I may be biased but I think we have the best community here on Have Wheelchair Will Travel (HWWT). So many of you are happy to take photos and share your experiences to help others and today I’m lucky enough to have photos and information sent through from Julie and Geoff from their experience cruising on Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas. They took their daughter (a wheelchair user living with cerebral palsy) on a 3-night sampler cruise to see if it would work for them. From the snippets they’ve shared, it sounds like a great success. It’s hard to get access to cruise ships due to the security when they are in port so I would love for anyone cruising to share photos of your accessible cabins. Let’s help each other by building up a great resource on HWWT with loads of cabin photos for all the different ships (I’ll pop some details at the bottom of this post about how to do this.)
CRUISING ON EXPLORER OF THE SEAS
The staff went out of their way to help our daughter and took an order for her lunch and dinner for the next day each evening and had it pureed and at room temperature for her in the main dining room.
Most parts of the ship were easily accessible and in the Windjammer Buffet there was an area set aside just in the main area with seating and tables for those needing easy access.”
Julie says about the accessible cabin, “The accessible room on deck 9 was quite large and a lounge folded out into a 2nd double bed for our daughter.
It looks like there’s good circulation room.
The sofa bed pulled out for use.
The bathroom on the ship looks good with grab rails throughout, room under the sink for a wheelchair, lever taps and room to transfer on one side of the toilet.
The shower is height adjustable and there’s a small shower bench.
Julie says, “We requested a commode chair for an 11 year old but the one provided was rather useless as someone tad to stand and hold her on it.”
I guess the tip here is to take your own on the ship. If you plan to hire one, hire prior to cruising and try it at home.
GENERAL AREAS OF SHIP
Geoff kindly shares information about the general accessibility of the common areas, “The bow area of the ship is accessible to the passengers, for those who want to feel the wind in their hair and see where they are going. It is accessible for wheelchairs except for the last section which doubles as a helipad and has steps leading up to that part.
There is a bridge viewing area, accessible via deck 11, that is wheelchair accessible. The actual viewing deck is in a sunken area above and behind the bridge. From here you can look through the glass panels and see the captain and officers controlling the ship. There are two consoles in the viewing area, at a level where someone in a wheelchair could see what direction the ship is heading, follow its course and get info on sea depth, temp., wind, etc. The distance from the main deck down to the viewing area is about 1.4 meters and has a small wheelchair lift that allows you down onto the viewing deck, but you are required to ask for a crew member to operate it for you. A little pre-planning is needed here. On each occasion that I visited this area I found it very windy, but the whole voyage was very windy. For those who are less adventurous, but still want most of the above information, you can view it on your TV screen in your stateroom.”
As many of you will know we recently had a family fun day on Voyager of the Seas and Geoff reports the similarities after seeing our story.
Geoff says, “There is a chair lift on Explorer located between one of the swimming pools and one of the heated spas (what they called a whirlpool).
The chair can swing either into the pool or the spa, as required.”
If you are thinking of getting married or visiting the chapel, Geoff advises, “The chapel is located on deck 15 and was used a couple of times during our cruise for weddings. The elevators go as far as deck 14 and then access to the chapel is by a narrow flight of stairs, which are located on either side of the chapel. However, on one side the stairs have a stair lift attached, for those who could sit upright and be secured by a single lap belt.”
It’s a real credit to the Royal Caribbean company to hear that staff were not only helpful but used their initiative to make the cruise easier for this family. Julie says, “The staff couldn’t have been more helpful, they even puréed meals and warmed chocolate mousse. By day 3 they even brought a mug of hot milk to our breakfast table without us asking.” These are the small gestures which make it a true holiday for our families.
A big thank you to Julie and Geoff for taking photos and sharing information about your cruising experience. As Geoff points out, Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas are sister ships so if you’d like more details and photos head to my blog on Voyager of the Seas here. Also take a look at the tour we took on P&O’s Pacific Jewel here.
I’ve been really frustrated at the difficulty I have had in getting access to ships so I can share detailed information with you. No-one wants to get out to sea on a 10 day cruise and find it won’t work for them. So, I ask you, if you are cruising please take some photos of the accessible cabin and any accessible features on the ship. Higher resolution photos are preferred so if you email them(firstname.lastname@example.org) from your phone or iPad, please choose to send them ‘large’. You can also Facebook message them to me. A few quotes about your experience would be good to let others know what’s worked for you.