On board and ports of call

As a Peer Network Facilitator with BCITS, Nancy Lear is an integral part of our continuing endeavour to expand our ongoing peer initiative. Empowerment of peers is a very central element of the program and sharing experiences supports that goal in a very practical way. In this three-part story, Nancy will describe the planning and experiences of her first cruise. Please note that BCITS does not endorse any of the companies mentioned in this travelogue.

Taking a cruise: Part 3

While on board exploring the ship is an exciting, ongoing experience. There can be up to 18 decks on a cruise ship. Between hanging out by the pool and enjoying the sun, there are many activities that can be taken part in. And all of it while the sun keeps smiling beautifully. It is a very relaxing time. And all the while you will be treated like royalty!

Food plays a very big part on a cruise ship. Buffets are plentiful and have a huge selection. You can find Italian, Spanish, Indian, French and more. All of it looking tasteful and mostly available all day.

Excursions fall into two categories. The first type is a stop in a so called “tender” port. This means the cruise ship drops anchor slightly away from the dock. Passengers travel down a flight of stairs, situated on the exterior of the cruise ship, and board a boat that is floating alongside the ship. Once at the bottom of the stairs, there is a 4 to 6-inch gap where the passengers need to make a leap down into the small boat. This is of course not a situation that wheelchairs can safely negotiate.

However, ports where the cruise ship is able to dock add another attraction to a cruise: excursions that can be pre-booked. There are companies who are specialised on accessible excursions like Sage Traveling or Disabled Accessible Travel & Wheelchair Accessible Barcelona. They will organise wheelchair accessible vehicles and English-speaking tour guide/drivers. It will be cheaper if you book a group excursion with other travellers. However, if you feel you want to spend the extra money, these travel companies can also arrange a private excursion tailored to your taste.

It is a magical moment when the ship leaves port. It is a wonderful aspect of cruising to visit so many places without ever packing and unpacking each time. You go to sleep in Italy and wake up in France! It doesn’t get any better than that!

TIP: Contact the medical desk agent onboard the ship when booking your bed to make him aware of your needs around accessibility and space. Also inform him of your medical diagnosis. You will be sent a medical form to fill out, which includes wheelchair measurements, lift measurements and battery type.

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