean Blog makes no warranties with regard to the safety or effectiveness of any seasickness remedy. It is always best to consult with a physician prior to taking any medication, especially if you have existing medical conditions, are pregnant, or you are taking other medications.

Seasickness 101 


You will begin to feel the effects of seasickness if there is a conflict between your eyes, motion of the ship, and vestibular system located within your inner ear. By sending information to your brain regarding balance, motion, and the location of your head and body in relation to your surroundings, the vestibular system helps create a sense of balance and spatial orientation. 

To sum that up, the onset of motion sickness is when what you see if different than what your inner ear senses.

The symptoms of seasickness range from mild to severe, and you may find yourself suffering with anything from dizziness to fatigue, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweats. 

Thankfully, each ship is headed by a skilled captain, who will do everything possible to avoid unfavorable sailing conditions. Moreover, ships are equipped with stabilizer fins that are meant to help reduce the motion felt by passengers.  

Reduce, however, does not mean eliminate. 

How to beat seasickness

There are numerous methods, both medical and natural, that aid in curbing the symptoms of motion sickness. What works for someone, however, may not work as well for someone else. That is why it is best to speak to your primary care physician if you are worried about getting ill on your cruise. They will be able to provide the best advice that takes into account your age and current health. 

Over-the-counter medications


Bonine and Dramamine are two popular medications that can be bought at practically any drug store that both have the goal of preventing you from feeling motion sickness. 

Having been introduced to the market in 1949, Dramamine is the older of the two. It's active ingredient is dimenhydrinate, an antihistamine which has a side effect of drowsiness. 

Likewise, Bonine uses meclizine, another antihistamine. This medication came into medical use in the early 1950s to treat nausea and vertigo and advertises itself to be less drowsy than Dramamine. 


For children, Dramamine manufactures Dramamine for Kids, the only over-the-counter medication motion sickness relief formula for children between the ages two and twelve. Rather than containing 50mg of dimenhydrinate per dose, it only contains 25mg. 

If you forget to purchase medication before you leave home, go to Guest Services or the onboard medical center and ask if they have any free packets of motion sickness medication available. 

Speak with a doctor about getting a prescription for scopolamine patches


Unlike some other remedies, if you are interested in getting a scopolamine patch, you will need to speak with a medical professional prior to leaving for your cruise. These patches work by delivering scopolamine to your body slowly over the course of several days, with one patch lasting up to three days. 

They are placed behind your ear around eight hours prior to when you need the medication to be in your system, making it more of a preventative measure. 

Purchase an acupressure band 


Acupressure pressure bands are a more natural remedy than over-the-counter medications. These wristbands work by applying pressure to the P-6 pressure point on your wrist. This is known to help reduce the feeling of nausea. 

These bands are not expensive, either. A single band can be purchased for less than $10 from Amazon. 

Choose the right stateroom during the booking process

Balcony smooth seas

The stateroom that you select can make a difference in how much you feel the rocking of the vessel. Rather than opt to save money on a guarantee cabin, you should choose one in a location that is less prone to feeling the ship's motion.

Staterooms that are located midship of the lower decks tend to feel less motion than those on higher decks or that are located in the forward or aft of the cruise ship. Moreover, since watching the horizon, as counterintuitive as it may seem, helps give you a sense of balance, you may want to consider booking a stateroom with either a balcony or exterior facing window. 

If you book an interior room, you will have to leave your cabin to head to a public space. 

Consider a port-intensive itinerary 

Voyager of the Seas in Barcelona

The more time you spend on and, the less you will have to worry about feeling the ship's movement while sailing. It is entirely possible to find a cruise with only one day at sea, even if it is 7-nights. 

Depending on your cruising preferences, you may even be able to find a sailing that spends each day in a different port of call. 

Not only will this reduce the amount of time onboard, but you will be able to cross off more destinations from your bucket list. 

Additionally, some bodies of water are more prone to strong winds and currents than others. These include the Bay of Biscay and Gulf of Alaska. The Caribbean can be hit with unpleasant weather during the latter part of hurricane season, too. That being said, any ocean can encounter unfavorable sailing conditions at any time.  

Watch your alcohol consumption

Cocktails on the bar

Whether you decide to splurge on a Royal Caribbean Deluxe Drink Package or not, you should watch your alcohol intake if you are prone to motion sickness; dehydration will not make the situation better. 

In fact, you should limit your caffeine, too. You want to try and drink as much water as possible. Moreover, staying hydrated will help with any digestive issues that may arise while onboard, as most passengers indulge on more fatty and fried foods than they normally would.

Related: 22 unpleasant cruise ship problems you aren't prepared for

Drink peppermint tea or ginger ale


6-gingerol, an active compound found in ginger, helps to reduce the feelings of nausea. For that reason, it is one of the best natural remedies for seasickness. While you can sip on ginger ale, you can also look for ginger tea, candies, and supplements. 

Similarly, the antibacterial properties found in peppermint tea help reduce nausea, too. It can also help ease stomach cramps since it works to relax your stomach muscles. 

Eat green apples


If you'd rather munch on something versus sip on tea or ginger ale, try and locate some green apples. They contain pectin, a type of fiber which helps to settle the stomach. 

In fact, make sure you eat in general!

While nausea may make your appetite disappear, that does not mean you should skip out on eating. If you are unable to stomach large meals, try snacking on crackers, bread, bananas, soup, or any other plain food. 

You should also avoid eating things that cause upset stomachs. This means that you will have to pass on the spicy, greasy, and fatty foods for the time being. If taking it easy at the Windjammer for a single day means you will be back to feeling like your sooner, it is worth it!

Avoid sitting backwards or sideways

Rhapsody of the Seas at sea

Try sitting in the same direction as the ship's movement, as sitting in the opposite direction can further confuse your body. Rather than sitting backwards of sideways, find a chair that is facing forward.

This may help alleviate some feelings of motion sickness. 

Limit the time you stare at your phone screen

Woman using iphone

When you start to feel ill while at sea, it is best to put your phone to the side. Likewise, reading can often increase the effects of motion sickness, even if you are reading a handheld copy. 

If you have smooth seas, feel free to head up to the pool deck and read away. If you encounter rough weather, though, you will want to save the book for later. 

What is mal de debarquement syndrome?


When you disembark your cruise ship, do not worry if your body needs some time to adjust to being back on land. Some people feel like their body is swaying when they get off the ship, and it is completely normal! 

If, however, it has been a couple of days and your symptoms are beginning to interfere with your day-to-day life, make an appointment to speak with a medical professional, as you may be suffering from mal de debarquement syndrome.

Elizabeth graduated from New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute with her M.A. in Journalism in May 2023. Growing up, she had the privilege of traveling frequently with her family and fell in love with cruising after sailing on the Oasis of the Seas her freshman year of high school. She wanted to pursue a career that highlighted her passion for travel and strengths as a writer. 

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