I’m Jen Gallacher, I have Spinal Muscular Atrophy, I’m 38 years old and from Middlesbrough.
My first cruise
In 2012, it was approximately 8 years since I had been on holiday and really wanted to go somewhere. Flying was a tough choice to make. Then I saw a 14-night cruise to the Mediterranean onboard Independence of the Seas, with Royal Caribbean, for a great price! I had been told cruising was easy and that it would be the best holiday to go on. My carer and friend were very excited to come with me. I decided to take 2 people as I didn’t know if one person could manage looking after me on their own for two weeks. I now know it is possible; I’ve cruised the last three times with just one person. It’s also a lot cheaper to book for two people than three. For my first cruise I was very nervous beforehand but once onboard I immediately relaxed. My cabin was compact but manageable. Everything else was wheelchair friendly and the crew super helpful. I had a fabulous time! Visiting multiple destinations from a ship is worthwhile for me.
Since then …
To date I have been on six cruises and unfortunately I have had one cruise cancelled due to Covid-19. Sailing on: Independence of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Britannia and Silhouette I’ve cruised the Italian Mediterranean, the Spanish Mediterranean, the Norwegian Fjords, the Baltic and the Canary Islands.
I enjoy cruising because it really is the easiest way for me to go sightseeing in places I never thought I would ever get to see. The only downside is the list of destinations sailing from Southampton gets shorter and a bit repetitive. Countries further away often require a flight one way.
My next cruise is planned for September – October 2022 for 29 nights return sailing from Southampton to New York, Canada & New England. This trip takes two cruise ships. The outward and return sailing is on Cunard Queen Mary 2. The Canada & New England part is on Norwegian Joy. I also have a 4-night hotel stay in New York before coming home. I am extremely excited about this!!
Top Cruise tips
Here are my Top Cruise Tips
Top tip: book as early as possible
Accessible cabins are few in numbers so at least a year ahead should guarantee you a cabin
- Drop off kerb side luggage point is very handy. All your luggage is then taken away and delivered to your room
- Label any bags with wheelchair / hoist batteries and chargers in as medical equipment
- Park your car in the carpark if booked in advance
Check-in is easy.
- I would recommend that if you take a hoist that you take it on board with you and have a member of staff take it direct to your cabin then you know if it’s needed that it is there as luggage delivery can take a while
- Cabins get bigger in size as cabin grades go up
- Rearrange furniture as you need it or ask your cabin attendant to help
- Table and armchair can be removed if needed
- Request a commode as it gives an extra toilet and it can be used as a shower chair. Store it in the shower when not in use
- Look up destinations before arriving as you can often find places to visit at each port
- Ask Concierge desk for advice about ports
- Make sure you arrive back at ship on time!! They really will leave you behind if you’re not there. (True story)