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Thread: Cruise

  1. #1

    Cruise

    I'm hoping to hear from those of you who have experienced a cruise in a wheelchair? I would love to hear suggestions on the most accessible cruise ships? Were you able to get off at the destination? How was the water and food? Prices?
    DFW TEXAS- T-10 since March 20th, 1994

  2. #2
    Have a look here:
    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...ghlight=alaska
    where I described our first cruise to Alaska.
    We were on Holland America's Oosterdam, then 2 years later on the Volendam. The Oosterdam was better IMHO. Being in a powerchair, my wife could not get off at one of the ports (Sitka); no problems on the others. All other accessibility was good. Food was quite good. Prices are high, but when you compare to the cost of a hotel + restaurant, it doesn't seem quite so bad. One annoyance was that soft drinks are extra; about $1 for half a can full.
    We enjoyed both cruises very much. I wish I could do it again.
    - Richard

    p.s. Check out the disabled traveling forum on cruisecritic.com for lots of help and info.

  3. #3
    Where are you planning on going? When?

    You can get off the ship at non-tender ports, but most cruise lines now days will not let you onto the tenders (small boats to shore) at tender ports if you cannot walk. Plan on a cruise with few tender ports if possible, although there are still things to do on board the ship in those ports.

    If you use a power wheelchair, take a manual chair with you for ports. Most will not have accessible transportation or tours, so transferring to a cab is the easiest way to get around, and if you are close enough to sights to just go there from the pier in your chair, often there are no curb cuts or ramps into shops or restaurants. Be prepared to be bumped up a step or two commonly.

    Stick to the newer cruise ships (those built in the last 10 years ideally) and the larger cruise lines. Holland America (HAL), Princess, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean (RCL) are especially good. Carnival and Norwegian are not as accessible and more crowded. Cunard is not great either. You should expect to pay from $100-200/day per person. A great deal is one for less than $100/day. Any air fare will be on top of this. Alcohol is extra on most cruise ships, as are any shore excursions you take though the ship. Extras can run up a big bill, so be careful. Food is nearly always wonderful on these lines. Water is OK (bottled water is available, but expensive). We take some of our own bottles and fill them up on the ship before going ashore.

    Avoid booking on-line. Most often you cannot get an accessible cabin this way anyway, but you should not have to pay rack rates. Find a travel agent who specializes in cruises, or use one of the on-line companies. I have done well with www.cruisecompete.com . You must have a fully (not partially) accessible cabin to get a roll-in shower, no step up into the bathroom, and a door wide enough to get a wheelchair into the room.

    Check out the Disabled Cruisers forum at www.cruisecritic.com for some excellent advice and information.

    (KLD)

  4. #4
    Cruises can be great. I've been on a couple myself, but that was before my injury. A trip through the Panama Canal is on the bucket list.

    After the Costa Concordia disaster, I have seen a few articles about the "contract" you "sign" with the cruise company when you purchase a ticket. Carnival Cruise lines has a "contract of passage" that runs about 8000 words. I don't expect you will be casually reading this contract, but it is an eye opener just scrolling through it on their website. It seems endless. http://m.carnival.com/cms/static_tem..._contract.aspx

    Here is an article that describes just a few of the rights you give up when you book passage. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/...80H01L20120118

    I don't mention this to put a damper on your interest in a cruise, but only to point out Caveat Emptor, "Let the buyer beware."

    By the way, where are you interested in going? Bon Voyage!!!

    All the best,
    GJ

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    I have a question: with the recent tragedy in Italy, what are the cruise ship's plans for evacuating wheelchair users? How would someone evacuate in the case of the Costa Concordia?? We have thought about a cruise, but evacuation at sea scares the he'll out of me!

  6. #6
    Contact abletotravel too, part of unitedspinal.org
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  7. #7
    RE: "Mombo's" post above.
    I have tried in vain to find a blog I read a few days ago about a disabled woman and her mother who were passengers on the Costa Concordia. They were stuck in their cabin when their steward found them and carried the daughter four flights of steps to a rescue/lifeboat deck. The daughter was placed in a lifeboat, but her mother was not allowed to accompany her in that boat and sought refuge in another boat. Once safely ashore, the women were reunited, but imagine the trauma and fear of this incident. I also read that the Costa Concordia had lifeboats and rescue muster stations specifically for people with disabilities (most ships do). But this really doesn't do much good when your station or lifeboat is already underwater.

