I am appalled to discover that a favourite trick of certain unscrupulous regular
cruisers is to find the numbers of the accessible cabins on their chosen ship and to book one of those as they are often, as we all know, much larger than standard.This is, to my mind, a despicable practise which stops genuine wheelchair users from booking the accomodation which they need. Doubtless the folk who do this are the same ones who take the disabled spaces in the supermarket car-park without a disabled parking badge!
Those of us who are disabled should lobby the cruise lines to make sure that they only sell accessible cabins to genuine cases - unless, of course they are sold off as a last minute bargain when the line knows that it has no one who needs a disabled cabin on its waiting list.
My nother-in-law uses a wheelchair and so was qualified for an accessible cabin, however, the cruise line (through the TA) only required a note from her doctor confirming that she needed the accessible cabin. There was really no checking up to insure she needed it (a note is easy enough to come up with). Wondering what suggestions would be to insure a guest needed the cabin?
While I agree that these should only be released to those with a need. I believe the doctors letter should be sufficient. It is already putting an obligation to disclose private information that other cruisers do not have to provide without making it even more onerous on those of us who do need them.
The lines do try to keep the cabins and they are suppose to only be released by special services until shortly before the cruise when they are released. but there are two problems.
One is as you say unscrupulous TA or travelers who say they need it and will send the documentation, then they don't and once it has been released the cruise lines rarely follow up if paperwork does not show up in a timely fashion.
the second problem is with the booking software in that say you need such a cabin and you book one, then for some reason you cancel the software then puts that cabin back into regular stock instead of returning it to special needs dept. this is a big problem.
If the ADA ever gets the laws in place requireing the cruise ships that stop in US ports to follow certain rules I think we will see this get better. but until then all we can do is hound them.
As a disabled person with multiple sclerosis I have good days and bad days. The last two cruises we have taken we were booked into a handicapped room - but only with documentation from my doctor. Too look at me one wouldn't think I had a disability; but on my bad days, my vision is blurred, my speech is slurred, I walk like I am drunk, and my right foot doesn't do anything but drag., During these times I need a wheelchair. Perhaps reviewing the ADA federal regulations might enlighten those who would chastise someone like me. Before jumping to conclusions 3 different cruise lines have required documentation from my doctor. I'm sure the same holds true for others booked in handicapped rooms.
I too have several conditions that require me to have a handcapped room, but to look at me most times you would not see it. I will not go into what the problem is here. Please do not give me bad looks, if you see me exiting a handicapped room . Please give me and others the benifit of the doubt and know that most people would not be so mean as to take that kind of room from somone who needed it , if they did not need it them selves.
As a disabled person with multiple sclerosis and a host of other maladies, I never request a handicap cabin. Now, that being said, I think the cruise lines should force those passengers to produce medical information to the cruise line's fleet medical team. There are far too many people using alleged "medical problems" in order to have a bigger stateroom. If someone is REALLY disabled, that person would have no problem furnishing documentation that they are, in fact, disabled. I am scheduled to sail on Golden Princess 1/3/2004 and Princess Cruise Lines send me a two-page form to fill out, outlining my medical problems, and this has to be signed by my doctor. And,no, I have a regular balcony stateroom reserved. Thanks for bringing this up. B
Great topic! What I don't understand, (as a first time cruser) is why these huge ships have so few handicap rooms? Travel is so limited in the first place for most of us, that it would seem that the cruise lines would enjoy more bookings from those with handicaps if they would incorporate more handicap accessible rooms on their ships. That being said, maybe that is the idea.....if there are no rooms, they don't have to "deal" with our equipment or extra needs? Never having been on a cruise, I don't have much room to talk, but general observation leads me to my conclusions. As for "proving" you're handicapped, that is again another justification that seems so harsh, but necessary I guess. Having to devulge so much of your personal life seems to be the way it goes with us huh? So I guess my feelings are that the ships really need to offer more in the way of handicap access, and not make anyone feel they are being a "burden" for wanting to experience something they may never otherwise have the opportunity. Thanks for sharing you all, and I do hope some one reads these posts from the cruise lines. Bobbi
It's too bad that there aren't different KINDS of handicapped rooms. I, persoanally, need assistance in getting around. I have a scooter, and a folding wheelchair. I need a wider door, somewhere to park the scooter, and a shower, rather than a tub. The wheelchair can fold and go up against a wall. I do NOT need a huge room or a shower seat.......or a bathroom big enough for a chair or scooter. Some folks need all of the above, plus low rods in the closet. I can stand, and walk around my room. Some folks just need a handicapped bathroom. Folks with disabilities that do not need to take extra equipment, may need an accessible bathroom, but not a large cabin or a wide door.
