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Accessible River Cruise - Did you have to supply this info?

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Have you or someone you know ever had to supply personal medical information (incl. medications) to a river cruise company just because you want to bring along a small, folding travel scooter?  I never read or heard of this being a requirement before the experience we are having now.  My spouse won't even need or want to use it when on the ship. (Even if he didn't want to use it on shore, we would still need to bring it for independent land stays for several days pre and post cruise.)


We booked a river cruise just a few weeks ago that is supposed to take place next month.  I checked way ahead of even knowing if we'd be doing a river cruise this or next year about whether this particular cruise line allowed folding lightweight travel mobility scooters. (I had once read a post in which someone said they did, but wanted to make certain myself.) 


Our cruise takes place in a few weeks. (I'm wondering if it will actually happen with the recent increase of the Delta variant and continual changes in the  entry requirements of various countries)   I checked with one of this line's agents again just before booking 3 weeks ago to make double sure we could bring it.  The agent told me what I already knew, but said the line would need a form (or forms) filled out before they would allow it on board. Also that I needed to get the info. to them ASAP after I booked.  No big deal, I thought. Both cruise ships' and airline accessible depts. require the specs when you bring on a scooter. 


 I ended up booking the cruise, but with an agent not affiliated with the cruise line (which in this particular case was probably a mistake based on the service). I actually was the one to inform the T/A who did the booking about the form(s). He was supposed to look into getting any that were required for me, but after a week I emailed him about it. After still not  hearing anything for 6 days, I contacted the cruise company myself. Spoke to a rep who was very nice but needed to check with someone else about the form(s).  After doing so he said I'd be getting the forms shortly - as soon as he got them. He also told me my dh would need a dr. to verfiy my husband is fit to travel, along with a list of all of my dh's medications.  I explained my husband has traveled out of the country numerous times (Mexico in April, for instance but also to Europe and other places in the past few years) without incident and without ever having to supply such info. He has neveer been asked to do this since the medical event occurred that caused his issue happened 6 yrs. ago.    I emailed the same cruise agent 2 days later since I still  had never rec'd.  anything.   He looked into it again, and sent me instructions on what was required by the cruise line. Not a form. No information on the deadline to get the information sent in.  Just how/where to send it and a statement that they will look at the info. and make a decision.   Unfortunately, DH has not seen a dr. in months so now needs an appointment to get the letter (and show the dr. exactly all the info. that the line wants).  No appointment is available for a couple of weeks! By then we will be inside the cancellation period where we can retain the value paid for the cruise if things do not meet their approval, although I can't imagine why they wouldn't. Also, I think the information the cruise line needs is ridiculous!   All the ocean going ships we have been on with the scooter (or on which rented one) have NEVER asked that information! If this line needs such info. from him, they should require it for every passenger because,  if for no other reason, the average age of a river cruiser is generally at least retirement age and often quite a number of years past. By that time in our lives, most of us have to take some type of medication. 


Has anyone out there ever been turned down in such a situation? Sorry this is so long, but I'm wondering how widespread this requirement is? 

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First, please remember, you are traveling outside the USA, not inside.  With that being said, anything goes when it comes to requirements.


Secondly, you are asking about a river cruise, which does not have an onboard medical facility, and with it being international, they would have a concern that they might not be able to take care of your needs. 


Third, be a little more aggressive with your Dr's office, send the Doctor all the info, and ask for an appointment this week with him or someone in the practice.  


Lastly, it's not ridiculous for them to make sure they can handle you safely.  If you are going to be traveling, you might as well get used to various requirements.  It's not going to change anytime soon.


On a side note, I always book direct, never through a TA, and always make sure my wife has all medical lists, and register her scooter with airlines and ships, and anything else.


