Q. For a long time I have been interested in an Alaskan Inside Passage cruise, but am very afraid of seasickness.
What is the most effective method of dealing with this problem?
A. Inside Passage cruises wriggle through the tranquil channels and straits off British Columbia and Alaska.
But they may also venture into the less-protected waters of the Pacific for some stretches: just north of Vancouver, between Ketchikan and Sitka, and between Sitka and Glacier Bay.
Wherever they go, whatever rocking motion there might be is minimal because of ships’ stabilizers, gross registered tonnage (usually about 34,000 and up) and design.
The itinerary varies, with most ships starting in Vancouver. Some go to Ketchikan or Skagway and others head farther north, to the Gulf of Alaska and Seward.
For someone concerned about seasickness, the conservative approach would be to cruise from Vancouver to Skagway.
Because differences in susceptibility vary so much, the possibility of getting seasick cannot be ruled out, even in calmer waters. Besides fear and anxiety, a major reason for seasickness is that people are getting conflicting messages - one from the eye, a different one from the ear - about the position of the head.
Medications may help, but they may also cause drowsiness, blurred vision and dryness of the mouth, with generally more side effects in prescription drugs, as your doctor can explain.
Remember that medications should be taken before sailing. It’s also a good idea to stay near the center of the vessel, where there is less motion, to get fresh air and to be able to see the horizon.
One form of treatment not available since late 1994 and expected to be back on the market this year is Transderm Scop, a prescription skin patch designed to prevent motion sickness for up to three days.
Eric Jackson, a spokesman for Novartis, said it had been withdrawn because “during normal quality control testing a variance from the manufacturing quality standard was detected” by the company.
Some travelers regard elastic wrist bands as effective. Dr. Eilif Dahl, medical director of Crystal Cruises, says he found that the bands had a placebo effect among 30 percent of users - meaning, he said, that the passengers thought the bands worked, so they did.
Q. I plan to go to Kyoto to take a one-week course in ikebana and would like to take my teenage daughter.
Since I will have classes all day, is there a school my daughter could attend and possibly a family that could be a host after school? She would be staying with me at night.
A. Finding a school for a single week will be difficult.
But a company called Tom Sawyer, with more than 3,000 babysitters and aides in Japan, said it could help you and your daughter. It has offices at the MG Otedori Building, 3F, 2-1-6, Otedori, Chuoku, Osaka, Japan; telephone (81-6) 943-4530, fax (81-6) 942-9227.
Yoriko Ushioda, a manager, suggested these possibilities to engage your daughter: studying pottery, learning about the Japanese tea ceremony, trying on a kimono, learning some simple Japanese and sight-seeing.
A host family can be provided, Ushioda said, so your daughter can get a sense of everyday life. The daily fee for a teacher and Ushioda would total $109 to $145 (at 110 yen to the dollar) plus the cost of transportation, lunch and snack.
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