Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sailing With Disabilities on the Disney Cruise Line – Shipboard Fun

Sailing With Disabilities on the Disney Cruise Line – Shipboard Fun

            All areas of the Disney cruise line our handicap accessible and meet ADA standards. With few exceptions disabled guests have full access to all areas of the ship. Disney does its best to make as much as possible available to everyone. But at times that is just not possible.
            Restaurants, shops, lounges, theaters and other areas either our handicap accessible from the main entrance or have an alternative entrance. Theaters have assigned locations for wheelchairs with seating for guests accompanying those in wheelchairs in great locations throughout the theater. In the restaurants they assign you a table with easy access for your wheelchair or ECV and make sure to remove the appropriate chairs to accommodate you. Lounges/bars also have alternative access the main entrance will not accommodate a wheelchair and accommodations will be made to serve it. The pools have accessibility lifts to assist those in wheelchairs getting out of the pools.
            All of the hallways/walkways can accommodate a wheelchair or ECV. There are specially designed handicap accessible cabins in all categories on the ship. These cabins have wider doors with no thresholds to make it easier for a wheelchair or ECV to enter. The cabins are slightly larger with the furniture spaced walkways for easier movement. The bathrooms have “walk-in” showers and handicap adapted toilets. This sink and towel holders are also at a lower level making it easier for a wheelchair-bound person to reach items they need. There are also extra electrical outlets in these rooms for charging things such as ECVs. If you need to bring medical equipment let Disney know ahead of time. Ask about extension cords for your use and ask them to hold number of cords you require. (There is a refundable deposit required for each cord.) They only have a limited number of power cords available to “borrow”. Call and check the policy about bringing your own power cord(s) as that has changed several times in the last couple of years. At this time a standard power cord is acceptable but a power strip/bar is not.
            Even the tours of the ship can be adapted to accommodate those with mobility issues. For example the “Art of the Theme Ship Tour” (this tour is a walking tour of the entire ship) was adapted for us because walking stairs was hard for us. The tour guide would lead the group down the stairs while we took the lift (elevator) to the next deck where we would meet up with them. The same would be done for somebody in a wheelchair or ECV.
            If you have an allergy to a food item tell the Disney Cruise Line before you sail and then remind them again your first night. Tell your server what items you are allergic to and your server will check your order for those items. They will go above and beyond to make sure that you are not exposed to the item you are allergic to. For severe allergies they will even have you look at the menu the day before an order your meal ahead of time so that they can double check with the chef to make sure it’s safe. We even had them tracking us down at night if they found out an item we ordered for the next night had something we were allergic to.
            Disney Cruise Line Kids Club is open for all with some limitations. If you’re special needs child requires one on one supervision DCL cannot accommodate. If your special needs child is in diapers DCL cannot accommodate. If you have a special needs teenager that functions at a lower level they cannot go in with the younger kids. If you have a younger child that functions at a higher level they cannot go in with the older kids. There are some minor exceptions to this rule but in general this rule is held firm.
            Before you get angry at this and say but my ”child” is 20 but functions as a 10-year-old why can’t they go into the Kids Club consider this. A disabled person may function at a 10-year-old level but their body is 20 years old and their body responds as a 20-year-old. Add to this they may not understand what they are feeling at times and how to moderate their behavior. This can inadvertently put a young vulnerable child at risk. Even though you know your child is not a risk Disney has to err on the side of caution and protect ALL the children in their care. On the other side of the coin the “normal” children may taunt or tease your special needs child causing them great stress. Neither option is acceptable.
            Disney’s Castaway Cay is as handicap accessible as the ship. Starting off with the fact the ship pulls up directly to the dock and you walk right off the ship onto shore. No tendering (riding in a small from the big ship to shore) means that people in wheelchairs and ECV’s can roll right onto shore enjoy the fun. There are paved walkways that make moving from area to area easy for wheelchairs and ECV’s. There are also a limited number of speech/sand wheelchairs available free to use on Castaway Cay.

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