It seems that different configurations might be most useful for many people.........but t hen, they build in modules, and the most accessible room would do for any disabled person, but the least of the accessibles would NOT do for those that needed the most help. There must be many of us that need different levels of accommodations.
What do you think?
My mother is booked to sail with us in March, and requires a wheelchair. Her portion of the cruise is paid for completely. Now it looks as though she may need surgery and may not get to go. There are 3 others in this cabin with her. If she can't go, I would gladly accept an upgrade to give this cabin to another person in need. We booked a year in advance, but do understand the needs of others also. I discussed this with my TA and she called RCCL at that time. They said they would not ask for the cabin unless it is needed for a disabled person. I hope not to be looked down on if we keep the cabin without my mother. Hopefully, she won't need surgery, and will still be sailing with us.
Jonathan, you are so right! There has been only one cruise line that asked me to provide a certificate from our doctor that my wife is indeed an amputee and so ok for the HP cabin. That was Princess Line for a cruise almost five years ago. Since, neither Princess asked us again (for the following four cruises), nor Celebrity and RCI
(for one cruise each). It is certainly appalling to see a couple on Grand Princess dancing a la Arthur Murray Studios, prior to the show at the Princess Theatre -
and then on the disembarkation day use a wheelchair to get off sooner and then toboard their flight home at the Ft L air terminal!
On our last cruise on Sun Princess, there were no balconies available for the HP cabins (I believe only four) on Dolphin Deck and only one HP with verandah on the top deck mini suite for an additional $1800.-! Don't you get the feeling that the cruise industry considers our dear HP spouses and/or children as a necessary evil; just think how many times we hear how "others" get moved up to upper deck staterooms for the same price, and wife and I always pay the top $ for the HP cabin, that I have to book almost a year ahead of time.
You are making the assumption that because someone is able to do certain things that there is nothing wrong with them. I look fine, and am usually able to do anything I want. I just put up with the pain. Some days, however, it's much more severe, and I will use my handicap sticker because it's going to be hard enough to finish my shopping w/o adding a long hike in the parking lot. My arms and hands hurt the most, so I'll use automatic doors and such to avoid additional stress. Personally at this point I would never book a handicap room, but if I ever needed a scooter or wc I would, but I would still get around w/o when ever possible, and do as much as possible, even though people might think my dancing meant I wasn't in pain, and didn't have any physical problems.
I would really like to see the handicap rooms have a bathtub/shower combo. On RCCL Monarch of the Seas we were booked into handicap room and it only had a shower, which should not have been a problem, except the water pressure was so great the shower hose flung out of my hand striking me in the face, knocking me down on my back. Shower hose kept flopping around, I couldn't move with the excess water streaming everywhere in the bathtub, and NO EMERGENCY CALL BUTTON. I tried kicking the wall yelling for assistance, to no avail. So on my two subsequent cruises (Holland America) and Princess Cruise Lines I requested a verandah suite with a bathtub! Yes, I had to pay $800 extra just for the bathtub/shower combo. I do travel with my service dog who is trained to alert me prior to a multiple sclerosis episode. Holland America Zuiderdam had a special place for her potty area. I'm not sure what Princess Cruise Line Golden Princess is going to do for her potty area. They suggested just letting her potty on the verandah which I'm sure would make the guests below us extremely happy. Thank goodness my TA took the bull by the horns and went to the VP in charge and they have decided she could go potty on the astro turf by the spa and gym.
I can hardly wait to see other guests watch her potty. But I carry poopie sacks. We cruise Jan 3 2004 so I will report back so other people who may travel with service dogs can feel comfortable booking on Princess Cruise Lines. I'm not sure the cruise industry realizes that those of us with disabilities have disposable income and cruise every year - they should open up more handicap staterooms. Off my soapbox now.
