The last thing you want is to experience seasickness while onboard your cruise. The feelings of nausea and dizziness will prevent you from fully experiencing what the ship has to offer, whether it is lounging by the pool, indulging in a three-course meal, or enjoying one of the many night time entertainment options.
Thankfully, there are remedies that help curb these unpleasant feelings, such as ginger tea, transdermal patches, and green apples. Some of the most common, though, are over-the-counter medications: Dramamine and Bonine.
Rough sea conditions can affect anyone, regardless of whether you are a first-time or veteran cruiser.
What are the differences between these two popular medications, and which, if any, is better? Like any medication, the answer depends on many factors, including your age, preferences, and overall health.
Read more: How to beat seasickness on a cruise ship
Editor's note: Royal Caribbean Blog makes no warranties with regard to the safety or effectiveness of Bonine or Dramamine. 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.
Moreover, note that this article contains affiliate links from Amazon, which costs you nothing extra. If you purchase the item through the link, Royal Caribbean Blog will make a small commission.
First, what should you know about getting motion sick while on a cruise?
When you begin to feel seasick, it is because there are conflicts between your senses while in motion. In other words, your eyes, ears, muscles, and joints are sending mixed messaging to each other, thus disturbing the inner ear, which is where the vestibular system, or body's balance mechanism, is found. The vestibular system helps to create a sense of balance and spatial orientation.
Those who experience seasickness are subject to feel a range of mild to severe symptoms, such as dizziness, fatigue, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweats.
Thankfully, cruise lines do everything possible to reduce the motion of the ship felt by guests. Today's ships are designed with stabilizers, or fins that jet off the sides of the ship, to help counteract the ocean's movement. This results in less turbulence felt onboard. The newer the cruise ship, the more advanced this technology will be.
What are Bonine and Dramamine?
The goal of both medications is the same: prevent you from feeling motion sicknesses.
Dramamine is the older of the two, having been introduced to the market in 1949. It uses dimenhydrinate, an antihistamine which has a side effect of drowsiness.
Bonine uses meclizine, another antihistamine, and came into medical use in the early 1950s to treat nausea and vertigo. It offers similar benefits with less drowsiness.
Over the years, other products have been developed to increase each brand's presence in the market, including non-drowsy and more natural formulas, as well as fast-acting medications. You can find off-brand versions of each, too.
If you are looking for a brand with more choices, your best bet is Dramamine, as they more options available, ranging from the original product to their non-drowsy and less-drowsy formulas. Plus, they have formulas just for children.
Bonine (Meclizine) Original Forumla
Active ingredients: Meclizine HCI 25mg per tablet
Dosage: Dosage should be taken one hour before travel commences. For those 12 and older, you should take one to two tablets once daily, or as directed by a medical professional.
Side effects: According to WedMD.com, drowsiness, dry mouth, and tiredness may occur. More serious side effects include mental/mood changes (i.e., restlessness, confusion), fast/irregular heartbeat, shaking/tremors, and difficulty urinating.
Warnings: You should avoid drinking alcohol when taking this medication, as it can increase drowsiness. Moreover, you need to talk to a doctor prior to taking this medication if you have a history of breathing problems, high pressure in the eye, heart problems, high blood pressure, seizures, stomach and intestine problems, an overactive thyroid, difficulty urinating, or liver or kidney problems.
Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) Original Forumla
Active ingredients: Dimenhydrinate 50mg per tablet
Dosage: You should take Dramamine a half hour to hour prior to when travel commences. For those who are 12-years-old and younger, you can take one to two tablets every four to six hours, not exceeding right tablets within a 24-hour period. Children between the ages and six and eleven can take ½ to one tablet every six to eight hours, not exceeding three tablets in 24-hours. Finally, those between the ages of two and six can take ½ of a tablet every six to eight hours, not exceeding 1.5 tablets in 24-hours. Of course, if your doctor has instructed you otherwise, it is best to listen to them.
Side effects: Per WedMD.com, the most common side effects are drowsiness, constipation, blurred vision, and dry mouth/nose/throat. Serious side effects include mental/mood changes, fast/irregular heartbeat, shaking/tremors, and difficulty urinating.
Warnings: Like with Bonine, limited alcohol should be consumed when taking this medication. It can increase the level of drowsiness that is felt. Similarly, speak with a doctor if you have a history of breathing problems, glaucoma, have trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland, or are taking sedatives or tranquilizers.
Cost: Two packs of the original chewable formula from Amazon is currently selling for $10.75.
Nobody wants to feel sleepy while on vacation, which is why many turn to non-drowsy options.
Note, though, that these can sometimes be less effective. Compared to Dramamine's original formula, the active ingredient in the non-drowsy version is 500mg of ginger (zingiber officinale), making it a more natural option.
Another alternative is the all-day less drowsy formula, which contains the same 25mg of meclizine as Bonine, which advertises itself to be less drowsy than Dramamine.
If you are someone who feels as though you are prone to feeling the effects of seasickness, you may benefit from Bonine's maximum strength tablets. These contain double the amount of meclizine as their traditional counterpart, or 50mg of meclizine HCI per tablet. Per their website, "there is nothing stronger without a prescription."
Medications for children
Currently, Dramamine for Kids is the only over-the-counter medication motion sickness relief formula for children between the ages two and twelve and contains 25mg of dimenhydrinate, which is half the amount found in the regular formula.
Like with the original medication, the first dose should be consumed half-an-hour to one hour prior to activity, with those between the ages of two and five getting ½ to 1 tablet every six to eight hours, not exceeded more than three tablets within a single 24-hour period.
Children between the ages of six and twelve are able to get one to two chewable tablets every six to eight hours. They should not take more than six within 24-hours, unless instructed differently by a doctor.
What are some other seasickness remedies?
In addition to packing the right medication, there are some other ways you can prepare for the worst. If over-the-counter medications are not your thing, there are some natural remedies that work to help reduce the effects of motion sickness.
While this one is not foolproof, it can be advantageous to do your research prior to selecting your cabin. Some locations are more prone to feeling the ship's motion, meaning that you might, too. Staterooms that are located in the middle of the ship and on lower decks tend to feel less motion than those on higher decks or that are located in the forward or aft of the vessel.
Moreover, it might seem counterintuitive to walk outside and look at the ocean, but if you begin to feel ill you should look out at the horizon. Staring out helps give you a sense of balance.
Another method to help curb the negative side effects in the moment is to try and locate ginger ale, peppermint tea, or green apples, which contain pectin, a type of fiber found in the cell walls.
6-gingerol, an active compound found in ginger, helps to reduce the feelings of nausea, making it one of the best natural remedies for seasickness. In addition to ginger ale, you can look for ginger tea, candies, and supplements prior to leaving for your cruise. Similarly, peppermint tea contains antibacterial properties that help reducing nausea an ease stomach cramps.
Of course, there's always sea bands and transdermal scopolamine patches, and you should make sure that you are hydrated and well-rested throughout your cruise.