Cruising with vertigo

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117 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Hi all
I have been having periodic dizzy spells and the doctor has diagnosed vertigo. I am on day 3 of quite a debilitating episode that forced me to take 2 days off work. There is no cure and i am prescribed medication to help with the symptoms.
I am cruising for the first time next year (lifelong dream of mine) and I am worried that the movement of the ship will bring on my symptoms.

Is there anyone else on this board that cruises with vertigo that can tell me if cruising will exacerbate my symtoms?
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73 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
I can't speak to how its going to effect you, but I also have vertigo and have had it for quite a few years now. I don't take any medication for it, and it does sometimes leave me stuck in bed for days at a time. I did not have any issues on my cruise to Alaska some years ago. I did take sea-sickness pills the first day as a precaution and during the storm when we had 11 foot seas. I didn't notice that they did me any more harm then say a benadryl does (perhaps a slight increase dizziness but who can tell when the room really IS spinning).

You'll find most cruise ship showers/tubs are equiped with lots of handles in case there are rough seas, and the hallways typically have handrails etc. So there's usually something to grab on to if you start to feel dizzy.

I did find that the vibration from the engines came through my bed and it took me a day or two to get used to that, not swaying but slight shaking. However that didn't seem to increase my vertigo.

You may get lucky, and not have a spell while on the cruise. But unfortunately we can only tell you how it effected us, there's no predicting how it will effect you. We all have different triggers.
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May 2007 - Statendam to Alaska

117 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Thanks Skye
As I have just been diagnosed I am not sure what my triggers are, but I have noticed over the past few months that when I am stressed at work I have dizzy spells, so perhaps stress is my trigger. Not sure if anything else will trigger it in the future!
It is horrible though, I hate being drunk (I rarely drink) but this vertigo makes me feel drunk.

Never mind, i will adapt to it and I am planning a stress free cruise so hopefully will avoid an episode on the ship. I will ask my doctor for some pills just in case it happens!!

Thanks again
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46 Posts
Joined Apr 2011
I have the same problem, but my spells are brought on by rapid movement of head. No snap head movements for me. I have been on 4 cruises with no problem...
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1,345 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
I, too, have sailed with vertigo, and found if I just don't make any sudden movements I can usually cope very well. I take motion sickness meds and Ginger pills that are really a life saver, sometimes.
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73 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Low and slow is probably good advice. Don't overbook your schedule, make sure you leave breaks to rest. I find I have more vertigo when my sleep schedule is off or I'm not getting enough sleep. Although sometimes it just happens, I had a spell hit me today and I spent 4 hours trying to nap in bed instead of doing work I'd planned to do today that people had come over to help me with. I had to apologize, excuse myself and tuck myself in until it passed. I find a nap often clears things up, often when I wake up I'm either no longer dizzy or not AS dizzy.

I would suggest you not book optional excursions every day of the cruise, or try to do them back to back. I would also look into what each excursion entails. For instance - as much as I wanted to see Denali National Park, had I known that the excursion to the park provided by HAL as part of the land tour before the cruise meant spending close to 6 hours stuck in a stripped down school bus climbing up mountain roads. Well, lets just say that when your only 2 scenic options are "off the side of the mountain down a steep ravine" and "rock wall blitzing by at probably less mph then it felt like" - I'd have passed. The fact I was recovering from food poisoning that day didn't help either. My only consolation was all the fellow bus-goers who teased me for keeping my head down and muttering to myself on the trip UP the mountain, got to be on the outside of the bus looking down the ravine on the way down and had a change of heart

