Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Cruising with a Disability

August Newsletter
        Travel & Cruise News and Items of interest
               A Newsletter from Rosswin Travel,  Courtenay, Vancouver Island, BC

Painting by R. Ross

                     Traveling with a Disability
                            Check before Cruising 
                            Electric Scotter’s
                            Speciality Cruise Lines
                            Service Dogs
                            Best Ships for Cruisers  
                            with Disability’s   
                            Artist of the Month
                            Joke Time
                                 Vol. #1- issue 6

                         Cruising with a Disability
Cruising with a disability is becoming easier as most cruise lines are satisfying the needs of the handicapped.  We have been on about 10 cruises and have noticed on each subsequent cruise that there have been more handicapped passenger’s traveling.  Not all cruise lines are equipped to handle wheelchairs and scooters but the ones that do are making it easier for the handicapped to get around. Not only for those with a need for wheelchairs but for the blind or visually impaired and deaf travelers as well. 
Some of the newer cruise lines, while those features will vary between different ships and different cruise lines, common modifications include: more & larger wheelchair accessible staterooms by widening the doors frames, and/or equipped with arms to hold them open for easier access, putting in handrails, low sinks  with lowered or adjustable bathroom mirrors, and showers that will take a wheelchair, some with drop down benches, raised toilet seats, sturdy grab bars in the shower and on walls around the toilet for passengers to use, handheld shower heads, wheelchair level desks and vanity tables, sinks, closets with pull down rods. Fewer steps or ridges between sleeping area and bathroom.  Cabin peepholes at wheelchair level. 
For the hearing and visually impaired some cruise lines will provide pillow alarms, lighted doorbells and smoke alarms that flash. 
Tip. When planning a trip seek a travel agent that is trained or has booked cruises for travelers who have a disability. 
In the pictures of a typical ocean view cabin you will see why you should have a larger room if you have a disability.   

       Check before cruising if you have a disability
 (Your travel agent should have checked all this for you but it does not hurt to check yourself to make sure.)
Ask if the cruise line has a Special Needs brochure or DVD
.  The cruise lines should have been notified that you have a disability and the extent of your disability.
.  You should request a roomier cabin if your disability requires one.
.  Check your cruise documents carefully to make sure you have the appropriate cabin.
.  Check that the ports of call are wheelchair accessible, and you do not have to tender to the ports. 
.  Let the cruise line know if you are bringing your own wheelchair or scooter or need to use a wheelchair belonging to the cruise line.
. If you are bringing an electric scooter see the following article on Electric Scooter’s.
.   If you can't or don't want to bring your own equipment onboard, consider renting from a provider like Special Needs at Sea
.  Ask if the cruise line has a Special Needs brochure or DVD
.  Tip from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line regarding the larger and newer ships.
On the newer cruise ships if you have trouble walking long distances, these ships might be too much for you. If you typically use a cane or walker to help you get around, you might want to consider renting a scooter or wheelchair for the cruise.
 Electric Scooter’s
Cruise Critic member Se4deb says, "Always always always have your electric scooter or chair serviced before you go on a cruise. Make sure the service people tighten everything, check the charger and the battery and all the steering mechanisms. If something falls off or breaks, it is impossible to find a part when you are in most port cities."  http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=9
Speciality Cruise lines

There are some speciality cruises and some charter cruises that cater to passengers with disability’s
. There are Dialysis at Sea for travelers that need kidney dialysis and make sure the appropriate equipment and medical staff are on hand.
 .Passages Deaf Travel (passagesdeaftravel.com
. Deaf Travel Club (deaftravelclub.com)
. Accessible Journeys (disabilitytravel.com) offers cruises for guests who are wheelchair-bound or who are slow walkers
. Mind's Eye Travel (mindseyetravel.com) occasionally offers cruises for blind or visually impaired travelers.
Good tips on the following website
Service Dogs
 Service dogs are permitted on all ships but may not be allowed to disembark at all ports. Special documentation may be required to enter certain ports of call. Cruise lines require advance notice if you will be bringing a service animal onboard and may also ask for vaccination records, an International Health Certificate or written proof of the dog's training as a service animal. (Check with your cruise line well in advance of your cruise to find out what documentation is required.) The number of service dogs allowed per sailing may be limited by the number of animals the ship can comfortably accommodate. 

                 Best Ships for Cruisers With Disabilities
Why: Holland America typically attracts a mature crowd, so the line is highly attuned to guests with mobility or other accessibility issues. The 85,000-ton, 1,900-passenger Vista-class ships are perfectly mid-sized -- easy to get around but large enough to offer multiple dining venues, lounges and activities. 
Special Features: With 28 accessible cabins on each ship, you can take your pick of staterooms in every category -- four insides, five outsides, 13 balcony cabins and six deluxe balcony cabins. You can also request additional in-room equipment, such as elevated toilet seats, hand-held showers and TTY/TDD equipment. We don't typically think of Holland America as being on the cutting-edge of technology, but its nifty, wheelchair-accessible tender transfer system is unique and makes boarding tender boats much easier for passengers with mobility issues. Another cool innovation is Window-Eyes computer software (in the Explorations Cafe) that will read text on the Internet to guests who have trouble seeing. The line has also partnered with Special Needs at Sea to provide wheelchairs and other special equipment to guests (see above).
Caveats: Holland America does not allow scooters or wheelchairs weighing more than 100 pounds to be transferred from the ship to a tender and from the tender to shore.

