Accessible cruises, that are resorts at sea, give persons with special needs the freedom to enjoy a sea vacation. Accessible cruises include accessible cabins, access to the entire ship, and ports that are accessible for persons with motor impairments.
While all cruise ships entering and leaving United States ports must adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, some cruise ships do more. They give passengers, with special needs, access to all that their ships have to offer. They go to ports where ships can dock, and don’t require small boats called tenders to get into a port. Once in port, persons using mobility equipment can get around, and have access to bathrooms, and places to eat that are accessible.
When we think of accessible cruises, many of us think of a cruise ship having accessible cabins for persons with physical disabilities. Actually, Accessible cabins are double occupancy cabins designed for persons with:
- Mobility issues that require the use of a wheelchair, scooter or other mobility device. Cabins are larger than the standard cabins. They have wider doors than the standard cabins, large bathrooms with roll-in showers, grab bars, and turning space.
- Hear impairments who require portable ADA kits and closed-captioned televisions.
- Sight impairments who need access to Braille signage and/or accommodations for a service dog.
But, a mobility impairment is not the only reason someone may need special assistance while cruising. Accessible cruises are ones that can meet the diverse needs of many passengers. The following cruisers may have special needs:
- Slow walkers
- Those requiring special diets for religious, medical, or personal preference
- Families with young children
- Returning Veterans
- In recovery following surgery or cancer treatment
- Children with physical or cognitive disabilities
- The elderly
- Those with occasional mobility conditions
I am a cruise travel agent certified by Special Needs Group (SNG), www.specialneedsgroup.com. SNG is the leading global provider of special needs equipment for the travel industry.
As a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate, I provide planning services that help to insure a comfortable, accessible cruise vacation. I bring 35 years experience in my services as a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate. During these 35 years, I developed educational and recreational programs for children and adults with physical and cognitive impairments. For several years I worked with adults going through and recovering from cancer treatments.
Accessible cruise planning services are provided at no cost for persons booking a cruise through me. You can reach me at 800-388-8781.
My Cruise Planning Service Includes:
- Identifying cruise ships that are fully accessible for persons with mobility impairments and traveling to accessible ports.
- Port Assessments:Is the terrain level and paved? Are there accessible bathrooms and restaurants?
- Determine if service dogs, for persons who are blind, have permission to come ashore.
- Securing priority embarkation and disembarkation.
- Making arrangements for cruise travel, including rental of wheelchairs, scooters and other mobility equipment aids, and portable oxygen.
- Making on-board arrangements for passengers with sight impairments that need Braille signage and those traveling with service dogs.
- On-board arrangements for persons with hearing impairments needing in-cabin ADA kits, TTY phones and assisted listening devices in the theater.
- Arranging for special diets including but not limited to diets for religious observance, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, low sodium, diabetic and other medically required special diets.
- Ordering an in-cabin refrigerator specifically for medications.
- Assisting with registering a special needs child in an on-board youth program.
- Arranging for a bottle warmer, crib, stroller, highchair and other necessities when traveling with a young baby.
Planning and arranging for needed services on board, in ports and on excursions takes time. It is important to get started well in advance of a sail date.
Don’t let a disability or special need keep you from enjoying the freedom of a cruise vacation. If you have a disability or a special need, a fully accessible cruise can be a resort at sea! Just call me at 800-388-8781 and together we can plan am accessible cruise to where you have always wanted to go!
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The MSC Seaside resort experience begins when you board the ship. It continues as you explore and enjoy the beautiful environment that is yours during your cruise.
Recently, I took a seven day cruise on the MSC Seaside from the port of Miami.
No blog post can do justice to the variety of features, amenities, activities, entertainment options, and dining venues offered on the Seaside. What follows is a virtual tour of the MSC Seaside. Its unique exterior design and creative use of inside space have to be seen to be appreciated.
The MSC Seaside is a Mega Ship
Now in its first year of service, the MSC Seaside was built for a North American market. Europeans, interested in a cruise vacation to the Caribbean, also make the trip to Miami to sail on the Seaside.
The Seaside has 2,067 staterooms (cabins), including Inside, Oceanview, Balcony and Suite.The ship is fully accessible for persons with special needs. There are 53 accessible cabins for persons with mobility impairments, and/or those with hearing and sight impairments.
