a cruise ship and a small tug boat in a mountainside port

How to stop motion sickness and enjoy a cruise to Alaska

A comment prompted this  post to follow up my recent post about cruising

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

The conversation went like this:

Rhonda Gales (@RhondaGales) blogger at Mother 2 Mother 

Your photos are great! I want to do a cruise to Alaska next year, but I’m a little leery. The last cruise that I took, I was sea sick the entire cruise. Any advice on how to avoid it this time, and thanks for sharing on Sunday’s Best.

Dr. Aletha

Thanks Rhonda we’ve also cruised to Alaska, it was beautiful. You might look for a facility offering desensitization training for motion sickness. Otherwise drugs work but can cause unpleasant side effects. Talk to your doctor.

Rhonda

Thanks for your advice. Would love to see pictures of your Alaska Cruise. This post was quite popular with my readers.

white and yellow roller coaster
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness is the unpleasant sensation of motion, either with or without motion actually occurring. Those of us prone to it wonder why some people seek out experiences  like roller coasters.  Symptoms include

  • sweating
  • nausea with or without vomiting
  • dizziness
  • imbalance
  • general unwell feeling

Fear of motion sickness causes people to forgo activities like airplane travel, boating, amusement park rides, and car trips. But sometimes these activities are unavoidable or people just want to enjoy them.

 

Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage

 

 

How to stop motion sickness and enjoy a cruise to Alaska-watercresswords.com

 

 

Preventing motion sickness

If you don’t want to completely forgo activities that might cause motion sickness, manipulating the situation to minimize or change the motion can help.

Sitting toward the front of a vehicle and facing forward will help.

  • Airplanes- sit over the wings
  • Boat- sit level with the water facing the waves
  • Bus/Van/Car- nearest the front
  • Train- lowest level

Use your eyes

  • Don’t read
  • Focus on the horizon if possible.
  • Keep eyes closed (especially if not able to see the horizon) and/or wear sunglasses.

Maintain general wellness

  • Be rested, sleep if possible
  • Stay hydrated, eat lightly
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Keep the environment  well ventilated, avoid strong smells
  • Listen to soothing music
a seaplane with a cruise ship in the background
No roads lead into Juneau, the capital of Alaska , so people there depend on boats and airplanes.

Using medications for motion sickness

One option is to use medication, either for prevention or to treat the symptoms once they occur (not as effective.)

Prevention- using the patch

There are herbal patches  but this one is  prescription only, and most likely to be effective.

Transdermal Scopolamine patch (Transderm-Scop)

  1. Apply behind one ear at least 4 hours before travel
  2. Replace patch every 72 hours

 

man and woman standing next to a helicopter on a glacier
When our cruise ship stopped at Juneau, we took a helicopter ride over a glacier-and then landed on it.

 

 

 

 

Other prescription medication

Promethazine (Phenergan) for nausea and vomiting

woman walking over icy terrain near a mountain
exploring the surface of a glacier

 

 

 

Available OTC- over the counter

(These affiliate links are for information only and are not a recommendation to use unless advised by your personal physician.)

 

 

 

 

a village by the shore flanked by mountains, Alaska
Sailing through Alaska’s Inside Passage, we were never far from breathtaking scenery.

Habituation and Desensitization

The more I travel , the less likely I am to suffer motion sickness without using drugs.  I use the tips above- I don’t read in the car, I sit in the front of a bus. If an airplane encounters turbulence, I lean back, close my eyes, and direct the cool air toward me. I have gradually become habituated to motion, although I still do not ride roller coasters.

There are programs available to desensitize people to motion; the military uses these since pilots and sailors will constantly be exposed to motion and must be able to function.

A former NASA flight surgeon  and fighter pilot developed such a method, naming  it after himself. Dr. Sam Puma developed the Puma Method. 

“The PUMA METHOD consists of a series of simple yet very effective warm-up and conditioning exercises.

These exercises raise your tolerance level to a variety of motion sickness producing activities such as reading in a moving vehicle, riding in a small boat or cruise ship, or flying in an airplane. This process is called habituation.

The exercises use your body’s own habituation mechanism to prevent motion sickness. You don’t need any drugs, so there are no negative side effects.”

(quote from the website)

(This is an affiliate link to  the product. Otherwise, I have no personal, professional, or financial connection to Dr. Puma or the Puma Method.)

 

 

 

 

a street in Ketchikan Alaska with a sign-The Salmon Capital of the World
Fortunately for us, we love to eat salmon.

Motion Sickness Treatment Makes Waves

This article from Scientific American explains how NASA and the U.S. Navy are finding new ways to help everyone overcome motion sickness.

“Researchers  and those who work with pilots and the military’s most frequent flyers, are especially keen to find better ways to treat motion sickness. And the many civilians who face nausea in cars, planes, boats or even the tamest amusement park rides would welcome a cure without the common side effects of current medications, such as sleepiness, or the questionable efficacy of alternative treatments, such as pressure bracelets.

The path to those ends remains bumpy and filled with more than a few green faces, but new research is closer to finding the best treatments to keep both side effects and lunch down.”

 

The food as well as the dining service was always excellent, and one of our favorite parts of the cruise.

 

 

If you didn’t visit it already, you may want to read my previous post-

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

 

 

Travel comments please

Please share your cruise experiences, good or bad.  How have you coped with motion sickness on any trip? I may share some of your insights in a future post.

 

boats in a harbor with a mountain in the distance

 

 

 

Please visit my page

Healthy and Helpful Resources

 

And learn how you can help

Share the HEART of health

 

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health on a cruise ship with me. Please share this post and follow Watercress Words.

Dr. Aletha 

woman standing by pink flowers
At our final stop , Victoria, Vancouver Island, touring Butchart Gardens. Yes, an Alaskan cruise stops in Canada.
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7 thoughts on “How to stop motion sickness and enjoy a cruise to Alaska”

    1. Thanks Lydia, yes it was amazing. No roads lead in or out of Juneau and there aren’t many within the town, so motor vehicle travel is one of the safest in the United States. I don’t know about airplanes though, it’s probably safe too since they rely on it so heavily.

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  1. Aletha, motion sickness seems very common. I know a number of people who are afraid to cruise because of it. Like you mentioned above, I went to a physical therapist and was cured of my directional dizziness. It was a huge relief to be free of constant dizziness. I am now also better when I travel but I still follow your tips.
    I love the Alaska photos, good incentive to find a cure. We will feature this post on the next Blogger’s Pit Stop to help more bloggers overcome motion sickness.
    Kathleen

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    1. Thank you Kathleen, I appreciate the support. I’m glad Rhonda commented about motion sickness after my first post about cruising; I had never considered doing a post about the topic, which I now realize is a problem for many people. I hope the information helps people travel to fun and interesting places. I enjoyed reminiscing about our Alaska cruise as I picked out photos for the post, we have many more I could have used. Maybe in another post.

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  2. Aletha, I’ve been dealing with motion sickness all my life and have pretty much given up on it! “Don’t read” is definitely a must. On a plane, I cannot read OR watch the movie, must sit looking straight ahead. Works well for me. One time I got overconfident and got into a conversation with the person next to me, which kept me turning that direction for a time–not good!

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