Cruising to Nowhere?

I’ve been getting a lot of cruise related questions lately. I guess it’s good that people are asking questions, but it’s the nature of those questions that’s really starting to bother me.

A typical inquiry starts with an explanation about the cruise they have just booked. That’s usually followed by, “How accessible is that area/region?” OK, it’s a good question, but it’s what I call a day late and a dollar short.

Let’s be realistic, the time to ask about the accessibility of a particular region is BEFORE you book the cruise!!

That is unless, you really don’t care if you even get off the ship. Truly this is the case for some people — the ship is the destination and they really don’t care where they cruise, or if they ever touch foot ashore. Indeed they relish those port days, as that’s when the masses go ashore, leaving the ship pleasantly empty for them to enjoy.

But if that’s the case, then why even waste your breath inquiring about shore access — when you don’t plan to disembark at all?

Which leads me to believe that the inquiries I’m getting are from people who truly want to explore the ports of call.

And then they get mad when I tell them that accessible transportation is non-existent at many Caribbean ports. They say, “Well my travel agent told me that the cruise line has some accessible shore excursions in every port.” At that point I feel like saying, “Then I guess you should be having this conversation with your travel agent.”

But I don’t. Instead I usually point out that they are probably dealing with a travel agent who has a very little knowledge of accessible travel; and that when the cruise lines say that a shore excursion is wheelchair-accessible (especially in the Caribbean), in most cases that still means you have to be able to walk a few steps and transfer into a bus. Many wheelchair-users just can’t do that.

The bottom line is, if you really want to explore the ports, then you need to investigate the shore access before you book your cruise. Otherwise you will end up on a cruise to nowhere. Remember, access on the ship is just part of the accessible cruise equation.