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As a wheelchair user, I am interested to find from experienced P&O passengers if they believe that accessible cabins are regularly being used by people who do not require them. Before the cliché 'Not every disability is visible' is thrown into the conversation, I thoroughly agree with the sentiment of the phrase, but then not every disability needs an extra wide door simply to get their wheelchair through it.

 

I have enquired about a couple of P&O cruises recently only to be told that there are no accessible rooms available, so that is the end of any hope of going on that particular cruise. I have observed on another cruise line the accessible cabin next to me was being used by a couple who could walk through the door, and as the ship was not full by any means, it seems odd they they should be using this, though obviously there may be a valid reason that only the cruise line knows about when they allocate rooms late in the day.

 

Again I am well aware that people know that accessible rooms are larger, and fancy a larger room at no extra expense, but it would be good to know that hopefully cruise lines are thoroughly vetting people who book these as having a genuine need.

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P&O are really hot now on who books a fully accessible cabin.

 

Whilst you may get occasional last minute upgrades/purchases, this is very uncommon.

 

Some people require specific beds or pieces of furniture for their wellbeing and accessible cabins are the only ones that fit. Doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t walk.

 

The most common scenario are people needing an electric scooter to use in ports but can slowly walk around the ship. They need the cabin purely for the scooter.

 

There is nowhere near enough cabins for actual demand and this is why you’re finding they are sold out - not because they are regularly being mis-sold.

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I don't know if it is still the same but certainly a few years ago anybody could book an accessible cabin without any questions being asked.

I remember once when phoning P&O to book a suite on Iona in her maiden year that the first suite I was offered was an accessible one, which I declined as I did not need an accessible suite.

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, molecrochip said:

There is nowhere near enough cabins for actual demand

Would you happen to know that with the change of emphasis on accessible cabins/suites if there are any plans to increase the numbers when ships go in for refits?

Edited by david63
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7 minutes ago, david63 said:

Would you happen to know that with the change of emphasis on accessible cabins/suites if there are any plans to increase the numbers when ships go in for refits?

There is a limit on the number of fully accessible cabins based on evacuation requirements.

 

Additionally, every 2 accessible cabins take up 3 standard cabin spaces. When ships are already sailing fairly full, there is little commercial argument to reduce capacity.

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13 minutes ago, molecrochip said:

P&O are really hot now on who books a fully accessible cabin.

 

Whilst you may get occasional last minute upgrades/purchases, this is very uncommon.

 

Some people require specific beds or pieces of furniture for their wellbeing and accessible cabins are the only ones that fit. Doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t walk.

 

The most common scenario are people needing an electric scooter to use in ports but can slowly walk around the ship. They need the cabin purely for the scooter.

 

There is nowhere near enough cabins for actual demand and this is why you’re finding they are sold out - not because they are regularly being mis-sold.

 

Surely an option in this instance would be for P&O to offer storage facilities for electric scooters / wheelchairs and get them out for port days. The passengers could then book into any class of cabin and get about the ship with the help of sticks or folding walking aids if required on board. Does anything like this happen?

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4 minutes ago, laslomas said:

 

Surely an option in this instance would be for P&O to offer storage facilities for electric scooters / wheelchairs and get them out for port days. The passengers could then book into any class of cabin and get about the ship with the help of sticks or folding walking aids if required on board. Does anything like this happen?

I’ve suggested this many a time. It’s something Saga offer.

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1 hour ago, molecrochip said:

There is a limit on the number of fully accessible cabins based on evacuation requirements.

 

 

Something the majority of people have very little understanding of.

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5 hours ago, laslomas said:

 

Surely an option in this instance would be for P&O to offer storage facilities for electric scooters / wheelchairs and get them out for port days. The passengers could then book into any class of cabin and get about the ship with the help of sticks or folding walking aids if required on board. Does anything like this happen?


This is something that I have often wondered. My wife is a full time wheelchair user and if we can’t get an accessible cabin we simply cannot cruise. Through no fault of their own, some scooter users who may have a much milder degree of disability have no choice but to book an accessible cabin even when, other than the need to park the scooter inside, they don’t really need the fully accessible features. 
 

