Cruise lines aim to create an atmosphere comfortable for the vacationers with disabilities. The cruise lines have recognized the areas of need so that travelers with specific disabilities can enjoy cruise line traveling even more.
The cruise lines have welcomed the opportunity to make their mark with bringing in the comforts and state of the art levels for people with mobility, hearing, visual disabilities and children with disabilities.
Individuals young and old with disabilities are cruising more than ever.
Cruise lines have responded in a positive direction, in more ways than just elevators and a speedy processing during embark and debarkation.
Mobility disabilities have been addressed in numerous ways. Aside from the abundance of elevators, ramps, automatic doors throughout the ship, corridors aim to please with widths which support 180-degree turns.
Research surrounding accessible staterooms and setup are constantly being upgraded with new features as well. Accessible balconies have been installed for vacationers to enjoy the morning coffee and sights.
Research has also shown major concerns which can be found in the bathroom. Lower sinks and vanities, fold down shower seats and strategically placed hold bars have been placed to help address those concerns.
Also, to support people with mobility limitations, cruise lines have complimentary foldable wheelchairs, walkers and canes.
Although cruise lines support the use of motorized aids, they do not provide them on board. If the passenger requires a motorized wheelchair or scooter, there are reputable companies that the customer will be referred to for rental purposes before embarking on the cruise ship.
Bear in mind when using the mobility aid, they must also be stored in the stateroom and not in the corridors.
The features to support the needs of the mobility disabled are endless. Inquire about more details with your travel agent.
People with hearing disabilities require a different angle. Single or unassisted individuals can find comfort in their staterooms with up-to-date and state-of-the-art technology to bring ease of living onboard.
Visual cues and tactical alerts which are heavily depended on have been installed.
Not only throughout the ship, but in the personal stateroom, these are installed for fire alarms, doorbells and telephones to name a few examples.
Throughout the ship, there are other items like assisted listening systems in the theatres and sign language interpreters which all can be used to benefit the customer.
In addition the above visual impairments can have great concerns among the guests especially for the first time, single or unassisted cruiser. Cruise lines have responded with service animals being welcomed with open arms on board!
With 30 days’ notice, your support animal will have the necessary set-up to be able to live comfortably onboard with their owner in the stateroom. However, do understand that the necessary paperwork is required to disembark at each port in which could be a new country.
In addition to the service animals, once embarked, guests may have the opportunity to have a personalized orientation tour from one of the crew members onboard.
Other features to enjoy on the ship and staterooms are Braille for reading signage or menus, or the waiters and waitresses will, without a doubt, read it to their guests. Also, audio call signs at elevators and automatic doors can be found throughout the ship that can aid with a visually impaired guest.
Finally, the industry’s little guests: children with disabilities. In addition to the above-mentioned ways of assistance, children’s programs have been specialized to meet individual needs.
With that being said, the activity groups for children with disabilities are grouped by ability, not age. In addition, the babysitting offered on board has certified crew members to watch children while parents/guardians may leave their staterooms to enjoy the ship on their own time.
While parents/guardians are absent from their staterooms, they will have individual pagers that are connected to the babysitter.
Therefore they can rest knowing that they’re only a quick page away from their little ones!
In the end, all people requiring special needs before, during and after disembarking a ship have many companies to research and to choose from in the industry. Most cruise lines aspire to be leaders for those who require a variety of other options in order to live more comfortably onboard. And it shows.
Overall, the comfort and safety is a priority with the cruise lines; it is obvious. With the positive additions, constant research and feedback from the industry’s guests, the cruise lines will keep moving forward in a positive direction, in an area of cruising that keeps growing year by year.
Rachel Tripp is a vacation and cruise consultant with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Red Deer.