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Old 02-26-2013, 11:09 AM   #1
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Disney cruising with the elderly

I will be taking my grandmother on the Disney cruise next year and by that time she will be 86. She is in relatively good health. She can walk on her own just fine although she says she has balance problems (I don't see it though). I would also like to spend a day at the Magic Kingdom with her. What do I need to know to make her comfortable? Do they have wheelchairs on the Dream?
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Old 02-26-2013, 02:00 PM   #2
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I've traveled with my elderly parents (both in their 80's) and in relatively good health. I would highly recommend bringing a wheelchair. The ships have a limited number and you are not guaranteed to have one. (We fly down so we find them useful to have in the airports.)

If your grandmother believes she has balance problems, the wheelchair will definately make her feel more comfortable moving through crowded areas. (On one cruise, and this was not the norm we've had on DCL cruises, my mom was walking with a cane and was pushed out of the way a few times when walking through crowded areas at busy times. We tried to avoid it as much as possible but it's not always possible.) Also, if you mark on the reservation that the individual is using a wheelchair, they will give you an easily accessible table in the dining rooms and help with any excursions you might book (as long as they note in the description that a wheelchair is okay).

If you don't have a wheelchair, check goodwill or local churches might have one to lend. We picked up a relatively inexpensive folding one in Walgreens.
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Old 02-26-2013, 02:12 PM   #3
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How active is she at home? Does she go, dining, walking, etc.? If so, she will probably be just fine onboard. If she's more of a homebody and really doesn't go out much, you might want to arrange for a wheelchair "just in case" to help her get around; she might be relying on furniture and such at home more than anyone realizes. If you plan to do excursions, you might really want to bring along a wheelchair depending on the excursion, but also check that it will be accessible. I think Brevard Medical (?) will deliver to Port Canaveral.

WDW parks are another animal entirely. I suggest a wheelchair or ECV. The average WDW guest walks between 6-12 miles per day in the parks. That's a lot of walking for anyone and an older person in particular. Even with breaks, there are no guaranteed spots to sit if she were to need a rest. The w/c or ECV can be brought through lines as well, allowing her to sit while in line. She doesn't have to remain in the chair all day, it can be parked if she wants to walk a bit. If she's not used to an ECV but might prefer that over a w/c (WDW is not flat, tiring to push all day) - maybe she could try one at a local big-box store or grocery store.

Enjoy your cruise!
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Old 02-26-2013, 02:15 PM   #4
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Random note about wheelchairs--- the hallways are narrow and so during luggage delivery and luggage pick up times, she might have a hard time getting to her cabin.
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Old 02-26-2013, 03:09 PM   #5
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Castaway Cay has a tram so she won't have to walk all the way from the ship to the beach and back unless she wants to.

Disney also has sand wheelchairs available on Castaway Cay, they are limited in number so request one early.

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Old 02-26-2013, 03:54 PM   #6
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In the past year and a half I took my mother (age 83) for a cruise on both the Dream and the Magic. She has difficulty with balance and is mobility limited. I bought a lightweight transport chair (13lbs) for $150. There was no problem using the transport chair on either the Dream or the Magic. My mother enjoyed the sand wheelchair, but it was very hard for me to push! Mobility scooters are available for rental by private companies for use on the ship and at the parks. Disney also rents scooters at the Magic Kingdom.
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Old 03-02-2013, 12:50 PM   #7
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I have cruised several times with elderly in-laws. We always rent a wheelchair for to use on the cruises. She doesn't really need on the ship too much but it certainly helps when we leave the ship at different ports.

If you are leaving from Port Canveral you can contact Brevard Medical Supplies to arrange the wheelchair rental. They will deliver the chair to the port terminal before the cruise and pick it back up from the terminal. They are great to work with and it is so nice to have the chairs waiting for us at the terminal.

For the parks you can rent one for the day at each park. It is usually near the entrance of each park that you can arrange that.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-02-2013, 04:27 PM   #8
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My family took my grandfather (88) on the Dream last month. He is a pretty active person, but tires easily. So, we rented a scooter from Brevard Medical Supply. Before you decide to take her, you have to really ask these questions:

- Does she enjoy Disney? Or at least, is open to Disney shows, events, characters, TV programming, etc?

- Is she independent enough that you won't find yourself being a caretaker on the ship?

My family really didn't take these questions into account before we invited him along. He had always wanted to take a cruise, but was afraid of being sick as he has severe motion sickness (and would remind us at any chance how his last "cruise" was during WWII). We did warn him it was Disney and there was no casino, as his hobbies are limited to playing cards and gambling. He insisted he didn't mind.

If you rent a chair or scooter, be prepared that they may not be at the terminal before you board the ship. This happened to us, and after 30 minutes of stress and phone calls, DCL loaned us a wheelchair to get him on the ship and the scooter was delivered to his room.

If you bring a scooter, you need a HA room. We did not, and had to park it by the elevators. This resulted in a lot of mixed communication between us and CM's as different people were telling us different things as far as whether or not we could keep it there. The loaner wheelchair, though, we left folded by the stateroom door and it stayed there for the entire voyage.

Be prepared for grief getting to where you want to go in either a chair or scooter. Moving from deck to deck, especially when exploring, can be a chore when you're limited to the elevators. Folks on vacation clearly don't want to use stairs, and we experienced a lot of rude families who would push ahead of us to crowd the elevators--causing us to wait several or more minutes to wait for one empty enough. Peak times, like around meals, the shows, and the muster drill--makes using the elevator a real headache.

The elderly also seem to not be as prudent on handwashing. I know my grandfather is not. Therefore, even with the basic antibacterial wipes on board, he was sick by day 3. That put a lot of strain on my mother caring for him. He also found he didn't like the Disney-themed shows, and loudly and unabashedly let us know this. We know he had moments where he was enjoying himself, but overall my family does not plan to cruise with him again.
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Old 03-03-2013, 10:43 AM   #9
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I have posted this on another forum, but thought it might be helpful to others here as well.

I travel with my daughter who is developmentally disabled. Although ambulatory, she fatigues easily and has low muscle tone, so we use her wheelchair for most outside activities. I have reached the age where I am exhausted pushing her in the chair for anything other than short trips.

We are sailing on the 9/8 Dream cruise, and are staying for 2 nights at Bay Lake Towers prior to the cruise. In looking into renting a scooter from an off site vendor (which we did from Walker Mobility in the past) I learned that WDW has a new policy and there are 5 approved vendors for whom the resorts will accept drop off or pick up directly from the vendor. Otherwise the renter has to accept delivery directly and return the ECV directly to the vendor, the resort will not accept responsibility. Walker Mobility is not on the list.

I have not rented a scooter for the cruise in the past, but have used her manual wheelchair. Does anyone know if the resort policy regarding approved vendors extends to the cruise line, and if so, which vendors are approved? I also did not book a HA room, have seen the ECVs parked and charging by elevators on previous cruises and so thought that was the practice. But when I looked for info on DCL, they are very clear that the scooter must be in the room, and if not, the crew can store several decks away. This makes me very nervous, and I am thinking I might need to request a HA room.

Reading the other posts, my dad had terrible experience on another cruise line with navigating to the room, with terrible service from staff moving carts, etc. Apparently missed out on a lot. Has to be a better way to work this out to make the cruise accessible for all...

Any information or advice is greatly appreciated!
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Old 03-03-2013, 11:01 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by wendyoconnor View Post
Castaway Cay has a tram so she won't have to walk all the way from the ship to the beach and back unless she wants to.

Disney also has sand wheelchairs available on Castaway Cay, they are limited in number so request one early.
Where do you request one?
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