Friday, July 28

Cruises - good option for disabled holidays?

Cruising for Disabled Passengers
For those who are new to cruising, it is certainly an experience you won't want to miss. With a wealth of entertainment options day and night, a variety of dining choices and an opportunity to go shopping or simply relax, you can never be bored. Not many holidays give you the chance to wake up in new destination each day! Most cruise lines have some facilities for disabled passengers, and an increasing number of the larger and more expensive cruise liners are making full provision. However, it is particularly important that anyone contemplating a cruise holiday should contact us at an early stage, both to make known their particular requirements and to be able to discuss any difficulties they may face on board or at ports of call.When selecting a ship, it's important to note that vessels built during the past five years are more likely to have purpose built staterooms, usually in more than one category and conveniently located for easy access to elevators. Please speak to one of our cruise consultants for more information on which ship would be best suited to your personal needs.

Wheelchair Friendly
Disabled adapted cabins are usually placed with better access to all public areas and lifts. They are designed with wider doorways, hand bars, low level controls, low door peephole and specially designed spacious bathrooms. Most cruise companies will also insist that passengers who normally require assistance in their daily living are accompanied by an able-bodied passenger who will take full responsibility for any assistance required during the cruise. Ship crews will help out as much as they can, but you may well prefer the company of someone who understands your specific needs.Accessibility will vary from port to port, but the only difficulty will be getting from ship to shore at the few ports which are too shallow or too small for the cruise ship to dock; you will have to transfer from cruise ship to dockside by tender. Many of these small boats can now carry wheelchair passengers, but it is always best to check beforehand.

Visually Impaired
Braille facilities are quite standard aboard cruise ships. You will find the deck numbers inside lifts and cabin numbers in Braille as well as being able to request a Braille menu at dinner.Guide dogs are permitted on all ships, with required documentation to accompany passengers with vision impairments; however, if your cruise is scheduled to visit foreign ports (as most do), you may not be able to take a guide dog ashore, depending on the country. To avoid potential quarantine, guide dogs should have their shots updated within seven days of sailing, and owners should carry the dog's valid health and rabies certificates. Hawaii is especially strict about importing animals. No dog, not even a guide dog, may step ashore without being quarantined for at least 30 days unless it arrives from an area recognized by the state as rabies-free.

Hearing Impaired
Most cruise lines have an alert kit for guests with hearing impairments which can be fitted to any cabin. These TTY kits include visual notification (flashing light in the cabin) of the door knocker and smoke alarm; also a vibrating alarm, door knocker, bed shaker and phone amplifier.

Dietary Requirements
If informed in advance, cruise lines can cope with specific diets (such as diabetic, gluten-free or fat free). However, while the latest ships are increasingly well-equipped, most cruise lines will only be able to provide the equivalent of a normal GP service whilst at sea; their medical centres are not intended for extensive or continuing treatment of ongoing health conditions, which will remain the responsibility of the passengers concerned.

Feature on Holland America Line's Accessible Cruising policy
Holland America pride themselves on their accessible cruising standards. Wide companionways throughout their ships provide accessible routes to all their onboard facilities. They have spacious elevators with Braille control panels and audible signals. You can also find Infrared systems/Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) in showrooms and theaters for enhanced enjoyment. Whichever restaurant you select to dine in, you can enjoy accessible seating, and, for guests with visual disabilities, large-print or Braille menus are available upon request.

Holland America Line is the first cruise line to offer a specially designed tender lift system that can provide seamless transfer from ship to tender to shore.
At the poolside you will also find transfer lifts for easy pool access.

Tty/tdd machines and kits for the hearing-impaired that include vibrating bed alert, visual door knocker and phone amplifier are available on request.

Holland America also welcomes specially trained service animals such as guide dogs and mobility-assistance dogs inboard. Please note, however, that many of their enticing ports of call have established strict documentation and immunization requirements. If your service animal does not have the proper papers or if there are local quarantine requirements, it may not be permitted to disembark

For further information on their accessibility standards, visit their website

Please let me know YOUR OPINIONS
I'd love to hear what you think about accessible cruising... do you have a particular view, experience or story you'd like to share? If so - please reply to this post!

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