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Now browsing: Hometown News > Columnist Archives > Travel - Pat Kelley

Is cruising accessible for me?
Rating: 3.1 / 5 (172 votes)  
Posted: 2006 Jun 16 - 03:00

Royal Caribbean, one of the most popular cruise lines in the world, has invested millions of dollars upgrading its access projects for all of its guests requiring special needs. This is especially true on its newer and larger ships being built today.

Some of the older ships may still have limited access and fewer services available for its guests with various impairments. This information is easily attained through your travel professional. I will bring you up to date on some of the wonderful improvements made for today's impaired cruisers.

Guests with mobility impairments can enjoy the spacious cabins ranging from 159 square feet to 298 square feet, depending on the category of choice. The bathrooms are equipped with grab bars, no doorsills and lowered sinks and vanities. The corridors offer 180-degree turns for wheelchairs and most decks are accessible through automated doors. Public areas offer gradual inclines for easy access. Some of the older ships may be access-limited in some areas.

While the cruise line offers wheelchair assistance on and off the ship, it does not offer this service aboard ship. You are welcome to bring your own means of navigation, such as a standard manual or motorized wheel chair. If you are unable to navigate on your own, a family member or friend will need to come along. The use of tenders has always been a problem in the past for passengers with mobility impairments. However, on select ships, Royal Caribbean has made this a stress-free reality. On private islands CocoCay and Labadee, you will find wheelchairs that are beach friendly.

For those of you wishing to try your luck, there are accessible blackjack tables. Your balcony cabin is waiting for you and designed for your comfort to enjoy the beautiful ocean view.

Although the cruise line is trying to do everything possible to meet your special needs, remember some of the ports of call may not be accessible to you. However, the newer, larger vessels are floating resorts. You really never have to leave the ship to enjoy your vacation. Cafes, fine dining, entertainment, ice skating shows, spas, Jacuzzi, movies, lounges, gambling, bingo, ocean views, pools, luxurious accommodations, Internet access, libraries and duty-free shopping are easily accessible.

For our visually impaired guests, staterooms, dining and public areas are designed to incorporate Braille or large print. Menus are also available on request. Service animals are allowed on board ship. braille elevator buttons/audio call signals, a daily cruise compass and Cruise Service Directory in Braille are offered. There will be procedures and policies to follow to make your cruise a safe and enjoyable voyage.

There are many modern-day features now available for our hearing impaired guests. Upon request, there is a portable kit available, which includes TTY/TDD, Alertmaster and a strobe alarm. Amplified phones are available in staterooms and public areas. Closed captioned television is offered in all staterooms. A request may be made for a sign language interpreter; however, this must be done a minimum of 60 days prior to sailing, and other restrictions may apply.

Guests requiring oxygen or continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis or special diets are also welcomed aboard. As with any medical condition, your doctor should be consulted and many times will be required to forward information regarding your special needs or condition. You must consult with the cruise lines regarding any serious medical problems you may have. It is in your best interest that advanced notification is given to the cruise lines.

As the cruise lines have limited medical services aboard ship, information on policies and procedures regarding your special needs is required before you set sail. If all requirements are met, you are on your way. Please book early; special needs cabins are limited. Bon voyage!

Pat Kelley is owner of Port Orange Travel. She can be reached at (386) 788-3990 or by e-mail at service@portorangetravel.com.

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