    Despite stories of valor and heroism, eye witnesses to the Costa Concordia disaster reported pushing and shoving and all civility breaking down in people's attempts to rescue themselves. Once NL and I were on a foreign air carrier (if I recall correctly it was Air France) which required me to sit in a window seat. When we protested and told the flight attendant that in case of emergency it would be very difficult to get me out of the window seat and an aisle seat would be more appropriate. She bluntly told us that in case of emergency, it didn't matter where I sat, there would be no attempt to rescue me anyway since people wouldn't take time to help an invalid. She said in a dark, smokey cabin of an airplane passengers only worry about rescuing themselves.

    Maybe heading some of these lessons would be helpful in a cruise ship disaster:

    A Blog from the Baltimore Sun: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/201...e-crew-members
    10 Lessons from the Costa Concordia Disaster

    From what I've read so far, the capsizing of the Costa Concordia appears to have been perfectly preventable. The captain's foolhardy navigation, as well as his alleged abandoning of the ship (per this Italian Coast Guard transcript), may indeed prove to be criminal. But there are always lessons to be learned from even the most tragic situations. Here are a few:

    1. Pay attention to the lifeboat drill. Most cruise ships have a muster drill, often before leaving port. (U.S. Coast Guard requires such drills within 24 hours of leaving port.) Passengers report to their muster stations, typically wearing their life preservers. On some ships, the drill is a video. On others, it's a meeting point that's a lounge. On the Carnival Pride, which sails out of Baltimore, the muster drill takes place on deck within view of your actual lifeboat. Some cruisers try to avoid this interruption that may come just as you're having your first martini on the Lido Deck. Don't.

    2. Know the ship. In particular, know where your cabin is in relationship to the rest of the ship. What deck are you on? How many decks are above you? How many below? Instead of taking the elevator everywhere, take the stairs. Note how many flights from your room to the muster station or evacuation point. Check out the vessel diagram on the back of the cabin door.

    3. Know your fellow passengers. At the muster drill, assess your fellow passengers standing elbow to elbow with you. Is there someone who may need additional help? Are there children or babies? Disabled or elderly? In an emergency, be ready to offer firm and calm support to help speed things along.

    4. Know your crew members. Start with your room steward and go up from there - officers in particular. Ask them questions about their training procedures. Ask about their families. Be friendly. Yes, there are a lot of stories about Costa Concordia crew members who saved themselves first. But 95 percent of the people were safely evacuated from that ship, so there must have been at least a few crew members who knew what they were doing.

    5. Stay calm, but expect chaos. Even if an evacuation goes exactly as planned, you can't count on thousands of individuals to remain calm and even-tempered. Act with urgency, but maintain your cool even if others do not.

    6. Be a good swimmer . If you are taking a cruise, you really should know how to swim. It just may increase your odds of surviving a disaster. Many of the Costa Concordia survivors swam a short distance to shore - and one woman who could not swim told a newspaper that her husband gave her his life jacket but then she never saw him again. Tragic.

    7. Keep your passport with you at all times - and a little cash. You don't typically need any money on a cruise because everything gets charged to your cabin. Many of the survivors ended up on land without money or identification or even shoes. And some passengers reported that the cruise line was slow to offer assistance for clothing and the like. Magellan, a travel store, offers passport wallets that can be worn around your neck or strapped to your chest. Might also be helpful to include emergency numbers or other info about your travel itinerary.

    8. Reconsider travel insurance. I've never been a huge fan of travel insurance, but if you're more than a 1,000 miles from home and traveling via multiple modes of transportation, it might come in handy. But make sure you read the fine print about what's covered and stay away from waivers. Look for coverage that lets you cancel for any reason. (By the way, Costa has insurance for its ship in the $500 million range, but the losses could total more than $1 billion.)

