An insight into going on a cruise with a disability
I went on a 14-day cruise last September to the Mediterranean with Celebrity Silhouette. I am a permanent wheelchair user and I booked very early to ensure a wheelchair suitable cabin with balcony. The room was more than adequate, and I was able to arrange for special equipment to be sent to the room by mobility at sea. That side all went very smoothly. The bathroom was a wet room and fully accessible. You could arrange room service for a nominal charge at any time of the day or night. The cruise ship was fully accessible in all restaurants and all the staff were polite and extremely helpful. I particularly liked the restaurant called le Petit Chef which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience which you could book for a nominal fee. Every dish was prepared by a tiny cartoon chef projected onto your table together with beautiful graphics and the food was sublime. Everyone in the retail side of the ship were very attentive. The only downside was that I happened to buy a quite extensive necklace and they were continually encouraging me into the shop to buy more and it became a little overwhelming. There were dozens of lifts but due to the amount of elderly and wheelchair-bound, there was usually a lengthy wait at busy times to travel in the lift. Even the able-bodied seem to lose the will to mount a staircase. I was disappointed by the excursions for the disabled. The ones that were available were extremely expensive, so I chose to arrange my own transport which worked perfectly. With all the disabled people on the cruise ships these days, I do think it is about time that the cruise companies understood we dont all want to stay on the ship day after day. We want to explore the unknown ports like every other passenger. I was also unaware that they could, at the last minute, announce that one of the ports was going to be tendered (only accessible by a small boat) which, when you are only docking at seven places, it can suddenly change to five without a moments notice and no compensation. With everything taken into account, I still cannot wait until my next cruise as it is liberating. I am no longer able to travel by air so this is the only way I can visit new and fascinating places. I would be delighted should I get to win the cruise with wave 105. Cruising is expensive so a free place with my carer would be a dream come true. Caroline Diment
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