Enjoying Shore Excursions When You Have a Special Need
Cruise shore excursions can be more difficult for people who have disabilities, especially for those with mobility issues. However, even if getting on and off the ship is a challenge for you, you may still be able to enjoy some time on shore. While there are no official regulations that govern cruise ship or shore excursion accommodations for passengers with disabilities, some cruise lines have taken steps to make things easier for people with mobility challenges. For example, some ships now have special gangway equipment that makes it easier for people who use wheelchairs to get on and off the ship.
To find a shore excursion that you can enjoy, the first step is to talk with your travel agent or cruise line representative. Be completely honest about the nature of your disability; about any equipment that you will need to bring; and about the kind of assistance you will need from the crew. This information is important not only for the selection of a shore excursion, but for the selection of a ship and your specific accommodations on that ship.
Once he or she has complete information about your disability, your agent/rep can help you identify shore excursions that can meet your needs. Excursions that require the use of tenders – smaller boats that transport passengers from the cruise ship to the dock – may not be the best choice. You may have an easier time when your ship is able to pull up directly to the dock.
If you can sit comfortably for a length of time, a sightseeing tour via motorcoach, trolley or train may be a good option for you. If you use a wheelchair, your travel contact can check on whether the tour vehicle is equipped with a wheelchair lift. If the tour takes more than an hour or two, it may also be important to check on the accessibility of restroom facilities and dining options along the way.
Wherever you cruise, it’s important to research your options for shore excursions well in advance. Given enough time, your travel agent or cruise line representative may be able to work with the cruise line and the shore excursion operators to make some special accommodations.