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Help with finding cabins for family with 2 wheelchair bound tweens


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We have a nephew who has 2 disabled children; they enjoyed their first cruise in 2015 and would like to cruise again and so he turned to me for help. But I am at a loss to help him with his unique cruising needs and so need to reach out to the many kind and helpful people in CC that I know exist for more information. 

 

This nephew is a Warrant Officer in the US Army and recently from moved from TX to DC (I feel for him, my DH end his military career there in 2004 and so I know it’s not an easy place to live even without special needs children).  He and he wife have 2 daughters who are about 10 and 12 now and who were born with Centronuclear myopathy (a condition that causes muscle weakness and wasting in the muscles used for movement). Both are confined to motorized wheelchairs.

 

Clearly an accessible room is necessary and one that will work for tweens in 2 motorized wheelchairs (that must be able to enter the cabin). He said that when he looks for a cruise, he usually finds the accessible rooms taken.  I realize that his situation is rare as this disorder is rare, but I hope that someone can offer hints that I can pass on. 

 

Do the disability departments of cruise lines help in such instances? His life is quite full, the girls need total care, and so there is no time for him to sit at a computer frequently to haunt cruse line websites. So, are there other options for him to locate available cabins in a timely manner? They do well in general in traveling with them, Make-a-Wish generously paid for them to visit Greece and Harry Potter World. But cruising is proving more complicated. If you can provide any information, please do. Thank you!

 

 

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Edited by 2Beeze
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HA cabins go fast..as soon as the itinerary is released.  Furthermore, he might need two because most HA cabins cannot hold more than 2-3 people or multiple devices that cannot be broken down.

 

a TA can be useful for doing all the legwork, but he should prepare for few, if any, options 

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It’s easy for a TA to find the cabins with the search functions they have available.  I easily found Oasis in March 2021 where they could do side by side accessible balconies on deck 6.  

 

What general dates are are they looking at and what ships.  Many here are happy to help.

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ALL HC cabins have wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs.  They MUST book an HC cabin, in order to get the space they will need....with 2 in a wheelchair, they will need  something larger than an inside HC cabin.  

 

The bathroom/shower will be "roll-in" with plenty of grab bars, if needed.  Balconies will have a ramp for access.  Any non-HC cabin will NOT be accessible for those confined to wheelchairs.

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I agree with those who have advised the use of a TA and the need to book far in advance as HA cabins rarely remain available for long once the itinerary is released. As a military family myself, I know it can be difficult to request leave far in advance adding to your challenge. You might look for an HA cabin connecting to a standard cabin so the girls would enter /leave through the HA door and use the HA bathroom. 

 

Be prepared with an extra dose of patience when using the elevators. When I was confined to a scooter with a broken and dislocated hip, people would literally run around me to get into the elevator before I could access any available space. I can only imagine trying to get the thoughtless passengers to allow room for two wheelchairs at the same time. (Of course the girls pictured are far cuter than me - maybe that will help 🙂 

 

I would also advise that the itinerary be carefully selected to exclude tender ports. Unless the children can take a few assisted steps, they will not be able to board the tenders nor will they be able to use excursions that utilize the typical tour buses. I once ran into a family traveling from St. Thomas to John with a young lady in a motorized chair. They had booked a transport vehicle with a lift to go to/from the port to the ferry. Brilliant!

 

Find a good TA and put him/her to work in your behalf!

 

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Thinking that my first suggestion was quite a ways away and not in prime travelling season I did another quick search and found another pair of side by side accessible balconies again on Oasis but this time Sailing July 11, 2020.

 

Oasis  class has more accessible cabins than other classes of ships so you may have better luck searching on those ships. 

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Don't discount late booking, but there could be issues with flights (if needed) and his vacation. My last RC cruise I decided to book my first inside to see what it would be like and I would also be cursing solo.Hubby really isn't interested in inside cabins. I booked inside guarantee and about 3 weeks out I was given a HC room. I have read on here how hard it was to get HC rooms if not booked asap so I expected them to move me so someone else could have it. I checked every several days to see where I would be moved to. It never happened so they had a solo non-handicapped person in a HC room. Keep checking for those rooms.

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9 hours ago, ReneeFLL said:

Don't discount late booking, but there could be issues with flights (if needed) and his vacation. My last RC cruise I decided to book my first inside to see what it would be like and I would also be cursing solo.Hubby really isn't interested in inside cabins. I booked inside guarantee and about 3 weeks out I was given a HC room. I have read on here how hard it was to get HC rooms if not booked asap so I expected them to move me so someone else could have it. I checked every several days to see where I would be moved to. It never happened so they had a solo non-handicapped person in a HC room. Keep checking for those rooms.


Inside accessible rooms are often available, as most people seem to think an inside room is "beneath" them for some reason.

I booked two inside rooms in 2013 for me and three friends, and a week before cruising there were two accessible inside rooms available that I was able to switch us into.  It was the first time cruising for my three friends, and they all got to experience a larger room and spacious bathroom for their first cruise.  

