So, you want to visit the Caribbean on a cruise, but where do you start? There are so many cruise lines and so many different destinations to choose from, how do you choose the right cruise for you? How do you find out if your cruise is accessible for your needs? Here are a few key tips to remember:

  • Book early

Accessible staterooms are limited and will sell out quickly. Accessible staterooms offer wider doorways, roll-in showers, larger bathroom units and extra space around the bed for wheelchairs and other medical equipment. Due to their limited quantity you, want to reserve your stateroom well in advance to ensure your accessibility needs for your stateroom will be met. For those who are considering the cruise but aren’t 100% sure, book a cruise fare with a refundable deposit. These cabins are offered at a slightly higher cost, but it provides peace of mind during the booking process. Speak to the cruise line after booking so they can note your arrival and departure at the pier. Assistance for embarkation and debarkation can be arrange but should be arranged in advance.

  • Pick a cruise without tenders

Tenders are generally not wheelchair accessible. Tenders are generally most often used in ports where the water is shallow. With shallow waters, the cruise ships cannot get into port. Tenders are used to ferry passengers from the cruise ship to the port. On most cruise ships these tenders are small boats, and you often must descend several steps in order to board. Some tenders will take foldable manual wheelchairs, but you must still be able to navigate getting down the stairs and onto the tender. Some ships like the Celebrity Edge have made the tender process easier, and tenders can now be boarded by scooters in some destinations without steps.

  • Review the accessible shore excursion options before your cruise

Several cruise lines are good about offering accessible shore excursions, but they do not necessarily offer them in every port of call. It is important to review the options with the cruise line. If the cruise line does not offer an accessible shore excursion there is probably a local company that does. Many ports now have a local tour operator who can offer shore excursions from an accessible van, either with a ramp or a lift. Accessible shore excursions should be booked well in advance of your cruise as they are often limited and book up.

  • Always purchase travel insurance

Insurance is always for the unexpected. Cancellation, interruption and medical insurance are always important to have when you plan and book a trip to anywhere. If a tragedy comes up and you need to cancel your trip, are you protected? If you need to return home early from your trip for a family emergency, are you protected? If you need to seek medical care while in a foreign country, are you protected? Travel insurance protects you for the “what if” moments that can happen in life.  If you are travelling on credit card insurance or a work policy, ensure you have enough coverage for your trip.

  • Use an accessible travel agent

Booking your trip with an accessible travel agent can take away a lot of stress and unknown as you plan and depart for your vacation. Whether you just need an accessible cabin or you need medical equipment provided while on board, your accessible travel agent can take care of the details and have everything arranged for your arrival. Impact Vacations an accessible travel agency is dedicated to maintaining your independence while abroad. Whether traveling with the family, with friends or independently, you want to get the most out of your adventure. Impact Vacations will take care of as much or as little of your trip as you desire, while ensuring your access throughout the trip.