Hello - I am now starting to plan our first cruise. I know nothing about them. We have a 12 yr. girl; 11 yr old boy who is confined to his motorized wheelchair (he has MD); a 9 and 8 yr. old girls, making us a party of 6. We were thinking of taking the 7 day cruise on Disney Magic, but have been told that we should take Carnival instead (better for the $$$). I am hoping to get some help here. First of all, have any of you travelled w/ a handicapped child? How are the accomodations? Also, I'm assuming all 6 of us cannot be in the same room. How do large families go on cruises? Any help, thoughts or ideas would be wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
hello CindyT you have come to the right place, feel free to ask away. I will give you my opinion on a few of your questions. If you and your kids love everything and everything Disney then why not consider Disney? If not it can be a bit overwhelming everything and I mean everything is geared to a Disney theme. (FYI- no gambling on Disney ships, if that is something you and your hubby like to do.) also Disney tends to be more expensive than most . I would consider looking into the Voyager class ships from Royal Caribbean for your family. Big ships with lots and lots to do. You will need to book a handicapped stateroom to accomodate your son's needs. I would suggest booking a mini suite instead of 2 cabins - this can work out cheaper and you will have more room. Since this is your first time i would most definatley talk to a travel agent --sit down with them one on one and really discuss what your family needs are and what you want from your cruise experience. Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Disney all have wonderful kids programs that you can enroll your kids into, If you want to enroll your son into these programs i am pretty sure you will have to contact the cruise line so that they may make arrangements to accomodate your son's needs. The hallways on cruise ships aren't the widest, but they will accomodate the width of a standard wheelchair with a little bit to spare.
I'm the family cruise editor here and I'm glad to hear you're considering cruising with your family. I was wondering if you would be planning to have your wheel chair bound son participate in youth program activities? If so, Disney Cruise Line seems to be most accommodating to children with special needs in their youth program. Keep in mind, however, that none of the youth programs are staffed enough to have one on one care for a child.
There are so many cruise lines with excellent youth programs -- Royal Caribbean, Disney, Carnival. However I think that you should start your search by contacting a travel agent who specializes in cruises and have her recommend ships that can accommodate your family of six in a wheelchair accessible cabin. Once you've narrowed that down, feel free to ask me any questions about the family friendliness of the ships that fit your son's needs. My 9 year old daughter has been on 13 cruises so I can give you first hand feedback on all the various youth programs at sea.
You can post your cruise needs here on CruiseMates.com and travel agents will contact you with whatever deals they've found for you. (Go back to the main page of the site.) Just make sure they are savvy about special needs on ships.
Good luck and let me know how your search develops.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Cindy: I have taken many cruises with my kids..both Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We like the kid programs more on RCCL. As for the wheelchair...my mother is also in a WC so I notice things that many others might not note...for instance: are there WC equipped restrooms in public areas? Most ships do not have these; however; some of the newer ships do such as RCCL Radiance of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas. Another consideration is the diningroom. When we traveled on the Elation (Carnival) our table was up a few stairs. Everytime my mom came into the Diningroom they had to put out a special ramp that was very steep to get her to the table. I found a very useful site on Cruisecritic.com. Go to the message boards and click on disabled cruising (or something like that). You can post any question you have about wheelchair friendly ships and get an answer. Good luck.