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kathy884

Wheel Chair Assist Harmony and 12:35 p.m. flight

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Posted (edited)

Hello, I just booked our flights for our Harmony cruise next February out of Port Canaveral 2/9 - 2/16.  For our return, DH and DS have a noon flight from Orlando (MCO) to St. Louis.  I will go ahead and have them do the self assist, so they can get off the ship quickly and easily get an uber or cab and make their flights.  I don't see an issue here.  I will also pack light so that we only have two suitcases and my stuff can go back to St. Louis with them.

 

We are also traveling with my wonderful father who at the time of the cruise will be 83 and has limited mobility (requires wheel chair assistance to get on and off the ship).  He lives in Valparaiso, IN about an hour from Chicago, and I booked 12:35 p.m. flights for him and me to fly to Chicago Midway (MDW) from Orlando (MCO).  Then I have four hours to get his luggage collected and get him on an uber back to Valpo before I fly back to St. Louis.  He lives by himself and gets along just fine, but has a handicapped parking sticker and cannot walk long distances (airports, getting on and off a cruise ship would really tough without the wheelchair assistance)  // My only concern is do you think that 12:35 p.m. is too tight for wheel chair assistance off the ship and getting back to the MCO airport?  I booked our flights with points, so could change to a later flight if need be, but there aren't any direct flights after this 12:35 p.m. one until 6 p.m. (a long time at the airport).  Also, it's a more expensive flight that I don't have enough points for two tickets, so I'd have to pay cash for one of the flights.  In addition this would make it a really late night for me, but I can still get home that night (lots of flights from Chicago to St. Louis including lots of late ones).  You can see that if 12:35 p.m. is doable that I'd really like to go with that flight.

 

Any tips for getting off the ship as easily as possible with the wheel chair assist and making that flight?  I'd love to hear your recommendations.  Can I wait with my dad and take his luggage.  I won't have any myself, making this easy to do.  Thought that could save some time.  Appreciate any and all tips.   

Edited by kathy884

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Personally I think it is a tight schedule.  You have to be at airport 2 hrs before flight and it is an 45 Min to an hour drive to MCO.   Also I had injured my knee and was told they would have a wheelchair assist waiting at the gate when I had to do a layover.  Never happened 😡. Twice! On way there and on way home. Hopefully that will work better for your dad 🙂

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Part will depend on how many passengers require wheelchair assistance since there are a limited number of chairs and pushers. 

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My recommendation would be to simply purchase your own Transport Chair to use with your father.  They are quite affordable to purchase (under $100, and can often be found used in classified ads / Craigslist) and fold up to be easily stowed in a car trunk or a cruise stateroom. 


Then you don't have to depend on anyone at the cruise terminal or the airport for wheelchair assistance.  

You can do self-assist debarkation (assuming your dad's luggage is the rolling kind and he can hold the handle and push/drag it while you push his chair) or the regular pick-up-your-luggage kind and push him off the ship and through Customs/Border Patrol and to your ground transportation. 

Then at MCO, you can push him all the way to the gate to board your flight, stopping anywhere you wish along the way for shops, restaurants, toilets, etc.  You can gate-check the wheelchair and he can walk onto the plane himself (based on your description of his mobility), and then after your flight, his wheelchair will be waiting in the gateway as you deplane, and you can push him through the airport (again stopping easily for toilet breaks or whatever) to the baggage claim area and out to his Uber, where the chair can be folded up and placed in the trunk of the car.

You'd also have the chair available for port days and on the ship if he's having a bad day, and it would be on hand should he ever need one in the future.

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Thank you all. 

