Among the most common reasons people give for not taking a cruise vacation is seasickness. While it's true that you're on a moving ship, it's nothing like going on your friend's fishing boat, the movements are slow and much less pronounced. On newer ships don't even feel like they're moving. Let's look into why seasickness is rarely an issue and what to know so you're prepared just in case you feel a bit too much motion in the ocean...
Why it's rarely an issue
First off, quite simply, cruise ships are huge. Even what we call 'smaller' ships now hold many hundreds of people, have ample public spaces, multiple pools, etc. Bigger isn't always better, but when it comes to ships you definitely feel less motion when they are larger.
Regardless of the size of the ship now, another huge factor is technology. Modern cruise ships have multiple sets of stabilizers. Stabilizers are like giant fins that project out from the hull of the ship. When deployed, the cut into the water and prevent much of the side-to-side motion that might otherwise be felt in higher seas. Some ships even have 'active fins' for their stabilization system, which coordinate with onboard gyroscopes to adjust their pitch as needed and further reduce roll.
There is one more really simple reason that seasickness is rarely an issue; it's not fun. Cruise lines want you to enjoy your experience as much as possible, so they work really hard to avoid weather that can increase movement of the ship. This means combining the latest data provided by the weather service, coast guard, other ships, and the corporate offices, as well as the knowledge and experience that comes from cruise ship captains' years at sea.
What to do if you do get sick
All the technology and weather forecasts in the world matters none if you end up getting sick. It's rare, the majority of people don't, but some people are nauseated even in a brief car ride or elevator trip, so let's look into what can be done to help.
First, if you are one of those people, be sure you book a cabin on a lower deck toward the middle of the ship. These areas may don't experience as much motion, like sitting on the center of a seesaw instead of at one of the ends. A good travel agent will know to book you in a room that meets this criteria if you let him or her know you're prone to motion sickness.
There are a number of over the counter medications out there. Bonine (Meclazine) and Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate) are two of the most popular. I've heard annecdotaly that Bonine doesn't make people as drowsy as Dramamine, but to be honest, I haven't taken either myself.
In addition to medications, ginger has been shown to be a great treatment for motion sickness, even Myth Busters tested it. I personally like this remedy, as it seems reasonably well founded, is inexpensive, and low risk.
Another remedy are Sea-Bands. These have been popular for years, and are essentially wrist bands that are supposed to work based on the concept of acupressure. I don't know if these work but I've seen people wearing them.
Ultimately, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about these solutions and your concerns, don't take medical advice from some cruise nerd on the internet. If you do want to bring something with you just in case, order it ahead of time. Ships carry some of these items on board but their selection is limited and you'll pay dearly for the convenience. Guest services may provide some medication for free, but again, your selection becomes very limited.
The overwhelming majority of people who cruise don't get seasick. Cruise lines fill ships with thousands of vacationers every day, not just rollercoaster loving thrill seekers. If you are concerned though, know there are plenty of treatments and remedies out there, more than what I've mentioned here, so talk to your doctor of pharmacist if you've never taken a cruise and want that safety blanket.
Have any seasickness remedies? Questions about motion in the ocean? Comment below!