Aboard most cruise lines, wheelchair assistance is provided upon request. Guests must request wheelchair assistance via the online check-in process.
Aboard most cruise lines, wheelchair assistance is provided upon request. Guests must request wheelchair assistance via the online check-in process.

Cruising is the most relaxing way of seeing the world in a week. Wait, did somebody say “one week”? Some cruises last two weeks or longer. No matter how long a cruise vacation may last, the fun and excitement is non-stop.

When anyone prepares for a cruise vacation, there is a hint of homework which the guest must complete. When it comes to preparation, guest must decide whether or not he/she will require special assistance. When the two words “special assistance” comes up, the word “wheelchair” comes to mind. On cruises, wheelchairs can be numerous. It depends on the itinerary. There can be more than twenty guests in need of wheelchair assistance. Elderly and/or physically impaired guests need to keep in mind three major hints when seeking wheelchair assistance. If they follow these three hints, life on two wheels will be a walk in the park.

1) Online check-in process: Most online check-in processes in the cruise industry are mirror image of each other. Once the cruise is fully booked and the payments are made, the online check-in process begins. Online check-in is king in the cruising industry. It is the way of the world. Plus, it saves a significant amount of time at the check-in counter. What does online check-in have anything to do with asking for a wheelchair? There is a step which guests need to be on the lookout for. Part of the online check-in process includes the question whether/if the guest will need wheelchair assistance at the cruise terminal. Wheelchair assistance is available upon request.  If the guest answers “yes”, the he/she must specify as to whom in the party will need wheelchair assistance.  If wheelchair assistance was requested online, the guest should have a relatively short waiting time. It is easier done than said.

2) Wheelchairs on-board ship: There is always a ton of confusion regarding wheelchairs at the cruise terminal and wheelchairs on-board ship. They are two completely different matters. If the guest is in need of a wheelchair throughout the cruise, he/she must visit the guest services desk on-board ship. Wheelchairs on-board ship are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. There are a limited amount of wheelchairs on-board ship. Once having boarded the ship, the guest must visit the guest services desk. If a guest rented a scooter or wheelchair through the cruise line or via the travel agent, the guest should follow up with the guest services desk. This must be done immediately. On sailing day, the guest services staff are often busy handling hundreds of guests’ matters of a more pertinent nature. If in need of a wheelchair, the guest should not procrastinate.

To avoid all confusion on any cruise vacation, the guest's best move is bringing his/her own wheelchair.
When cruising, the guest should always bring along his/her own wheelchair. Regardless of cruise line, it is the right move.

3) Bring your own!: Waiting for a wheelchair at the pier and looking for a wheelchair on-board ship are enough to dampen a guest’s spirit. Without a doubt, It can be over-the-top stressful. To avoid the obstacle course of waiting for a wheelchair at the cruise terminal and looking for a wheelchair on-board, the guest should do the easiest thing of all; bringing his/her own wheelchair. By bringing his/her own wheelchair, the waiting game is completely eliminated. Upon arrival at the pier, the passenger can be taken care of right away. Disney Cruise Line greatly preaches to guests the convenience of bringing their own wheelchair. The guest bringing his/her own wheelchair allows for a smooth transition from pier to ship, and vice-versa.

A cruise vacation is the perfect way to escape the stresses of the real world. There is so much to look forward to. Guests look forward to the fine dining experience, the world-class entertainment, and definitely, the exciting shore adventures. When it comes to guests requiring wheelchair assistance, three hints of advice need to be kept in mind. The guest must request wheelchair assistance when completing the online check-in process. If the guest needs a wheelchair for the duration of the cruise, he/she must immediately visit the guest services desk on-board ship. To make life one hundred percent easier, the guest should bring his/her own wheelchair. The more prepared the guest, the smoother the transition between the pier and the ship. Musical Chairs is a fun game to play, but it should not have to get in the way of anyone’s cruise vacation.

About Author

David Kriso has been a travel writer since August 2011. He is a contributing writer for both of his hometown's newspapers, The Gazette, and The Observer. His articles focus on cruise and railroad travel. David is also published online at ProwsEdge.com, a cruise magazine based in Vancouver, Canada and at Amtrak's story site, Whistlestop.Amtrak.com. David also writes for the publication Examiner.com. On Examiner.com, he writes about cruise and rail travel. David is a long-time train traveler, avid cruiser, and a Disney traveler since age 4.

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