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In November of 2015, David and I went on our first cruise! I apologize for the quality of the photos. We didn't have a great camera back then! We decided to go for our anniversary that year. We did a quick 3 night/4 day Carnival Cruise out of Long Beach, Ca that went to Avalon, Catalina Island and Ensenada, MX. Back then, I still needed a wheelchair for long periods of standing and walking. But I could walk/stand longer than I can now.
I decided to purchase one of those walkers with the seat to try and do the cruise. I didn't want to have to be in a wheelchair the whole time. We were excited to try a cruise and see what it was like. Boy was in a for a surprise.
I am going to explain why cruises are good for people with disabilities/chronic illness and tell you what I learned along the way.
Once you get on board, the only place you "have" to be is off the ship at debarkation. You can get on board and NEVER leave your stateroom if you wish. The great thing about most of these larger cruise lines is they have 24 hour room service included. We ordered sandwiches at 2 am from room service. Also breakfast in bed! Yes we did! Although when we actually got to the dining room for breakfast the food options were so much better.
I would suggest you try and get to the dining room. Try the cruise dress-up/formal night. It was the BEST food we had on the cruise. We had steak with roasted garlic to place on the steak and that was the best garlic I have ever had. It made the steak melt in your mouth. We had creme brulee for dessert. You are able to get as much as you want!
If you are celebrating a special occasion make sure they know! They will help you celebrate. We were celebrating our anniversary! They put birthday candles on a piece of cheesecake for us!
You get to meet other people while on-board and at breakfast one day we met a gentleman that booked the cruise for 3 weeks straight to recover from surgery because he said he could pay for someone to come to his house and cook for him and such but the cost was actually cheaper to book the cruise for 3 weeks and have the food cooked for him. I wouldn't actually recommend this but he did it.
Long story short, I had to rent a wheelchair from the cruise line. They don't always have wheelchairs you can rent but this time they did! The ships are bigger than they seem. Yup, I will admit it, I highly overestimated what I could physically handle. Don't be me, know if you need a mobility scooter or wheelchair and accept that it is ok!
You do need to do some research. Some ports are tender ports and those ones can't take some mobility scooters/electric wheelchairs. That might have to be a stay on the ship port.
They also have several different accessible cabin types from partial accessible for people who need some help all the way to rooms a wheelchair can make a full turn for the person. Talk with your travel agent or the cruise line so you know exactly what type of room you need.
There are also normally some parts of the ship that are not accessible by wheelchair/mobility scooter. With some research, you can see if the ship you want to take has any non-accessible areas and if you are ok with that.
We went to Catalina Island, which I love it there. It's not super handicap accessible because it has cobblestone streets and small shops, but we used the wheelchair and did alright there. The other port was Ensenada, MX and we did an excursion of wine and olive oil tasting. Yes, it is a weird combo but it was so fun!
If you make the right reservations and pick the right cruise line and cruise, a cruise can be super fun, chill vacation for a disabled/chronically ill person. It can be a place for you to see multiple areas of a country or the world without the hassle of flying to a bunch of places and changing hotel rooms. Your hotel goes with you! If you don't feel like you can get out of bed...you don't have to!
If you want to find out about a cruise I know a great travel agent who specializes in disability travel! Pssst..... it's me!!