Why Do I Feel Sick After Getting Off a Cruise Ship?

By Anna Duncan

Getting off a cruise ship after a long vacation is often accompanied by a feeling of nausea and overall sickness. This phenomenon, commonly known as “mal de debarquement syndrome” (MdDS), is caused by the body’s inability to adjust to the lack of motion experienced on the cruise. Similar to how one can experience seasickness while on a ship, MdDS affects those who have been on a cruise and are now trying to get back into their regular routine.

MdDS is thought to be caused by an imbalance in the inner ear that occurs due to the sudden change in motion. The inner ear is responsible for balance and proper functioning of the vestibular system, which works with other parts of your body such as your eyes, muscles, and joints to maintain postural stability.

When you are on board a cruise ship, your body adjusts itself to maintain balance despite the rocking motion of the boat. When you disembark from the boat, however, your body suddenly needs to readjust itself as there is no longer any motion. This can cause an imbalance in your vestibular system and lead to feelings of nausea and dizziness.

The good news is that MdDS usually resolves itself within several days or weeks without any medical intervention. It is important to take it easy during this period and avoid any activities that may worsen symptoms such as spinning or roller coasters. If symptoms persist for longer than expected or become unbearable it may be necessary for you to seek medical advice.


The feeling of sickness after getting off a cruise ship is caused by mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS). This occurs when your body has difficulty adjusting back into its regular routine due to an imbalance in its vestibular system caused by the sudden lack of motion experienced on board the boat. Although MdDS can cause discomfort, it usually resolves itself within several days or weeks without any medical intervention.