With warmer weather and summer months on the horizon, you may be thinking about a vacation. While your vacations after a spinal cord injury (SCI) may look different than they did before, you can still enjoy many of the same vacation experiences with a little planning and adaptation. If you are looking for an option that helps make accessibility a breeze, consider a cruise! You can use these tips to help you make sure you will be cruising accessibly.
If you have decided you want to go on a cruise, start your vacation planning off by researching different cruise lines. All cruise ships within the United States – and those foreign cruise ships that dock here – are required to be ADA compliant. So, whichever cruise line you choose must meet accessibility requirements. However, to be sure that the cruise line fits your specific accessibility needs, it is helpful to visit the cruise line’s website. There, you can search “accessibility” or “special needs” and most will redirect you to a page with specifics on their accessibility options. You will be able to find information such as doorway widths, room accommodations, and other accessibility details. Some cruise lines even offer a hotline with dedicated customer specialists to answer your questions about accessibility.
Once you have chosen a cruise line and booked a trip, you will likely be asked to fill out some paperwork describing your specific needs and limitations. Try not to think of this as a hassle, as the more information that you can provide, the better. This will help the cruise line to make sure that you have everything you need while on board. Be sure to submit this as quickly as possible, so you can grab any first come, first serve resources.
If you have been on a cruise before, then you are probably familiar with the limited amount of space in the rooms. Consider this when booking your trip – while most cruise lines offer accessible rooms, they are still limited in space and you may be required to keep your equipment stored in your room. Other perks accessible rooms offer are wider doorways, sliding doors, lower thresholds, roll-in showers, and benches. Since accessible rooms are typically limited, you’ll want to book early so that you have a sufficient amount of time to guarantee an accessible room.
Before you leave for your trip, you will want to consider a few things. Be sure to check the cruise lines policy on batteries, chargers, and weight limits of accessibility equipment. While the cruise line may have to be ADA compliant, remember that not all ports will be. You can work with the cruise line to assist you in making accommodations for disembarking the ship at the different ports. A travel agent may be helpful in finding out whether or not certain excursions are accessible.
Source: cruisecritic.com, Accessed: 4/3/17