Travelling before boarding the dreamboat

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 2

Getting to the departure destination by various types of transportation

Most of the time you will have to travel by plane to reach a cruise ship port. For myself, I have established a good relationship with Air Canada. I find that if possible, the staff will upgrade me without having to be asked. Respect and attention to detail makes me give this airline a good-to-great travel rating!

It is customary for ground crew at the arrival airport to be notified for the special assistance I require. However, during my travels I have learned to take this with a grain of salt and find it best to be prepared for some adventure.

Indeed, there were some obstacles to overcome when deplaning in Barcelona. It was helpful that by coincidence one of my caregivers spoke Spanish. The actual deplaning reminded me of times 20 years ago: once I was in my wheelchair, I exited the plane on an enclosed forklift that deposited me on the back of a roofless truck with no tie down :) But the driver went very slowly. It is important to be prepared for crazy moments like this and try to embrace it like a fun adventure.

I had booked an accessible taxi online before arrival. And indeed, upon exiting the customs and immigration area, a driver who had a sign with my name in his hands, was waiting for us. Even if you inform taxi companies about the amount of luggage that needs storing, it is best to be prepared for any type of vehicle to pick you up.

TIP: A list of items that need to be transported might be helpful to send on ahead by email if there is a possibility to do so. We had

  • 2 mechanical manual lifts, fully operational
  • 1 12-volt back up battery
  • 1 small box with battery chargers/
    European multipurpose plugs/
    2 power bars
  • 4 large suitcases
  • 1 person in a power wheelchair
  • 2 female caregivers
  • 3 large carry on-bags

mrbeanscarIt all managed to fit… but it did look like Mr. Bean’s car.

Our Hotel/Apartment

I was not boarding the ship until the day after my arrival in Barcelona, which meant we were going to spend our first night at a hotel (to which I was to return to for a few more days after the cruise). Again, I had done online research and chose the hotel we stayed at because of location and price. I then contacted them directly and inquired about their accessibility features to find out if they were suitable for my needs.

TIP:  Be prepared that on arrival at the hotel things might not be perfect! Elevator and all entrance doorways were wide enough for my wheelchair. Inside the apartment, however, only the mechanical lift could fit through the bedroom and bathroom doorways. It was doable. My wheelchair resided in the living and dining room areas. Also, 2 codes were required to gain access to the ramp or elevator, so safety was well taken care off, which is paramount. And the owners were absolutely great.

Part 3 will be published in a few weeks. Make sure not to miss it and sign up for an email notification using the “Follow” button at the bottom of this page.

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