A cruise is a wonderful change of scenery and a complete alternative to a person’s “normal” daily activities and surroundings. This wonderful change is amplified if you’re an individual with limited mobility or if you’re living with any type of physical challenge. Any attempt to make such a vacation better and smoother for such an individual is applauded. Because of personal family experience, I’ve witnessed the provisions made for cruise passengers with limited mobility and unfortunately I’ve also witnessed the lack of those provisions on cruise ships. For the most part, they excel in their attempts especially when you consider all that has to be contended with while trying to make a cruise vacation a happy experience for everyone.
Areas where cruise ships excel are in the embarkation and disembarkation process but, for the days that lie in between, there certainly is a need for some improvement. My pet peeve is the problem of getting from one deck of the ship to another. Your immediate thought may be with the question, “Are there no elevators?” Yes, there are elevators but getting on one is like trying to get a ride on a moving bus! Ninety percent of cruise passengers are able bodied but when an elevator door opens, you would think it was the last elevator of the day! No offense but it is what it is. Cruise ships, in their fear of inconveniencing their greater number of able bodied customers, refuse to give the disabled priority passage into the elevators.
Enjoying the ship is great but what about the ports? Ship employees are usually very helpful in getting passengers off at the ports but better coordination between the ship, the port and the excursion operators need improvement. Sometimes after disembarking the ship, there is little regard for a person that has difficulty in getting to and into a tour bus or the shops at the port. Don’t get me wrong, improvements have been made but more needs to be done.
When it’s meal time, the main dining room is great for individuals with limited mobility but if you’re interested in the buffet, good luck! After filling your plate, even if you can reach everything, a person can go around and around in circles trying to find a table that hasn’t been grabbed by someone who can move more quickly and are willing to assert themselves for their own personal convenience. The above problems are no doubt indicative of life in general for a person living with a disability but a cruise is supposed to be a memorable vacation and cruise ship operators could, if they would choose to, improve in these areas.
Something I feel should be mentioned though I have no solution, is the attitude often expressed by able bodied individuals when a person with a disability and their attendant is allowed to walk past them in a line. Some people, regardless of how much they try to hide it, express disdain against anyone allowed to go the the head of the line. That in turn, causes the disabled to have feelings of uneasiness and guilt which can absolutely ruin their vacation experience. I have noticed, however, one thing that seems to suppress that expression of disdain, is when an employee takes an active part in helping with their movement through the long lines.