For a long time, I have been interested in an Alaskan Inside Passage cruise, but am afraid of seasickness. What is the most )) effective method of dealing with this problem?
Inside Passage cruises wriggle through the tranquil channels and straits off British Columbia and Alaska. But they may also venture into the less-protected waters of the Pacific for some stretches: just north of Vancouver, between Ketchikan and Sitka, and between Sitka and Glacier Bay. Wherever they go, whatever rocking motion there might be is minimal because of ships' stabilizers, weight (gross registered tonnage is usually about 34,000 and up) and design.
The itinerary varies, with most ships starting in Vancouver. Some go to Ketchikan or Skagway and others head farther north, to the Gulf of Alaska and Seward. For someone concerned about seasickness, the conservative approach would be to cruise from Vancouver to Skagway.
Because differences in susceptibility vary so much, the possibility of getting seasick cannot be ruled out, even in calmer waters. Besides fear and anxiety, a major reason for seasickness is that people are getting conflicting messages -- one from the eye, a different one from the ear -- about the position of the head.
Medications may help but they may also cause drowsiness, TC blurred vision and dryness of the mouth, with generally more side effects in prescription drugs, as your doctor can explain. Remember that medications should be taken before sailing. It's also a good idea to stay near the center of the vessel, where there is less motion, to get fresh air and to be able to see the horizon.
One form of treatment not available since late 1994 and expected to be back on the market this year is Transderm Scop, a prescription skin patch designed to prevent motion sickness for up to three days. Eric Jackson, a spokesman for Novartis, said it had been withdrawn because "during normal quality control testing a variance from the manufacturing quality standard was detected" by the company.
Some travelers regard elastic wrist bands as effective. Dr. Eilif Dahl, medical director of Crystal Cruises, says he found that the bands had a placebo effect among 30 percent of users -- meaning, he said, that the passengers thought the bands
worked, so they did.
Pub Date: 7/13/97