After noticing several recent surveys for people that have never cruised before, we realised that seasickness was a major factor in avoiding a cruise holiday. As small of a matter as it may seem at first, many people do suffer from the fear of this occurring when on board, especially those who have never experienced a cruise before and are unaware of what life is like on board. We therefore decided it would be the perfect time to take a closer look at the subject and see if we can help out.
Seasickness is often referred to as Mal de Mer, a polite French term for describing the effect of motion sickness on the human body. It’s a delicate way of putting it but this as many people know, can be a severely worrying issue for passengers heading on a cruise. The important thing is not to think badly of yourselves for worrying about it, believe it or not, it has been proven that even professionally trained astronauts heading off into space require medication to relieve motion sickness sensations so if you were feeling frustrated with yourselves don’t, because many people are concerned and effected by it, not just you.
One of the most common triggers of seasickness is in fact anxiety. The sensations often come about because you are unable to take your mind off it and are continuously worried that it will come on as well as the disruption it may have on a holiday that you have earned and so badly want to enjoy. Although a key trigger, anxiety is completely understandable as, although it’s in no way life threatening, sickness can be a really stressful and worrying aspect of booking a cruise for the first time but it doesn’t have to be and that’s where we come in.
One key piece of advice we would give is never to worry too much about what others tell you or what you may read prior to going away. Don’t let what you read or hear prevent you from enjoying the holiday of a lifetime, because that’s exactly what a cruise is. Instead, use the information you have gathered as a positive.
What is seasickness?
Seasickness occurs when mixed and confusing signals are sent to the brain. The body is sending different messages to that of the eyes and the inner ear resulting in the brain becoming disorientated and provoking the feeling of nausea. Although these mixed messages from all over the body occur, the main problem area revolves around the inner ear, otherwise known as the vestibular system being disturbed and therefore impacting on the bodies overall balance system. Once this occurs, a chain of events then begins to take place. A disturbance in the inner ear will provoke sensory perception difficulties resulting in the brain attempting to compensate for what it is feeling and the messages being received. We’ve all heard the phrase “like a fish out of water” being used to describe an uncomfortable and unnatural feeling. Well this is exactly what’s happening inside the brain when being taken to sea. Our natural environment is on land, it’s what we are used to and become accustomed to, therefore when that environment changes, the brain can at times malfunction as it is uncertain of what is going on, leading to it misbehaving. The messages differ as your vision senses from the eyes are reporting to the brain that everything is ok and all things within site are stable and secure in other words, the brain should not worry. The inner ear, however, is completely contradicting the visionary senses and telling the brain that this is not true and everything is not stable.
The main thing to remember is that this condition does not affect everyone and only certain people suffer from the feeling of nausea. There are no decisive factors as to why but it can occur. The important thing is to remember that it is just a temporary problem and in a short amount of time the brain and body will decipher what is going on and will reach a cohesion once again, learning to compensate for its new surroundings, hence the term “sea legs”.
Who is it likely to effect?
Almost everybody. Not the answer you expected? Well, don’t worry, we say this because approximately 90% of people will suffer from some form of motion sickness during their lives, the good news though is that the majority of those people won’t even know it or notice it. Anyone can be affected by it, all you need is a normal inner ear balance and most of us have that so it is possible for us all to get it, even the most comfortable of sailors but the fact is that the mixed messages that the brain sends doesn’t always mean you will feel ill. Many people head off on a cruise and for the first few days just feel a little sleepy and relaxed. This can actually be a symptom of seasickness, people just don’t realise. There’s nothing harmful or anything to worry about, if anything most of us feel a bit sleepy on board anyway thanks to all the fantastic food and let’s face it, doing nothing can be tiring! It’s your holiday, you’re bound to unwind and relax!
For certain unfortunate people, it can be worse and you may find symptoms become more noticeable and reach the point of nausea and headache. Rest assured though that this is not a long term issue and is treatable both via natural remedies and prescription medication.
Can it be prevented?
100% Yes! Seasickness can certainly be prevented by taking simple steps to help relieve symptoms. One of the best suggestions is to just simply keep busy and keep your mind occupied, which is definitely one of the best pieces of advice we could give. Fresh air is also a great reliever rather than staying in the cabin. Fresh air can relax you and make you feel much more at ease.
Keep your senses working. Instead of focusing on just one thing, keep your eyes busy and have a wander around, this will certainly help along with a glance towards the horizon from time to time as this gives you something to base your movement on and will make you feel much better. It’s amazing how a simple look towards the horizon every now and again can have such a calming effect on the brain. The horizon inevitably acts as a stable point of reference for the brain, hence the calming effect. Be sure to drink plenty of water as well, as this will also help along with sleeping at the appropriate times and giving the brain time to rest and recover.
Another recommendation we would make is that if you are worried about seasickness, book an outside cabin or above. Inside cabins are superb for value but prevent you from being able to see the horizon whenever you wish and outside staterooms and balconies are great for that.
One thing to remember is that cruising is not what it once was. There was a time when seasickness was a very likely concern due to the diminutive size and stability of cruise ship vessels. In the modern day, this is not the case. Ships are now remarkably stable and are able to eliminate motion sickness thanks to the technology on board.
What are the best remedies?
There is not a specific product or remedy that we will endorse but we can recommend certain solutions to help relieve the effect of motion sickness on your holiday. There are several precautionary measures you can look into that will help once on board. As well as providing relief from potential symptoms, the remedies can also have a calming effect on the mind, reducing levels of anxiety.
If you are looking to take medication remedy then be sure to start the medication before you set sail. Doing this will give the body time to get used to the remedy and it will be in your system ready to be put to good use by the time the ship departs. There are plenty of medications for this that can be obtained from any local pharmacy as well as prescription strength medication from your doctor. The majority of medications work by suppressing balance senses to give the feeling of relaxation and make the adjustment to life at sea much easier.
Another potential remedy is the use of special wrist bands. These sea bands can be purchased before you go but are also stocked on board most ships shops for passengers to buy at sea. The bands are not the most fashionable of items but have been proven to help by effectively applying a comfortable force to pressure points on the wrist. Stick on patches are also believed to be effective that can be worn behind the ear and can also be obtained prior to boarding. Certain pharmacies may stock these but most of the time patches do require a doctor’s prescription.
Along with the preventative measures before you go there is also no need to worry when you are on board. Medical centres on board are excellent and a doctor will be on hand to help you with any symptoms you may be suffering. Anti-seasickness prescription strength tablets can be purchased on board as well as herbal alternatives. In the event of the symptoms becoming increasingly worse, you are able to receive an injection on board at the medical centre that will provide relief. The injection will not be given though until after a consultation with the on board doctor.
Try to relax and enjoy yourselves!
This is your holiday, something you deserve to enjoy so make sure you go into it with that in mind. Try to stay relaxed and be confident that you are highly unlikely to suffer from extreme symptoms on board and any you do experience you will most likely hardly even notice. After a day or two at sea you won’t even remember why you were worried in the first place. The best thing you can do is look forward to the places you will be visiting, the amazing cuisine and the fabulous entertainment on board. Don’t be stressed, just relax, unwind and enjoy an unforgettable holiday for all the right reasons.