I’ve been on a cruise ship twice in my life: Once in 2010 for a 2-night press trip aboard Norwegian Epic during its inaugural sailing out of New York, and this May, when I boarded the Epic again for my Mediterranean cruise. The first time I was aboard the Epic, I got a little seasick. I had a cabin in the aft of the ship, which I’ve since read is one of the worst places to be. I’d also neglected to bring anything for seasickness, thinking I could just buy something on the ship (but then I didn’t, because it was such a short trip).
Given the cost of my Mediterranean cruise, I didn’t want to spend the majority of my time sick in my cabin. To be more prepared this time, I called my nurse practitioner for a prescription for the seasickness patch (scopolamine), which was recommended by my dental hygienist, who’d used them successfully. My RN’s assistant called back to let me know the prescription had been called in. The conversation went something like this:
Assistant: “The nurse wanted me to make sure you’re aware of the patch’s side effects, including difficulty urinating, blurry vision and eye pain. Now, I’m not telling you this to scare you–”
Me: “TOO LATE!”
I am seriously paranoid about pharmaceuticals. I had a bad reaction to an antibiotic a few years ago that I would very much like not to repeat. EVER. So I prefer not having to take drugs if I can avoid them. Unfortunately, I’ve tried ginger pills in the past as a remedy for motion sickness, and they didn’t work for me. Ultimately, we decided I would use the acupressure band (Sea-Band) as my Plan A to combat seasickness, and if that didn’t work, I’d move on to the patch as Plan B. I felt as prepared as I could be, and of course, I knew there was a doctor aboard the ship if I needed one.
The acupressure bands worked for the first three days after I boarded the ship. I was thrilled that I didn’t need to use the patch. I even mentally prepared my blog post in which I would extoll the virtues of these little miracle bands.
Then Saturday rolled around. I woke up feeling slightly nauseated. Uh-oh. I recognized the feeling from the last time I was seasick. I immediately put the patch on behind my ear, as directed. (Technically, you’re supposed to start wearing the patch before you board the ship, but like I said, I was hoping I wouldn’t need a pharmaceutical.) I made it through the day fairly well and, again, thought “Great. My Plan B worked.” I patted myself on the back for being smart enough to have a Plan B.
Sunday I woke up feeling really nauseated. I went into Barcelona that day, but even on land, I still felt queasy. Luckily, I’ve been to Barcelona before, so I didn’t have a very long to-do list for that port. I returned to the ship early and retreated to my room to curl up and die for awhile.
Monday was even worse than Sunday. This was our day at sea. I could feel the ship moving no matter where I was. Lying in bed, walking down hallways, sitting in restaurants. It didn’t matter. I had to hold onto the wall or railings as I walked, because I felt disoriented and dizzy. I didn’t want to eat food, because the smell of it, the sight of it, the taste of it made me even more nauseated. But I knew I’d feel sicker if I didn’t eat. So I forced myself. It was not a great day.
Only one other person aboard ship that I’d met seemed seasick, too (and more so than me). She bought some Sea-Bands in the ship’s store. They didn’t seem to work all that well for her, either.
People say staring at the horizon helps. I found just the opposite. Whenever I looked out the window and saw the waves sloshing around, it made me feel queasier.
Luckily, I wasn’t so sick that it ruined my trip. There was no puking involved, and I was never so sick that I felt I had to see a doctor. The nausea was unpleasant, but it didn’t keep me from going on my shore excursions, (any excuse to get off the ship was good with me.) On Tuesday, we docked in Naples. Almost as soon I set foot on land, I started to feel better. I felt relatively fine all day, but then Tuesday night, when the ship left dock, I started feeling queasy again. I could not wait to disembark on Wednesday and plant myself on solid ground again.
The upshot of this story is that you can do everything in your power to ward off seasickness, but some of us are just more susceptible to it than others. My equilibrium has never been good to begin with. I can’t even do calf lifts on one foot without holding onto a nearby wall for balance.
In short, as much as I loved the Epic and the overall cruise ship experience it offered, I have a feeling my cruising days may be over. I’m pretty crushed about this. I had hoped to take an Alaskan cruise some day.
A coworker of mine is telling me not to give up hope. After all, I haven’t exhausted all seasickness remedies yet. There’s still Marezine, Bonine, Meclizine, Dramamine and a whole slew of others—and I’ve heard even Benadryl can help (though Dramamine and Benadryl would knock me out; I’m not sure sleeping constantly would really help me enjoy my trip!). Of course, in order to test these out, I’d have to put myself in the position of being seasick again. . .which doesn’t appeal to me right now. And even though the patch didn’t give me eye pain or difficulty urinating, I’m still not a big fan of pharmaceuticals. I may need to wait a few years for this memory to fade before I have the stomach to try sailing the high seas again.
Have you ever been seasick? Did you find a remedy that worked for you? Please share in the comments below!