I've read on another message board ***commercial reference deleted*** that as a disabled cruiser on a Royal Caribbean ship you have to arrange your own shore excursions. Those posts were rather old so was wondering if anyone knew if this is still the case? I'm going on Explorer of the Seas in mid-September.
I am going on the Explorer August 7-15 and we have already booked our shore excursions through Royal Caribbean. There is a lady named Claudia who is extremely helpful in suggesting accessible excursions. When I called, I just asked who handled shore excursions and told them my situation. She is the one they connected me to. They recommend some excurions you can get a private van with a lift. It is expensive though. $75 per hour. From what I understand Royal Caribbean sets it up. So we would be treated as any other passengers on shore excursions. I think you can get 2 wheelchairs and 4 other passengers in the van if I remember correctly. I will know more about this obvisouly when I return. You are welcome to email me with more questions and I will try to help you with what I find out on our cruise.
Thank you for information and I hope you enjoy your cruise. Have you looked into booking your own shore excursions? I found a lot of information on [edited for outside link to commercial website], just an option.
What ports? Most have nothing, unless you are in Alaska. We take care of our own shore trips...cheaper, and more dependable. We have had ships tell us they have accessible tours, and then act amazed that my quadriplegic mother cannot "get up just a couple steps"!!!!!!
If you are on the newer ships, they have a lot more accessible tour offered. The newer ships even have new tender boats that make it very easy to board in a wheelchair. Just be sure to ask if the tour you want to book can accomodate your needs.
I didn't find Royal Caribbean helpful at all in suggesting shore excursions. We are on the Rhapsody in October with stops in Key West, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. I realize that aside from Key West, these ports are outside that US and not required by any laws to accomodate passengers with disabilites. We were told that the Conch Train in Key West has a special car with a lift that we can request. It is the only ship sponsored excursion available for wheelchair users. For the other two stops, we were told to either arrange our own excursions or stay on the ship.
Maybe this is just a peeve of mine, but it would be really nice if the cruise lines could offer even 1 excursion in each port that is designed for people in wheelchairs. Usually there are two or more ships that arrive in port at approximately the same time. They could have one excursion for passengers on all the ships to make it more cost effective. It seems that people in wheelchairs are being drawn to cruises because of the convenience of seeing several places but finding out that there isn't much they can do onshore.
Keep in mind that the cruise ships do not own the equipment or companies ashore that provide excursions. They contract with them. If there is no accessible bus or tour available in the whole city, area or country, how do you expect the cruise line to provide one out of thin air? Even in USA ports, where the ADA is poorly enforced (such as Hawaii), you will often not find accessible tours. In 3rd World countries without an ADA equivilant, and with disenfranchised, universally poor disability population it is not going to exist.
Yes, the cruise lines should be more pro-active in this area, but frankly I don't think they really want the disability business and most would rather we did not come on their ships at all. When we do, it is more work for their crew, etc. Too bad for them, we are a significant part of the market. The reality is that they will not change without constant pressure and until they are forced to (just like access in the rest of the world).
Given that, we don't like ship's tours anyway. Who wants to go with 80 people in a big bus to see beautiful sights and quite beaches??? The ship's tours usually range 50-100% more expensive than trips on your own. We would much rather arrange our own excursions, and find that this is usually much less expensive, meets our needs, and is more flexible. I get tired of ships tours that steer you to their preferred shops that give the ship a kickback, often have higher prices, etc. We have been all over the world, and never had any problems (with a little advance planning) arranging independent tours, and have never missed the ship.
We just returned from Explorer of the Seas with the Eastern Caribbean. Basically, the lady who helped us set up our excursions was way off base. We started to do the Rain Forest Tour which she said would be accessible if we could transfer to the vans. The tour guide met us first and said it was NOT accessible in any way. He said the trail they would be on would not be wide enough for a wheelchair. The explorations manager gave us a refund and we took a taxi on an island tour. It couldnt have been better. We had a great taxi driver. There was one excursion through Royal Caribbean which had a wheelchair accessible van. The night before we arrived, we were called to let us know the van was broken down. Once again we just got a refund and went out on our own. We did that at every port and it worked out great. It was usually just our family and a few times we met up with some people and they rode along with us. Those are much more low key and you can have more options of where and when you stop for pictures, etc.
If you have any more questions, feel free to email me and just put cruise on subject. I will be glad to help you in any way I can.
Part of the problem, I think, is that people on the cruise lines who deem a trip "accessible" don't always understand that a 4-inch step can make or break an excursion!
My husband, who uses a power chair, could not go over a 4-inch step ...
He has learned that it is better for him to stay onboard and enjoy the ship while it's in port. But he has visited most of the ports in the past, when he was able to walk, so that's why he's content to stay onboard!
