Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sailing Disney with Dis-Abilities

Sailing Disney with Dis-Abilities
            You may be thinking you can’t do a cruise, Disney or not due to physical limitations. I’m telling you that is most likely not true. Most disabilities can be accommodated on all Disney cruise ships. If you’re physical disability requires ongoing medical care or excessive amounts of oxygen it is possible Disney will say no to you sailing with them.
            Medical facilities on Disney and all cruise lines are limited to basic first aid and short-term emergency care. They do not carry equipment or medications that you would find had land based facilities. Therefore, if the cruise line feels they cannot adequately ensure your medical safety and comfort while at sea they will deny you boarding.
            If you use a wheelchair or ECV have a mobility issue you can request a handicap cabin. These cabins have larger doors, 32 inches, walk-in showers, more floor space for moving around and conveniently located electrical outlets for charging your ECV. There are no wheelchairs were ECV’s available to rent on the cruise ship.
At the pool you can request the lift to help you get in and out of the pool if you cannot do it by yourself. Just be aware there are no lifeguards on duty at pool.
            All public areas of the Disney ships have Wheelchair access. Dining rooms, theaters and any other area staging a performance have wheelchair/handicap seating. These special seating areas are conveniently located and are good seats not back in the house or sitting in the corner. They also have a limited number of regular seats located with a handicap seating so guess companions can sit with them.
            The one problem that gas with mobility issues may face is getting off the ship while in port. At most ports Disney tries to get direct access to the port without tender boats involved. That is not always possible so sometimes you must be able to go down and up some steps by yourself or with the aid of your companions, not ship crew to get into and then out of a tender boat. If you cannot do that you will not be able to get off the ship at that port. Even if you can’t get off the ship there is plenty to do on board while in port.
For those with hearing disabilities assisted listening devices are available for all shows and performances. For the cabins there are also devices to let the hearing impaired know if the phone rings, someone is at the door, or some shipboard alarm goes off. These devices can flashlights in the room or even shake the bed waking you if you are sleeping giant fire alarm goes off.
If you have medications that need to be refrigerated all cabins have coolers in them capable of holding your medications.  You can request a mini refrigerator if you medication needs to be kept cooler than the in cabin coolers can handle.
Here is a list of special equipment the Disney cruise line offers for guests with disabilities the following is available upon request for use in any stateroom. I suggest that you make the need know before sailing. I would make the request when I book and then clarify and confirm the request again before sailing. These items are available, it board, Israel, portable toilet, raised toilet seat, shower stool, transfer bench, refrigerator, state room communication kids containing door knock and phone alerts, phone amplifier, bed shaker notification, strobe light smoke detector and text typewriter (TTY).
Disney’s private island Castaway Cay is specially designed to accommodate everyone! Starting with the fact the ship pulls right up to the island where you can walk or whole right off the ship onto the island everything is accessible. There are a limited number of sand wheelchairs available free to use on the island. All the pathways are designed to accommodate both ECV’s and wheelchairs. There are shuttles can also accommodate that will take you from one side of the island to the other. Of course not every activity can accommodate everyone. Use wisdom when choosing Port Adventures.
Children with disabilities can also be accommodated in these activities on the ship. Youth activities are open to children ages 3 to 17 that are fully potty trained, able to interact comfortably within the counselor to child ratio groups and with peers of their own physical size. Teen and tween activities are available in separate areas away from younger children.
Parents can make a request with the youth activities team for a child with disabilities to partake in modified participation for limited time during the cruise. Ability to fill requests will depend on the child’s needs, availability of counselors, program participation and other applicable considerations. Not all special requests can be accommodated.
Those with contagious disease or who show symptoms of illness cannot be accommodated, children that require one on one care, a child or adult wishes to participate in an age group much younger/smaller than the physical age/size, children who need attention of counselors with special training, or children who needs counselor assisted medical attention cannot be accommodated.
If you’d like on each request accommodations for guests with disabilities discuss your needs that time booking.
You can get more information by calling (407) 566–3500 (voice) or (407) 566–7455 (TTY).
Disney has an electronic brochure for those with visual available by the link below:
I sailed with my family, a group of 15 with three of the family being elderly and severely mobility limited. We had three ECV’s in the Disney Cruise Line went out of their way to make sure we were fully accommodated. Those with the ECV’s had cabins is larger doors and easy access walk-in showers. Our tables in the dining room were located in such a way to make it easy for the ECV’s to come right up to the table.
My family members had bicycle squeeze horns on their ECV handlebars and would squeeze the horns signaling back and forth to each other so they knew they were still together. The ship’s crew saw this in joined in the fun and would come running down the halls or across the dining room talk of horns as they escorted us down the hall, seating in the theaters or shows or to our dining table.
None of those with physical limitations felt in any way limited or left out any event. The only problem we had was at one port when we had to tender in to the island. Normally Disney pulled up to the dock book could not due to storm damage after hurricanes Francine and Janine 2004.
With those traveling with children or even the adult with ADHD consider this. On a Disney cruise, unlike most the parks where the constant noise and activity can over stimulate it is hard to find a quiet spot to refocus. You often must leave the park to find. On a Disney cruise all you need to do is take a short walk to find an empty lounge or other quiet spot. Also going back to your cabin is an easy alternative. This was a blessing for both my daughter, age 10 and ADHD on her first cruise and my severely ADHD husband would also need to find a quiet spot to refocus and calm himself.
Once again I say that a so-called “limiting disability” is no reason not to enjoy a Disney Cruise!

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