By Patti Covello Pietschmann
A witty former Princess Cruises' captain, John Young, liked to offer this pithy apology to any passengers who may have become seasick after a particularly rocky night a sea: "As you may know we refer to a Ship as 'her' or 'she.' And like a woman a ship's bosom often heaves." This almost always got a chuckle, even from the greenest-looking passengers. In the last few years, rough seas, including a few rogue waves and severe storms, have been 'rocky the boat' and causing even veteran seafarers to feel a little queasiness.While seasickness aka: mal de mer, is hardly fatal, symptoms such as nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting is no laughing matter. Still, choppy seas are not the only cause of motion sickness. According to scientific studies, some folks simply convince themselfs that being on a ship will make them ill. Other people possess a genuine proclivity for motion sickness and suffer more during rough seas. According to a spokesperson at at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, young people between the ages and 3 to 12 and women are often the most susceptible to seasickness. Other authorities say that travel-oriented maladies are less prevalent in people 70 and over.
If you have a fear of motion sickness, arm yourself before you board a ship, with preventative measures. One of the most widely recommended remedies is Transderm Scopola--a patch placed behind the ear, at least eight hours before boarding a ship. Available only by prescription, the Scopola lasts about 72 hours and can only help prevent symptoms, not treat them. There are possible side effects such as dry mouth, blurry vision, drowsiness and dizziness."
There are also efficacious non-prescription drugs such as Dramamine, Meclizine or diphenhydramine (commonly known as Benadryl) which are often freely dispensed at shipboard infirmaries or sold in the sundries shop. Stronger, more effective prescription drugs are available only from a physician. And while the ship’s doctor can prescribe them, it will cost you the price of an office visit plus the pills, so you're better off going to your personal physician). Promethazine and Ephedrines when taken together produce rapid results but offer potential side effects such as sleepiness. Suppositories, administered by the ship's physician can work magic for some people.
A drugless option is the Sea-Band wristband, which you strap on prior to embarkation. The acupressure-inspired product has a plastic bead that pushes against the Nei-Kuan pressure point located on the palm side of the wrist. It helps to curb nausea and vomiting without any side effects. Available in both adult and children's sizes they’re safe for pregnant women and available without a prescription at most drug stores.
Rules of the sea
To adapt to shipboard life head up on deck and stare directly into the horizon as soon as you get on board in order to gain equilibrium. It’s also not a bad idea to request a cabin in mid-ship where movement is minimal. Other precautions include: taking only port intensive cruises with fewer days on the open seas; avoiding itineraries where the ocean is bound to be rough such as North Atlantic crossings or the Caribbean during hurricane season (usually September; and sticking with big ships of 50,000 tons or more which provide added stability.
While this may prove difficult to do on a cruise, eating lightly the first few days onboard can also help you feel less queasy. Stick with clear broths and saltines. You might lose a pound or two but you can reward yourself with extra desserts when you feel better. Ginger ale and/or ginger capsules also help when you’re feeling sick to your stomach.Just remember seasickness is often just a state of mind. So plop down in that deck chair and try not to think about. Chances are it won’t happen to you