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NCL Spirit - Review from an Accessibility Perspective


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We just returned from a 5 night cruise on the NCL spirit. My husband uses a motorized wheelchair with his legs partially elevated so he needs a good deal of space to turn. We had a good time, but did encounter some accessibility issues.


Embarkation - Parking was convenient - across the street from the pier. It was also free with an handicap id. Checking in was easy. The NCL rep sent us right to the special needs desk. We were too early to board so we sat in a big room with about 1,000 other people for about 30 minutes. The VIP and the suites were allowed to board first. We and the rest of the wheelchair passengers were directed to go next. Everything was great until we reached the the gangway and saw 4 steps. I know that the steps were the Post of Miami's fault, not NCL's, but I did not appreciate being asked by the NCL rep standing there "why did you come this way. You should have taken the other route" Obviously there was a communication breakdown. Knowing that my husband's power chair with him in it is very heavy, I asked for a manual chair thinking that he could be lifted in it and then the motorized chair with the batteries removed. Instead we waited about 20 minutes until additional help came. I then removed the batteries, put the chair in free-wheel mode and they lifted him in his chair up the stairs and pushed him up the gangway.


Accomodations: The Spirit has 4 handicap cabins, all insides: 2 on deck 10 and 2 on deck 11. Since the ones on deck 11 are under the buffet I thought they might be noisy so I chose one on deck 10. Our cabin, 10137, was good size and had space for my husband to turn as long as the beds were placed perpendicular to one another, but was not as big as ones we have had on RCCL or Celebrity. The beds were so low that my husband had great difficulty getting up until someone suggested a second mattress which solved the problem. There were only 4 small drawers, but there were 4 closets: 2 for hanging clothes and 2 with shelves so we had plenty of storage space. The bathroom had a roll under sink and a roll-in shower with a built-in seat. However, there were not enough bars and the one by the toilet was not secure enough to use for support. In addition, the shower floor was too flat so the bathroom flooded whenever one of us showered.


Ship Public Rooms: Most were accessible with the exception of the movie theatre, art gallery and half the casino. Late night snacks are placed on the upper portion of the casino. There were several large handicap bathrooms. Windows, the main restuarant, was the most accessible of any that we have encountered aboard ship. Because we were traveling with 9 other family members, we were often seated at the large tables in the back, but there was enough space between the tables that we did not have to ask any one to move so that my husband to get by - a first!


Other: The exits to the Promenade deck were ramped from the inside, but there was a lip to get back in so my husband did not go out onto the deck, even during the boat drill. The helpers in the buffet were eager to assist, carrying my husband's tray and bringing him coffee and drinks. He did not get off in Grand Cayman because of the tender and the state of the island, but he did get off in Cozumel. The gangway had ridges so he had to be semi-lifted down. He can transfer to a car so we went by taxi to Chakanaub Park. There, the entrance is ramped and it was relatively easy to push him until we reached the beach area. We still could manuver the chair to an open air restaurant where he was allowed to stay and watch us in the water. The sea lion ampitheatre was also accessible so he could watch our nephews swim with the sea lions.


Disembarkation: A breeze except that the Port of Miami had the Spirit dock at another pier, about a 1/2 mile from where we parked. NCL told us that there would be shuttles with lifts, but there were none so my sister walked to the car and brought it back to us.

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