In Collaboration with Vitassium
The Disney name is synonymous with extraordinary entertainment and service, and Disney Cruise Line is no different. With the first sailing in 1998 and now with a fleet of five ships, Disney Cruise Line combines the magic of Disney with cruise sophistication. Onboard the ships, there are round the clock activities for children, teens, and adults with a Disney flare. There are decks dedicated to children’s activities, teens club, character greetings, trivia, crafts, bingo, and more family friendly activities. For adults only, there are bars, lounges, spa, and an adult-only pool and lounge area. Everyone can indulge in the magic aboard Disney Cruise Line, including those with disabilities and chronic illness.
Here are some tips for people with disabilities and chronic illness in order to have a splendid journey.
- Verify Medical Information
Before you book, verify with your healthcare provider that you are able to travel on your potential cruise itinerary. Print hard copies of pertinent medical, medication and emergency information to keep with your cruise information, once booked. There are Health Centers on board the ship for an expense, but they can only provide basic first aid and medical services. Verify with your health insurance provider regarding services for international travel, and purchase additional travel insurance with emergency medical options.
- Complete the Disney Cruise Line Special Services Form
At least two months before your cruise departs, complete the Disney Cruise Line Special Services Form if you need any type of special services. The form asks questions regarding mobility, medical equipment, medical supplies, service animals, deaf and hard of hearing assistance, blind and low vision assistance, food restrictions, and more.
Personally, I complete this form when we book so that I don’t forget about it and don’t have to worry. Once submitted, everything I need or requested is usually already taken care of on board. For instance, when I first got my feeding tube I marked that I may need food pureed or only soups on my individual menu. On board, our personal waiter had noted my special needs even before meeting me and already had pre-ordered anything he thought I would enjoy! There are also gluten free, vegan, and dairy free options designated on all of the menus.
Disney Cruise Line also does not provide wheelchairs or scooters for their guests, unless it is an emergency. Guests needing mobility equipment and other medical supplies can rent from an outside company and have it delivered to the ship on embarkation day. This information needs to be noted on the form, so that the equipment you need can be delivered to your stateroom.
- Book an Accessible Room (if necessary)
For those with mobility related disabilities like myself, a wheelchair accessible stateroom is a MUST. There is a lot of walking involved on a cruise ship, so as an ambulatory wheelchair user I typically bring my power wheelchair. A rollator will also not fit through a regular stateroom door. Accessible stateroom features on Disney Cruise Line ships include:
-Minimum 32″ doorways
-Emergency call buttons
-Open bed frames (a Hoyer Lift can fit under, not included)
-Bathroom and shower grab bars
-Fold-down shower seats
-Hand-held shower heads
Furthermore, room communication kits stateroom TTYs are available for all staterooms.
4. Pack EVERYTHING You Think You’ll Need
While they have some basic travel essentials in the gift shop (at a price), you are in the middle of the ocean and can’t just run to the nearest pharmacy to pick up items you forgot. You are responsible for making arrangements for delivery and retrieval of any medical devices or equipment BEFORE departure. Do not pack medical items in checked luggage, just in case your luggage is delayed at the port. Some extra things that I like to pack: extra medication, clothes for all weather (sometimes it is cold in the theaters and at ports), poncho, Vitassium (sometimes it is HOT at ports of call and I need extra electrolytes, especially having POTS), sunscreen, water bottle (can be refilled any time on the ship), hard copies of all medical information.
5. Communicate with Crew Members
Disney Cruise Line staff, also known as Cast or Crew Members, will be your best friends! Talk to them about mobility issues or issues standing in lines while waiting for characters due to disability. There is disability seating for all shows and theaters onboard. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, you can request in advance captioned television and movies, assistive listening systems, and scheduled American Sign Language interpretation. For those who are blind or low vision, you can request in advance an alternative format on select communications like scripts for shows, audio described movies and Braille signage, menus with audio and magnification functions. Crew and Cast Members can assist with reading menus, holding elevators for those with limited mobility, reaching items, allowing seating in lines, and more!
6. Go to Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay is a Disney’s bit of private paradise island in the Bahamas, that is visited by many of the Caribbean itineraries. Castaway Cay is exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests and boasts tons of activities for children and adults alike. There is plenty to do on the island including snorkeling, swimming with stingrays, water slides, sitting on the beach (18+ beach and family beaches), enjoying a delicious BBQ, and more. The island is accessible for those with some disabilities and includes areas of shade, tram to limit walking to all guests, paved pathways throughout the main activity areas, access to shops and dining spaces, beach wheelchairs, and accessible restrooms.
Sea ya real soon on your next Disney Cruise!