    9. Taking a cruise has its risks. If you didn't know that before, you know it now. Seriously, though, the risks are very, very small. But they do exist. Fire on a ship is the thing that scares me the most. Sinking is a close second.

    10. Avoid watching the film Titanic. Lots of survivors compared their experience aboard the Costa Concordia to the 1997 movie starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo diCaprio. That means Titanic was so good it left an impression - or scars - that lasted more than a decade. (That song from Celine Dion didn't help.) Of course, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the grand ship is coming up in April and it might seem the perfect time to watch the movie again. But if you ever, ever plan to take a cruise, skip it.


    I feel badly about posting this when "Offroaderswife" and her husband are thinking about and looking forward to a cruise, but it is better to be prepared than not. The odds of anything happening are very slim. You don't have these kinds of tragedies happening with great frequency.

    GJ
    Last edited by gjnl; 01-22-2012 at 05:14 PM.

  8. #8
    The week before Christmas 2011 we cruised Norwegian Cruise Lines on the Norwegian Sun and it was excellent. It was an Eastern Caribbean cruise departing from Cape Canaveral Florida and stopped in Nassau, St. Thomas, San Juan, and a private island owned by Norwegian that I was unable to go to because it required a tender. It was a seven-day cruise and the price was probably around $4000 for everything. The ticket price is one thing, but then there were drinks and charges at the end for gratuities for the person cleaning your room and a couple other miscellaneous things. I've heard cruise prices are way down now because of the disaster in Italy though.

    We had a handicap room in the middle of the ship which was quite large. The only chair I took was my power wheelchair and accessibility on the ship was never an issue. At each port we didn't have a lot of time so we couldn't wander too far from the port area. It wouldn't be up to ADA standards, but the Bahamas wasn't too hard to navigate in the touristy areas. In St. Thomas we had a handicap accessible excursion scheduled, but it was canceled for some unknown reason. As a result there wasn't much to see there and it reminded me more of Mexico then a tropical island paradise. San Juan was very cool, IMO. It's the capital city of Puerto Rico and a lot of the streets are brick. There were curb cutouts, but the sidewalks were narrow with probably 6 inch curbs, if not a little more. And just because you could get on the sidewalk didn't guarantee you'd be able to get into some of the businesses.

    On the ship the food was free except for a couple upscale restaurants. Room service was also free and we took advantage of that every morning and a few nights for an evening snack. I ate more fruit over the course of the week than probably any other time of my life. Here are a couple photos to give you an idea of how large the room was.

    This is a queen-size bed in the room with a fold-down twin.



    A picture from the opposite direction with a Hoyer lift so you can get an idea of how much room there was.



    The bathroom.



    The hallways were decent.



    The Norwegian Sun.



    Every afternoon our towels were folded in a different animal shape. Our daughter thought that was cool.







    Curb cutouts in Puerto Rico.




    Falling off one of these curbs would be trouble.



    Good luck and have fun!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by gjnl View Post
    Cruises can be great. I've been on a couple myself, but that was before my injury. A trip through the Panama Canal is on the bucket list.

    After the Costa Concordia disaster, I have seen a few articles about the "contract" you "sign" with the cruise company when you purchase a ticket. Carnival Cruise lines has a "contract of passage" that runs about 8000 words. I don't expect you will be casually reading this contract, but it is an eye opener just scrolling through it on their website. It seems endless. http://m.carnival.com/cms/static_tem..._contract.aspx

    Here is an article that describes just a few of the rights you give up when you book passage. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/...80H01L20120118

    I don't mention this to put a damper on your interest in a cruise, but only to point out Caveat Emptor, "Let the buyer beware."

    By the way, where are you interested in going? Bon Voyage!!!

    All the best,
    GJ
    This is really good advice.

    I've been looking at taking a cruise for the last three years but haven't taken the plunge yet. The 1-2 week cruises like the best deals to me.

    I think the risks of something going wrong are pretty low but like anything else it can be really bad when it happens especially if you had high expectations for having a good time.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    gjnl, thanks for all of your input. Definitely things to think about. My friend's son was also told "it's every man for himself" on a U.S. airlines. Pretty harsh words, but I guess that is our reality.

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