DVCruise
Contributor Level: Captain

Caregiver / Disability Services

I am a caregiver for a woman who is 76 uses a walker, has mild dementia.  She wants to go on a cruise and I am considering taking her on one.  How difficult is it on a cruise ship for someone with disabilities and what tips do you have.  Length of cruise? Cabin choice? Ports?

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8 Answers

AuntPinkie
Contributor Level: Captain

We have seen folks with disabilities on several of our cruises (not anyone in our party) and they seem to do fine.  Most companies have a department to help you with your booking and on board.  You might call the one for the cruise line you want to sail and see what they have to offer.

JusMe
Moderator
Contributor Level: Captain

The walker will not be an issue or even use of a wheelchair on the ship.   I would see the major issue the dementia,  you will have to be with her 24/7 so she does not wander off and end up with the ship doctor finding her not sound to cruise and being put off at the next port to find your own way back.  I only say this as I have read of this happening before.

WeCruiseToo
Moderator
Contributor Level: Captain

Cruise lines are extremely accommodating to those with disabilities, the crew is normally very helpful and there are outside companies that can help as well.

noname111
Contributor Level: Captain

 

Hi Debbie -
Physical disabilities and accommodations are vastly different than cognitive ones.  We are both physically disabled to different degrees. Hubby had a stroke in 2014 and I have RA. He is able to walk with a quad cane (which is a major advance from when he required a scooter). His right leg weak (he has a lower leg brace) and his right arm is paralyzed.  We select staterooms that are close to elevators and midship and toward the end of the ship where we use more of the common facilities.
We have had good experiences with RC's disability excursion planner. RC is also accommodating when it comes to MDR seating near the door, but only after I submitted a rather lengthy comment in the onboard box about having to make our way through the entire dining room to a table when the first table in the MDR was empty. 
 

The walker is no problem.  If she is physically limited or has low stamina, consider renting a scooter IF you think she can manage operating one within her cognitive limitation.

The challenges with cognitive disabilities are different than physical ones. The cruise lines really don't have a reasonable way to make cognitive impairment accommodations. You have to assess and plan for risk areas specific to her... things like a door alarm (if she is prone to wandering), night light, and things that would help reduce the risk of her becoming disoriented or frightened in a strange environment.

As for a stateroom, consider going with an inside or ocean view cabin.  A balcony may be too big of a risk.

As far as ports, depends on her physical capabilities you may or may not want to deal with too many tender ports. Getting on and off a tender that is rocking and rolling can be unsettling to anyone, let alone someone with a cognitive issue and physical disability.  
As for excursions, stick with excursions booked through the cruise line. If you run into problems in any port, there is immediate help right there. Look carefully at the physical requirements and itinerary associated with an excursion.Too long, too busy or too much exertion may be too much for her. 
It is all about risk mitigation.  If you are confident that you can address the risks of traveling with her cognitively and physically impairments, give it a try. Try a 3-4 day cruise first. If it goes well, take it from there for longer voyages.

Final point, having to be "on" for an entire cruise will not be particularly restful for you.  It may actually end up being extremely stressful. You might consider bringing along a third and/or fourth person. That will make it much easier on you as a caregiver.

I did a Google search using "traveling with a cognitively impaired person". The resources listed were very helpful.

 

 

Agreed. 

DVCruise
Contributor Level: Captain

Great info...thank you so much

glomarrone
Contributor Level: Admiral

I know several people who take ocean cruises all the time & are disabled.  You and your patient should not experience any problems.  If you do, notify a staff member who will correct the problem.  Enjoy your cruise.  River cruises ARE a problem so I would not suggest them to you.l 

glomarrone
Contributor Level: Admiral

I know several people who take ocean cruises all the time & are disabled.  You and your patient should not experience any problems.  If you do, notify a staff member who will correct the problem.  Enjoy your cruise.  River cruises ARE a problem so I would not suggest them to you.

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