I recently spent the day onboard an MSC Cruises ship in Southampton as part of a Tots100 event and it opened my eyes to a whole new type of holiday.
But even after spending a day onboard and looking at it through the eyes of a parent of a disabled child, I still wasn’t 100% sure it would be a suitable option for a holiday with a child with complex needs. So, I went to my trusty followers and asked their opinions on the subject.
The general consensus from families who had been on a cruise was that it worked for them and was a great way to overcome some of the main issues which come from going on a typical holiday via plane. This is just a snippet of the information they shared. (To read all the comments just click on the photo above.)
You can take as much luggage as you want.
With no limit on the amount of luggage you can take with you, you won’t have to limit the amount of continence products or medications etc you can take with you.
Equipment such as hoists and toilet or shower chairs can be taken from home to use on board. This of course means you save on hire costs but also means you can rest assured that there won’t be the worry of rental equipment not being suitable.
Accessibility on board is fantastic.
There are lifts to all floors and some ships even have hoists into their pools (although I didn’t see one on the MSC ship). You will be able to access all areas of the ship with the wheelchair user, where else can you say that is possible?
There is also a full medical centre with experienced team on board cruise ships so you can rest assured you will have medical assistance should you or your child need it.
There was some feedback that not all the ports were wheelchair accessible which meant that families weren’t always able to spend the day on shore. But with some careful planning and research you should be able to plan your trip so you know which ports you’ll be able to visit and maybe plan some activities on board for the days you aren’t able to go ashore. It sounds like there is always something going on, day and night, so that shouldn’t be too difficult to do.
One thing that always stresses me out when we are on holiday is finding suitable meals for William as he can only eat pureed foods. But I’ve been assured that on a cruise, this wouldn’t be an issue as the catering team can manage all dietary requirements which is fantastic.
One thing that really put me off a cruise was the feeling of being claustrophobic and not having much natural daylight on board. This was something that was evident to me on the tour and I did wonder how I would feel if I was ‘stuck’ in this environment for a week, especially as William likes bright, spacious areas and gets very agitated in noisy, cramped, dark rooms. However, this one photo has opened my eyes to the fact that not all cruises are built equal.
So, it is important to research and pick a boat that meets your needs, rather than only go by price or destinations.
Of course there are always going to be some reasons that this kind of holiday might not work for you (including if you suffer from sea sickness) and I worry that I would be bored if I was stuck on a boat for a week or longer.
But having read so many positive comments I think I might be swayed to consider a cruise in the future.
Have you been on cruise? Do share your experiences as I know many families would love to hear the pros and cons of this kind of holiday.