I have interviewed AB passengers who had their travel agent lie just so they could have an accessible cabin, because (the perception was) it provided more room. These folks told me that their travel agent didn't want to lie but "she knew what side her bread is buttered on" and they said they would take their businesss elsewhere if she didn't.
So I find the travel agent just as much at fault. And that is not an isolated incident.
Still, most crusie lines now at least make you self-declare that you have a disability (and many ask what) in order to book an accessible cabin. I think that's as far as I'd like to see it go. I'd hate to see it become a rule for people who want to cruise to have to get a doctors statement (some could just get their doctor to lie for them anyway, so it really doesn't accomplish much.)
I think there should be some oversight, but I don't think PWDs should be made to jump through more hoops (and pay for a doctors visit) just to go on vacation.
Editor, Emerging Horizons
***edited to remove commercial reference*** -- the only magazine about accessible travel
I am an able-bodied person who just booked a disabled cabin on the Monarch (and yes, 'cause it was bigger).
The agent asked me directly whether I was handicapped, and I answered "no." She just said to be prepared that if a disabled person requested a handicapped cabin, I could be knocked out, which I said I had no problem with in that my Mom is in a wheelchair part-time.
I booked the cruise 3 weeks outside of sailing, so I don't think I will have any problem, but I thought I would let you all know how it was handled in my case.
Harry--- The sad thing is that if a handicapped person needs that cabin---they normally just tell them the ship doesn't have any more accessible cabins available and won't move you out-----they never check..... Being three weeks out probably is not that big of a deal but if it had been months.........I strongly recommend not doing it...... I have been turned down for sailings when Royal Caribbean wouldn't even check if those booked in the accessible cabins really needed it............Another case in which telephone reps really don't know what is going on................We have to book our cruises months and sometimes years in advance so that we can get an accessible cabin. My wife is confined to a chair and we can't sail without a cabin like this.........
Carson, it was interesting on the Star Princess, because one of our group got moved to a disabled balcony cabin when they booked a guarantee. I totally agree with what you are saying as far as booking months out, etc. In my case, like I said, we are just two weeks or so from sailing now, and thatw as the only reason I requested it. In fact, most times I just book a guarantee.
Unfortunately, even if you require a physician's letter, you will still find cheaters. This is what happens all the time with people who get a physician to sign an application for disabled parking placards....many times it is a friend or family member physician who will "lie" for them like this. Some people are just scum, no matter what rules you make!
I have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which is a form of muscular dystrophy. I often trip, fall down, sprain my ankles, dislocate my knees, get really weak, etc. Because of this, I thought it might be a good idea to have an accessible cabin for the extra bars/rails in the bathroom. Our last cruise on Carnival's Paradise was rather rocky with some big waves. I have enough trouble walking over flat ground without hurting myself, let alone keeping steady with a ship's movement. It doesn't take much for me to slip in the shower or lose my balance. I have booked a category D1 stateroom on Enchantment of the Seas and was asked for a doctor's statement to fax to RCCL. Not a problem, I called my neurologist and they faxed me the necessary statement.
As someone who has good days and bad days with CMT, I respect others who utilize accessible facilities. I have a placard for my car, as I'm scared to death to walk across an icy parking lot when it's wintertime. I don't abuse it. Just because you can't see an obvious disability doesn't mean that someone else is cheating the system or that someone else is "scum." I think it's wrong for someone to judge another's condition without knowing the full story.
I agree that the cruise lines should make the rest of the staterooms more accessible in general so the wheelchair accessible staterooms are available for those who need those types of accommodations.
Of course, if RCCL contacted me and asked me to give up the stateroom for someone needing it more than me, I would be more than happy to do that.