Why: These 160,000-ton, 3,634-passenger ships are the second biggest cruise vessels ever built (second only to fleetmate Oasis of the Seas). They also have some of the most accessible cabins of any cruise ships at sea. Royal Caribbean, in general, gets high marks for taking very good care of passengers with disabilities.
Special Features: Each Freedom-class ship offers 32 accessible cabins, so you can save your cash and book one of the 16 inside cabins, or splurge on one of the two accessible suites. Passengers with hearing and visual impairments are not forgotten -- Royal Caribbean offers sign-language interpreters, portable room kits, assisted-listening devices and closed-captioned televisions, as well as Braille and large-print menus and Braille signs and elevator buttons for passengers. One pool and one whirlpool each has a lift, so you can join in the general sea-day splashing about. 
Caveats: Did we mention these ships are huge? If you have trouble walking long distances, these ships might be too much for you. If you typically use a cane or walker to help you get around, you might want to consider renting a scooter or wheelchair for the cruise.

Why: Princess gets high marks for its customer service and accessibility, and its newest ships are lovely -- especially if you're looking for a romantic cruise getaway with balcony dinners and movies under the stars.
 Photo Gallery on the Coral Princess  
Special Features: Princess' 113,000-ton, 3,100-passenger ships nearly match Royal Caribbean's Freedom-class ships for most accessible cabins at sea. Out of the 31 staterooms, you can take your pick of six insides, four outsides, 16 balcony cabins, four mini-suites and one suite. If gangways are not your friends, try the ships' special wheelchair-transportation gangway mechanisms. You can also find ADA "all-in-one" kits for passengers with hearing impairments and Braille elevator buttons. 
Caveats: Some past passengers report they weren't allowed to take scooters or heavier wheelchairs on tenders, essentially confining them to the ship at tender ports. Princess does not have a fixed policy about wheelchairs and tenders but, instead, makes decisions on a case-by-case basis, dependent on the passenger, the equipment involved, the weather and sea conditions.

Why: Although these ships only offer 15 to 19 accessible staterooms each, they're the hands-down reader favorites on the Cruise Critic message boards, offering cozy atmosphere on what, today, are considered mid-sized ships with contemporary amenities.
Special Features: We're big fans of accessible cabin doors that open automatically, either with a key from the outside or a push-button from the inside -- we don't understand why these aren't available on Voyager-class ships. These 90,090-ton, 2,112-passenger ships also get high marks for plentiful, accessible public restrooms, spacious cabins and public areas (including the casino), lifts for the pools and hot tubs and some of the best customer service afloat (in terms of crew interaction with disabled travelers).
Caveats: These ships have only half as many accessible cabins as their Freedom-class siblings. They're also lacking many of Royal Caribbean's signature amenities like the Royal Promenade and ice-skating shows, so if you or your travel companions want that "wow" factor, these might not be the ships for you.

Why: Celebrity goes above and beyond with extra amenities -- such as pool and whirlpool lifts and several accessible cabins that can sleep three or four people (ideal for families) -- for guests with disabilities. The line also focuses on accessible shore excursions, including several "easy" excursions on its European itineraries.
Special Features: The new 122,000-ton, 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice is the line's most accessible vessel with 30 accessible cabins, all featuring automatic doors. Among them are four Sky Suites with butler service, four Concierge Class staterooms and four Aqua Class balcony cabins for spa lovers. The ship is also quite simply one of the classiest ships afloat, offering fabulous new amenities, such as 10 restaurants, posh pool areas and glass-blowing demonstrations. And, wheelchair users will appreciate pool and whirlpool lifts, as well as lowered casino tables and Guest Relations/Shore Excursions desks.
In addition, the lines' Millennium-class vessels each offer 26 wheelchair accessible cabins -- including 11 balconies and six suites -- plus ramp access, wide bathroom doors and bathtubs with grab bars. Like to be really pampered? Three of the balcony cabins are Concierge Class, and all six suites come with butler service -- so you can have a taste of the high life during your cruise. Constellation also has pool and whirlpool lifts. 
Caveats: Millennium, Infinity and Summit do not have Celebrity's most up-to-date accessible features, such as lifts and lowered desks.

Why: Crystal is a terrific blend of big-ship amenities and small-ship luxuries. The line does its best to accommodate travelers with disabilities, so you can enjoy an upscale vacation with no worries.
Special Features: Crystal's accessible cabins have the typical amenities -- extra-wide doors, fully wheelchair-accessible bathrooms and "wheel-in" closets with low-fitted hanging rods. We especially like that, whenever possible, Crystal arranges for lifts on tour buses that can accommodate wheelchairs and passengers with mobility issues. 
Caveats: While Crystal Serenity offers accessible staterooms in outside, balcony and suite categories, Crystal Symphony only offers accessible outside cabins and suites. So, if you're looking for a regular balcony cabin that accommodates wheelchair users, you're out of luck on that ship.

