Where you situate yourself on a cruise ship can make a big difference in your comfort. You could rock & roll on deck 15 at the bow in the roaring 40s or enjoy a relatively calm ride in the middle of the ship. Not sure what any of that means? Read on to learn all about the best locations on a cruise ship for seasickness sufferers, as well as tips on choosing an itinerary that will lower your chances of motion sickness.

If this is your first time on a cruise and you want to test your sea legs, choose a short cruise (up to 7 days). Avoid an ocean crossing where you will be at sea for several days or rounding the south end of New Zealand or South America where you may encounter the roaring 40s. These are strong westerly winds between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees in the southern hemisphere. I suggest choosing an itinerary that hugs a coastline such as around New England and Canada in the fall or Alaska’s Inside Passage in the summer months. If you want warm and exotic, then cruise around islands such as the Hawaiian or the Caribbean Islands.

If you fear seasickness and want to cross the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, then an ocean liner may put your mind and your stomach at ease. Ocean liners such as the Queen Mary 2 are built for luxury transportation and ocean crossings. They have high freeboard (distance from the waterline to the upper deck level), resulting in open air decks high off than water. They are engineered for extra strength and stability for smooth ocean crossings. They have stronger plating and a larger capacity to store fuel and consumables in order to withstand rough seas and long ocean crossings than most cruise ships. An ocean liner is a good bet for a smooth transoceanic crossing.

The lines are blurring between cruise ships and ocean liners, as cruise ships now take on both short and long trips, often navigating oceans and crisscrossing seas. Large cruise ships can be more stable than small ships but both make ocean crossings regularly. Stabilizers are built into all ships large and small to help counteract rolling seas. Captains adjust speed and routes to maximize safety and ensure a smooth ride along the way. I have crossed the oceans and the equator, and experienced the lower roaring 40’s multiple times in large and small cruise ships. I’ve made these journeys in fair and foul weather conditions and never had good reason to fear for my safety. Both types of ships can provide all the fun and luxury you want without compromising your comfort and safety.

What is probably more important than the type or size of ship is where you situate yourself on a ship. Look at deck layouts when choosing your stateroom to maximize your chances of a smooth ride. This is easily done by visiting the cruise line’s website and viewing the diagrams showing the location of available staterooms on the ship you will be sailing on. The center of the ship will be the most stable location in rough sea conditions. Choose a stateroom that is on a lower deck in the middle of the ship. Also, the stern (back of the ship) tends to be more stable than the bow (front of the ship). Don’t go for the stateroom on the uppermost deck at the bow if you fear rocking and rolling at sea.

I suggest letting an interesting itinerary drive your choice of ship, then pick the best possible location on the ship for your stateroom in order to stack the deck in your favor. Then sit back, enjoy, and distract yourself. Don’t let the threat of motion sickness inhibit your travel plans and keep you from a sea adventure.

The front of the ship or bow on a top deck is the least stable part of the ship in rough weather.

The back of the ship or stern is more stable than the bow in rough weather.

Were you ever on a ship in rough weather? What is your favorite spot on a cruise ship?

[Photo credits: Dark Dwarf, garybembridge, JamesZ_Flickr]