I hadn’t been on a ferry since I was at school until last weekend and I was quite blase about it, after all I had never been unwell aboard a boat.
When we arrived in Poole harbour to board, what is affectionately known locally as the vomit comet, I started to worry. The winds were howling and the rain was so strong it managed to blow up the poor check-in assistants computer so she had to hand write our tickets manually.
Once we finally boarded the ferry we locked up the car and headed upstairs to get seated. Travelling with Condor Ferries, we were given a choice of seating options and we were at the front on their Ocean Club seating area which offered spectacular views out of a 180 degree window.
We left the harbour on time and after watching the amusing safety video, with a rap and dodgy dancing, the kids settled down to watch a film on the ipad.
We had table seats which meant that the kids were facing forwards, but I was facing backwards and I soon began to feel unwell so I headed off for a walk around the boat. I found a kids area where they had large bean bags and there were children lounging around watching Hotel Transylvania, there was a large duty-free shop, a bar and a restaurant.
I did the worst thing possible when you feel unwell and went and shut myself in the toilets which were all enclosed, thus making me feel worse. By the time I finally got back to my seat it was apparent that pretty much the whole cabin was suffering due to the weather. The staff were amazing, looking after everyone and trying to make people as comfortable as possible. One admitted that the weather “wasn’t the worst he had seen, but was almost there” which made me feel slightly better as the rain drove against the windows.
By this time it was clear that Sebby didn’t feel well so I sat, facing forwards this time, to concentrate on the horizon and let him lay on me and go to sleep. Poor Isaac was sick a couple of times but the others seemed to be ok thankfully.
We made a stop at Guernsey to let off some passengers and then set off for Jersey, where the crossing wasn’t much better but by now I was starting to feel better so we sat in the front seats to watch as the boat bounced over the waves.
I was quite glad to get on dry land when we arrived in Jersey. We had been due to get straight back on another ferry to St Malo, but the timings had changed so we had six hours to explore the island. We headed for town first where I invested in some sea bands in preparation for the next ferry journey and I have to say that they worked!
My top tips for preventing sea sickness:
- Be prepared for sea sickness – ensure you have bags at the ready, a change of clothes and invest in sea bands to wear. It may be a mental thing but they worked for us.
- Look at the Horizon if you can – when a ship is riding to a heavy sea everything is moving. The only thing that is stationary is the horizon and looking at it will often reset your internal equilibrium.
- Watch what you eat and drink – Avoid greasy food and sugar which can make you light-headed and dizzy.
- Avoid Books and Computer Screens – Reading, whether on a device or paper, is a sure-fire way to get you sea-sick
- Go to sleep – well it worked for Sebby
- Chew Gum / suck a sweet – takes your mind off the rocking of the boat
- Stay In The Middle – A ship balances at it’s centre so that is the place where motion is least pronounced. The bow and stern should be avoided at all cost (this is where we went wrong)
- Lay Down – Some say that lying down prevents histamine from reaching the brain, decreasing nausea. Try laying on your back to prevent your stomach from being pushed into the deck by your body weight – this is only really possible if you have a cabin though.
- Mind over matter – it really worked for me on the second crossing
So to prepare the kids for a ferry crossing, all I can say is be prepared:
- Eat a light, non-greasy meal before you board
- Take a change of clothes (just in case)
- Bring your own water, as food and drink in ferries is expensive
- Find the kids areas, nothing like a bit of distraction to help with a long crossing
- Sit facing forwards and if you have a window focus on the horizon
Do you have any tips for surviving a ferry crossing with kids?