For those with a physical disability, a trip report
MemberFebruary 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
This trip report is for people who may have a physical disability and looking for a vacation that can work for them.
About a year and a half ago I lost the lower portion of my left leg and now have a prosthesis that allows me to do much of what I use to be able to do,
I live in northern Michigan and was really getting tired of our long, cold and snowy winters and wanted to go some place warm. I looked into a Caribbean cruse and this is how it worked for me.
If you know someone whom has a similar problem please pass this information on to them.
First I had never been on a cruse so I went to my local travel agent in Traverse City, Michigan. I came well prepared with a long list of questions. My agent was very helpful. What answers she did not know, she found for me.
I elected to take two one-week back-to-back Caribbean cruses. My main goal was to get to some warm weather and I had no plans to ever leave the ship.
My agent arranged my air travel, one night stay at a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, transfers to the boat and the whole cruse.
The flight was with Delta from Traverse City to Detroit and then to Fort Lauderdale. After checking in at the airport I was put in a wheel chair with my luggage one carry on, my cpap machine and a walker and ushered through security and then was the first of board the plane. In Detroit I was the last to leave the plane and a wheel chair was waiting for me to take me to my next flight. I then was wheeled into my connecting flight to Florida and on arrival in Florida was again the last to exit the plane with a wheel chair waiting for me to take me to a taxi that was to take me to my hotel. From my point of view this was all very easily done. When I got in the taxi I realized I forgot my walker and decided to wait until I got to the hotel to solve the problem.
The hotel was a considerable distance from the airport and about a $25 Taxi ride. When I got to the hotel everyone was very helpful. I got my room and the hotel arranged for another taxi to take me to a Walgreen so I could purchase another walker, which I did and the new walker and taxi ride cost me almost $150, but felt it was necessary for my two weeks on the ship.
At the hotel there was a representative for Holland American Lines that informed me of the procedures. She was very helpful. The Marriott hotel is very nice and expensive. I was looking for something to eat to hold me over until I got to the ship the next day. They had a little bar and is sat down and ordered a fish and chips with water to drink, with tip about $25. It was a terrible meal, the fish was VERY greasy, any fast food fish and chips would be 100% better.
About 10 in the evening there was a knock at my door, Delta airlines had delivered my walker to my room. Now I had two.
I had a good nights sleep and the next morning before I left my room I put special luggage tags on all my luggage and left them just inside the door of my room and went down to the lobby to wait for the bus to transfer me to the Holland American Line dock to board the ship. There was a Starbucks in the hotel so I got a cup of coffee and cinnamon roll for a little over $8. The coffee was nothing special and the roll was stale. This was my first and last trip to a Starbucks.
The bus arrived, my luggage was at the bus when I arrived, I was first to board the bus with my walker(s). It was a considerable ride to the dock with a lot of traffic. There was another woman sitting across from me on the bus that was talking about tipping on a cruse. She seemed to feel that you had to be tipping all the time. She was getting out a $5 bill to tip the bus driver and when she exited the bus she tipped him. I did also, but the bus driver did really assist me. He helped me off the bus with my walker, found my luggage for me and got the wheel chair for me.
I then was taken into the terminal where there were long lines to board the ship but they moved quickly. I was taken to the head of the line in the wheel chair; they took my ticket, gave me my ship “credit card” that I was use for almost everything on the ship and signed in advance for my own credit card to be charged at the end of the cruse. They also checked my passport. There is a standard $14.50 a day charged for services or “tipping” added to your bill. I was then wheeled on to the ship and and taken to the door of my state room with my walker and my luggage would be delivered to my room a few hours later.
There is a mandatory lifeboat drill before the ship sails and it was very easy. At the sound of the alarm you would follow the signs to an elevator and stairs, I was allowed to use the elevator, and then got out on the promenade deck to my assigned place with my walker, they scanned you card and allowed me to go into a near by bar to be able to sit and wait until it drill was over.
I then went back to my room and then to the 9th deck to have something to eat. Food, food and more food. Almost anything you could imagine and all you could eat. I had something light to eat, then went out to the rear of the ship on the 9th deck where there was a pool and I could enjoy the sunshine. After about a half hour I went back in through the dining are and had a little dish of ice cream the flavor of the day was rum raison and then to my room where my luggage had arrived. I unpacked and I had also had a “hurry cane” in my luggage that I thought I could use and did a little on the ship to get around, but found I was more stable on the ship when at sea with the walker.
I had a room with a window and paid a little more that for a room with out a window and glad I did. I did not have a room with a little balcony on the side of the ship. When I walked into my room I was immediately in a small narrow hallway with a small bathroom on the right and closed and storage area on the left. The hallway was wide enough for my walker and then the hall led to the main room with a king size bed at the far end and the window overlooking the sea over the bed. There was about a foot of space on each side of the bed. Between the bed and hall was a long sofa with a little table and on the opposite wall was like a desk or vanity with a full wall of mirror, a small chair, drawers for storage, a safe and a small chair. A TV was high on the wall in the corner and the TV had many channels to pick from, I liked the condensed versions of the major new stations. I did not come on the ship to watch TV.
I then decided to explore the ship a little and found that my walker was best for this and not my cane. It took me a few days to get familiar with the ship and what direction I was going. When at sea you have no reference as to what direction you are going and it take a while to get you “sea legs”.
I like to play contract bridge and found that I could play two hours each morning and each afternoon. The ship had everything you needed to do this and they also had the equipment of other games, such as cribbage, etc. If you need new cards, you picked up the phone and within fifteen minutes there were decks of cards.
