When you come ashore after your first cruise, your friends might ask you why you're "walking funny." You might experience moments where your foot doesn't quite hit the floor--or where the floor should have been--as if you missed a step on the stairs. You might even feel queasy because things "just don't move right." Long-time professional seamen call this land-sickness; for a first-time cruiser, it's annoying, but if treated like seasickness, it's survivable. When a cruise ship passenger comes ashore after a week at sea, the passenger's body has adjusted to that discrepancy in perception. When passengers "hit the dock," though, that adjustment becomes a liability, because the world no longer moves in the way to which the body has become accustomed.
For many years, seamen have told queasy passengers to go on deck and watch the horizon, believing that vertigo from being on board a ship is the result of a disturbance of the body's balance mechanism in the inner ear. While aboard a moving vessel, your body feels movement that doesn't correspond with the perception delivered by your eyes, resulting in seasickness. A study by J. T. Reason in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine adds credence to this theory.
Sleep or Exercise
Many of those who spend months at sea swear by calisthenics as a cure for some of the more problematic symptoms of post-cruise discomfort such as vertigo, believing that "shaking things up" in the body will accelerate the process of the adjustment to the change in their world. Others might sleep for 18 or 20 hours in the belief that rest will allow the body's balance mechanisms to "reset" before returning to life ashore.
Visiting your physician might supply some relief. You might consider making a post-cruise doctor's appointment as part of your pre-departure plans. Your doctor might be able to offer some relief in the form of a prescription drug. If you have to hit the ground running upon your return, a preplanned visit to your doctor the day following your landing might ease your discomfort without disrupting your schedule.
Other home remedies for vertigo and "land sickness" are those used for seasickness. Ginger has been used for centuries to combat seasickness and the vertigo associated with the return from the sea. Ginger ale doesn't contain enough ginger to have an effect, but fresh or candied ginger is often used. Acupressure wrist bands used for seasickness might have some efficacy in alleviating post-cruise vertigo as well.
The only sure cure is the passage of time. Every individual's response to the return to shore is different. If your cruise lasted 10 days or less--most do--you probably will lose the salty roll in your walk and the vertigo resulting from the change in your body's perception of the world within a few days. If your land sickness persists longer than that, see your physician for help.