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I understand what you are saying, Joseph but we have traveled internationally a number of times in the past six years since my husband‘s leg issue started. That’s why I mentioned that no other travel company, cruise line, airline, tour company or resort has ever asked for or required  this information. It did cross my mind that because there are not medical facilities on river cruise ships it could be the reason they want this information. Airlines don’t have these things either any emergencies have minimal equipment, possibly defibrillators?, To assist emergency medical situations. A river cruise ship might at least have that (?). So it makes sense to me that due to that issue, they would be asking for medical information from all passengers. Especially those that walk with a cane or a  walker with wheels (roll at or). However, they don’t. A dr’s letter is not required if he doesn’t bring the scooter, which he will not even be using on board.  Possibly not even  in the ports. On an ocean cruise you are often far out to sea. On most European river cruise as you are not extremely far from at least a small town. If there would happen to be no docking facility, in a real emergency I would think a passenger could be taken to shore in a small boat. Even if at the passenger’s own cost. Regardless, I did contact our doctor and was told they have no appointments available for a couple of weeks. The doctor’s receptionist  already knows my husband isn’t ill and doesn’t need medical attention which is no doubt another reason it is so tough to get in to see him. He has been able to get an appointment in a week through a dr he sees once a year merely because he has to in order  to stay eligible for care should he need it through the United States Veteran’s Association, although he has only seen this dr  in person once before  a year ago. My husband doesn’t have any particular risks or medical conditions  that would raise a red flag or need to be extremely closely watched. Since the requirement is only because of the scooter, I find it a bit excessive.


Thanks for your input and I do realize there are various things to consider but I still think it is unnecessary. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I haven’t done a river cruise but found 2 nations where what medicines and how much needed special permission and still some wasn’t allowed.  We never got an answer bad from Abu Dhabi, but managed to leave the luggage checked overnight so that one of the medicines was never in the country.  Japan approved the list but had a 90 day supply allowance for most of it.  Abu Dhabi was 30 days, iirc, and they didn’t allow even Tylenol PM.  

while I doubt that’s the issue with the river cruise there are countries that have some serious restrictions.  

To put a smile maybe, on your face, I had a rollator when I arrived for a Galapagos cruise.  It stayed behind the sofa on the yacht.  They were a bit UN nerved but told be that they’d had people show up with larger scooters when it’s clearly posted there are no elevators!

 I now have a folding scooter, and so far have only had to answer whether I can transfer and the dimensions and weight of the scooter.  I’ve yet to be denied tender access.  I still want to do a river cruise. 

let us know whether you get an answer.  

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Thank you for sharing your experience. Have not heard anything although I sent the information in. Also sent my dh’s prescriptions (no narcotic pain killers or anything that some people abuse) and a doctors note. We shall see what happens. We have traveled to quite a few different countries (though not Japan or Abu Dhabi)  as you mentioned and the medicine has gone through other countries’ security  up with no issues. Some people have told us we should have just shown up with the scooter. Even no elevator would not be a problem on ton husband walks without any assistance and that he would not even try or want or need to use the scooter on the ship. I know they have rules

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We were a bit surprised about the meds, as I mentioned.  I did opt not to take my “special” pain pills, but was surprised about things like anti anxiety meds, and a few others you might not want to stop taking.  Of course the meds to make meth like cough syrup were no no’s too.  

ive never had meds questioned and have only listed meds for my nebulizer.  If I were diabetic I might mention those too, because of refrigeration.  And maybe heart meds?  

for the yacht they moved my room so I’ve climb fewer stairs, which was nice although I’m not convinced it cut too many out! 

good luck and I’d love to hear if you find out what they are looking for: my Dad now wears an eloquis bracelet, which I’d think they might want to know.  But he cruised for years with Coumadin with no notices to anyone. 

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Actually, part of my prior reply to your post didn’t print.

Guess my dh having to provide such private info  took me by surprise. My main point is the fact that the cruise line only appears to require such detailed private medical information from those bringing along what the line deems as medical equipment.  Of course a passenger could have dangerous medical issues like a bad heart, bad kidneys, severe COPD, an aneurysm, a nearly blocked carotid artery or any number of serious problems but unless they happened to bring a scooter or other “medical equipment. 

Unless a person had just seen their doctor very recently, most doctors are going to require a patient to come in and be seen just in order to get the letter. For one thing, there are specifics that this cruise line asks for (like all of your medication being documented on the physician’s fit to travel letter as well as the equipment you want to bring and why you need it, etc etc.). Informing the doctor of the info he or she needs to address  takes time. Then the doctor must use his or her time to compose a letter which then must be sent in. So of course that appointment will not be free. 

