If your considering a cruise, and have mobility challenges, here’s what you need to know before booking.
Select a ship
Multiple cruise lines offer accessible staterooms for people who have disabilities. These rooms typically provides wider doorways, lowered closet rods and enough turnings radius for a wheelchair. The bathroom has been outfitted with grab bars, a raised toilet, a roll-in shower with a fold-down bench, hand-held showers heads and a lowered sink. Be sure to confirm with the cruise line the extra dimensions and specific features of the cabin before you book.
Even within the same cruise line, an accessible guest room may be difficult on different ships. Line land-based hotels, the number of accessible cabins on any ships is a small percentage of the total inventory. For example, Celebrity cruise newest ship, the Celebrity Edge, has 25 accessible staterooms across several prices points, including two with butler service, out of a total of 1,467 staterooms. Accessible staterooms tend to fill up months before a cruise departs.
Most cruise lines have an accessibility department that assists guests with special needs.
You’ll need to bring your own wheelchair or scooter with you, although vendors such as special needs at Sea and scoot around rent mobility device and will deliver them to your stateroom. Passengers travelling with a wheelchair or scooter must store and charge it in their stateroom. ( And no, you can’t leave it out in the hallway overnight.)
Choosing an itinerary
When selecting a cruise itinerary, it’s crucial for people with mobility challenges to know how they will get from the ship to the shore. Depending on the ship and the port of call, the ship may not directly dock at the destination. Instead, the ship anchors offshore. Small boats called tenders shuttle passengers to land. Almost all the tenders are not wheelchair accessible.
People who cannot walk a few steps must stay on the ship. Cruise lines usually know in advance which port require a tender and state that information online. “The biggest mistake people make is booking their cruise before looking at shore excursion accessibility. I’ve seen people book a cruise with seven ports and six of them are tenders where they can’t get off the ship”, Chief executive and founder of Accessible Travel Solution, said.
Scheduling a shore excursion
Once your ship arrives at a new destination, you can spend the day independently exploring, or you may pay extra for an organised shore excursion. These pre-planned outings range from bus tour to strenuous hikes. Descriptions of the cruise line’s excursion can be found online, along with the activity level necessary to participate. Before looking for an accessible excursion, you’ll need to know the dimension and weight of the mobility equipment you are using.
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