About 5-1/2 years ago, our company, Cruise Planners, entered into an agreement with Special Needs at Sea to provide items that would assist those with mobility issues that might otherwise prevent them from traveling.
Not knowing much about such services, I decided to take their Certification Course. There were two reasons for this; first, I really wanted to find out about what they offered and how it might be beneficial to my clients. Second, never having to personally deal with such issues, I never really thought much about the accessibility problems travelers incur when vacationing.
Oh sure, we always see people in wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or hooked up to an oxygen tank and trying to negotiate around a ship, but how many of us ever really put ourselves in their situation? Most of us just go about our vacation not really thinking about it. And then there are those who complain because they have to share an elevator with someone in a wheelchair or have to wait while ‘slowpoke’ in a walker tries to navigate in front them.
Becoming a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate made me see these challenges in a completely different light.
Many people with special needs would love to travel, but many feel it’s not something they can do given the obstacles they must encounter, so they simply dream about what might have been. Unbeknownst to them, traveling is now easier than ever before despite any physical challenges they may have.
A couple of years ago while sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, a gentleman saw my golf shirt with our logo on it. He asked me if I sold cruises and I told him I did. He made the comment that he would love to go on a cruise, but unfortunately he had to undergo dialysis every couple of days and cruising was definitely out of the question. I asked him if he knew about being able to do dialysis while at sea? Long story short, he absolutely loved his first cruise and has since gone on three more.
I had a couple who wanted to go on a cruise and really wanted to treat her parents so they could go along, but she was concerned because they were an older couple and didn’t walk very well. We secured an accessible cabin for them, rented two scooters, and the two of them had a wonderful time. They were able to go everywhere and do everything they never thought they could. Everyone was so glad they discussed this with me as they thought it was something that would never happen, especially given the health of the mother. Three months later the mom past away. But her daughter told me up until the day she died, her mom spoke about how much fun the cruise was and how thrilled she was they got to do it together.
I have a small group of women who are all hearing impaired and never knew about the many modifications that can be made to their cabins to accommodate their special needs. Now, they get together every other year and have a great time cruising.
I’m not trying to make this sound like a sales pitch, but rather an opportunity for people to become aware of the fact that just because someone has a special need does not mean they can’t enjoy a vacation. Whatever their challenge, whether it be a wheelchair, oxygen generator, hospital bed, or any of a number of items to assist with their travel, it can now be rented, bought, or supplied to make it possible for them to travel.
Keep in mind, these items can be delivered directly to their stateroom on the ship, their hotel room, the resort, theme park, or convention center.
So if you, or someone you know, has wanted to travel but thought it was not possible due to a special need, talk to your agent and let them help you make it happen.
There’s nothing more enjoyable than giving the gift of travel to someone who thought they couldn’t and making their dream come true!