 

Excellent to know that I am pushing it or certainly could be pushing it based on wheelchair requests, and if we are requiring wheelchair assistance, I really need to book a different flight.  I am flying to Chicago too the night before dad flies to Orlando and will stay at his house the night before we both fly to MCO.  Prior to the cruise, we are flying in two days early and staying in Orlando two nights.  I booked a nice three bedroom/three bath condo.  Dad and my husband will enjoy the resort condo we are staying at, while DH and I do a partial day the Magic Kingdom during the day (rope drop to 4), and we will have my nephew who lives in Orlando over for pizza and salad the night before the cruise.  Fortunately I booked all of dad and my flights with Southwest points (love those), so am not out the monies if I change flights, but still would need to fork over for the less convenient and more expensive flights.

 

That is a great idea Brillohead.  I really appreciate your posting.  With that we could do the 12:35 p.m. flight and the self assist (do everything on our own).  I also have DH and DS 23 who could help with dad's luggage and/or wheeling dad.  Our cabins are next to each other (DS and dad in one and me and DH in the other).  I think dad has always preferred not having a wheelchair of his own, but for timing and logistics on this trip, it's time to talk him into this.  The savings between the costs of the 12:35 p.m. flight and the 6 p.m. flight would probably more than offset the cost of this purchase.  If we don't purchase one, I could always rent one for the trip too.

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There are benefits of purchasing your own transport chair. 

 

For starters, buying his own chair will pretty much pay for itself in not having to pay tips to the chair-pushers after one trip (assuming one does tip the pushers at the airport, cruise terminal, etc.).  

By having his own chair, you can also "customize" it a bit, if your dad would be interested.  Some carabiner clips on the push-handles are convenient for hanging bags from, like a purse or tote bag to be used on the plane.  If he has any hobbies or interests, bumper stickers or decals add a bit of fun.  You can also add a custom cushion.  

And with a rental, you either have to make a trip to the Durable Medical Equipment store to pick it up and drop it off after the trip, or you have to pay extra for someone to deliver and pick it up.   

Do some shopping around -- I've seen them for even less than that, with free delivery.  You could even call the DME suppliers in Valpo to see what they have to offer -- they might even have used rentals that they sell for cheap.  

 

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You say he's been hesitant to get his own chair before.... this is a great excuse!  

"But Dad, it's the only way we'll be able to make our flight after the cruise!"

 

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Just talked to dad on the phone.  A chair will pay for itself for sure.  The later airfares are $60 more per person ($120), and dad always tips the chair-pushers generously too.  The main thing rather than even the cost is the convenience.  Dad is much keener on getting a 12:35 p.m. flight instead of waiting around the airport till 6 p.m.  That got him totally on board for the chair and self assist.  He also is one that never likes to cut things too close.  

 

Dad also said he should actually have something like this anyway, so gave me the go ahead to get a chair.  His main concern was would it be too much for me as the pusher.  I won't have any luggage though on the way back, dad will have one small bag, and on the way there I will just have a backpack (small with a few incidentals), so this should not be an issue.  Plus I told him, if it's hard for us at the airport, we can always get a sky cap. We also talked about that since we are doing ubers door to door to the Chicago airport that a fleece, a hat, and a pair of gloves or mittens should be fine, even in Chicago, the windy city.  We are going to leave the heavy jackets at home to keep the luggage more to a minimum.

 

You have been so helpful.  It's very nice to have the logistics figured out for the most part.  I would not have considered or thought of the chair/self assist option on my own.  I also (although a little concerned, concerned enough to post anywat)  was not up on extra time that very well could be involved for wheel chair assistance both on the cruise and at the airport.  This is the first time dad's not traveling with mom who always did all the arrangements (My wonderful mom passed very unexpectedly this past March).  This is the first time I am making travel arrangements for dad.  I really want him to cruise with us and be comfortable with things, hence my doing the extra flying to travel with him. 

 

My godparents who are dear long time friends of dad's who have done a lot of traveling with mom and dad in the past, hearing that he was going to do a cruise, booked the cruise too and are going to be in the cabin on the other side of his and my son's.  I wouldn't be surprised if my brother and my brother's girlfriend in the end decide to cruise with us too. 

