Cruising is Popular for the Physically Challenged


Traveling with disabilities can be a fun and exciting experience, it just takes a little more planning and knowing what to ask for and how to plan for what is needed for your particular challenge. This article will give some of the basics for cruising with disabilities.

Cruising is a popular vacation choice for wheelchair users and slow walkers; however, some cruise destinations are just more accessible than others.  They are also known to be one of the most accessible vacation choices for challenged travelers. It is important to be aware that some ships are also just more accessible than others.

The first and, perhaps the most important step to planning your cruise, is to contact your personal travel website travel agent who specializes in traveling with disabilities and who is able to understand your needs, and who also knows which cruise ships are genuinely accessible.

When you are doing your research on your own keep in mind that the newer cruise ships are generally the most handicapped accessible. Accessible staterooms have level entries, wide doorways and a bathroom with a roll-in shower.  You also want to keep in mind that the accessible balcony cabins go like hotcakes, especially on Alaska cruises.

Unfortunately some people think that all cruise ships and itineraries are equally accessible, and this just isn’t so and this is another reason it is good to get assistance from a professional, you also need to be concerned how accessible the whole ship is and what areas of the ship are not accessible.

If you’d like to enjoy the water, be sure and ask if the ship is equipped with pool and Jacuzzi lifts and/or barrier free.  The other area that needs to be covered is the ability to make shore-visits, because when it comes to planning for accessible shore excursions and ground transportation; that can become a bit tricky. Find out how many shore excursions are fully accessible, what arrangements need to be made and how to handle them.

Disabled passengers are given priority boarding upon advance request, and it really streamlines the whole boarding process. Be sure and make arrangements for this ahead of time, don’t just expect that this is going to happen automatically, also cruise lines are famous for upgrading when boarding, make sure this is going to work for you and that the upgrade will be accessible, otherwise insist on your reserved cabin.

The passenger with physical challenges and/or medical concerns should carefully select a travel specialist familiar in medical concerns to assist them with their cruise plans. It is possible to arrange for dialysis on select cruises if you deal with an agency that arranges dialysis cruises.  However, remember that Medicare does NOT reimburse subscribers for medical care rendered onboard ships unless the vessel is registered and flagged in the United States.  Over 5 million Americans will cruise this year and only about 5% of them will seek medical attention from the ships medical facility, but is always better to be prepared just incase.

 Happy Cruising!

By Darlene Siddons

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