Don’t Drink Too Much Water (and other dubious medical advice)

Calm seas after day 1.

I don’t get seasick. Well, historically I haven’t gotten seasick. Until now. After months of planning, assembling a group of travelers, fretting over what to pack (warm weather, cool weather?) and researching port stops, our Transatlantic cruise aboard the beautiful Seabourn Quest had finally arrived.  I brought the sea band wristbands, just in case, but it never occurred to me that I might actually get seasick.  (Mistake #1.) The thing about seasickness is this: with a few precautions, it is preventable and possible to fully enjoy your cruise. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. 

We departed Fort Lauderdale in rainy conditions but were optimistic that the weather would clear. It did. When I awoke the second morning of the cruise, I was feeling a little queasy, which I quickly attributed to too much bourbon (and Champagne) the night before. (Mistake #2)

It was a slow jaunt up the three flights of stairs to the spa for my hot stone massage appointment (which I made while still docked), and I quickly changed into my robe and slippers, looking forward to the massage ahead (Mistake #3). Then it all went downhill. After a short time hunched over the bathroom sink, I emerged to find a spa attendant going to fetch me some tea. (“Drink some ginger tea. It helps.” Probably rescheduling my appointment would have helped more.)

Champagne? But of course!

Somehow I made it through the 75-minute treatment, released some toxins, and managed not to vomit again until it was over. Those must be more toxins exiting my system. When I was satisfied there was nothing more to come up, I got dressed and made my way back to meet FKGuy for some breakfast.

The seas were not terribly rough, only a few feet, but we seemed to be hitting the waves at an odd angle, and instead of rocking side to side it was more of a forward to backward motion. So, one minute you are looking out the window at the sea, the next at the sky. That, my friends, was the problem.

But I am stubborn, so I forged ahead with our plan to play trivia. After all, it was the only scheduled activity we had for the next nine days. By the end of the hour, I had turned an curious shade of green, and announced to FKGuy that I was going to swing by our room before we had lunch. My goal was to make it into our bathroom with the door firmly shut before I started puking my guts out again. (Mistake #4.) I only made it as far as the dirty laundry bin in the hallway, about three doors down from us. At least it was already dirty.

Next came an extensive cleaning, several rounds of apologies by me to the crew, and a call from the shipboard doctor (wanting to make sure that it was nothing more serious than seasickness). Once I assured him that I would be okay, and was certain that there would be no more vomiting, he let me know that the lovely people in Guest Services have some pills (free!) and I should get some.

Once it was out in the open, everyone began to give me advice. “Look at the horizon!” (Does nothing.) “Drink ginger ale, and add some bitters to it!” (Totally works!) “Eat something!” (Also works.) But my favorite was “don’t drink too much water.

Wait. What? That goes against every tidbit of medical advice anywhere. Generally, the cure for everything is water. Bloated? Drink water. Too much bourbon? Drink water. Headache? You’re probably dehydrated, so drink more water.

I was confused.

It turns out that if you drink too much water, particularly on an empty stomach, it just sloshes around in there (that’s the medical term), and makes you queasier. I was not going to take any chances, so I stuck to Champagne from then forward.

Just kidding. Sort of. But I did drink less water (and sadly, Champagne) for a few days until this thing passed. I also took those cute little pills, wore the hideous wristbands (which did not go with my formal dress at all), and was illness-free and loving life.

I am not the first (or last) to projectile vomit in a public space on the ship. Afterwards, I did notice an abundance of sickness bags placed around the ship by garbage cans and in bathrooms, just in case. I cannot thank the crew enough for their kindness, compassion, and most of all, not mocking me for all eternity (at least not to my face). I declined my friend’s request for me to autograph, in advance, the seasickness bags.

As it turns out, after many cruises and other boat outings, I do get seasick, and that is OK. I am prepared for it now, and next time I will greet it head on.  You see, after that first few hours of misery, taking the pills and wearing the wristbands, I was just fine, and able to fully enjoy everything my cruise had to offer. Moral of the story: don’t fear seasickness, follow a few simple precautions, and you will enjoy your wonderful cruise vacation. Also, don’t drink too much water (or Champagne).