Friday, 28 April 2017

Going On A Cruise

I know I have been taking advantage of my remaining travel funds, going on road trips, flitting off to Mexico. I all of this fun, however, there is still one kind of travel on my bucket list which I have failed to do. I want to go on a cruise, the one kind of vacation I have not taken.

There are three fundamental challenges with going on a cruise ship holiday, none of them having to do with being in a wheelchair, mostly. That's because the cruise ship industry attracts a lot of older people. Cruise companies know this, so build their ships to accommodate wheelchairs and all kinds of other handicaps suffered mostly by seniors. In fact, if you book a cruise and truly have a wheelchair, the cruise lines, most of them, will relocated a passenger in an existing handicapped cabin if they don't have a handicap.

No, the issues I really have with going on a cruise ship holiday fall down to these three things: where can I reasonably expect to go, how can I get someone to go with me, and how do I pay for that extra person if he or she is simply coming along as a health care aide.

The first issue, the one about where I can reasonably expect to go is a cost item as well as a logistical item. Let's face it, if I leave from Vancouver I can drive there with whatever medical equipment I need, making the whole process a lot simpler. However cruises from Vancouver typically go to Alaska, up and down the West Coast, or Hawaii. I don't want to go to Alaska; been there, partly on my own boat. Don't want to go down the West Coast; been there, everywhere along that coast, by car. Don't want to go to Hawaii; well, maybe. I'm just not sure.

There are some trips that go to Panama through to the Caribbean. These might be interesting although the timeline is rough. Most of them are repositioning cruises that take place in September as the Alaska cruise season comes to an end in Vancouver. My other options with vehicle access are San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego, putting a road trip of about a week on the front and back end of the cruise. In fact, anywhere in North America would work for me from that perspective. However that means more cost, and more time.

That whole time and cost thing is the next issue. I need someone to go with me, to accompany me, to help me with my daily routine, to make sure I get where I can get to. This is not an easy ask. A few people have traveled with me. They can attest to some of the issues presented in even the simplest of situations. Things like access to toilets, high curbs, stairs without ramps or elevators. Add to that my inability to get into a tender, and you have some places I simply cannot go, so the other person would have to be okay with going alone. That person would also have to have the ability to take time off work for the road trip and cruise, or just be retired yet in good enough shape to handle things.

Which brings up the final considerations. Do I simply hire someone to go with me? This would mean minimizing the time on each end of the cruise, making a road trip to a Canadian port an impossibility. It also means I would be expected to cover the whole cost of both myself and my care-giver, along with any compensation paid to that care-giver. Of all things, this is my least favourite option. It's just too expensive.

No matter how I toss it up, if I want to go on a cruise, I will need someone to go with me. At least I think that's how it would work. You never know what might happen, but going along seems a bit risky to me these days. So what do I do? My first step, it would seem, is to find someone who is willing to go and doesn't need to be paid to do it. Then, planning can begin.

It's all soooooo complicated.

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