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How Accessible is #CruiseNorwegian Breakaway?  Here’s the Answer!

When you have family members who are disabled you try to normalize as many things as you can.  You quickly realize however that as much as no one wants to admit it, our world was not built to accommodate people with disabilities.

To be honest, navigating my world isn’t easy.  My husband has Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and my son has Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD.) There are no spur-of-the-moment get togethers as we need to figure out whether a restaurant or venue is accessible and, if it is, whether the rest rooms are accessible as well.  Going to an amusement park or concert is worrisome as to whether my son can handle the noise and crowds and whether he will bolt off somewhere unknown with me frantically trying to locate him.

This year for our summer vacation I wanted to do something special and memorable.  In addition to my 19 year-old son I have two daughters who are 14 and 11.  Trying to figure out a trip that we would all enjoy that was stress-free wasn’t going to be easy.  And then I realized that the best vacation would be a cruise!  My son Spencer would be free to wander the ship without me worrying where he was (plus he could eat all the food he wanted), I wouldn’t have to cook or clean, my girls would have activities and I was fairly certain that it would be accessible for Greg.  Even better, we decided to invite along some good friends along and my mom who would be celebrating her 80th birthday.  In addition to her birthday we would be celebrating Spencer’s 19th, five other birthdays among our friends’ families and a 50th wedding anniversary!

I actually left the planning to my friend Mike, who is the master of travel planning, and he chose the Norwegian Breakaway for a 7-day cruise to Bermuda.  Not only did he select the cruise but he worked with our cruise coordinator to arrange the handicap accessible room for Greg and me with a nearby cabin for the kids. 

I’ve been on four cruises and have been to Bermuda twice so I knew what to expect but this was unchartered territory for the rest of my family.  They were all excited but Greg was definitely reluctant.  He doesn’t necessarily like being on the water and this was a major excursion with many unknowns.  It’s hard for many of us to imagine what it’s like for him or anyone else who’s in a wheel chair to head off for a #Feelfree vacation and not know whether you’ll be able to negotiate your power chair into the room, maneuver into bed or get into the restaurants. 

Right from the beginning the staff at Norwegian were extremely helpful and put Greg’s mind at ease.  They sent us an entire document about what we needed to know about accessibility and even have accessibility coordinators to work directly with us. 

While I felt fairly confident that the ship would be accessible I was worried about the size of the room, particularly the bathroom. As I said, I’ve been on cruises before and know that usually cruise ship bathrooms are extremely small.

What I didn’t consider until we were pulling up to the terminal was how difficult it might be getting through check-in and onto the ship.  Really – it didn’t cross my mind until I was there with three kids and Greg with tons of people all trying to do the same thing.  But almost before I even got out of the car a baggage person was there to load up our luggage and directed us directly where to go.  I’m always rather stressed trying to navigate everyone through lines and check-ins so I assign Kelsey, my 14 year-old, to be in charge of Spencer and Hannah my 11 year-old to help Greg while I figure out where we all need to be. 

Kelsey is so incredible watching over her brother even though sometimes he doesn’t like it!

The embarkation process couldn’t have been easier.  We were directed to a special line which allowed us to get through check-in quickly and bypass the lines.  I loved how we were greeted as we embarked by friendly staff who also requested that we spray our hands with the provided hand sanitizer (nice to know that they take preventing viral outbreaks seriously.)  As we all waited for our cabins to be ready we were able to enjoy food, beverages and music on the upper deck. 

It didn’t take Spencer and our friends long to settle in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we got to our cabin I was stunned – it was HUGE! And no, we didn’t pay extra, it was the typical outside balcony handicap accessible cabin.  Here’s a video tour of our cabin.

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