Lots of rest, lots of sleep, don't push yourself. If you have to cancel on an optional shore excursion - then don't think too much about the money, cancel and rest. And if you don't have it already - trip insurance in case you need to rebook the entire cruise for any reason.
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May 2007 - Statendam to Alaska

lakewood, Ca USA
3,025 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
My husband has some problems with vertigo, he always starts the cruise with a patch behind his ear, and that seems to help. But I would suggest that you discuss your concerns with your Dr. they might have the answers you need. Hope you enjoy your cruise.
263 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
ive had vertigo about 10 yrs. now. the antivert med.made it worse
i found. had me awake all night. i went through 2 hour testing with
an audioligist. the best advice he gave me & which i read, was when
the room starts spinning, to STARE at a stationary object even if
it's one finger. this will stop it. also, don't reach down & into a cabinet
or tilt your head back for something high on a shelf.
cruising has never bothered it, thank goodness!
i do hope this advice i gave you helps.
good luck & hope you have a great cruise.
374 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
I reciently went to a specialist,eyes,ears,hose throat etc which includes balance and vertigo, He told me my problem was fairly minor , no meds at least at this time. He did send me to a rehibilation place that showed mr a kot of exercises involving walking, eye exercises and other exercises that did seam to help a lot. They also told my the problen was mild and to keep up the various exercises. Last comment, on a cruise a couple of years ago a commedian said that with the rough seas we were having the dunks will look normal because everyone was weaving as they walked
Northern Colorado
6,836 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Definitely talk to your doctor. Do it early, as he might have to research options.

Do you have your cabin booked yet? Would something low and in the center of the ship help? An ocean-view?
374 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
I was going to a physical theropist for vertigo and balance problems. He advised me that a lot of anti-motion TOC meds have a possible side effect of causing dizziness. Again check with a MD.
373 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
All of the above-mentioned symptoms are all too familiar to me as well. I don't take any meds for it. I used to worry it would happen on a cruise, but it never has. I did take motion-sickness pills on one cruise, but that was only to ward off stomach upset due to high sea swells. You will feel quite comfortable aboard ship - plenty of handrails everywhere if you happen to feel any rocking. Out on deck is the easiest - lots of wide open spaces.
Stop worrying and look forward to your cruise!
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117 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Thanks everyone

I have booked a deck 7 midship balcony, originally i had an inside but thought a view of the horizon might be helpful. I have not had an episode for a week, hopefully the really bad episode I had last week was a one off!
I will speak with my doctor, i am not missing my cruise for anything!!

Thanks again
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Syracuse, NY
850 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
I too as diagonosed with Vertigo a month ago. Went to be "flipped" twice it didn't help. But, long story short is, went on a Sail Boat here locally abut a week ago, I did just fine! I felt like I was finally normal, as I had been walking around like I was on a boat for the past month! I didn't feel a bit queasy either. I have a script for Meclazine. I cannot take it because it makes me dizzy and drowzy.
Hoping it will completely go away soon! Good Luck to you!!!
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Displaced New Yorker
15,659 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
Ask your doctor about the epely procedure which is done by an OT or PT or ENT doctor. It is a series of slight turns of the head which clear the ear of the little crystals that cause the vertigo.
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Royal Viking Star 6/90 Bermuda

Veendam 11/29/03 WesternCaribbean
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Veendam 6/17/12 Bermuda

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
14 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
I don't normally have vertigo but I get it every time I cruise and it lasts for about a month. Things that help me are to spend time looking straight ahead every day on the ship (on all the Carnival ships I've taken, the gym is the best spot for this), not taking any boat excursions or vehicles in ports (walking and sitting instead) and going to the chiropractor before and a few times after the trip.
2 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
the one thing no one has addressed (unless I missed it) is: is it better to have an inside cabin or outside cabin? I would like to know before I book the room. My last episode was 4 yrs ago. I've had an MRI, seen the ENT specialist, done the various exercises etc. That yr, I had 3 episodes in 4 months. Certainly do not want to have again. Yes, I turn my head slowly and start sleeping in the sitting position then eventually slide down.

please let me know which cabin location is best.
80 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Please, anyone suffering from this, talk to your doctor about balance/vertigo therapy. My mother had debilitating vertigo for months while her doctors ruled out everything from brain tumors to heart problems. The therapy got rid of the vertigo within a couple of sessions. It's a combination of physical movements done by the therapist, and training that they give you in simple exercises to do at home. She's been free of vertigo, without medication, for nearly a year now. It's been life changing for her, she was afraid to even go shopping while that was going on.
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1,407 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
I don't have vertigo, but the one time I had an inside cabin I did feel seasick. I also try to take a shower when the ship isn't moving; something about standing in the enclosed space
when the ship is moving makes me dizzy.