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Jen’s Accessible Cruise Top Tips

"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."
Lady sat on a powerchair wearing sunglasses in front of a cruise ship with mountains behind

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.  

An image of 6 cruise photos of a woman in a powerchair at 6 different ports; Gran Canaria, Funchal, Italy, St. Petersburg, Russia, Livorno, Italy, Talinn, Estonia, Copenhagen, Denmark

Where next?

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 

Departure 

  • 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)

Enjoy your holiday!! 

Blond haired woman in a blue swimsuit wearing sunglasses sat on pool hoist in a hot tub on a cruise ship deck holding a drink. A woman in a pink bikini sat on the side of the hot tub and young girl in the hot tub wearing a black t shirt and sun glasses.

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