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Dramamine vs. Bonine (Photo: Robert Jakatics/Shutterstock)

Dramamine vs. Bonine: Motion Sickness Medicine

Dramamine vs. Bonine (Photo: Robert Jakatics/Shutterstock)
Contributor
Lori A. May

Last updated
Jul 5, 2023

Read time
5 min read

Cruising is far from fun when you're seasick. No one wants to think of getting sick on a cruise, but there are some precautions you can take and medicine for seasickness to pack when preparing for those less-than-sunny days at sea.

If you're wondering how to prevent seasickness on a cruise, luckily there are convenient drug-free remedies to help ease mild discomfort and nausea, such as ginger candies, green apples, acupressure wrist bands, medicinal patches and simply keeping a fixed gaze on the horizon.

For many, though, one of the most effective remedies for seasickness while cruising is bringing along preventative medication. But with so many to choose from, which is the best medicine for seasickness: Dramamine or Bonine (Meclizine)?

Below, we compare two popular brands of motion sickness medicine: Dramamine versus Bonine.

Note: Dramamine and Bonine both offer several versions of pills and tablets to fight seasickness. For the purposes of this article, we're referring to the original formulas of Bonine and Dramamine.

How Does Dramamine Work? How Does Meclizine Work?

Both Dramamine Original Formula and Bonine (Meclizine) are over-the-counter medications to treat motion sickness using antiemetics (in this case, antihistamine drugs that also alleviate nausea and vomiting).

When it comes to Bonine vs Dramamine, both brands say their products should be taken prior to activity for best results, so consider taking the motion sickness medicine within an hour of rough seas or the slightest indication of an upset stomach.

Those with allergies should note that both types of pills contain lactose.

While these two brands may be known as the best medicine for seasickness, there are two potential downsides for cruisers.

For one, some of the most effective medications for seasickness also make you drowsy. Unfortunately, non-drowsy Dramamine isn't considered as effective.

Secondly, drinking alcohol with either Dramamine or Bonine can cause more side effects.

Bonine (Meclizine) Dosage, Side Effects and More

Bonine (Meclizine) Dosage: Bonine's active per-tablet ingredient is 25 mg of meclizine hydrochloride, which prevents seasickness symptoms with minimal drowsiness. Bonine is meant to be taken one or two tablets at a time and only once a day for anyone older than 12 years of age.

Bonine (Meclizine) Side Effects: According to Drugs.com, meclizine side effects may include drowsiness, dry mouth, headache and vomiting. Bonine.com suggests candies can curb the dry mouth side effect.

Bonine (Meclizine) Warnings: Bonine should not be given to children under 12. If you have had kidney or liver disease, asthma, glaucoma, enlarged prostate or urinary problems, consult your doctor before taking Bonine or Meclizine. Also talk to your physician before taking meclizine while pregnant.

Bonine (Meclizine) and Alcohol: Drinking alcohol may increase some side effects.

Dramamine Dosage, Side Effects and More

Dramamine Dosage: Dramamine's original formula contains 50 mg of dimenhydrinate (Dramamine’s active ingredient) per tablet. The recommended dose for Dramamine Original Formula is one to two tablets every four to six hours for anyone older than 12.

Children aged six through 12 may take half or one tablet every four to six hours, with a maximum of three tablets in a 24-hour period, or as directed by a physician.

Dramamine Side Effects: According to Drugs.com, the Dramamine active ingredient can cause marked drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision or a feeling of restlessness, especially in kids who take it.

Dramamine makes non-drowsy and "less drowsy" options that contain either ginger or the same active ingredient as Bonine.

Dramamine Warnings: People with liver or kidney disease, enlarged prostate or urinary problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, people with seizures, digestive tract blockages, overactive thyroid, glaucoma or respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, should not take Dramamine, according to Drugs.com.

Do not take Dramamine while pregnant unless you have consulted your doctor.

Dramamine and Alcohol: Drinking alcohol while using Dramamine may cause side effects, like becoming even more tired. People should also avoid using any topical medications that contain antihistamines, such as Benadryl.

Other Dramamine and Bonine (Meclizine) Considerations

Kids and Dramamine or Bonine (Meclizine): If you have children who get motion sickness, note that there are options for Dramamine for kids. Dramamine offers dosing instructions for children as young as two years old. Bonine doesn't offer dosing for anyone younger than 12.

Chewable vs. Pills for Motion Sickness Medicine: Bonine (which is chewable) contains artificial sweetener, while Dramamine (which is swallowed rather than chewed) does not. Dramamine does, however, make a chewable pill as well.

Cost of Dramamine or Bonine (Meclizine): In terms of expense, both products are similarly priced, but Bonine's daily cost is less because the dosage is one to two pills per day and Dramamine is up to eight pills a day.

Plan for Seasickness Before You Cruise

While considering the best medicine for seasickness, it's important to consider what personally works for you and your body. It's hard to know when seasickness may set in while sailing, but packing your choice of medications in precaution will give you peace of mind should you become sick on a cruise.

Otherwise, you'll rely on finding marked-up pricing of drugstore finds in the ship's shopping corridor. Alternatively, some ships offer complimentary motion sickness medicine at the guest services desk, but these generics may not be your personal best medicine for seasickness.

Does Dramamine make you sleepy? Yes, so bring along a non-drowsy formula or pack Bonine. And remember that cruise ship buffets often offer green apples and bars provide ginger ale, should you feel only slightly off-center while cruising rough seas.

Bonine vs. Dramamine: Bottom Line

When weighing Bonine vs. Dramamine for seasickness while cruising, use Bonine (Meclizine) if you want a chewable pill that you only have to take once a day and don't mind paying an extra dollar or two for the convenience.

Some people report less drowsiness from Meclizine vs. Dramamine. Opt for Dramamine if you can't tolerate chewable pills or artificial sweeteners, but be prepared to take more than one dose per day (which means you'll go through more pills, thereby potentially negating any cost savings).

If you're lactose intolerant or if you plan to consume alcohol, stick with a more natural motion sickness remedy like an acupressure bracelet, green apples, ginger tablets or candies, or peppermint. Some cruisers rely on ginger ale to relieve a mild upset stomach.

In our experience, the majority of people prefer Bonine; you can read the opinions of fellow cruisers and join the discussion on the Cruise Critic message boards.

Publish date March 14, 2023
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