The Yacht Club, is “A Ship within a Ship.” A private, luxury sanctuary, it occupies upper decks in the front of the ship. The Yacht Club provides guests with the comfort and services of an exclusive club. The Yacht Club has 86 suites, of various sizes, as well as a lounge, dining room, pool, and a deck and grill area. There is concierge service, and 24 hour butler service. While private, and with key only access, it’s just an elevator ride from activities throughout the rest of the ship.
The third post in this series, publishing on July 24th, will feature the full experience of cruising in the Yacht Club.
A Ship for All Ages
Activities, entertainment, and dining options reflect the interests and needs of the youngest guests to the most senior guests. Couples, families, single parents with children, solo travelers, seniors and persons with special needs can all find things to enjoy.
During my cruise, there were over 700 children aboard, many of whom participated in the complimentary youth programs, held each day. The second post of this 3-post series, publishing July 17th, details these youth programs, and their indoor and outdoor facilities.
There are two complimentary full service dining rooms. The variety of choices, the quality of the food, and its preparation make dining a pleasure. The two complimentary buffets, most ships have only 1 buffet, offer a selection of American and International foods. The pizza is the best I ever had on any cruise ship!
There are four specialty restaurants: Butcher Cut, Asian Market Kitchen, Ocean Cay, and Bistrot La Boheme. Reservation are required, and prices vary from restaurant to restaurant. Guests who select a dining package, when they book their cruise, can choose from a prefixed menu for each restaurant.
Wherever you choose to eat, leave room for dessert. All are delicious, especially my favorite, Chocolate Gelato, the deepest flavored, creamiest Gelato I have ever eaten! If you don’t have it with your meal, you will find it in Venchi 1878 Gelato & Crêperie on the 7th deck.
Activities and Entertainment
Activities are held all over the ship, and in its many outdoor spaces. Organized activities are scheduled throughout the day, beginning in the early AM, and going to the late evening. If you prefer to make your own fun, the features and facilities of the ship are open to you. Each evening, a Daily Planner will be left in your room with information about the following day’s activities and entertainment.
The Seaside offers quality entertainment. Shows in the Metropolitan Theatre are Broadway style and quality, and have an international appeal. The costumes, music, scenery, and the singers and dancers remind me of Broadway musicals. In addition, there are comedy performances, and magicians, as well as game shows. Throughout the ship, including poolside, there are live music venues including: Latin, country, jazz, classical, and folk.
Service on the MSC Seaside
Service begins in the MSC Seaside terminal on the day you begin your cruise. Staff are there to guide you through the process of going through security, and getting on to the ship. Once on-board, staff are are available and ready to help when you need assistance.
I found the service staff and other members of the crew to be friendly and helpful. Wait staff made a point of asking about food allergies and food preferences. It was especially nice to see and be greeted by the Captain (Ship’s Master) as he walked around the ship.
Ship technologies also provide a service. For example, the MSC and Me Touchpoints, which are throughout the ship, enable guests to navigate the ship with ease. It can also be used to make reservations for meals, the spa, and excursions.
Special Features of the MSC Seaside
- An Interactive Aqua Park gives guests the experience of a water slide and interactive video game all-in one.
- Outdoor Catwalks, with glass floors that extend beyond the edge of the ship, give the illusion of walking on water.
- The Largest Balinese Spa at Sea offers massages, treatments, a state-of the-art-gym, personal trainers and Yoga instructors.
- The MSC Seaside’s Two Longest Cruise Zip Lines (345 ft.) soar 50 ft. above the ship and travel at a speed of 18 mph.
- A Full size two-lane bowling alley
- A Formula One Car Simulator
- A 5D Cinema gives users the opportunity to feel that they are in the games they are playing
- Complimentary MSC for Me Wristbands make access to cabins easier than using a key card and allow for hands-free purchasing in shops, and other areas on-board.
- MSC for Me App enables parents to keep track of their child’s location when he or she is wearing the wristband. Children’s wristbands are color coded according to their level in the kids club.
- On-board Packaged WIFI uses bandwidth rather than minutes for pricing. During the seven days I was on-board, I paid significantly less for Internet access and speed was faster.
If you are thinking about a Caribbean cruise, think MSC Seaside!
I can help you plan and book a cruise on the MSC Seaside. Just call me at 800-388-8781. My services are complimentary.
The MSC Seaside series continues on July 17th with Youth Programs and Facilities