Well, it’s been a very interesting break from blogging this month; we had Christmas and New Year of course but I’ve also tried something I’ve never done before…
It all started with a random moment of TV. Whilst bored, fed up and not having a particularly good pain day, I was on the settee flicking through the channels and happened upon a program called “Cruising with Jane McDonald”. At that point in the programme, the camera was showing a deep blue ocean and a bright blue sky – now considering that when I looked out of the window all I could see was a grey, dank sky, that looked particularly appealing.
I turned to my darling P and said, somewhat tentatively “have you ever fancied cruising?” After a bit of spluttering and choking on his tea (apparently that can mean two things…..😉) he replied “not really”. Not the most auspicious start to the plan that was starting to build in my mind.
I continued with “people say it’s really good for people with wheelchairs and scooters? There’s lots of lifts and plenty to do on the ship?” His eyebrow lifted as if to say “mmm, maybe…..?”
And that’s how it all started………lll
Fast forward to one man, one wheelchair user, two enormous (carefully weighed and checked) suitcases and two lots of hand luggage standing, somewhat nervously in Birmingham Airport. We waved goodbye to our fantastic friend who always drives my car + wheelchair to the airport (Thank you Dickie!😘) and ventured inside.
We immediately glanced the Marbella Cruises rep who beckoned is over and proceeded to sort our luggage, label it and whisk it all away from us. A quick check-in followed and then we were assisted through security and after the usual ‘pat down’ by the security staff, we were shown to our waiting area in departures to await our Dreamliner flight to Barbados. The seating on the plane was perfect (I was allowed to use the Premier section toilet!), the ambulift arrived promptly and we were boarded first and with huge respect by the airport staff.
After three films, two meals and a long, drug induced sleep, we arrived at Barbados’ Grantly Adams’ International Airport. Assistance there was also excellent, we were whisked straight from the plane into an adapted taxi and from there taken straight to the ship.
Now seeing as this was our first cruise, everything seemed very unfamiliar but it was so easy! We were guided through each step of the check in process by kind and helpful staff and within a very short time, we arrived at our cabin.
The adapted cabin (no. 102) was brilliant; a huge double bed, plenty of room and a large bathroom with rails everywhere and a seat in the shower. Our cabin steward appeared and introduced himself (Hi Putu!) and said to let him know if we needed anything. He proved to be an absolute delight; cute little towel animals appeared every evening and he always made sure there was space for my wheelchair in the room whenever he cleaned it.
The ship itself was a revelation. It was called The Celebration and a celebration it proved to be. Every floor except one was accessible, there were specific exits onto the promenade decks with good sized doors and ramps, some of the doors were heavy; I suppose that’s a safety issue but there was always someone around to help you if you were by yourself. I could quite happily tootle around the ship on my own and found it easy get in and out of the lifts.
There were no dropped counters at reception but the staff were so friendly and helpful it never seemed to be a problem. There was a specific designated area in the food court for wheelchair users which was much appreciated as it was close to the counters and meant you didn’t have to fight through a crowd of hungry diners! The staff there were also marvellous, the lovely man in charge made it his personal duty to remove a chair for me every time we went there so I could just wheel straight to the table!
There were designated areas for ‘persons of reduced mobility’ in the Show Lounge too so that was much appreciated also, in fact the only thing that stood out to me as a negative was the fact that there were no hoists for any of the three pools. You could sit on the raised edge and put your feet in but that’s as far as you could go. A real shame as there was space for one. For me, they were too small and too busy so I didn’t mind too much but that could have been improved.
The one and only fly in the ointment of this perfect holiday was the lack of any, yes I said ANY accessible excursions – now I knew that the Caribbean islands might not be the most accessible places to visit but there was not one of the TUI excursions that could take even a folding wheelchair! Now I’m a realistic person but I was surprised at this. (Tut, tut, tut TUI, must do better!) This is definitely something that I will be contacting TUI about as even the staff were mortified at admitting it!
The ‘getting off the ship’ bit was fine apart from the two tender days but that just meant more sunbathing time in the quiet for me! At one port, there were two steps at the bottom of the gangplank so I needed to use my crutches and the crew brought my wheelchair down for us but that was due to the fact that each port is different so that could prove difficult for some but thankfully we managed ok.
So how does it feel to have two whole weeks of sun, sea, free cocktails and waiter service every night?
Abso-bloody-lutely brilliant that’s how!!! 😝
* Would we do it again…….? Definitely?
* Would I encourage anyone else to do it…? Definitely!
* Did we have a wonderful holiday…? Definitely!
* Did it give my darling P a break from looking after me……………….?
🤬 Did they lose my wheelchair at Birmingham Airport…………………? 🤬
Yes indeed they did but that’s a tale for another day!
So what did we do this week? Booked another cruise of course!
I blame that Jane McDonald…………..!!!! 😉
#TheJaneMcDonald #cruising #disabledholidays #wheelchairlife #wheelchairholidays