Cruising For The Physically Challenged
When it comes to holidays, cruising is one of the best choices in terms of accessibility and convenience for people with restricted mobility. So whether you’re a wheelchair user, have hearing loss, impaired vision, there are no barriers to enjoying the special cachet of a holiday afloat.
Many ships provide services and facilities related to accessibility; however it is recommended that passengers with special challenges are accompanied by a travelling companion who is responsible for providing any assistance that they would normally require at home.
Modern ships cater for the needs of disabled passengers, with specially designed cabins and toilets, panic buttons and aids for the hard of hearing. But amenities do vary widely from ship to ship, so it’s vital to do your homework well before you book. The variety of designated disabled cabins on offer is extremely good and there is no surcharge within accommodation grades for these cabins.
Specially adapted cabins for physically-challenged passengers have wide doors, lower door sills, roll-in showers, bath-tubs with grab bars, and automatic cording sets for the curtains. If none are available then wheelchair users should consider a cabin near the lifts and check that doorways are wide enough with no raised thresholds. Alert kits are also available for passengers with hearing impairment and can be fitted to any cabin offering a visual notification of the door knocker and smoke alarm. Most modern ships also have signage and cabin numbers in Braille.
But it’s not just in the cabins where cruise lines have focussed their attention for passengers with physical challenges. Royal Caribbean has installed hoists so passengers with disabilities can enjoy the swimming pools; while Princess Cruises offer special wheelchair gangway mechanisms. Most cruise shore excursions are offered by third party companies, so it’s essential to enquire what tours will be suitable. Try to avoid itineraries full of ports which can only be reached by ship’s tenders as they are rarely suitable for wheelchair users.
It is essential to advise your mobility restrictions at the time of enquiry and book early as the number of disabled access cabins is limited. You must also ensure you fill in the cruise line's medical form accurately, request any medical equipment before you travel, and be aware of potential challenges if you’re considering a fly/cruise. For further assistance call 0800 484 0370 or click on www.cruisedirect.co.uk.
- 13th February 2017