Millions of people love going on cruises, the idea of not flying anywhere, driving to a port, the excitement of just getting on to a boat and sailing away is the ideal holiday for millions of holiday makers in the UK.
Cruising is worth £2.85 billion to the UK economy, you don’t have to worry about food, drinks are included, and you wake up at a different destination every day. It sounds amazing, well it does if you can actually get on a cruise, and more importantly the cruise you choose.
Recently my wife and I embarked on going on a little adventure, because of my spinal damage it is really difficult for me to fly long haul flights and so this year we wanted to take a cruise.
Having never cruised before we researched it well, thinking it would be an amazing experience and memories that would last a life time. Well not actually going on the cruise just yet, the life time of memories has already started, and all because I can’t walk.
If I was fully mobile I would have simply booked the cruise online, I would not have to talk to anyone, it would be like ordering a pizza or something off Amazon, simple and straight forward. The cruise companies show the availability on the website and tells the customer if it is sold out or unavailable, so why does this not show the same information for disabled rooms on the cruise.
Because this information is not available I had to spend 10 hours being turned down on the cruises we wanted to go on.
In one instance I was offered a down grade, so the cruise company could meet my needs. Celebrity cruises said they could down grade us, but we would miss out on free drinks, $300 spending money and we would have to pay gratuities. This means because of my disability I was not able to have the same service as another customer, which seems ridiculous.
To book any disabled cruise you must call a travel agency or call the cruise line directly. While this should not be allowed, and I should be able to book online. I actually like talking to the people who have been on these cruises. I spent the morning talking to Iglucruise.com who were very good, we went through over a dozen different cruises, but because of my disability the cruises were either unavailable, we had to downgrade, we had to upgrade doubling our budget for a larger room or we had to choose another cruise, all because we have to have room for the mobility scooter.
What makes this situation worse is that all the cruises are disabled friendly, they have disabled toilets, lifts to every floor and walk in showers, it is just they do not have the facility to book online and so being turned down 16 times because we had to go through each cruise ship one by one puts a real damper on the occasion of being able to get up and go and book a cruise and enjoy a fully accessible holiday that cruises offer.
I have contacted P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity Cruises for comment.
Celebrity Cruises said: “During the online booking process you will notice that there is the option to request an accessible stateroom. If you select this option, you are directed to call one of Celebrity Cruises’ advisors.
Our accessible staterooms feature multiple different options, such as facilities that cater for those with hearing impairments to wheelchair accessibility. Calling the Celebrity Cruises team is the best route to ensure that we are able to meet the individual requirements of each guest, and offer the high standards of service that Celebrity Cruises is proud of.