Pick Big Ships To Avoid Getting Seasick
One of the biggest trends in the cruise industry these days is group travel, whether it’s a family reunion, bachelor/bachelorette party, wedding, or an assembly of enthusiasts for a special event. That’s because today’s cruise ships are like floating cities with a plethora of entertainment options, making them ideal venues for such celebrations. Moreover, it’s a safe environment where everyone makes it “home” at the end of the night – even those who might have enjoyed a few too many celebratory martinis.
The only inevitable hitch is that one or more people in every group have never cruised before, often because of a history with motion sickness. And if it’s someone critical to the event, such as the maid of honor, the entire idea may need to be scrapped, potentially disappointing a lot of people.
For many of us, there’s a unique magic in traversing the ocean on a grand ship as we watch the water stream by with a glass of wine in hand. Then there’s the gentle roll of the vessel, echoing the sensation of being rocked to sleep like a baby.
But if you are concerned about contracting mal de mer, the cruise experience may never happen, which begs the question: is seasickness really something to worry about?
The answer: not as much as you would think, and there are steps you can take to lessen the risk.
First, select the newest and largest ship available for your destination. Newer ships will feature the latest in stabilization technology, and larger vessels are less susceptible to ocean turbulence than smaller ones. For example, the Oasis-Class ships offered by Royal Caribbean weigh 225,000 gross tons, so it should come as no surprise that they handle rough seas far better than midsize cruise ships in the 80,000-ton range.
Second, select a cabin in the center of the ship on a lower deck, even though the swankier choices are usually higher up. The most common movement cruise passengers feel is the “roll” or port-to-starboard sway of the ship, so you’ll want a location with the least effect. Think of the vertical axis of the ship like a pendulum, where the side-to-side distance of travel is the least at the bottom and most at the top. That’s exactly how it will feel onboard if seas are rough. A similar phenomenon holds true at the center of the horizontal axis (middle of the ship), where the pitch from bow to stern is least noticeable.
Third, upgrade to a balcony stateroom on the lowest possible deck if your budget allows it. You’ll have a sliding glass door to let in fresh air, and if you’re feeling queasy, you can step outside and gaze at the horizon, thereby tricking your brain into thinking you’re still. But if conditions are normal, and you’re on a larger cruise ship, you’ll hardly notice any motion at all. In fact, some oceangoing enthusiasts complain about the absence of movement on the new megaships because they prefer the traditional feel of being on the water.
Fourth, consider taking a “test run” on an Alaska Inside Passage cruise to see how you do. Very little of that trip will take place on the open seas, especially if you sail round trip out of Vancouver. The experience will go a long way toward helping you graduate to the next level. Also, removing all of the unknowns about cruise travel itself will make future voyages all that more enjoyable, regardless of the conditions.
Finally, bring one or more motion-sickness medicines on the trip just in case. If your condition is more severe, consider using them as a preventative measure instead of a treatment, as they are usually more effective that way. But be sure to consult with your doctor first to see whether an over-the-counter medicine like Dramamine or a prescription drug is better for you. Some people swear by prescription Scopolamine patches. There are holistic treatments, too, such as ginger candy, cookies and pills.
If you’re taking a longer cruise, rest assured that virtually everyone, no matter how motion-sensitive they are, eventually gets their sea legs. The brain ultimately adjusts, and most people feel the slightest wave sensation for a day or two after disembarkation, as the body’s natural counterbalance takes a while to burn off.
Of course, no one can control the weather, so there’s always a slight chance of negotiating through a heavy storm with turbulent seas. Cruise lines will try their best to alter itineraries or routes to avoid them, but that’s not always possible. Just keep in mind that such situations are rare.
I have taken roughly 20 cruises or trans-continental ocean voyages and remember only one occasion where rough seas meaningfully impacted the passengers. That was almost 20 years ago on a small 32,000-ton ship with older stabilization systems – and it still didn’t stop me or my wife from showing up bright and early for breakfast!
Kevin Streufert is a Park Hill-based travel advisor and an Amazon #1 bestselling novelist. He has traveled the world since age 3, with a particular focus on Europe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.