Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Is the Disney Cruise Line Disability Friendly?

Is the Disney Cruise Line Disability Friendly?

I’m going to start out with sharing my experiences doing the Disney Cruise with people with disabilities, medical equipment, vision and hearing loss and dietary limitations.

My first cruise was in 2005. It was a large group of 15 family and friends. We had 3 people with mobility issues and used electric scooters. 2 of the 3 were also showing signs of dementia and would get lost easy. 2 people had diabetes. 4 had food allergies. Several just were picky eaters that I’ll add in to the same treatment as food allergies. 1 had major vision issues.

First off for the mobility issues there are special staterooms with better accessibility. The staterooms have the following amenities for guests with mobility issues:
·        32” (minimum) doorways
·        Ramped bathroom thresholds
·        Open bed frames
·        Additional phones in the bathroom and on the nightstand
·        Bathroom and shower handrails
·        Fold-down shower seats
·        Hand-held shower heads
·        Lowered towel and closet bars
·        Emergency call buttons
The following special equipment is available upon request:
·        Bed board
·        Bedrail
·        Portable toilet
·        Raised toilet seat
·        Shower stool
·        Transfer bench
·        Refrigerator
·        Stateroom communication kits containing door knock and phone alerts, phone amplifier, bed shaker notification, a strobe light smoke detector and a Text Typewriter (TTY)

Wheelchair-Accessible Staterooms have wider doors and feature a wider path of travel inside the stateroom to give clearance for access to the entire room. If your mobility equipment will not fit inside your stateroom just ask your room steward and they will tell you where to park it. Just don’t leave it sitting in the halls.

For the 3 with mobility issues we usually had some of the able bodied of the group with them. We worked out going as a train. In the front with someone walking beside to guide was dad. Dad had both mobility, minor dementia and vision issues. Next was mom who had mobility issues. Coming up as the caboose was a family friend with mobility issues and dementia. An able walker went beside him to keep him from wondering off. 99% of the ship is accessible. That 1% that is not you are close enough to say you were there so it is not an issue.

Because we had told Disney Cruise Line ahead of time of the mobility issues and discussed the need for 1 of the 3 to stay on their scooter while dining every night at dinner there was a space left for him without a chair. It was always place to make it easy for him to pull up and out. There are also alternative entrances to some of the restaurants with ramps to avoid stairs.

Each scooter was equipped with a squeeze type bike horn. They would honk back and forth as they went down the halls so they knew they were all still together and nobody was left behind. If they had to split up to use the elevator someone always stayed behind to help those left get to where they needed to go.

You might think that the crew and other guests might get upset by the use of the bike horns. It was quite the opposite! Guests and crew would laugh as they saw our crazy human train head down the halls and decks. When we would go into our assigned restaurant each night the serving staff would run across the restaurant to honk the lead horn we went across the room to our table.

Our cabin was near my folks. We shared the same cabin steward. The steward would come to us with questions or concerns about my folks. Did they need a snack that night? Was the bed turned down far enough to make it easy for dad to get into bed? Did they need ANYTHING at all? I could not have asked for better service.

There are transfer devices at the pools for those with mobility issues. You will just need to transfer to the transfer seat. If you can’t do it without help make sure a member of your traveling party is there to help you. Disney Crew can not help.

The only problem we had with those with mobility issues was the tendering into port. When you tender into port you need to transfer to a smaller ship. If you can’t get down the stairs from your Disney Ship to the tender boat you can’t go. Also there most likely is not room mobility devices on the transfer boat. There is no way to get an electric scooter onto one.

My husband uses a CPap machine at night. It requires water to operate and when we arrived in our stateroom a bottle of water was waiting for his use, no charge for the water! Our room steward kept an eye on the level of water and when it got low asked if we needed more.

My husband is also hard of hearing and has difficulty hearing movies or shows. Disney had options for us! Movies had portable closed caption screens you could use. Live shows had headphones you could use.

Our daughter (at time of trip 10 years old) has ADHD and gets excited easy. She tends to lose control when she is overstimulated. We found plenty of quiet spots on the ship for her to calm down. She also had plenty of places it was more than acceptable for her to run and play, burning up the energy.

There are special viewing areas for shows, movies and deck parties for those in wheelchairs or scooters. They are usually in really good positions for viewing the shows and give good unobstructed views.

Disney’s Castaway Cay Island was designed to give those with disabilities the most access possible. There are paved pathways to shops and restaurants. Sand wheelchairs are available for free to give access to the beach. These are on a first-come, first-served basis. The tram is equipped to allow guests in manual and electric wheelchairs to board. Accessible restrooms are available.

For more information on what is available for those with disabilities on a Disney Cruise check the link below. If you can’t find your answer ask me. I’ll be happy to find out the answer for you.

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