Planning A Trip For People With Disabilities Can Be Daunting. A Bit Scary Even Going Into The Unknown! Here's How I Planned My First Cruise With A Wheelchair On Carnival Cruise Lines.
Carnival Cruises - Planning A Trip For People With Disabilities
I've always wanted to take a cruise. Going to exotic and tropical places is on just about everyone's bucket list, right? But how do you go about planning a trip like that while you've got this wheelchair firmly attached to you? After my accident in '95 that left me with a spinal cord injury, I pretty much assumed those exotic and tropical places were a dream and out of my reach. Let's face it, sometimes just planning a trip to the mall can be an ordeal. I see all these beautiful photos people take and really yearn to be there. So, why not me too! I'm pretty stubborn and figure out how to get and go where I need to, why not put that into places I want to go as well, right? I checked into different destinations and decided planing a trip on a cruise would be the way to go for my first time venturing out. I'm not going to lie, I am a bit nervous to see how this all plays out and exactly what activities I'll be able to participate in. I'll keep you updated on that as I travel with my disabled self. But here's how and why I went about planning a trip on the Carnival Cruise Sunshine.
A Cruise - The Vacation With No Hidden Expenses
Disability aside, cost is always a factor no matter who you are and what you can do physically when planning a trip. When you book a cruise, you know right up front exactly how much you will spend. When you're looking at destination options online at Carnival.com, you'll see the price you pay and everything included. All food, drinks (soda and alcohol have an additional fee) and on-board activities are all paid for. You can add additional port excursions, late night babysitting and things like spa services if you choose as well. I did learn planning a trip on a cruise that gratuities however are not included. You can tack it on though to the price at the time of booking and get it paid up front, (which is how my trip was planned) Or, you can have it billed to your room with any other services you may choose once you depart. Just keep that in mind with your vacation budget. But, all that awesome food though!
Explore More Places In 1 Awesome Trip
Rather than be limited to just 1 cool destination, you really get to explore a lot of places at one time! When I was looking at the different ports of call while planning a trip, I kept in mind though that some may or may not have excursions I could participate in with my wheelchair. It may sound amazing to climb ancient Mayan temples or go backpacking into ancient ruins, let's be honest; not really going to happen. The trip I picked is an 8 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise. I'll be making stops in St. Maarteen, St Kitts, San Juan Puerto Rico, and Grand Turk. All of which have an easy debarking process and places to see, eat and wander around easily with my wheelchair. I checked out the additional excursions like swimming with the dolphins and such and decided while planning a trip like this for the first time, I'd feel better safe than sorry taking a pass on those and just exploring these destinations. Get a lay of the land so to speak and maybe next time take a dip with those dolphins. The option is always there and you're able to make that call based on your own comfort level. I'm most excited about St. Kitts! Just saying 'Hey, I'm in the West Indies, look at me ya'll' is pretty exciting, no??
Handicap Accessible Staterooms
We all know planning a trip close to home can be nerve wrecking when you're rolling with the chair under your butt. Can I get in the bathroom? Will my chair even fit through the door?? Having talked with a reservation agent, my bathroom fears where laid to rest. Also, Carnival has made substantial modifications to enhance their ships to make getting around and traveling with a disability so much easier. The ships have accessible elevators at each elevator bank with tactile controls within reach for those of us who use wheelchairs as well as audible signals for guest who are blind or with low vision. And! I could have even brought Harris my service dog along. I decided against traveling with him this time as I'm not sure on what laws govern service animals once I'm at each port of call. Something to check out while I'm there. Again, better safe than sorry but it is an option for those disabled travelers with service animals.
Activities For Kids All Included
Ethan's 9th birthday just happens to be the day our ship leaves Orlando. He is beyond excited. I mean literally, beyond! We've already registered him for Camp Carnival which is like a day camp on the open seas. They split it up into three different age groups so it's appropriate fun for all kids, all ages. You can drop the kiddos off and they get to do fun, scheduled activities while you go get a massage, soak in a hot-tub or maybe even just nap by the pool. Again, it's all included, no extra charge. They can stay for an hour or so or they can stay all day. He's also looking forward to checking out Seuss at Sea. A special experience as the fantastical world of Dr. Seuss comes to life. There's an on-board character parade, interactive story time, arts & crafts activities, and even a character themed breakfast. The Carnival Sunshine is literally packed with pools, water slides and just about every outdoor activity you can imagine. He's spent hours looking through pictures of the ship and making plans on which spots to hit. His biggest problem? What to do first!
So, five days and counting and we're off! Planning a trip like this for the first time did have me a bit nervous with my safe, comfy bubble being so far away. But, the Carnival reps do put your mind at ease and were able to answer all my questions about traveling with a disability. I'll keep you posted on my travels and let you know how and what I'm able to do and see. I'm really excited. I've heard from more than one person though that once you take your first cruise, you just can't stop. Here's looking at many more in my future!
You can find out more about the Carnival Sunshine, along with deck plans to help in planning a trip with your wheelchair or other disability, all on-board experiences, and itineraries at Carnival.com!