It all depends on what is more important to each individual... I'd rather be on a cruise than stuck at home, so having a window or a balcony isn't a big deal to me.  Many others here have commented that if they can't have a balcony or a suite, they'd rather not cruise at all.  

 

 

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First of all, I would suggest they sail from Baltimore, since they can drive to the port and not have to deal with airports/airplanes.

 

Second, look at itineraries with ports where the ship is docked, not tendered, as mentioned above.  If there is one that is tendered, decide if the rest of the cruise/price is worth staying on the ship for that day.

 

Third, if you use the RCCL booking tool to do some preliminary searching, when you get to the second page where you enter how many people, and any "exclusive" data, like state of residence, military, etc., there is a check box for "show accessible cabins".  If there are none, then it will show a pop-up immediately when you click on the "continue" button.

 

If you narrow it down to several cruises, then a TA can take over for final pricing, cabin location, and other details.

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1 hour ago, pcur said:

First of all, I would suggest they sail from Baltimore, since they can drive to the port and not have to deal with airports/airplanes.

 

Second, look at itineraries with ports where the ship is docked, not tendered, as mentioned above.  If there is one that is tendered, decide if the rest of the cruise/price is worth staying on the ship for that day.

 

Third, if you use the RCCL booking tool to do some preliminary searching, when you get to the second page where you enter how many people, and any "exclusive" data, like state of residence, military, etc., there is a check box for "show accessible cabins".  If there are none, then it will show a pop-up immediately when you click on the "continue" button.

 

If you narrow it down to several cruises, then a TA can take over for final pricing, cabin location, and other details.

I thought the Oasis was going to be sailing from NJ when she returns from Europe.  They could drive there too.

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15 minutes ago, Snit13 said:

I thought the Oasis was going to be sailing from NJ when she returns from Europe.  They could drive there too.

Agreed.  I just thought with two motorized wheelchairs it would be easier to drive the 45 - 60 minutes.  It doesn't require a meal break, etc.

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Have him check with Special  Services where he can get discount tickets for all  major theme parks. They do a great job  as a travel agent. They also get special deals available only to active duty military personnel. 

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Thank you everyone for your input ❤️

 

 @Tee & Chilli @Ourusualbeach @spookwife The TA suggestion is a good one, maybe they can locate one with special knowledge of this area (I am so hands on with our cruises that I tend not to think in that direction 🤦🏼‍♀️). They don’t have a specific cruise in mind right now, I think there are so many balls to juggle in there world and they change quickly (I think at his service level there is a relatively decent allowance for time off, but scheduling it can be more difficult as @mringenoldus mentioned. 

 

@pcur great idea!  You would think I would’ve thought of BWI since we recently sailed out of there and found it super easy! Also, excellent point about avoiding tenders (not sure that they know anything about that!). Thank you. 😊

 

@Snit13 I didn’t remember that, so that will be another option and a huge one! Their first cruise was on Carnival I think, likely bc he was stationed in TX with so many CarnIval ports. But he is somewhat close to a number of good ports offering a huge range of frequent cruises - Bermuda, general Caribbean, and NE/Canada.

 

@cb at sea I will look more into those HC cabin category, thank you. And our very young grandchildren are in Fredericksburg (DH retired out of DC and our kids graduated from HS there and have stay in the area). Can’t say I miss that traffic, but there is so much available there!

 

@5xGrandma I haven’t asked him if he is aware of those discounts and I certainly should! Since DH is a military retiree, I know that there are some great travel benefits, like 60% off at Disney and the option to stay at the Hale Koa on the beach of Waikiki (for use of military and DOD). Good point!

 

@ReneeFLL  I can see how those might be just as likely to have someone change their mind or be unable to cruise. So maybe just after final payment would be due....👍🏼  So maybe very early or very late.

 

@brillohead he is such a kind and level-headed man, I feel like he would not think of inside rooms as beneath him. He comes from hearty stock, his mother is a native Hawaiian who served in the Navy for 15 years 👍🏼 While I guess they might want a balcony view for the kids, I know he would also be glad for the extra room he can gain in an interior accessible cabin (as you say, some of those are huge, I saw one recently when I visited the cabin of a CC friend who must use a motorized chair at all times) . If any of those are connecting, that would be yet another option - hopefully those doors would be wide enough? Thank you for your help 🙂

 

@mringenoldus you hit so many of these great points, thanks!  I cannot imagine what their waits would be on elevators - yikes... with 2 big chairs 😖 They are more patient than I am so that is a good thing! And they are cute! But right now they are that limbo land of tweendom which can be less cute 😉 They are so bright! But then their parents are very intelligent and loving people, I know the girls will grow into decent humans like their parents.

 

Again, thank you all very much for trying to help. I will pass all this good information along!

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One thing he needs to be aware of: Tricare will NOT cover the family on the cruise so a comprehensive insurance plan is a must.  And additional coverage for the chairs and batteries.  They are within driving distance of the NYC/Jersey ports as well.  So that will open up ports without needing to fly.  

