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Cruising for those with disabilities - Part 2
In my first article I discussed what is available to those who have limited mobility, so now let’s look at what cruise ships have to offer for those who have sight problems, hearing problems or diabetes.
Travellers With Sight Problems
The needs of those passengers who have limited sight, or are blind, are becoming increasingly more recognised. Some cruise ships now offer menus and daily activity leaflets, plus service directories in large print and/or Braille. They also often provide Braille or tactile signage in public areas, as well as having Braille and audible arrival alerts on their elevators. Some ships provide familiarization tours of the ship and your stateroom on embarkation, and they will personally assist those in need during an emergency. However, not all ships provide these services, so do be sure to ask before you book.
Most cruise ships will allow service animals to travel on their ships. However, individual countries have their own rules governing the entrance of animals to their country, so it is up to the individual traveller to obtain all the required permits for the animal to leave the ship in Non-US ports. It is advisable to contact each individual country’s consulate or embassy. Once all permits have been obtained you will need to fax copies to the cruise line, together with proof of all necessary vaccinations, for the return of your animal to the USA. You should of course, carry copies of these documents with you on board the vessel. The cruise lines will also require proof of medical necessity, plus the appropriate training certificate for each service animal.
Travellers With Hearing Problems
For those who have hearing problems you will find that many cruise ships are now equipped with TTY kits that supply text telephones, vibrating or flashing light alarm clocks, and flashing light door buzzers. Some ships also have assistive listening devices available on request for onboard shows and lectures. However, do remember that such items are in limited supply and you must confirm them at the time of booking. On some ships, deaf passengers can request the service of sign language interpreters for shows and lectures but you must give at least 60 days notice of this requirement.
Again, the same rules apply for service animals – check individual country’s rules governing the entrance of animals, obtain all necessary permits and vaccinations and fax copies to the cruise line before you board your ship. Bring copies with you, too. Again, you will be required to provide proof of necessity, and the appropriate training certificate for service animals.
Travellers with Diabetes.
All cruise ships can accommodate passengers with diabetes as long as you are able to be responsible for all medications, and provide the cruise line with advance notice of any specific needs.
All the large ships have a medical facility on board with doctors and nurses, and many have state of the art facilities and direct links to top hospitals in the USA. If you need containers for needle disposal you should tell the cruise line in advance. Many ships now have refrigerators or mini-bars in staterooms so check this out before you book – this has the advantage that you can store any medication such as insulin in the cool. It may even be possible to request a refrigerator to be put into your room, but do ask before you book. If no refrigerator is available then the ship will usually allow you to store your medication in the ships hospital.
Having travelled with a diabetic friend we know how accommodating cruise ships can be when it comes to sugar free food. On one of the P & O ships we travelled on the head waiter would visit our table each morning and go through the whole menu with this lady, advising her on what dishes would be suitable. There were very few things she could not order as almost everything was available in a sugar-free format. Most ships have a special sugar-free menu which largely mirrors what is available to non-diabetics.
The critical thing is forward planning, and doing your research before you book will pay dividends. Most cruise lines are only too happy to answer your questions and to try to ensure that you have a wonderful cruise on board their ships, so make a list of all your questions and then start planning your next cruise.
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