Seven Seasick Seamen

October 26, 2015
  |   Kirsten Bergstrom
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After months of planning, your duties are done and your long-awaited vacation is at hand. The ship has set sail to explore new ports of call, the stuff making life’s grandest memories. Certain passages and weather conditions can cause instances of rough seas. In these conditions, an unwelcome passenger may appear. His name is Nausea. Before Mr. Seasickness ruins your voyage, we will help you learn how to avoid his presence so you can get on with the business at hand: exploration and adventure.

What is Seasickness?

Seasickness occurs when the inner ear, the eyes, and other areas of the body that detect motion send unexpected or conflicting messages to the brain.  For example, you can be in the cabin of a moving ship and your inner ear senses the motion of the boat in the waves but your eyes fail to see any movement. This conflict between the senses causes motion sickness.

How to Prevent Seasickness?

As wisdom has it, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are a few strategies to prevent seasickness:

Consider Your Cruise Destination

Certain destinations, such as the Drake Passage that takes travelers to Antarctica, are known for rough conditions, whereas the Inside Passage of Alaska and the Galapagos Islands relatively calm seas. Do note that some crossings only occupy a fraction of the time of your voyage and a spectacular destination may be well worth a day or two of mild discomfort.

Onboard Tips and Cabin Location

Less motion is encountered in cabins situated mid-ship, as with a lower location but not so low as to be windowless. Some cabins offer balconies but are normally on the top deck, but these higher spots can make any pitching and rolling feel more extreme.

Eating and Drinking Tips

Take care of yourself, with rest and strive to ensure good health, prior to any cruise. Avoid food and drink that does not agree with you. Strong food smells can aggravate symptoms, as can travel on an empty stomach. Frequent, small meals can help.

Advance Preparations

Heed notices of adverse weather to come to treat yourself in advance. Take medication, natural remedies or wear wristbands.

Treating Sea sickness

Medications: Common medications are antihistamines and scopolamine. Antihistamines are the most commonly used and are widely available. Scopolamine is more effective but antihistamines may produce fewer adverse effects. Consult with a medical professional prior to departure and educate yourself about possible side effects of medications, such as dry mouth, blurry vision, drowsiness and occasionally disorientation.

Natural Remedies: The most common natural remedy is the Sea-Band wristband. Here a small tab places a gentle pressure on an acupressure point on the wrist area. I personally found this, on numerous voyages, to be a subtle boost but it took a day to notice it working. I wore them constantly, so much so that my fellow crew members called them my Wonder Woman Bands. Ginger, in the form of powder, pills, candy, ginger ale and tea, alleviates nausea without drowsiness and is an excellent aid. Green apples and crackers have also proven helpful.

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