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Just to clarify, my comment was that "people in general" (not your nephew) tend to not want to cruise in an inside (or even oceanview) room, so those accessible rooms tend to be available more often than balcony or suite accessible rooms.  

Because people "don't want" the inside rooms, the accessible insides are more likely to be released to the general public closer to the sailing date.  

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2 hours ago, spookwife said:

One thing he needs to be aware of: Tricare will NOT cover the family on the cruise so a comprehensive insurance plan is a must.  And additional coverage for the chairs and batteries.  They are within driving distance of the NYC/Jersey ports as well.  So that will open up ports without needing to fly.  

 

Actually he and I have been chatting for over an hour as he looked through some cruises. I will definitely remind him about that! The changes from a couple of years back aren’t helping since all those policies we knew well got toss into the air and who knows where they all fell 😏 Thanks!

Edited by 2Beeze
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1 hour ago, brillohead said:

Just to clarify, my comment was that "people in general" (not your nephew) tend to not want to cruise in an inside (or even oceanview) room, so those accessible rooms tend to be available more often than balcony or suite accessible rooms.  

Because people "don't want" the inside rooms, the accessible insides are more likely to be released to the general public closer to the sailing date.  

 

I understood. After talking with him today, I think they will try to get 2 accessible rooms, interior or ocean view, and bring his mother with them to help. I noticed while helping him search online that I could not click on 2 rooms and the. select accessible rooms for some odd reason. But since he is taking my sister-in-law with them, that will be then be 5 of them and he will need to call. Thankfully he is more patient than I am.

Edited by 2Beeze
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I'll throw my 2 cents in here... we travel with a special needs child who is wheelchair bound, has a trach with ventilator and oxygen. Minimum of 25 bags whenever we cruise. We have sailed in an Owner's Suite, a HA Spa Jr. Suite (Ovation), the HA Crown Loft Suite. Any of the larger rooms that did not have a HA accessible bathroom, we were able to use the HA facilities in the Vitality Spa (which were very nice). With 2 tweens in motorized wheelchairs, I would think about the space. Moving around will prove important when you are cruising together. So if not the HA CLS, then two connecting HA rooms sounds ideal.

 

And if you have a choice of decks, I would look at where you will spend the most time and try to get close to that deck. It might be challenging with two wheelchairs getting an elevator (unless you are on Oasis class Deck 17).

 

Contact Royal Caribbean Special Access Dept. They are excellent are dealing with special needs issues and can help facilitate your experience greatly! (And do find a great Travel Agent... if they specialize in special needs travel, even better!)

Edited by CruiszBug
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I would also like to suggest the Anthem out of NJ, which has quite a number of HA rooms.

 

We had a HA balcony last year for 4 people, with 1scooter. It was a really good experience for us. 

 

When i booked this year, i called and Royal was very helpful. 

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45 minutes ago, Ourusualbeach said:

I know that some  mentioned Grandeur as Baltimore is close however there are only 12 accessible cabins (not including accessible suites) on Grandeur vs 32 on Anthem and 43 on Oasis.  

 

That is definitely a big difference. I wonder how the elevator access differs between the different size ships. Like we always think that we have an easier time on small-med ships even though less elevators due to less people (not scientific, just our perfection), but with mobility issues that could all seem quite different!

 

 

@Blessedwith10  That is also a great suggestion! For some reason I don’t think of the Anthem coming out of NJ (nothing personal to NJ, I think my head is stuck a few decades back 😂)

Edited by 2Beeze
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35 minutes ago, CruiszBug said:

I'll throw my 2 cents in here... we travel with a special needs child who is wheelchair bound, has a trach with ventilator and oxygen. Minimum of 25 bags whenever we cruise. We have sailed in an Owner's Suite, a HA Spa Jr. Suite (Ovation), the HA Crown Loft Suite. Any of the larger rooms that did not have a HA accessible bathroom, we were able to use the HA facilities in the Vitality Spa (which were very nice). With 2 tweens in motorized wheelchairs, I would think about the space. Moving around will prove important when you are cruising together. So if not the HA CLS, then two connecting HA rooms sounds ideal.

 

And if you have a choice of decks, I would look at where you will spend the most time and try to get close to that deck. It might be challenging with two wheelchairs getting an elevator (unless you are on Oasis class Deck 17).

 

Contact Royal Caribbean Special Access Dept. They are excellent are dealing with special needs issues and can help facilitate your experience greatly! (And do find a great Travel Agent... if they specialize in special needs travel, even better!)

 

Thanks so much for chiming in!  I didn’t even think about the spa facilities. I was noticing when looking with him (virtually that is) that they put the accessible cabins very near elevators (makes sense, I just didn’t notice before). I had found the Special Access Dept when I first began researching this for him many month ago and passed that number along. I need to remind him of that. He asked me who we use for a TA, but the answer was “me”! I told him that he would have to compare the value of an agent who knows accessibly travel well or reducing his cost with higher OBC. I realize on CC we aren’t allowed to share that info on posts, but if someone knows of an agent who has good knowledge of this kind of special issue please let me know!

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