Can you get sea sickness on a Kimberley cruise?

Are you interested in a Kimberley cruise but worried about sea sickness? I am regularly asked about this issue and I can truly relate. I have taken numerous cruises during my thirty-five year  career in the travel industry. This includes four separate journeys along the Kimberley cruise. But I do get sea sick sometimes and I know how debilitating it can be. But don’t let it put you off.

These cruises are all about exploring the beautiful Kimberley coast. These are not ocean going cruises. You will spend almost all of your time cruising close to the coast, in and amongst the 1800 (at least) islands and river systems. There the water is almost certainly calm with any rocking motion at a minimum.   

Only a short period of any Kimberley cruise is in open waters so for the bulk of the cruise you will find the conditions generally fine.

The main times you would need to take precautions are coming in and out of Broome (especially as you go around Cape Leveque) and in and out of Darwin (during the crossing of the Gulf of Bonaparte). These are the times when your vessel will come out into open water.  Luckily this is either at the start or finish of your cruise so any bumpiness is quickly forgotten.

The Gulf of Bonaparte is the most likely part of a Kimberley cruise where you might experience bumpy conditions.

If you still have concerns then consider these issues before booking:

  • Your choice of vessel will be important to you to help with your sea sickness. As a general rule the bigger vessels will have more stability and feel less movement. Some of the smaller  Kimberley vessels have a very shallow draft (the keel is not far below the waterline) and this can mean the boat will be less steady in the water and feel much more movement and swaying.
  • Larger vessels have ‘active stabilisers. (Ship stabilisers are fins attached below the waterline that extend laterally from the hull to reduce a ship’s roll due to wind or waves.) God bless the person who invented them is my feeling on the matter!!) 
  • Your next consideration should be ‘when to travel’. Unlike the southern states of Australia, the Kimberley does not have four seasons. They have tropical seasons: The Wet and The Dry.   During ‘The Wet’ (from around November to April) the Kimberley has 90% of its yearly rainfall (mean rainfall 824mm annually) It may not rain everyday but when it does look out. The weather rolls in with massive thunder and lightning shows and extraordinary amounts of water. The Dry is from April to October when the weather is cooler, calm and all around more pleasant. I cannot guarantee the weather of course but if you are concerned about sea sickness then cruising from June onwards would be a good idea.
  • Bumpy seas do not come up as a surprise – you will be given plenty of notice by the captain and crew. My last Kimberley cruise was with Coral Discoverer from Broome to Darwin. At around 11.30am on the 10 day of the cruise we had finished the last stop (the wonderful King George Falls) and we were preparing for the 20 hour trip onto Darwin across the Gulf of Bonaparte. And yes one of the nicknames for this stretch of water is the Gulf of Blown Apart. The captain advised that the first 5 hours of the crossing would be a little rough and then it would be smooth from then on. And he was right; almost to the minute. I lay on my bed and slept until around 4pm. By 5pm we were all (and I mean all passengers) on the top deck enjoying the sunset with drinks in hand.
Chances are the experience at the Horizontal Falls will be the bumpiest part of your Kimberly cruise
  • Following on; preparation is the key to dealing with sea sickness. If you know you suffer (or think you will) then be prepared. Go to your pharmacist and ask for medication so you have it ‘just in case’. Chances are you won’t need it but if you are warned about choppy sea conditions then take the medication straight away and then go to bed. Sea sickness is something you prepare for; not try to cure. Remember that most Kimberley cruise vessels do not have their own doctor so the crew cannot prescribe anything for you stronger than ginger or Chamomile tea. 

Some of my customers seem surprised (bemused) when I tell them I get sea sick. And I have been a little seasick on one Kimberley cruise once – for a short while. But I have also crossed the Atlantic Ocean in extremely bumpy weather once and compared to that experience any choppy waters on a  Kimberley cruise can be easily managed. Unless you are incredibly sensitive, or very unlucky, the chances are you won’t be sick on a Kimberley cruise. 

But please don’t hesitate to book a call with me if this is the issue stopping you from enjoying one of the most beautiful and exciting expedition cruises in the world.


About Jenny

I’m an expert in small ship cruising in the Kimberley and have completed four cruises on different vessels along this spectacular coastline. With a family I now work part-time so if you would like to have a chat with me about Kimberley cruising at a time that suits you book in a call here  and I will call you then.

Cruises in the Kimberley are not ‘one size fits all’ scenario; there are different ships and itineraries each offering their own special elements.  If you would like some general information to start your research then download my free guide to Kimberley cruising here.   I have also written some really interesting blogs (if I do say so myself) click here to have read.