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Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean International have made significant investments in making cruise vacations as accessible as possible. While every shore tour or onboard attraction may not be suitable for every condition, a plethora of options exist and with a bit of advance planning you should be able to make the most of your vacation.
Alert the Cruise Line to Your Needs
I can only speak from the perspective of a type 1 insulin dependent diabetic and CPAP user. My needs are relatively simple, a cool place to store insulin, a sharps container for syringes, and distilled water along with an extension cord for my CPAP. The Royal Caribbean website spells out a list of “equipment or services” that require advance notice to the cruise line and included on that list are the things I happen to need along with instructions on what to do. Importantly, this includes completing a “Guest Special Needs Form” at least 30 days in advance of the sailing. Note that some items may require more notice. As always, consult with the cruise line if you have questions. Before every cruise, I complete the requisite form noting the items I need. While the requirement for the items I need is at least 30 days in advance, I typically complete the form no later than at final payment, and many times well before just so I don’t forget.
About 50 percent of the time, I find the items I request pre-positioned in the stateroom when I arrive. The other 50 percent? Just mention your request to your stateroom attendant when you see them or place a call to guest services. I’ve never had a problem getting the items I need on any of the 52 cruises I’ve sailed on.
One note to my fellow diabetic cruisers: many (frankly most) cruise ships I sail on have a cooler for drinks/mini bar items already in the room. They’re not refrigerators per se, but they keep insulin cool enough in my experience. However, if you’re more comfortable having a medical refrigerator for your insulin (or any other medication requiring refrigeration), don’t hesitate to request one!
What About Other Needs?
While my personal experience is relatively straightforward, other cruisers will have their own unique needs. I’ve been cruising long enough to know that Royal Caribbean and other lines will work with you to provide the assistance you need. The starting point is the same, consult the cruise line’s website and start from there. You can call Royal Caribbean’s access department directly at +1.866.592.7225 to discuss your needs or email them to get the answers you need to enjoy your vacation. Not cruising on Royal Caribbean? Reach out to your cruise line directly. They all offer similar services. -MJ
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