While cruise lines like to brag that improvements in technology and navigation all but eliminate the movement that prompts the need for motion-sickness remedies, the bald fact is that the sea is the sea. It’s occasionally calm and serene, other times rambunctious and unpredictable.
That was certainly the case onboard Grand Princess this week. The journey from Southampton to the western coasts of France, Spain and Portugal included the famously inhospitable Bay of Biscay. While seas were relatively calm most of the time, that wasn’t the case while we traversed Biscay on the way down to Lisbon – and then back to Southampton. Result? It was a perfect opportunity to test out commonly-used seasickness medications. (FYI, I’d brought along ginger-flavored gum, and it was a nice complement to the meds, but it didn’t work for me on its own).
The claim: “Raspberry flavored Bonine works up to 4 times longer and causes less drowsiness than original Dramamine.”
The Basics: Bonine’s chewable tablets (with a taste reminiscent of children’s aspirin) are made of meclizine (also a main property of Dramamine). Instructions are to take 1 or 2 tablets per 24 hours, not for children under 12.
The Test: The packet instructions tell you to chew a tablet “one hour before travel starts,” but one of the beauties of Bonine – with which I’m intimately familiar – is that it works just fine for me if I wait until I’m already queasy. I don’t always get sick and so don’t necessarily want to take one unless it’s necessary. In this case, I was feeling slightly nauseous already when I chewed a tablet. I climbed into bed to wait.
Results: 15 minutes later, I was feeling just fine, and though the instructions suggest you avoid alcohol, two glasses of wine at dinner had no discernable effect. Bonine did make me feel sleepier than I would have – I slept beautifully (and for 10 hours).
The claim: “The Sea-Band has been clinically tested against nausea and vomiting in travel, pregnancy, post-operative, chemotherapy and other conditions which induce nausea.” And: “Sea-bands take between two and five minutes to become effective but a better result is achieved if the band is in place well before the journey commences.”
The Basics: The Sea-Band, which comes in a packet of two, is a knitted, elasticized wrist band that uses acupressure to alleviate nausea. As such, it’s all-natural.
The Test: First, I read the diagram that instructs you to “place your middle three fingers on the inside of your wrist with the edge of the third finger just below the first wrist crease.” Once your bands are in place – one on each wrist – you wait.
Results: Feeling quite queasy, I climbed into bed for the wait and sent my husband on to happy hour without me, adding optimistically, “I’m hoping these will work in time for dinner.” An hour later? Still hoping. There was improvement but a borderline nausea remained. I will say that the pressure Sea-Band exerts is a bit uncomfortable for me; it’s sort of like wearing a tight rubber band around your wrist.
So What’s the Bottom Line?
A quick nosh on a Bonine tablet saved the evening. Not only did I manage to make it to dinner, I was one of a hardy handful to close the One5 nightclub. Fortunately, we were at sea the day after, so the resulting 10-hour-night’s sleep couldn’t have come at a better time.
Feeling a little queasy? See our tips on how to avoid seasickness.