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Cruise Travel
Preventing Seasickness | Packing for a Cruise | Cruise Tipping Guidelines


  Preventing Seasickness

While no treatment is 100 percent effective, there are a number of helpful remedies you might want to consider before venturing out to sea.

But before you seek relief, it's important to understand why people succumb to seasickness in the first place. Basically, seasickness, or motion sickness of any kind, is a battle between the senses. When you're on a ship, your vestibular system (the inner ear's balancing mechanism) tells your brain that your body is moving along with the swell of the sea. Your eyes, however, look about the cabin of the ship and tell your brain that you are not moving. This conflict causes an imbalance in the body, resulting in fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and possible vomiting.

Obviously, this is no way to spend a vacation. When you book your cruise, you can reduce your chances of becoming seasick by requesting a cabin as close to the middle and bottom of the ship as possible. Though the eighth-floor suites offer fantastic views, they also pitch and rock more than their inside counterparts.

Before setting sail, check out a few over-the-counter medications and natural preventatives. Nonprescription antihistamines such as Dramamine, Marezine, and Bonine can be found at most drug stores and offer relief to many seasickness sufferers. Unfortunately, they can also cause severe drowsiness and should not be mixed with alcohol. Remember to check with your doctor before taking any medications.

If you're susceptible to more severe bouts of seasickness, your doctor might prescribe a transdermal scopolamine patch. This circular, flat disk is placed behind the ear, adhering to the skin and delivering medication into the bloodstream for three days. But be aware that drowsiness, disorientation, dry mouth, and blurry vision are a few of its possible side effects.

Many people who prefer to eschew drugs find relief in wearing an acupressure wrist band, which inhibits nausea by applying pressure to a particular point on your wrist. These can be purchased at most major pharmacies and marine stores for $6 to $10 each. Another natural remedy is ginger, said to have a calming affect on queasy tummies. Chewable ginger tablets, ginger tea, and crystalized ginger can be found at most health food stores.

Once you and your physician have decided on a treatment option, it's time to cross the gangplank and set sail. Remember to use caution when approaching the sprawling buffet tables--while the bacon, eggs, and mimosas at brunch would be perfectly tasty on land, they're not exactly what you want to consume when you're feeling ill. Caffeine, alcohol, and greasy or acidic foods are tough to digest and may add to your nausea. Crackers, dry toast, and flat soda are better bets. And don't forget to drink plenty of water, as dehydration lowers your body's resistance to stress.

If you begin to feel woozy, call your cabin steward or the purser's desk--oftentimes, they will provide you with free nonprescription drugs to help quell the nausea, vomiting, and dizziness associated with motion sickness. For more severe cases, visit the ship's medical facility. The office will have daily hours of operation, but a doctor is always on-call for emergencies. (Be aware, though, that you may be charged for your visit.)

And keep in mind that a cramped, stuffy cabin is the worst place you can be when seasickness strikes. Head up to a quiet spot on the deck for some fresh air and sunshine. When you get outside, face forward and fix your eyes on the horizon--a cloud, passing ship, or your port of call are all good things on which to concentrate.

Armed with these helpful hints, your cruise should be smooth sailing all around. Bon voyage!

 

  Packing for a Cruise

As with any trip, it's wise to pack as lightly as possible. In many instances, passengers can take advantage of laundry and dry-cleaning services in order to travel even lighter. (You can usually find price lists and laundry bags in your cabin.) And be sure to bring an extra fold-away bag to carry home any souvenirs you purchase during your trip.

During daylight hours, you'll need casual, comfortable outfits. Bring shorts, short-sleeved shirts, lightweight pants, a sweater, swimsuit and cover-up, comfortable walking shoes, non-skid shoes for strolling on deck, and sandals. You might want to bring an umbrella and a light jacket, too. For seasonal cruises, plan accordingly: Be sure to include warm sweaters, jackets, long pants, and extra socks. If visiting a religious site in port, please consult with your cruise's Excursion Desk to find out what's appropriate to wear while touring.

Most cruises host several different types of evenings on board: casual, semi-formal (dressy, but informal), and formal. For casual nights, sport shirts and slacks are suitable for men, while sundresses or pants work for women. On semi-formal nights, most women wear dresses or pantsuits, while men put on jackets and ties. For formal nights, women should wear cocktail dresses or evening gowns, while men should don suits and ties, or tuxedos (optional).

  Cruise Tipping Guidelines

A general rule of thumb is to plan for about $2.50 to $3.00 per person per day for your room steward and dining room waiter, and about half that amount for your busboy. (A few cruise lines include tipping in the price and will so inform you.)

Other ship personnel can be tipped for special services at your discretion. Some recommendations include $1.50 per day per person for your assistant waiter, and a total of $2.50 per person for your head waiter on three- and four-night cruises (for seven-night and longer cruises, head-waiter gratuities are at your discretion). All gratuities must be paid in cash. (Note that a 15 percent gratuity is often added automatically to your bar bill or wine tab when you are served.)

Extending a gratuity to your guide or driver on shore excursions is strictly optional. But keep in mind that in some countries, these personnel may expect that if you are pleased with their services, you will reward them. A commonly accepted guideline is $1 per person for a half-day tour and $2 per person for a full-day tour.

 


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