Pre Covid we met a number of able bodied passengers who had been allocated an accessible cabin. Some felt very guilty about it as they were worried that they were depriving a disabled person from cruising. I am pleased to hear from @molecrochip that P&O are stopping this, but there is more that they should do. I have suggested to them that they should have specific wait lists for those requiring accessible cabins, but they will only accept wait list requests when ALL cabins in that grade are booked, rather than when just the accessible cabins are sold. We would book more cruises with P&O if they contacted us to say that an accessible balcony cabin had become available. As it stands, the onus is on us to keep asking and, as a result, we tend to give up. 

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I have used a scooter since 2008 but I have only been using adapted cabins for about 6 years as I could manage in an ordinary cabin, or should I say suite as I need to be in one as I had my scooter. However it does mean that if I want to cruise I have to book on day one of booking to get an adapted cabin. I cannot say that I have observed every adapted cabin but each one I have seen has been occupied by someone who needed it. The times I have read about people being allocated this type of cabin when they were not disabled has been on fly cruises as for a lot of disabled people flying is a pain. I am afraid if you want to cruise with a wheelchair you need to book very early.

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22 minutes ago, daiB said:

I am afraid if you want to cruise with a wheelchair you need to book very early.

In these enlightened (allegedly) times, this should not be the case. Far lesser things have been classed as discrimination than this, and we (the disabled customers) need to put more pressure on the cruise companies to address the problem. I shall certain be making the application of this pressure a priority in my spare time.

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51 minutes ago, Peter Lanky said:

In these enlightened (allegedly) times, this should not be the case. Far lesser things have been classed as discrimination than this, and we (the disabled customers) need to put more pressure on the cruise companies to address the problem. I shall certain be making the application of this pressure a priority in my spare time.

But surely it is supply and demand that drives the need to book early.  What exactly are you suggesting they address? If maritime law states only a certain number of disabled should be onboard for safety reasons then there's nothing the cruise lines can do.  

 

Having just booked three cruises this week, two on Cunard and one on P&O, the first question I was asked for each was about mobility requirements such as walking sticks and the like.  It was suggested that a full time walking stick user should request assistance for stairs in an emergency.  Taking all these new requirements into mind, the number of staff to mobility impaired and disabled guests obviously has to be finite.

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38 minutes ago, Megabear2 said:

But surely it is supply and demand that drives the need to book early.  What exactly are you suggesting they address? If maritime law states only a certain number of disabled should be onboard for safety reasons then there's nothing the cruise lines can do.  

 

Having just booked three cruises this week, two on Cunard and one on P&O, the first question I was asked for each was about mobility requirements such as walking sticks and the like.  It was suggested that a full time walking stick user should request assistance for stairs in an emergency.  Taking all these new requirements into mind, the number of staff to mobility impaired and disabled guests obviously has to be finite.

It depends on what maritime law describes as disabled. Do they differentiate between 'disabled' and 'inconvenienced' for instance? I have no idea what this percentage is, and I suspect finding the answer would not be easy. Also anti-discrimination regulations should trump any supply and demand issues if everything is done in the same manner as I have had drummed into me on countless training courses during my career. Giving fair treatment to genuine disabled should not be subject to supply and demand as I see it. If not, everything I have been taught (before becoming suddenly disabled) was all in vain.

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2 hours ago, daiB said:

I am afraid if you want to cruise with a wheelchair you need to book very early.


That was always our view Dai, but two of our four cruises over the last year were booked within months of the cruise. We were told with both cruises that there were no accessible balcony cabins available, but subsequent calls resulted in success. My theory is that those with serious disabilities may be more likely to cancel a cruise just before balance due date, if their condition has perhaps worsened in the (up to) 2 years since they booked, or they need medical treatment etc.

 

1 hour ago, Peter Lanky said:

In these enlightened (allegedly) times, this should not be the case. Far lesser things have been classed as discrimination than this, and we (the disabled customers) need to put more pressure on the cruise companies to address the problem. I shall certain be making the application of this pressure a priority in my spare time.


I’m afraid that I’m with @Megabear2 on this one. It’s not discrimination, it’s supply and demand. Nothing more. They can only have a relatively small number of disabled people on a ship for safety reasons and there is more demand than there is supply. You can’t compare land based disability requirements with a ship for obvious reasons. As in my response to Dai above, it is sometimes possible to book late and still get an accessible cabin at a bargain price. 

