Cruising is often a favorite travel experience for people with mobility disabilities. Just ask Yadi, a wheelchair user and avid cruiser why she likes cruising so much.
“Affordable pricing, unpacking once, seeing multiple destinations, dressing up for dinner, great entertainment and the wheelchair accessibility of the ship.”
So if you are thinking a cruise might be in your future, here’s some suggestions to keep in mind when booking your vacation.
If you’ve never booked a cruise before, consider hiring an agent who specializes in booking cruises for people with disabilities who require additional assistance. They will help you plan all the steps to make sure your needs are met.
Another option is to go cruising as part of a group. Many organizations such as the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and the Amputee Coalition offer group cruises on their websites. Activities are planned in advance by a group leader, which may help alleviate some of the stress of individual planning.
If you plan to book your cruise yourself, you’ll want to research the ship ahead of time. In general, newer ships often have better accessibility than older ships. For example, a newer ship might have accessible bathrooms in public areas, not just in accessible cabins.
Be sure to make a list of all the accommodations you will need on your trip. And consider contacting the cruise line directly so you can communicate your needs. Most cruise lines have a department dedicated to helping guests with special needs.
Research Ports of Call and Excursions
If you are planning to disembark and do some exploring on land during your cruise, be sure to check the procedure of getting off the ship at each port of call. Some destinations allow a ship to pull up to a dock and have a ramp wheelchair users can use to disembark. Other ports of call require the ship to anchor offshore and shuttle passengers on small boats called tenders. Many cruise lines have weight limits for mobility equipment on tenders, so be sure to ask about this.
Keep I mind that even though a cruise ship might be accessible doesn’t mean the places it stops will be. Are there cobblestone roads? Is the city generally accessible? Is accessible transportation available? These are all questions you’ll want to find answers to before your vacation begins.
Planning and research make all the difference when it comes to cruising with a disability. So why not start looking into cruises now!