As for Key West, the Conch Train people had us ride the Trolley they operate. I believe that is accessible, while the train is not.
If you visit their Web site [don't have it handy, but you can do a search] you can find more info on accessible rides, etc.
You can also order your tickets in advance, and get a $2 savings [at least that was true in Feb., when we went]
When you get to KW, you have to go to the Conch Train/Trolley booth and explain that you need an accessible trolley, and they will order one to be brought up.
I agree with you seawench. But I don't just think it's the cruise lines that think a 4-inch step is "no problem". This misconception exists throughout the tourism industry. In fact many people thing that everybody who uses a wheelchair can get up and walk a few steps (probably because they saw someone do it once).
The bottom lines is that there is very little accessible transportation in the Caribbean (even the locals have a hard time). It really doesn't matter how new the ship is, you are still only going to find the same (limited) accessibility in the Caribbean. So it's just a matter of putting together your own shore excursions and making do with what the islands have to offer, because the crusie lines really don't offer much in that dept.
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***edited to remove commercial link***
Another point I want to make: I observed ramps in several places that were obviously too steep for someone in a wheelchair.
That' s another thing to remember in these countries: ADA codes do not apply.
We just returned from a cruise on RCCL's Rhapsody of the Seas with stops in Key West, Costa Maya and Cozumel. The on board people working the excursions desk told us there was nothing available. Aside from the fact we could get off the ship at each port to see some shops located close to the piers.
I completely agree. I have found that making my OWN fun is the best way to go. As they say, "if you want it done right, do it yourself" and I think that's true here too. If you feel up to walking a mile to get to town, so be it. If not, then make your own fun on the ship. Whatever it takes. Sometimes, we just have to realize some things aren't meant to be. It's possible that in the future things will be better, but I'm not holding my breath...lol!
This is my second cruise. I'm planing on another one in the spring/summer of 2006. I truly want to see a rain forest and also wild/free Macaws. Is there any cruise, anywhere, that has excursions to see these in a bus/van/anything? I cannot walk but a block or so on good days.
I feel like I miss out as I/m sure you all do.
just got back from eastern caribbean on the mariner. they had a nice accessible tour in st. thomas which i booked thur rcl after i got on the ship.booked the tour from the room over interactive t.v. only found shopping in nassau and st.martin at the port. my biggest surprise was that when my family wanted to tour cape kennedy,post cruise,rcl tour desk stated the tour company they used did not have a lift equipped bus. i was floored.the girl seened to care less even after i stated that we were back in the u.s. under ada laws.so we spent 12 hours waiting for our flight.
Just was looking on shoretrips.com and in Grand Caymen they have a tour with a van with a lift. Is a 3 hour tour and hold 1 wheelchair and up to 6 other people. Cost is right about $460 dollars. Used shoretripss.com last year and had no problems whatsoever with them.
I am a dissabled, confined to a whelchair, and recently returned from an Alaskan cruise on RC's Vision of the Seas. My wife and I had planned this trip over a year ago and contacted the Excursion Desk at RC to find out which shore excursions where accessible. They where no help at all, and I don't remember how many times my wife called and e-miled them. I was able to do a lot, helicopter to the top of the glacier, whale watching, White Pass Scienic Railroad and other excursions, but it was based on research and information that I found on my own on the internet. There are also Travel Agencies that specialize in Disabled Travel.
What ports? RCCL, Princess, HAL, etc. will often offer limited wheelchair accessible (van or bus with lift) tours in ports where they are available, but often they are NOT available outside of the USA or Canada or the UK. It is generally best to call the Special Services desk of the cruise line (except for Princess, which does not offer this) prior to going on the cruise to find out what is available. Be VERY specific about your needs....they often don't understand that wheelchair accessible does not mean you are fine to take "just a couple steps".
On the other hand, you can often get better tours and cheaper ones arranging them on your own. There are a lot of resources for finding tours in various ports, including this site and the Disabled cruisers ***commercial reference deleted***
If you can transfer to a car or cab, renting a car or taking a cab may be the best and least expensive option.
Unbelievable!!! They deleted my reference to the only other disabled cruisers on-line open forum I know about...***edited to remove commercial reference***and I am sure if anyone here does not know about it, they can private e-mail me and I will be glad to tell them about it. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hello. I am going to Nassau in June 2010. Do you remember the excursions that you took? I got information from RC and I'm really frustrated in finding that there doesn't really seem to be anything for me to do except to just stay on the ship. I was hoping for a tour, fishing, snorkeling. I am a wheelchair user but can actually swim if I have a vest and someone helps me into the boat. I'm fine with falling into the water lol. All that I found on RC's info is that you must be able to walk <100 feet, 15 min., etc. Any help that you can provide is appreciated. Thanks.