Sailing in Croatia: Avoid Seasickness on your Sailing Holiday

By 5 March 2018

March 5th, 2018; so, you’ve seen all of the glorious pictures of sailing holidays in Croatia and you desperately want to see it for yourself but are worried about seasickness? Fear not, there are a few tricks which can help ease or even eliminate your seasickness. Read on.

Seasickness, it’s not exactly a word you want to hear when you think about sailing the turquoise and azure blue waters of the Adriatic, is it? But, for many, it is a reality of sailing, so it is best to be prepared.

If you haven’t been sailing before, you won’t know whether you will be affected by seasickness or even if you know that you are prone to sea or motion sickness, it doesn’t need to stop you from your dream sailing holiday.

First thing to note is that, in general, the Adriatic is relatively calm. Most of the time it is like sailing on a large lake, especially if you are doing a Split – Dubrovnik route because most of the route will have you sailing between the islands and the mainland, so you don’t often experience open sea. Sailing to islands like Vis or even further out – Lastovo and Sušac have the potential to be rougher but for the most part, it is calm with few swells. I will talk a little more about route further down. Let’s look at a few things which can alleviate seasickness.


Credit: Romulic & Stojcic

Type of Vessel and Sailing Holiday

The type of yacht you book for your sailing holiday in Croatia can play a significant role in reducing seasickness, as well as the type of ‘sailing’ holiday you actually want. For the last few years, I have worked on larger luxury yachts and gulets (30 m+); and they really were luxury in the sense that they were extremely stable. I had many guests come aboard and tell me that they get seasickness, yet, over the course of the entire 7-days, they were fine. In 3 years, I only had one guest suffer severely from seasickness but for good reason - there were storms and large swells. The rest, really was smooth sailing.

What if you don’t intend to book a luxury 30 m vessel?

Well, what reason are you coming sailing in Croatia for? If you are more interested in being on the water, relaxing, swimming and exploring the destinations but aren’t actually too fussed about hoisting the sails, then perhaps a catamaran is for you. Catamarans have a twin-hull and are famously spacious and stable, they suit families and those whose comfort is the number one priority. The sails don’t ever have to come up and you will be happy motoring along.

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Credit: Nava Boats

This goes for other sailing yachts, you don’t necessarily have to sail. All yachts and boats are capable of motoring the entirety of your sailing holiday, so you don’t ever have to find yourself at an uncomfortable angle. Talk to your family or group and see what are the most important elements of their holiday and also discuss with your charter agent, which yachts they would recommend.

What if you are worried about seasickness but you still love the idea of hoisting the sails and following the wind? There are still plenty of things you can do to reduce seasickness.

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Credit: Croatia Yachting

Medication and Natural Remedies

There are many different options to help with seasickness, from patches and pills (like Dramamine) to natural remedies like ginger. If you know that you suffer from or are worried about seasickness, consult your GP, as they know your personal medical history and will be able to advise accordingly. Yes, you can buy many seasickness remedies over the counter but it is always best to consult with a medical professional – for your own piece of mind as much as anything.

Sailing Route and Crew

If you are concerned at all, be sure to advise your Captain and crew that you get seasickness. They will be happy to help and do their best to ensure you don’t suffer unduly. For example, when we were sailing, often we would begin early in the morning while everyone was asleep so we could cover part of the journey; it was also nice for our guests to wake up in a beautiful bay for breakfast.

As I mentioned above, there are also destinations which can be a little ‘rougher’ to get to, especially depending on the winds. The Captain checks the weather every day and will talk with you on a daily basis about the route. So, if there is a chance to minimise discomfort by choosing an alternative destination, the Captain will be more than happy oblige. Communication, communication, communication.

If you are skippering the yacht yourself, these are all points to take into consideration when planning your route and sailing times.


Credit: Romulic & Stojcic

Where you sit matters

On the few occasions that people did feel a little seasick, I always advised that they sit/stand in the cockpit and keep an eye on the horizon (an oldie but a goodie) or at the very least, stay up on the deck. Often, peoples’ first reaction is to go below deck to their cabin and sleep it off but this is not necessarily a good idea, as movement can be felt a lot more below deck. Get up top, with some fresh air or lie down on a sunbed for a nap if you need to (make sure you are under shade).


Credit: Romulic & Stojcic

Sun, water, sleep

When I was a tour guide on the larger ships for young travellers, this is where I would begin to sound like a bit of a ‘mum’. “Make sure you wear sunscreen, drink plenty of water and get a decent amount of sleep…” Actually, my nickname on a lot of my tours was Mum or Boss.

As simple and ridiculous as it may sound though, it makes a HUGE difference. I watched so many people only drink alcohol all day (on the young tours) or spend all day in the water (direct sun), drink very little water, then wonder why they felt depleted (at best) or like absolute crap (at worst). Dehydration and seasickness are not a fun pair. Trust me, you do not want to waste a day hunched over a toilet (in a tiny bathroom), rather than swimming and enjoying with your friends and family.

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Pinterest; be sun-smart, wear sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and avoid being in the direct sun all day

So, it’s really simple – be sure to wear sunscreen (slip, slop, slap) and drink plenty of water. If you are on a crewed, all-inclusive charter, all yachts have a huge supply of water, take advantage of this. When I was crewing a yacht, I also had reusable bottles and named each one, I would fill them for the guests and dish them out every morning, it was a good reminder for them to keep drinking water.

If you are on a bareboat, be sure to stock up on water and always have it available. Drinking 2L per person, per day, should be a minimum at sea, especially when you spend all day in the sun and doing physical activity.

drink water.jpg

Credit: Harvard Health, DRINK WATER!

What you eat matters

Believe it or not, but what you eat can make a difference to seasickness. Rich, creamy, fatty foods or sugary treats, all have a tendency to make us feel heavy in general (we are what we eat right?). Now, imagine this on a stomach that is a touch queasy – not a good combination. Thankfully, in Croatia, a lot of the food is light and Mediterranean in style.

If you are on a crewed yacht, be sure to let the cook/chef know that you prefer light meals (you will normally be asked this on your pre-departure preference sheet). If you are crewing yourself, think ahead and plan meals that won’t be too heavy on the stomach.

On our yacht, we serve a lot of fresh fish, salads, vegetarian dishes and if we cook meat, it is normally grilled or lightly roasted (without fats or cream). Part of the joy of sailing in Croatia is experiencing the cuisine, so embrace the Mediterranean lifestyle, it will help reduce seasickness, not to mention you will walk away from your holiday feeling amazing – there’s a reason the Mediterranean diet is famous and even UNESCO heritage protected!

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Focus on something else

I got this little tip from a fellow yachty – Mahina Hathaway from 45 Degrees Sailing, I had never thought about it but the second she told me, it rang true. Distraction is key. What we focus on, we give attention to right? So, if all we are focusing on is how sick we feel, then chances are – we are going to feel even worse. Mahina works as a cook/first-mate on charter yachts and suffers from seasickness herself; she said (as well as following all the tips above) if she is feeling ‘off’, she will sing to distract herself and it normally helps a lot. Because she understands how it feels to get seasick she is also aware of helping others, so she will get everyone to sing, create a playlist, play games or even recommend them to take the helm (with the skipper) – anything to get their focus away from feeling sick. You can read Mahina’s experience and advice on her blog here.

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Credit: 45 Degrees Sailing, a little distraction goes a long way

So, there you have it, it’s not ground-breaking stuff but with a little planning, forethought and common sense, everyone can enjoy a sailing holiday in Croatia. Mirno More (calm seas)!


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