 

Thanks again.  Really appreciate your posting.

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I'm so glad my input was helpful for you!

I'm an RN and have worked in private duty nursing with mobility-challenged individuals in the past, so I'm a bit more familiar than most with what all is involved.  I also often cruise with a friend who is paraplegic and in an arm-powered chair.  

Like you, the "convenience" part of the whole thing would be a major factor for me.  I'm a bit of a control freak on some things, and knowing I have a plane to catch in another city while I'm stuck in a line to get off the ship would stress me out to no end -- NOT the way to end a nice, relaxing cruise vacation! 

And if I'm at the airport with plenty of time to get to my gate, I like to just meander along, looking in various shops (if only to laugh at the ridiculous prices they charge!), stopping for a snack or drink, popping into the restroom, etc.  You can't do that when you're using the airport's wheelchair service -- those people zoom through the terminal at 20mph (or at least that's what it seems like!).  

My sympathies on the loss of your mother.  I'm so glad that your dad is making this trip, and he'll have both friends and family there to make memories with!  My mom wants to cruise with me but suffers from horrible motion sickness (even short drives in town can set her off), so she's left instructions in her will for me to take her ashes on a cruise.  I intend to take a picture of "her" with every cute guy on the ship!  😎

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We are sailing on Anthem this August 29th and my wife recently had a hip fracture operation.  We will be using/bringing  a wheel chair and have a regular ocean view cabin and wondering if we need to pre-inform RCL of such.

 

Also, I'll be checking with the Northeast Port(s) thread and wondering if anyone on this thread knows how far from the pier the tour buses park as she still has limited mobility. 

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40 minutes ago, nelblu said:

We are sailing on Anthem this August 29th and my wife recently had a hip fracture operation.  We will be using/bringing  a wheel chair and have a regular ocean view cabin and wondering if we need to pre-inform RCL of such.


No need to inform RCL unless you'll be wanting them to provide a shower chair for your wife to use for bathing.  

Also, are you bringing a wheelchair or a transport chair?  A wheelchair might not fit through the stateroom doorway because of the extra width (some transport chairs are wider than others, too).  But if your wife can walk short distances, you can fold up the chair a bit to push it through the doorway, then unfold it inside the room again for her to use. 

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4 hours ago, brillohead said:


No need to inform RCL unless you'll be wanting them to provide a shower chair for your wife to use for bathing.  

Also, are you bringing a wheelchair or a transport chair?  A wheelchair might not fit through the stateroom doorway because of the extra width (some transport chairs are wider than others, too).  But if your wife can walk short distances, you can fold up the chair a bit to push it through the doorway, then unfold it inside the room again for her to use. 

Never thought of the size/depth of chair.  Thanks.  Yes she can walk a bit of a distance and no problem to fold the chair and she can walk in. 

 

Regarding the tour, It's called "Discover Cape Cod" in Boston. 

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3 hours ago, nelblu said:

Never thought of the size/depth of chair.  Thanks.  Yes she can walk a bit of a distance and no problem to fold the chair and she can walk in. 


You'll be fine, then.  You may want to consider a shower chair, though, especially if you'll be on a smaller boat that is more likely to feel a bit of motion. 

 

I recall reading about someone on Cruise Critic who brings their own rather than using a questionably-hygienic ship-provided chair (I read the forums for other lines, too, so I don't know if it was Royal or another line that provided them with a yucky chair once).  The person had found a lightweight and portable chair -- I think the legs snapped in and out, or folded, or something, and it fits easily in their suitcase, so they take it with them on all hotel/cruise trips now.  Maybe check out the Disabled Cruise Travel forum here for ideas. 

 

3 hours ago, nelblu said:

Regarding the tour, It's called "Discover Cape Cod" in Boston. 


Someone might have info on Boston as a port of call on the East Coast forum.  

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, brillohead said:

You say he's been hesitant to get his own chair before.... this is a great excuse!  

