Rockin' the Boat
by Linda Coffman
the Boat - If all else fails, find a sympathetic
Mal de mer...
a fancy French way of saying seasickness, motion sickness, upset
stomach... and all that goes with it. Those who are afflicted claim
only dying will relieve their discomfort. Many first time passengers
are anxious about whether they'll be stricken with it.
Will you get seasick?
Until you actually sail, there's
no way to tell. If you start turning green around the gills just
looking at a Jacuzzi, you might get seasick... if you have a problem
with motion sickness in automobiles and airplanes, you may be more
prone to seasickness. On the other hand, if you get nauseous in a
smallish sailboat, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll get seasick
on a cruise ship.
cruise ships are equipped with stabilizers that eliminate much of
the motion responsible for seasickness. And, unless your cruise
includes the open sea and wind-whipped water, you may not even feel
the ship's movement--particularly if your ship is a mega-liner.
first-time cruisers concerned with seasickness, a mega-liner is
precisely the ship of choice. I've missed Bon Voyage deck parties on
ships of over 70,000 GRT because I never felt them leave the dock.
They are very stable in calm seas. Where do you find a cruise on a
mega-liner in calm seas? The Caribbean is most benign in winter and
spring, but you might want to avoid the height of hurricane season
when tropical storms can whip up a frenzy of waves from late-August
you have a history of motion sickness, do not book an inside cabin.
For the terminally seasick, it will begin to resemble a movable
coffin in short order. Being able to view the horizon can help restore your sense
of balance. Select an outside cabin in the middle of the ship on a
low deck where any extreme motion will be less noticeable.
What is it?
is a balance problem generally attributed to overactive nerve fibers
in the inner ear. Your sensory perception gets out of synch as these
nerve fibers attempt to compensate for the unfamiliar motion of the
ship moving through water. This condition often disappears on its
own in a few days, once you get your "sea legs," but by
that time you've seen far too much of the inside of your bathroom
and are ready to bolt the ship at any cost. You needn't
suffer--there are a number of remedies available to help align your
those sailors who "never get seasick" have been known to
avail themselves of medications on occasion. The most common drugs
are Dramamine, Dramamine II, and Bonine. They are all essentially
anti-histamines and are available at most pharmacies
over-the-counter. Anti-histamines make most people drowsy and
Dramamine will almost certainly have that effect. Dramamine II and
Bonine are non-drowsy formulas but they still put some people to
sleep for a few hours. Considering the alternative, that's not
necessarily a bad side effect.
you want to beat mal de mer before it has the chance to sneak
up on you, it's recommended that you take one of these remedies a
couple hours before sailing. Rest assured that if you don't bring
your own, an ample supply will be available onboard your vessel,
either in sick bay or at the Purser's Desk.
Scopace, which is scopolamine in pill form,
is another effective medication, although a prescription is needed
just like the Transderm Scop® patch (described below, it contains
the same medicine).
behind the ear, the "patch" dispenses a continuous metered
dose of medication (scopolamine) that's absorbed into the skin and enters the
bloodstream. Apply the patch four hours before sailing and it will
continue to be effective for three days. You'll need a prescription
from your physician for the patch and, while wearing it, be vigilant
for possible side effects including blurred vision, dry mouth, and
drowsiness. Additionally, alcohol should be avoided and you
shouldn't drive or do other things that require alertness until you
discontinue using the patch.
one wants to be drugged up and drowsy when they should be enjoying a
cruise. There are nearly as many remedies for seasickness as there
are sufferers, so dive in and explore a few homeopathic and natural
the bartender mix up a couple tablespoons of Angostura Bitters in a
half glass of water or club soda. Do this right away and you
probably won't need the rest of these remedies.
wristbands work on the principle of acupressure. Each elastic
Sea-Band has a round button on the inside and when positioned to
press a particular point on the inside of the wrist, the nausea
associated with seasickness disappears. I swear by these little
gems, although they look rather tacky with cocktail dresses. They
are sold in many pharmacies, luggage stores, and even some travel
agencies. Many ships' sundries shops also have them but if the ship
begins to rock and roll, they'll sell out in a heartbeat.
mom always gave me ginger ale for an upset stomach and it can't hurt
if you can keep it down. Ginger capsules and crystallized ginger,
available in health food stores and supermarkets, are supposedly
even more effective.
won't feel like it, but you should try to eat something. Crackers,
broth, and ginger ale might do the trick. Any woman who's lived
through morning sickness knows the virtues of saltine crackers. My
travel agent recommends crackers and apples for those who can't keep
liquids down--the apples replace vital body fluids.
Lying Down: Spending
valuable cruise time in bed isn't fun, but a prone position should
alleviate some of your symptoms. So, don't lie down in your cabin,
instead find a deck chair and get some...
Fresh Air: If
nothing else, fresh sea air smells good and is bound to improve your
mood. Again, keeping an eye on the horizon can also help restore your sense
insensitive people (usually spouses) will tell you seasickness is
"all in your head." In a way it is--it's that inner ear
thing and a very real problem for many unfortunate passengers.
There's no better vacation than a week or more at sea, so give these
methods a try.
If all else fails, there's
"sick bay"--the ship's infirmary--where you'll find Cruise