Why: For a mostly inclusive cruise experience (all beverages and gratuities included in your fare), book a luxurious and accessible suite on Regent Seven Seas. With the line's personalized service and high crew-to-guest ratio, ship staff will take very good care of you onboard.
Special Features: Seven Seas Mariner offers six standard suites (two each in categories D, E and F) with verandahs in prime locations around the atrium area -- so you'll never be far from anywhere you want to go. Seven Seas Voyager only has four suites, but two are luxurious Penthouse suites. (Although only slightly roomier than standard suites, these accommodations come with butler service.) Accessible suites have wider doors, ramps between the living areas and bathrooms, large shower stalls
with seats and grab bars. The cruise line also appoints one staff member to each guest with a disability to make sure he or she is taken care of in case of an emergency.
Caveats: These 700-passenger ships only offer a handful of accessible suites, so book early -- especially if you want the prized Penthouse suites.

Why: Disney Cruise Line has always been tops in the family market, but it's especially good for families with disabled children. The line's philosophy is that any child should be able to participate in youth programming, regardless of ability, and youth counselors have experience working with children with special needs, including autism and behavioral challenges.
Special Features: Each Disney ship offers 16 staterooms with wheelchair access, wide bathroom doors, bathtubs with grab bars and roll-in showers. These rooms come in inside, balcony and suite categories. Onboard theaters offer wheelchair seating and assisted-listening devices. Even Braille bingo cards are available. Disney's popular private island, Castaway Cay, is easily accessed by guests with mobility impairments. Ships dock right at the island, rather than tendering, making debarkation a breeze, and as an added bonus, Disney offers special wheelchairs, designed to make navigating sandy beaches a lot easier.
Caveats: Only two of the accessible staterooms on each ship can sleep four people, so families who don't book in time might have to fork over more money for additional cabins. In addition, the wheelchair-accessible bathrooms don't have Disney's family-friendly split setup, with shower in one room and toilet in another.
Picture from Disney Cruise Line web site

Artist of the Month
Brenda Calhoun Artworks

Brenda is an award-winning Vancouver Island artist.  Her artistic studies began with life drawing and painting courses at North Island College, and continued with  private lessons and workshops with various Island and West Coast artists including Heather Lang, Saskia King, Karen Martin Sampson, and Peggy Burkosky, as well as, participating in Federation of Canadian Artists workshops with Donna Baspaly, SFCA; Marilyn Timms, SFCA; Neil Boyle, SFCA; Bob Sheridan, AFCA, Peggy Burkosky and Gayle Johnson.  Painting is a life-long learning process, so Brenda continues to participate in workshops whenever possible.   Brenda has been painting and showing her work regularly for over 20 years.
Brenda had to give up painting in oils due to allergies, and now paints in acrylics and watercolors.  Her subjects include still lifes, florals, pet portraits, and tranquil scenes.  Her paintings are an expression of her love of colour and light.  She is  intrigued by the play of light and shadow in her subjects.  Her still lifes reflect the beauty and artistry in simple, everyday object and flowers.  She especially enjoys the challenge of portraying light reflecting on glass and water.  Through her paintings Brenda expresses her creativity, her spirit, and her love of painting. 
Brenda is an Active member of the Federation of Canadian Artists.   She is a member of the Comox Valley Community Arts Council – Muir Gallery, the Pearl Ellis Gallery, the Comox Valley Art Gallery, and the Nanaimo Art Gallery.  She currently paints and shows with the Brushworks painting group, and the Halbe Hall artists.  She is a founding member of the Originals Only group of artists who show and sell their work at two Originals Only Fine Art Shows each year, their summer show in August and their Christmas show in November.  The group was awarded “The Best New Tourism Product Award”  for 2006 by the Comox Valley Tourism Society.  Her paintings are owned by collectors across Canada.
Web: www.brendacalhounartworks.com
                                                          Joke Time
                                                                     Worried your pension will run short.
                                                   So you’re a sick senior citizen and the government says
                                                                 there is no nursing home available for you.
      Senior Health Care Solution 
Our plan gives anyone 65 years or older
a gun and 4 bullets. 
You are allowed to shoot 2 MPs and
2 illegal immigrants!
Of course,
this means you will be sent to prison
where you will get 3 meals a day,
a roof over your head, central heating,
air conditioning and all the health care you need!
 New teeth? - No problem.
Need glasses? - Great.
New hip, knees, kidney, lungs, heart?
All covered.
(And your kids can come and visit you as often as they do now).
And who will be paying for all of this?
The same government that just told you
that you they cannot afford for you to go into a home. 
Plus, because you are a prisoner,
you don't have to pay income tax any more. 
No wonder the rest of the world’s population can’t get here fast enough!
When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.
From website of Major Charles E. Snyder Jr.
I will be glad of any comments or corrections or if you wish to see something that is of interest to you please let me know. Thanks, Rhoda
If you liked this newsletter please pass it on 

Rosswin Travel,  
1 250-338-6334 / 1 866-517-2113
420 Harmston Ave, Courtenay, BC, V9N 2X2

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