There are many other things to do on the ship and the ships web site has them all listed. There is just about something for everyone. My ship was the Zuiderdam and here is a video of what the ship looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pQthrChbc0&fbclid=IwAR2P_93ATqKkcY4bSkn4Fb_-npt2nl99jqOKOtVsaDKCLuXjdvFlADRue2E The Holland American Line is one of a number of cruse lines owned by one company. The Carnival Line is more for a younger crowd and the Holland American Line has a average age on the ship of around 60, but I found all ages of people aboard, but mostly retired or about to be retired. I found the crew and the passengers all very pleasant people.
When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home.
MemberFebruary 9, 2020 at 3:37 am
More of the report:
I found the crew exceptionally well trained, always a big smile for everyone and paid attention the the smallest of details. It was obvious they were trained to make sure you have a very good voyage. They were all well dressed for their job on the ship and I found that even the maintenance people went out of their way to assist a passenger.
I decided early in the trip decided to have my breakfast sent to my room, a really good decision on my part. I had a standing order for a 7:15 delivery of a fruit plate, rolls, butter jam, yogurt coffee and a different juice every morning. This was a substantial breakfast and really more than I needed to eat, but I was my big meal of the day, and caught up on the news and planed my day. I later discovered I could also get cream cheese, bagel and lox added to my breakfast and I did for the remainder of the cruse.
At my home I have my bathroom set up so I can take a shower, this was not possible on the ship but found that I could wash my body well just standing at the sink in the bathroom. The bathroom had a tub with shower and five or six sturdy bars on the walls to grab on to if necessary. The sink was big enough to do the job with a mirrored cabinet and a typical toilet. Soap, towels, etc. were provided.
My room was on the main deck and I was really happy with the location. There were elevators near by that could get you anywhere on the ship in minutes. The rooms were very quiet; I could never hear a sound from the rooms next to mine and only a little sound from people in the hall. You could not hear the TV from the next rooms. I slept very well. I had a cpap machine and wish I had taken a short extension cord with me, but I made it work. There looked to be a ubs port in the bathroom for charging your devices. I never needed to and did not go on the Internet for the whole two weeks, but you could pay for wireless access if you wished. I had a small camera and that also remained fully charged. The only negative in the room was the light switches, they were all black and not labled and it took a while to figure out which switch operated which light. On my first entry to the room I noticed that there were six pillows and told the steward that I only had one head and they removed all but two. I was glad I got the room with the window. It was nice to have the daylight come in the room and I feel the little extra cost was worth it.
Leaving the ship was also very easy; I had a wheel chair waiting for me on the ship that took me to the bus back to the airport. They gave you tags to put on your luggage as to the airport, airline, flight number, etc. By midnight the night before departure you left your luggage in the hall outside your door and during the night they took you luggage to be waiting for you upon leaving the ship. Everything little detail was well planed for your ease of travel.
The return flight home had no issues for me. I could not have asked for better.
I highly recommend a cruse for those in a situation like mine.
You could have a walker provided for you by Holland American Line at $20 a day or $112 for a one week cruse. You could also get a power vehicle to ride on while on the ship for $275 for seven days. FYI: The airlines will transport you power vehicle for you on you flight for no additional charge.
Now for the dollars and cents of it all. These prices are from the time of my curse in January 2020.
The whole trip cost me about $4,100 for two weeks.
I paid my travel agent $3654
AIR FARE $970
FINAL BILL ON SHIP 450
Total $4,104 for two weeks.
When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home.
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I forgot to mention that I took my kilt sith me for the formal or gayla dinners, I was glad I did, I was the talk of the ship. About three years ago I got the desire to have a kilt and went to sportkiltcom and then had to desire what tartan to choose, I It was nog before many on the ship where calling me Louis. it was a natural. chose the Royal Purple tartan, Louisxiv, It was a perfect choice for me, It was not long before many on the ship were calling me Louis. Yes, I had a lot of fun,
MemberFebruary 9, 2020 at 11:41 am
Thank you for this awesome report! Now I want to go on a cruise!
A few questions:
– What happened with the other walker? Did you take both?
– How was the cpap when flying? Did you need to make special arrangements?
– Was your room an accessible one, or a regular room?
MemberFebruary 10, 2020 at 1:03 am
While on the cruse I had a very good meeting with the person on the service deck on the main deck. I told him that I had a couple walkers at home and really had no desire to take the extra one home with me and I gave it to him and told him to just give it to someone who might have a need of it.
I am not quite sure about your question about the cpap. Delta airlines and I would assume all other airlines allow you to take the cpap and the walker and it does not count as part of you luggage. I also met someone who was taking a motorized riding vehicle on the flight at no extra charge.
The room was a typical room and I asked if they had special rooms for people with a problem like mine and they do not.
MemberFebruary 10, 2020 at 9:42 am
Oh, that is good to hear. I had heard from a friend that not all planes have power outlets and he couldn’t plug in his cpap on a trip to Japan
MemberFebruary 10, 2020 at 11:04 am
Sorry, I may have not explained myself very well. I did NOT use my cpap on the plane, only on the ship. I question if you could plug it in on a plane.
But on the ship there was a standard three prong plug like we have in the USA. I also noticed a plug like they have in France, a round hole about the size of half dollar to plug in their devices. i do not know if i was 220 like those in Europe.
MemberFebruary 10, 2020 at 10:23 pm
OK, I see. Ya, my friend needed on the plane (since it was a 13hr flight)
MemberFebruary 11, 2020 at 12:30 am
I would think he could get by without it for the flight as he would be sitting up and not laying down. I would suggest he check with his doctor.
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