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1 hour ago, Peter Lanky said:

In these enlightened (allegedly) times, this should not be the case. Far lesser things have been classed as discrimination than this, and we (the disabled customers) need to put more pressure on the cruise companies to address the problem. I shall certain be making the application of this pressure a priority in my spare time.

Peter it is called supply and demand.

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2 hours ago, Peter Lanky said:

It depends on what maritime law describes as disabled. Do they differentiate between 'disabled' and 'inconvenienced' for instance? I have no idea what this percentage is, and I suspect finding the answer would not be easy. Also anti-discrimination regulations should trump any supply and demand issues if everything is done in the same manner as I have had drummed into me on countless training courses during my career. Giving fair treatment to genuine disabled should not be subject to supply and demand as I see it. If not, everything I have been taught (before becoming suddenly disabled) was all in vain.

Are you trying to say if someone is disabled they have a right to travel on any cruise of their choice or they are being discrimated against, no matter if the cabins are already sold to others? There are pretty stringent rules being applied by P&O and the sister Carnival companies regarding who can book and travel in an adapted cabin and these have been very much tightened up in the last nine months or so.  There are regular posters on this board including daiB,  Selbourne, TigerB, Sundancer and Terrierjohn who are very experienced on travelling with wheelchairs and mobility scooters and I do not recall any one of them saying they and their partners or family are in any way discriminated against. Yes, they do say that most of the time they have to book early for the obvious reason, using Iona as an example, that of the 2,614 cabins 55 are accessible or partly accessible.  I assume your point is you believe the ships should offer more accessible cabins but aside from the maritime law requirements it is surely a commercial decision of the cruise line of how many of each cabin type they wish onboard.  

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Surely safety comes in here.  One cruise line did tell me how many passengers needing assistance  are allowed but I have forgotten how many (pro rata)

 

I have never felt it to be discrimination.  There must be limits.

 

I always say that if one of the ships did a 'Titanic' I would be first up he stairs as the adrenaline would kick in!!😀

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To give another example of supply and demand I prefer solo cabins on P &O and Cunard but unless I book early they are sold out as they are very popular. I know that if I choose not to book on release or close to I am unlikely to get one. I can moan all I like it’s a commercial decision how many solo cabins they want to offer. I could say I am being discriminated against as very rarely get a late deal. Similarly families requiring spaces for children of a certain age will be unable to book when the quota for a particular age is reached. Is that discrimination? No it’s down to the polices of for the sake of discussion here of Carnival U K . When she was alive and a full time wheel chair user my mother used to like the car parked in particular blue badge holders car park on the Market Square where we lived. If all the spaces were already taken and we couldn’t park was that discrimination ?  No. Just others of equal or greater need got there first. I can’t see how you can force the cruise lines to offer an infinite number of cabins just in case someone wants to book. Health and Safety trumps everything and I am sure the other regular posters will know more and can correct me but the various Acts covering disability discrimination do not apply at Sea.  There could be a better system such as others have suggested using a waitlist scheme to alert those who need an accessible cabin one has become available. 

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I'll try to summarise the last few posts here. My original question was that of cruise lines allowing people to book accessible cabins when there was no requirement to have a wider door to gain access. The rest is I suppose widening the scope of discussion. It seems that there are passengers who are only allocated one for storage purposes, which is something easily addressed. For example, P&O seems to have numerous cabins suitable for people with limited mobility who do not need the wider door.

 

Then of course we have passengers who 'try it on', which is another part of my question, to which people have suggested that cruise lines are becoming more strict, which is a good thing. Just as an aside, walking passengers will probably not have noticed that the number of wheelchair 'users' boarding flights, particularly long haul, far exceeds the number disembarking. Flying must have a Lourdes effect. It seems people like the benefits of speedy boarding, but don't like to wait until last to leave the aircraft.

 

Much as I have tried, I cannot find any online article specifying how many wheelchair passengers per crew member are permitted by law. A quick sample suggests to me that ships typically have 1.5-2% of cabins designated as accessible (wider doors). Assuming the majority only have 1 disabled passenger, then that is less than 1% of the complement. Without doing extensive research which is not what I'm all about, I suspect this is nowhere near the legal limit for crew member to wheelchair passenger.

