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About nellierigby

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    long island NY
  • Interests
    Maine coon cats, crocheting hand dyed natural fiber yarn, reading, creative dining, disability
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Norwegian, Celebrity
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Maine and New England, Alaska, Caribbean
  1. Well, I did it and lived to tell the tale. In November 2018 I had a massive brainstem stroke. Ten days later I had another lesser event that paralyzed my face. And two weeks after that I fell and broke my leg. I ended up in inpatient rehab for months. I had a cruise scheduled for May 2019 and knew there was no way I could go. I couldn’t stand or walk and my dominant side was now weak. To my shock, my doctors encouraged me to go and wrote their approval in a letter. We booked a full accessible suite and did it. I had a 3 wheel scooter and flew with it to the port city. I also rented a manual chair for use in our suite. That was a waste of money as it was hard to maneuver in the bathroom. The supposedly accessible toilet was extremely low and the surrounding grab bars were wobbly, but I managed. Transferring was rough and I had accidents, but I brought extra towels and cleaner and took care of it. The scooter was fantastic for getting around the ship. Make this mandatory for him. We rented a scooter for my husband who normally used a walker. After the first day of pain and exhaustion, he gave in and rode the scooter everywhere. Loved it, on and off the ship. I managed my own needs without help. My husband has his own medical issues and cannot help me. It’s a sore spot for both of us. Pulling myself into bed was tricky as the bed was high. It would help to have a bed grab bar or bed cane to support him as he moves on and off. Using the ship’s accessible public restrooms was a nightmare. Most required tight turns to get in and out. My husband refused to come in with me or stand outside to guard the door. Several times when I used these restrooms I could not open the door to leave and had to yell into the hallway for a stranger to help. Your gentleman will need a buddy to help with simple things like this. A nurse would be overkill, but a friend or relative to help with transfers and other risky moves would be smart. We are cruising again at the end of this month. I still can’t walk. I can stand for maybe 2-3 seconds. I now use and am bringing an electric wheelchair. Husband is bringing his scooter and walker. It’s a brand new ship and should be more accessible than the last one. I’d suggest a few sessions with a physical therapist to help him get ready. And then hit him with a big dose of encouragement. Cruising is fun for all of us.
  2. Hello fantastic auntie! Yes, you can absolutely take your niece on a cruise and what’s more, both of you can have a great time. I did it last year and lived to tell the tale. It was so much fun, we are cruising again next month. Here are some tips to make it easier. Airline: speak to the disability services department about exactly what she will need. The aisle chair is the same height as the plane seats and is easy to use. The attendants are discreet and relaxed and will help her slide over. Get her an aisle seat at the front of the plane. Preboard. Try not to use the bathroom on board as tiny is an understatement. Cruise: book a fully accessible cabin in advance. Don’t chance it by hoping a regular cabin will do. It simply won’t. She will need extra room for turning and for using the bathroom. Even in accessible cabins, the toilet is very low, so suggest she work to strengthen her quads and arms before the trip. Use the grab bars in the loo every time. Bring and use baby wipes to clean up, but never flush them. Consider bringing a raised toilet seat extender and other tools to make bathroom functions less challenging. Find the accessible public restrooms and see if they truly are accessible. Many have sharp turns or doors that open the wrong way. If she uses one alone, she might need to shout into the hallway for someone to come open the door. Ask for extra help when she needs it. In the dining room, the waiters were terrific with my needs. They made sure I was seated in an easy escape spot and that I had extra room for my scooter. if she likes music and dancing, absolutely bring her to the clubs on the ship and dance all she wants. We can get our groove on when using a wheelchair. if she likes the pool find out if your ship has a lift to help her get in and out and what its requirements are. Encourage her to speak up for her needs with a smile and a grateful attitude. If she’s loaded up a plate for lunch at the buffet, don’t risk dropping both your lunch and hers. Simply smile at an attendant and ask for help getting to an accessible table. They’ll also get her drink so you don’t have to juggle. Build in extra time for everything. Rushing back to the cabin to use your own bathroom? Remember halls can be blocked and stop at a public loo before she has a last minute accident. Have extra towels in your cabin just in case. on our last cruise we had a large suite that was actually hard for me to manage. It was lovely but I had to transfer twice to go to the bathroom and by the time I got into the WC I could not hold it. I was so embarrassed. Glad I brought my own spray cleaner, and really glad I tipped the room attendant on the first day and let him know I’d need extra towels. Those room stewards have seen it all and are very discreet. We all learned to laugh at some of the crazy moments. Once I fell asleep eating chocolates in bed and they melted all over me, my body, and the sheets. You can imagine how it looked. I got the room steward and the box of chocolates and showed him it was messy but not hazardous. Excursions may be more difficult if she cannot stand or walk. Talk with the cruise line’s accessibility department to determine if things will be too rough. I’ve found that many supposedly accessible excursions expect you to load your scooter or chair in the back of the van, then walk around the vehicle and climb up into the seat. Repeat at every stop. I cannot do that. Luckily many port stops have docks and she can roll right off the ship and head into a little town of shopping and bars or restaurants. Research in advance to determine if curb cuts and ramps are there. Best of luck. It’s not always easy, but I can do it.
  3. I just got the Ranger XL which is the bigger person’s version of the Airhawk. I like it, although I’m still in a learning curve because joysticking is very different from driving a scooter. it is nice to be able to pull up to a table and fit in one chair’s space. The scooter was tricky on our last cruise (Carnival Magic) often due to its size and bulky. We had a fully accessible suite and had plenty of room with two scooters, a wheelchair and a walker. On our next cruise we are doing a fully accessible balcony and just bringing my chair, his scooter and maybe his walker. I think you’ll like the Airhawk but give it a good month before you cruise with it.
  4. I found NCL to be much more accessible than Carnival. We both use scooters and our recent cruise on Carnival Magic in a fully accessible suite was still incredibly difficult for me as I cannot walk at all. Toilets were super low, there were just 3 accessible public restrooms on the entire ship, and these all required a sharp turn from a narrow hallway. Shower benches were also too low and grab bars were not always in reach. We made the best of it but it was super hard. Handicapped seating was almost always in use by people who did not appear to be disabled, and in several venues the hostess said to me “Can’t you just park your cart and walk over?” No. I can’t. Touring the shops was impossible because the aisles were narrow. Elevators were high near impossible and we literally waited over an hour after the muster drill. Most of the casino was inaccessible due to narrow aisles. Our last cruise on the Gem was much easier. Loved the automatic doors, huge restrooms and helpful attitude.
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