I never get seasick.
Even after nearly 200 days spent at sea, I’ve felt woozy only twice: once on a particularly nasty crossing on the Aegean Sea from Rhodes to Crete that saw our ship do battle with 30-foot seas that broke over the bow. The other was on the first day of sailing aboard my first river cruise.
Now, I know most of you are probably scratching your heads at that: hHw can the calm, sheltered Danube possibly be rougher than the Aegean Sea? The answer is that it isn’t – river cruising is a remarkably calm, movement-free journey.
It was the locks that made me feel ill.
Crossing the Main-Danube Canal from Nuremberg bound for Regensburg requires transiting several massive locks, one after the other. The first lock was an object of absolute fascination for me, and I ran around the exterior of the ship, wildly snapping photos as I went. The next lock presented more of the same, and so on.
By the time we hit the fourth lock in a row, I wasn’t feeling too hot. The situation perplexed me; after all, that I could feel seasick on a river seemed rather incredible. But then it dawned on me why I didn’t feel well: It was the locks.
When river cruise ships transit the locks, they can do so on their own or as part of a larger group of ships, depending on the season and the size of the lock. When water enters the lock, it does so in starts and stops that can result in your ship rising quickly in one motion, then slowly in the second. It was this “elevator movement” that left me feeling unwell, since the lock walls are literally inches away from the ship.
I was a rarity among my fellow river cruisers, who largely didn’t feel a thing. But should you encounter the same issue I faced, there’s a few easy things you can do to make yourself feel better.
First, I found that I felt much better sitting in the main lounge than in my stateroom. Lounges on most river cruise ships have 180-degree wraparound windows, providing a better overview of the lock itself.
Secondly, I quit drinking water for the duration of the transit, switching instead to heavier drinks like coffee and soda. It’s an old trick I learned from my days of ocean cruising, and it works well.
Lastly, I ate lunch. Again, it sounds odd, but this is another trick I learned quickly in those 30-foot waves in the Aegean years ago. By eating lunch – a heavy lunch – you’re less inclined to feel ill because your stomach is full. So, I indulged in some bullion and a hearty sandwich and felt better almost immediately.
Will you feel “seasick” on a river cruise? It’s highly unlikely, but if you suffer from motion sickness, install yourself in the lounge and read a good book while transiting the locks, or sit out on the Sun Deck if weather allows and you’ll do just fine!