Cruising doesn’t have to be challenging even if you have mobility challenges! In fact, cruising can be a great option for those who utilize a wheelchair, power chair, or other support. Most ships are handicap accessible and are able to accommodate special needs. Do your research on the cruise line and the specific ship before you book or use a travel agent who specializes in accessible travel to ensure your specific needs can be met.
A few tips to make cruising is a seamless experience:
- Book early! There are a limited number of accessible cabins on the ship. and they tend to sell out quickly due to the high demand for them. Even when booking early, you may not have many choices when it comes to cabin type or location, so the earlier the better!
- Avoid tender ports. A tender port is one where due to geography such as shallow water, the ship is forced to anchor at sea and shuttle guests via smaller boats to land. These boats are sometimes vessels hired just for that purpose at that particular port or in some cases, the ship’s life boats are used. It can be very difficult (sometimes impossible) for a wheelchair to board the tender vessel. Choosing a different itinerary, with no tender ports, can be the difference between being stuck on the ship at a port and being able to get off the ship.
- Don’t wait to book excursions. There may only be a few excursions that both pique your interest and are accessible, so do your research early and book those excursions!
- Select a set dining time. Many cruise lines now offer an open dining time in addition to early or late seating and some have gone to open dining altogether. Selecting a seating time will ensure that your table is set up for your needs every night when you arrive for dinner. After the first evening, you will also know the easiest route to get to your table that avoids stairs or other difficult to manage situations. Your waitstaff will also quickly make note of and remember your needs and work to ensure you are comfortable and well taken care of each night!
- Contact the cruise line’s special needs department. Make sure that any special requests that you have are made as soon as you book your cruise. Items like raised toilet seats, shower chairs, etc. are limited and many cruise lines have deadlines for requesting certain accommodations.
- Use a travel agent who specializes in accessible travel. A good travel agent will help you anticipate your needs and work to meet them before you ever leave for your vacation!
What are your cruising tips?
I specialize in accessible travel and I would love to help make sure your trip goes off without a hitch, and there are no fees for my services. Contact me to get started!
Happy cruising and Bon Voyage!