Accessible Caribbean Cruise

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By Bari Schlesinger, the Assistive Technology Services Coordinator for the California Department of Rehabilitation and a motorized wheelchair user.

I hear it all the time.
“I can’t travel because I am in wheelchair.”
“I can’t go on a cruise.”
But the reality is – YOU CAN! You would be amazed at how accessible cruises and ports are.
Recently, I traveled to the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Conquest. To be honest, the Conquest was not the most accessible ship, but my cabin was suitable. It had a roll-in shower that was perfect. However, later while sitting at the pool, there wasn’t an accessible restroom in sight. There are several other cruise lines that are very accessible such as Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
During my travels, I was pleasantly surprised that in Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico, there was accessible transportation either waiting right next to where the ship docked or had the capability to be there within minutes. The vans were full-sized and modern ones with lifts in the back at both places. They don’t strap your wheelchair down like they do here, but that option is available and they are very cautious while driving.
In addition, Carnival had an accessible tender so that I was able to go off the ship in Grand Cayman. While the ship docked in the other ports, in Grand Cayman they anchor farther out from shore and use smaller boats to get to land. This small boat transfer system was very accessible and easy to use and allowed me to fully experience Grand Cayman.
If you are a wheelchair user and think that traveling isn’t possible, I hope to help you realize that you can! Cruise Companies have made and are making much progress in accessibility.
Have you taken a cruise or have an experience to share that involves accessible travel?  Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and/or experiences.

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