Cruises for mobility impaired seniors

Aug 15th, 2015, 07:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 16
Cruises for mobility impaired seniors

We have an elderly family member who is having a hard time with the long New England winters. Work and school schedules make it difficult for us to accompany her on trips during the winter. She uses a cane, so her walking distances are short. She can't manage any of her own luggage, and she drives only off-highway (under 40 mph) and not in busy metro areas. I know she would love to be a FL "snowbird", but we think this would be impossible for her to do alone.

Is there a cruise heading south out of NY or Boston that might be suitable for her? We could drive her up to the port to help with luggage. I know there are tours that operate out of Orlando airport, but I don't know if she would be able to get herself from the plane to the bus alone. I know she mostly just wants to enjoy warmer temperatures, look at the ocean, enjoy a few decent meals and maybe make a friend or two. Some enrichment activities might be good for her too. She would be turned off by a wild party atmosphere and the casinos.

Any ideas?
Jennymarie is offline  
Aug 15th, 2015, 11:51 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,318
A cruise would be lovely for her. It would be much nicer, I think, if she has a friend or other elderly relative who would like to go and share a cabin. It would save a lot of money too, no single supplement.

The problem with cruises departing NY, Boston, NJ, etc. in winter is that the first day or two and last days of the cruise, the weather outside on the deck would be cold and not enjoyable to sit out.

Cruises that depart from Florida (Miami and Ft Lauderdale are both nice departure points) give seven days of sun and warmth. Another great place for departures in winter is San Juan, PR.

We usually do not take the cruise bus or shuttle bus to the port. We book a car service of some kind, or a taxi. That would be good for your family member.

Upon landing at the airport, your family member could have one of those little "golf carts" to carry her to the lugguge carousel and on to the exit. She could get a taxi (or car service) directly to the port. When the taxi drives up and drops off the luggage at the curb, the porters can take it and it will be delivered to her state room so, she will not have to handle it. Be sure to check that the ship has curb side service. Most do, but a few do not.

I would advise her to go the day before and spend the night before the cruise in a hotel, one with a restaurant, so she can have dinner and breakfast. Then, a leisurely trip to the ship where she will have lunch.

If she waited until the day of the cruise, she would have to get up practically in the middle of the night to catch a super early flight. That is exhausting. It is also nerve wracking because in winter, especially, there is the chance of bad weather and a delayed flight and she could miss the cruise departure.

Be careful of cabin selection so she does not have long walks on a big ship. You can get more advice about ship selection if you decide to pursue this. If she wants to do it, I really think you can make it work.

There are lots of helpful websites, but I like these to start. For advice, and to see available cruises,
Sassafrass is online now  
Aug 16th, 2015, 02:59 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,628
How far can she walk? There is a lot more walking than you might initially think on most cruise ships. On her own she would also be paying a high single supplement. Crew will wheel passengers on and off the ship but they are not available, to my knowledge, to take guests to dinner, to shows, etc.

I could be wrong about availability of wheelchair assistance once on board. Sassafrass is right about the curbside service, ime, it has always been very good. I would ask a specialist travel agency if they could recommend a cruise that best matches all your relative's challenges. Check AARP and similar sites.

I don't mean to be negative but having under-estimated myself the distances between point A and point B on large ships, that issue needs careful consideration. Very small electric scooters can be rented in advance but they are not cheap, I was quoted $600+ for a 16-day Celebrity cruise.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Aug 16th, 2015, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,428
Yes, how far can she walk? Cruise ships are approx. 1000 feet long give or take. You can get her there but what happens after that is the question.

I dont think cruise ships will provide w/c service from point to point and if she is going alone I think its expected that she can manage herself once on board so ask that question. It depends on how much and how long she can walk. How does she manage herself now?

If you think she can manage then consider a handicapped equipped cabin.

Good luck. Larry. .
jacketwatch is offline  
Aug 17th, 2015, 01:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,100
If she drives, then she can probably walk far enough for a cruise - even if she parks her car normally in a handicapped space, she still has to walk into a store. Lots of people who use a cane can walk a fair distance. She could reserve a cabin near an elevator and checking ship layout so that she would be central to dining. A balcony might be nice - she could then order room service if she wanted.

Boston does not have a great variety of cruise destinations - mostly Bermuda and not in the coldest part of the winter. NYC has more. But single-supplements make cruising alone much more expensive.

How would she feel about just a hotel in a warm destination. If the hotel had restaurant, she wouldn't have to go anywhere. Wheelchair services at airports are good - and if she arranged transport to hotel, she would not even have to handle luggage or figure that out. No activities, though. And food can get boring just eating at a hotel and I imagine she would not venture out on her own.

Last winter in New England sapped the spirit of everyone, and those with limited mobility just became homebound. My able and active 86 year old mother had weeks and weeks that she just did not go anywhere.
gail is offline  
Aug 17th, 2015, 03:36 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Norwegian Cruise Line has cruises out of NY to Florida and the Bahamas in the winter. However, I honestly don't know if your relative would be able to manage something like that.

I have a good friend who is 69 years old and has mobility issues. She, too, walks with a cane and sometimes a walker if she is facing a long walk. My friend would not be able to handle luggage of any kind or a carry-on/handbag. She carries a very small wristlet. One of the things on her bucket list is to see the Statue of Liberty. I would like to accompany her on a cruise out of NYC and quite honestly I don't even know how she would manage it with me with her. It is just too much walking. I am a few years younger than her, but the idea of us doing this together is daunting to me.

I think a PP's idea of spending time at a hotel or resort might be a better choice for your family member.

Good luck.
mikesmom is offline  
Aug 17th, 2015, 05:58 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,318
The problem with those winter cruises from NY or anywhere in the NE, at least two days will be sea days with weather too cold to be outside. If warm weather is the goal, that wouldn't be good. That is going to Florida or the Bahamas.
Sassafrass is online now  
Aug 22nd, 2015, 05:09 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,337
I too have a mobility impairment and always rent an electric scooter from Special Needs at Sea.

But, make sure she has an accessible cabin because regular staterooms won't have enough room to store the scooter.

Vic's travels:
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Sep 16th, 2015, 04:33 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,786
Dad is 87 and uses a walker and a cane, and we've had good luck with cruises, but he doesn't go alone. I can carry a fair amount, but I use a cane sometimes as well, which cuts down on my talents as a "sherpa".

Our issues are mostly balance, so the amount of walking on the ship isn't a big deal, although it can be interesting if the sea is rough.

We check most of the luggage, and I'll carry a purse and a couple of small bags on. Dad also finds that he can take a small bag balanced on the walker, or if he's boarding in a wheelchair, on his lap. A couple of advantages to walkers are that you can store things in them and sit down on them.

We've gone out of New York in winter a few times, and it is very pleasant to "sail into summer" but it's not a long break.

If she really wants to "snowbird", might an assisted living in Florida (of the more independent type) be willing to do a few months, rather than a long term commitment? I know some do respite and short term.
persimmondeb is offline  

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