 

Again, I'm sure maritime laws differ from terrestrial laws, but there are many laws around disability discrimination, but there are none regarding being single or possession of children, though I fully accept that solo travellers get a bad deal from cruise lines.

 

So to conclude, quoting 'supply and demand' is not a helpful way of dismissing the problem, though I suspect that until laws are tightened, then this view will dominate.

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Some cruiselines, including P+O, are now stipulating that people who use wheelchairs and scooters must be allocated an 'evac chair' and member/s of crew in case of emergency. I would imagine that this does necessitate some sort of 'quota' as these members of the crew will not be available for other emergency duties.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Peter Lanky said:

My original question was that of cruise lines allowing people to book accessible cabins when there was no requirement to have a wider door to gain access. The rest is I suppose widening the scope of discussion.

This seems to be saying that your point is not about availability of accessible cabins but the width of the door, ie the entrance to the cabin for wheelchairs.  This is of course a very personal subject as all wheelchair users do not have the same type of chair.  The rules on booking one of the adapted cabins as a result do not distinguish between size and type of wheelchair being used.  For instance none of the five people I mentioned in my previous post have the same type of mobility vehicle or wheelchair but every one of them needs an accessible cabin.  When I cruised with my mother her manual wheelchair could actually fit through the door of any cabin on a ship as she herself was tiny and as a result had a smaller chair, however only an adapted cabin could offer the adapted bathroom which was essential for her use and safety so a fully adapted cabin was the only option.  Door width, if indeed that is your designation of an accessible cabin, had little to do with her requiring the adapted cabin.  

 

As others have pointed out, in a serious emergency specific trained crew members are allocated to evacuate those unable to use the stairs. This description of unable to use the stairs quickly and safely has recently been adjusted to include people with walking sticks, rollators etc and as a result stricter controls over these people have been introduced.  Cruise lines do not forensically challenge passengers on why they require an adapted cabin because to do so would be intrusive and very impolite, indeed if they did insist on doing this they would surely be more at risk of being discriminatory for doing so.  

 

At the end of the day accommodation providers, including cruise lines have rooms to sell.  If nearing the final point of sale the options for the adapted rooms have not been sold to a disabled person it is not unreasonable for them to sell the accommodation to an able bodied guest rather than hold it empty.  I can confirm as a solo traveller fairly frequently I book very late hotel rooms and am often told the only remaining room is an adapted one which I am welcome to take as it's late in the day, there is generally a proviso I may have to take a lower grade room if a disabled guest does require the room on the day.  I can confirm I've never not been given the room they allocated however as generally the disabled guests do not book last minute and plan meticulously to prevent problems.

 

 

Edited by Megabear2
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1 hour ago, Peter Lanky said:

Just as an aside, walking passengers will probably not have noticed that the number of wheelchair 'users' boarding flights, particularly long haul, far exceeds the number disembarking. Flying must have a Lourdes effect. It seems people like the benefits of speedy boarding, but don't like to wait until last to leave the aircraft.


This ‘Lourdes effect’ (as you describe it) happens in reverse on cruise ships. Many folk who walk around the ship and ports completely unaided suddenly need a wheelchair (provided by P&O, as said people don’t need one at any other time) with a pusher, in order to disembark, when it is felt that this might get them off quicker. In reality, the opposite is the case, as so many people now claim that they need assistance it takes ages.
 

Although we have a genuine need for assistance, we now avoid it as it winds us up so much. We just go directly off the ship, bypassing assistance, when it suits us (not ideal, as I have to put hand luggage on my wife’s lap and it’s her legs that she has the biggest problem with) and I grab a porter as soon as we get to the baggage reclaim hall as from that point on we cannot manage without assistance. 

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Have to agree with Selbourne here. When we disembarked Iona the Limelight Club was packed and we saw a lot of people who had been out and about without any mobility aids but now needed a wheelchair and pusher. Being of a skeptical nature I couldn’t help wondering if this was partly because the pushers were helping to find the luggage and then taking the passenger + escort out of the terminal. One group had 3 wheelchairs and 3 pushers with one walking stick between them. I am well aware that not all disabilities are visible, my DH has both visible and hidden, so we are very understanding but there is a limit. We would be very happy to go back to the days when we didn’t need help, we didn’t appreciate at the time how much more difficult things are for guests with a mobility/medical problem. As for the lifts grrrrr!!

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