I sincerely hope you do get to do a river cruise one day. Just be prepared for the documentation that might be requested of you. If your scooter is small enough when folded up and you or a companion can get it off and onto the ship without addistance, you stand a chance with a few lines, though not all. Good luck! 

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Posted (edited)

What we did with the what is it for etc, for scripts, was cut and paste the info from RxList, at least I thing that’s what we sent.  My problem was they wanted copies of the scripts and not all were due for renewal.  The pharmacy gave us a few copies but it was a general mess!  The requirements also said we needed a doctors note but after emailing 3 pounds of paper the doctors signature, other than on scripts, were not require! 

The scooter has not been a problem although docked in Greenwich was indeed interesting!  The crew loves it as it is light, to them, at 60 pounds.  Since I can walk a gangway, usually, getting on and off normally is only slightly difficult.  The crew rarely wants either of us dragging it.  

Thanks for the encouragement, and warning.  Some of the information that is requested often seems odd including wanting to know if my walker/wheelchair is motorized after already answering that question!   One question wanted to know combined weight of person and scooter, after asking if one would walk short distances.  Since I had seen 4 guys carrying a large passenger and scooter in Canada I understood the question, sort of, but they’d already asked weight so they could have added them!  

I agree that the letters are not free, when we need a note for hubby’s bypass surgery they had just started charging about $25 minimum.  We were not charged but would be now.   Based on the requirements they had, I would have composed a letter etc just to cut the cost of the number of pages!  I wish you luck too, and I’d love to know how things go.  I really appreciate the heads up. 

The airlines have been comical at times mostly not recording all the information they were given!  We carry a spec sheet with us, converted to metric, to make their life easier and still are chased down in the lounge for more information.  They are getting better about lithium batteries but at one time wanted to know if it was wet, dry, or gel!  

Edited by Benthayer Gonbak
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Benthauer Gonbak, we  have heard nothing back yet from there cruise company.   I did call today and the person I reached checked on the progress for me. (It was faxed days ago.) He was able to determine that the information from my husband‘s doctor had been received but had no idea when we would get a response, indicating the info had to be sent  overseas and so on. I asked if there was a supervisor or a department or anyone else who might be able to advise us or help with this matter since we only have a few days before our cancellation window is up. He said to call our travel agent on Monday. So I asked if there was anyone particular the travel agent should speak contact for an answer. Of course his reply was that there wasn’t . So we just have to wait. 


The cruise company we are booked with makes it very clear that anyone bringing medical equipment (they mean scooters, wheelchairs, etc.) should not expect the boat’s crew to assist with the equipment in any way. Specifically when coming aboard or getting off the boat. 


We’ve flown 2 different US based airlines with the scooter and they do want to know the wattage, weight, the brand and model. That’s it. No other problems. One carrier, Frontier, will not allow any type of mobility scooters on any of their plans.  We almost flew them to Mexico in the spring, but thankfully were still within the 24 hour cancellation window mandated by law. Ended up getting a much better flight through a carrier we often use anyway.


I will try to bring you up to date on this

issie once I find anything out. 




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Posted (edited)


As I understand it TAs have a different contact system and often find them better with information. 

as for questions about the scooter, as I think about it it’s mostly been overseas not knowing even if the battery needs removing!  Southwest says no as others have too.   The original documentation had only amps and voltage, it was a pilot that wanted wattage.  We now have added wattage and how to calculate it on the info sheet😇.   The only time I’ve ever had a scooter refused was on the Big Bus in London!  They had just received a directive of no lithium batteries on their busses.   I’ll take note of Frontier refusing a scooter although I’m not normal where I can fly them.  When I travelled a lot, for business I found a lot of regions small planes that I doubt could have handled any scooter.  And yes, we can handle the scooter without help although I cannot lift it by myself, we just been on ships that don’t want us to lifting it, or drag it for that matter!  

I look forward to learning what you finally discover. 

Edited by Benthayer Gonbak
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