My father in law could really use a cabin that is easier to get around and has the seat in the shower. He doesn't walk well at all and uses a cane and is always scared he will fall. Carnival told me that although I will have a wheelchair for him to get on board - it is too much walking and standing in line and I don't think he can do the escalators (Galveston terminal) that since he will not have a wheel chair the whole time they will not let him have a handicap cabin. I know those cabins will be released to someone who doesn't need it. I don't want it for me as we are getting a regular cabin but I know he would feel so much more comfortable...... So it works both ways. Debbie
In 2001 my husband and I were given a handicap cabin due to my M.S. and the fact that a wheelchair might be required. When Happy Camper stated that handicap rooms have shower seats in them, I had to laugh. The seat that came with our handicap room was large enough for a person approximately 5'3", 98 lbs. - not old lard butt me. However, I gave it a try and since the shower hoses are not fixed, I was merrily sitting on the "seat" when the power of the water kicked in, knocking me off the seat onto my back with the shower hose (I like to call it a snake) flopping back and forth. Mind you, the floor in the bathroom was now covered in inches of water. No husband around. So I used my feet to pound on the wall which was next to the hallway. No response. I finally was able to use my toes to reach up and turn the water down. Since then, I have paid extra for a cabin with a bathtub/shower combo. It is quite easy to carry a bath seat on a ship, and much safer also. However, RCCL required a doctor's letter with PROOF of my disability before they would assign a handicap room. It seems obvious that other cruise lines do not do that.
I late-booked a trip recently, and was offered a choice of *four* accessible cabins, all still vacant at the very last minute. (I don't require an accessible cabin, but this was what was offered as available in the category I requested.) Either this ship has a very adequate number of accessible cabins, or this itinerary includes factors that make accessibility an issue. If someone needs this cabin, I'd expect to move at any time it's needed.
We rarely if ever use the flip down seats. My mother (who has MS) is not only a large woman, but has no balance, so these seats with no armrests (and often with the grab rail on her weaker side) are not possible for us. She cannot walk or stand at all.
I have found a better solution is to use the roll-in shower, but avoid the use of a tub bench or built in seat. I routinely go up to the pool area as soon as we arrive and "exappropriate" a pool side plastic chair. We keep it in our roll in shower for the duration, it has armrests, and I can transfer her onto this and use it when assisting her to bathe without ever feeling like we are both going to end up in a heap on the floor.
If you need assistance, it is also best to not bathe when no one else in your party is in the cabin. The story above could have resulted in a serious injury (as when my mother fell off the toilet on one trip we were on and broke both femurs).
You guys have some great tips in here! Good to see this thread has not died!
I just wanted to jump over here and post a link to my photo gallery. I have photos of our cruise on the NCL SEA out of Houston.
There are photos of the standard cabins as well as the handicapped cabin.
Go to mickey-reviews.com
Please read my review if you are mobility impaired, as I cover my review of the Sea from that stand point, as I am somewhat limited due to MS.
I do hope this will help some of you to better plan your cruise if you are considering the NCL Sea. There are some issues to look at, but it is a wonderful ship and it is toally "doable".
If you are in the area near the Houston port, in La Porte, then I would recommend the Sea. Cut down on travel times and no flights involved!
The staff was very helpful to us also. Myself and another friend who is totally dependent on a wheelchair both gave it good reviews, and posted our feelings and experiences at cruisecritic.com message boards. We both focused on mobility impaired reviews for everything from the Ship to the ports of call.
Hope this helps!
If you need to ask me questions please email me! I have trouble keeping up with the many threads and posts!
I know I had to submit a letter from my doctor, detailing why I needed the handicapped room. That was the only way I could secure one of these rooms. How are others getting the rooms unless there has been no one in need requesting these rooms?
The other thing you need to remember is this: You may see someone walking around the ship and then see them go into a handicapped room. What you might not be seeing is that there is a wheel chair in that room and is only used to go longer distances. Maybe they can walk from the room to the pool but not all the way to the dining room. And maybe they can't stand for long periods of time and use the roll in showers. People don't always think there is a need for these rooms but they don't know the full story.
What you say is quite true but they AB's can in fact book the cabins by saying they will send the documentation and then just not sending it.
The cruise lines do not follow up on it if they never get the paperwork.
I know people like you and I don't want to take the chance of losing the room and do in fact have to send in the details of our medical conditions, which on it's face is unfair when other passengers don't have to disclose such personal information.
I find the cruiselines will insist on medical documentation as soon as they find out you have any disablility even if you have not requested a handicapped room. Which is really intrusive and not required of others.