disability cruising, Mobility devices, Traveling with disabilities

Wheelchair Use on a Cruise Ship

Initially a cruise appears perfect for wheelchair and scooter users. Rest assured, you can enjoy a cruise in a wheelchair. All lines have accessible public areas, with large passages, automated doors, and special seating. Activities, meals, and entertainment are close at hand, mindful personnel offer to assist and once you embark, then you are in an accessible stateroom for the duration of your journey. The wheelchair-accessible staterooms offer wide doorways, ramped entrances, roll-in showers with a seat, grab bars in the bathroom, a hand-held shower head, and a lower sink and closet rods. These things are all true, however wheelchair and scooter users have to invest a little additional time planning and doing research prior to booking a cruise.

For those who are struggling with walking any distance, a wheelchair is in order. The major cruise lines are happy to provide the disabled cruiser with a wheelchair during boarding and disembarking. However, you will need to bring your own wheelchair or scooter if you desire one for the whole cruise.

If you do not wish to bring your own equipment, think about renting one from one of the specialized provider services for use while at sea. You can call them to have oxygen, scooters, and wheelchairs delivered right to the cabin if preferred. If there is a concern or if a wheelchair isn’t typically used, a walker or scooter may be easier to utilize. Long corridors, sightseeing onshore and other occasions and activities may all require special equipment.

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A wheelchair, scooter or walker may be the primary mobility assistance aid for moving around the ship and getting on and off the ship for the disabled cruiser who cannot walk on their own. One rule of importance for such chairs and scooters is that they should fold to less than 21 inches in width. This is so that you can easily fit them into your cabin when not in use. Keep in mind that the scooter minimizes the available space within your stateroom. Your personal scooter should be able to fit in a standard stateroom with a 22″ entry doorway. If your scooter is larger than 21″, you must purchase an accessible stateroom or rent a smaller scooter. Cruise lines won’t allow these to be left in the hallway as they could cause other issues for other passengers. So this is vital to storage.

Motorized wheelchairs and scooters are allowed in our accessible staterooms provided that they are powered by gel-cell batteries and the chargers must be adaptable to 110 volts. Should you choose a stateroom that has not been designated as accessible, you will need to bring a collapsible wheelchair, or if you have a motorized wheelchair or scooter, the width must not exceed 21 inches to enter the stateroom door.

Read all of your cruise line’s terms and conditions before you book. Find out which types of wheelchairs and scooters are permitted. If yours does not meet your cruise line’s requirements, consider renting a smaller model during your cruise.

Not all shore excursions are accessible, and even those that claim to be wheelchair-friendly need to be carefully investigated. If you normally use a wheelchair lift to get into and out of vehicles, you will need to tell your cruise line that you require a van or bus with a lift. Never assume that “wheelchair friendly” equals “wheelchair lift available.” Read your cruise line’s terms and conditions to be sure that you will be permitted to go on the shore excursions of your choice.

One of the advantages of cruising is that there is always something to do. However, some cruise ships have fewer accessible activities than others. Just because a swimming pool is available does not mean that a person who uses a wheelchair can go swimming; if there is no lift or ramp, wheelchair users cannot get into the water. Seating for shows may be inadequate; while nearly every ship has some type of seating for wheelchair users, it isn’t always well-located.

Please note the following regarding the use of wheelchairs and mobility devices on your cruise:

• You must provide your own wheelchair or other mobility aid or arrange for the rental, delivery and pickup of that device to and from the ship on your own.
• We strongly recommend that the disabled cruiser plan to sail with someone who can physically assist them when necessary. Certain activities, like using a tender boat to visit a port of call or accessing a pool require the disabled cruiser to transfer out of their wheelchairs.
• Due to safety regulations, wheelchairs, scooters, strollers and other personal belongings may not be stored in public passageways and must be stored inside staterooms or a designated public storage area.

Many cruise lines work hard to provide accessible staterooms, activities and shore excursions. Do some research or find a travel agent who understands accessible travel issues, get answers to your questions and enjoy your cruise.

See a review of disability cruising on various cruise lines for additional information.

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