Cruising for people with disabilities
by Doug Smith
Isn’t going on holiday the best time of year? Be it summer, Christmas and New Year, Easter, or even just for a long weekend, it’s nice to get away and recharge the batteries.
My name is Doug Smith, and I am from Peterhead, in the north east of Scotland. I am a full-time wheelchair user, having had spina bifida and hydrocephalus since birth.
I got into the cruise industry after being unemployed for some time and then going back to college.
I worked as a reservations cruise consultant for Carnival UK, selling cruises over the phone, face-to-face, and by email to direct customers and travel agents.
Cruise ships these days have grown. Not only in size, but in accessibility too. So much so that more and more people with disabilities are turning to cruising as an accessible alternative to their usual land-based package holiday.
When you arrive at the port and see your ship looming high over the terminal you will really begin to get excited. You can either leave your car in the secure car park, be dropped off by friends and family, or, should you live further afield, take advantage of the complimentary coach transfers that most cruise lines offer.
From the car park to getting on board the ship it will take you far less time than to get on board an aircraft at the airport.
Cruise terminals have full accessibility, including the check-in desks and the walkway from the terminal to the ship.
Once on board you will be amazed by the amount of space a ship contains. Your cabin, for starters, will have all the amenities you could need. From a wheel-in shower room to enough floorspace to be able to manoeuvre easily and comfortably.
Other public areas of the ship are also accessible. Places like the dining areas, entertainment venues, shops, spa (yes, there is always a spa onboard), swimming pools, jacuzzis… the list goes on.
If you have a disability, and wish to get off the ship at a port of call, if the ship is at anchor, you will have to get the “all-clear” from the ship’s captain. They are ultimately responsible for the health and safety of not only their crew, but you too. Their word is final and cannot be contested.
I cannot wait to go on my next cruise, and neither should you. So, what are you waiting for? Go on, get out there and book a cruise. See the world. After all, it is your world!
Doug Smith is the author of The Dis”Ability” To Cruise?