"But Dad, it's the only way we'll be able to make our flight after the cruise!"

 

I need to tell you all that are recommending a transport chair, that for us, it was a nightmare because those little wheels get stuck on some of the door jams! We were on The Navigator. My husband had to either use it as a walker or get up until I could get the chair over it. I was SOOO frustrated by the end of the cruise, I was ready to throw the thing overboard!  You are right in saying it is best to bring your own chair b/c people were waiting for a long time on embarkation. The chairs were all still being used by those disembarking. If my husband still needs a chair by next cruise (post spinal fusion) we will be renting a scooter from scootaround.com  and leaving the transport chair a home!    https://www.scootaround.com/mobility-rentals/cruise/scooter-rentals?keyword=scootaround cruise rentals&matchtype=e&msclkid=8cd747959a94194d24b31acd4f77a444&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Cruise Mobility&utm_term=scootaround cruise rentals&utm_content=Cruise Scooter Rental and leaving the transport chair a home!

Edited by BopRN

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7 hours ago, BopRN said:

I need to tell you all that are recommending a transport chair, that for us, it was a nightmare because those little wheels get stuck on some of the door jams! We were on The Navigator. My husband had to either use it as a walker or get up until I could get the chair over it. I was SOOO frustrated by the end of the cruise, I was ready to throw the thing overboard!  You are right in saying it is best to bring your own chair b/c people were waiting for a long time on embarkation. The chairs were all still being used by those disembarking. If my husband still needs a chair by next cruise (post spinal fusion) we will be renting a scooter from scootaround.com  and leaving the transport chair a home!    https://www.scootaround.com/mobility-rentals/cruise/scooter-rentals?keyword=scootaround cruise rentals&matchtype=e&msclkid=8cd747959a94194d24b31acd4f77a444&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Cruise Mobility&utm_term=scootaround cruise rentals&utm_content=Cruise Scooter Rental and leaving the transport chair a home!

I agree. Transport chairs are useless on a ship. Wheels are not large enough to smoothly go over jams and push extremely hard on the carpet

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8 hours ago, BopRN said:

I need to tell you all that are recommending a transport chair, that for us, it was a nightmare because those little wheels get stuck on some of the door jams! We were on The Navigator. My husband had to either use it as a walker or get up until I could get the chair over it. I was SOOO frustrated by the end of the cruise, I was ready to throw the thing overboard! 

 

38 minutes ago, cruisinfanatic said:

I agree. Transport chairs are useless on a ship. Wheels are not large enough to smoothly go over jams and push extremely hard on the carpet


It's important to note that the OP's father only needs the use of the chair for LONG DISTANCES -- not for going absolutely everywhere all the time.  There is indeed a difference.  If a chair is needed 24/7/365, a wheelchair is the preferred method. 

For maneuvering over high obstacles like a raised door jamb with a transport chair, it is easier if you "pop a wheelie" up and over.  In a standard wheelchair, one can also turn around and pull backwards over the obstacle, rather than pushing forward over it.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, brillohead said:

 


It's important to note that the OP's father only needs the use of the chair for LONG DISTANCES -- not for going absolutely everywhere all the time.  There is indeed a difference.  If a chair is needed 24/7/365, a wheelchair is the preferred method. 

For maneuvering over high obstacles like a raised door jamb with a transport chair, it is easier if you "pop a wheelie" up and over.  In a standard wheelchair, one can also turn around and pull backwards over the obstacle, rather than pushing forward over it.  

 

 

when being escorted off the ship, the op would need to be in it

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1 minute ago, cruisinfanatic said:

when being escorted off the ship, the op would need to be in it


I'm not understanding what you mean by this?  

For starters, it's the OP's father that will be sitting in the wheelchair, and the OP (or one of her family members) would be pushing it.

Secondly, why would someone sitting in the chair make any difference in what I stated?

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Brillo, thanks for your informative data.  Just wondering if it would be easier to separate the beds for storage/moving the folding wheel chair.

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12 minutes ago, nelblu said:

Brillo, thanks for your informative data.  Just wondering if it would be easier to separate the beds for storage/moving the folding wheel chair.


That would depend entirely on the layout of the room and how much the chair needs to be used.  

If the folding chair is to be used only for getting on/off the ship and then stored for the rest of the cruise, it can be folded up and stored beside the couch, where one would place an end-table.  The placement of the beds would not matter in the least. 

If the chair is to be used 24/7, it would depend on which side of the bed needs to be accessible to the rider, how much clearance is available there, and the general layout of the furniture in the room. 

For example, in many non-balcony rooms, the foot of the bed is adjacent to the "sitting area" of the room, with a very tiny walkspace on each side of the bed along each wall.  In that case, separating the beds and pushing each against the side walls allows for a larger walkspace in between the beds, which would allow the chair to come between them. 

 

However, in standard balcony rooms the bed is turned at a 90-degree angle to the sitting area, and the wheelchair would only be able to access the side of the bed that is alongside the sitting area, as it wouldn't fit around the foot of the bed.  (This is if it would even fit in the doorway of a standard room, which is unlikely.)  Similarly, if the room is set up such that the bed is closest to the hallway door and the sitting area is closest to the balcony, the wheelchair is unlikely to be able to fit around the foot of the bed and into the rest of the room at all while holding its rider -- it would need to be folded to fit through the narrow space between the foot of the bed and the wall.

If an actual wheelchair is needed for full-time use (its user is unable to walk at all), an accessible room would need to be booked.  This will allow the wheelchair to fit through the doorway and into all areas of the room, including a ramp to go onto the balcony, and a wheelchair-accessible bathroom.  If a wheelchair is only needed for intermittent use (rider can walk around in the stateroom, step up into the bathroom, etc.), the type of room and placement of the furniture is irrelevant.

I hope that all made sense.  Please ask for clarification on anything that is unclear.

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38 minutes ago, nelblu said:

Brillo, thanks for your informative data.  Just wondering if it would be easier to separate the beds for storage/moving the folding wheel chair.

 

You have sailed Anthem before so think of those little night stands, separating the beds isn't going to gain you much space wise.  You said you have a balcony, if you post the number, it is easy to know whether the bed is by the bathroom or by the balcony.  There is more room at the end of the bed, but I doubt you will get a wheelchair by it.  If the side of the bed your wife sleeps on is by the balcony, I would suggest you either as for both night stands to be put on that side or just have the one on your side taken away.  That would give her a bit more room between the bed and the curtain.  We have had a shower stool in a balcony cabin on Anthem and I would suggest you put on of the legs of the stool behind the little foot rest that is there for shaving.  It will give her a little more room in the shower but it also keeps the stool from moving.  I know a wheelchair will fit through the door as there was someone near us in a wheelchair.

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45 minutes ago, reallyitsmema said:

I know a wheelchair will fit through the door as there was someone near us in a wheelchair.


This depends ENTIRELY on the wheelchair.  My paraplegic friend can never come into my standard room because his chair does not fit through the standard doorway.  

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18 minutes ago, brillohead said:


This depends ENTIRELY on the wheelchair.  My paraplegic friend can never come into my standard room because his chair does not fit through the standard doorway.  

 

LOL You know as well as I do that the wheelchair neblu will have for his wife is not like what a full time wheelchair user would have.  What have you experienced on Anthem?  Have you even sailed that class of ship?  Quantum class is very different than other classes of ship.

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1 minute ago, reallyitsmema said:

 

LOL You know as well as I do that the wheelchair neblu will have for his wife is not like what a full time wheelchair user would have.  What have you experienced on Anthem?  Have you even sailed that class of ship?  Quantum class is very different than other classes of ship.

 

Wheelchairs come in all shapes and sizes.... generalizations are not helpful.

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