Many of you might pass this by as pertaining only to those disabled cruisers who are in wheelchairs, on scooters, or using canes, crutches, or walkers. However, the day could come as it did for me when unforeseen occurrences will force you into this physically impaired category for even one or two cruises.
On two of our most recent voyages, Royal Caribbeans actions befuddled then ultimately enlightened us regarding what we now assume to be their furtive policy regarding not only disabled cruisers but everyone who sails on their one of their vessels. The apparent goal is to unload their now insignificant guests who have just sailed without care so as to welcome their new arrivals who will bring in more revenue. The following is an inexcusable and accurate dilemma in which we found ourselves twice on the Enchantment of the Seas.
In April, as Diamond Plus members, we sailed on a Members Cruise from Baltimore and were as usual cordially welcomed by the outside staff. I was at that time using a walker and a rented wheel chair but was greeted with smiles and courtesy as is every arriving guest. Every effort was made to assure that the embarkation was comfortable and pleasant for my husband and me. During the sailing, other cruisers as well as many crew members understood my situation and were most accommodating. Of course, there were Pinnacle members onboard as well, and we shared the benefits of the Concierge Lounge. However, on the day prior to disembarkation, my husband simply requested of the dedicated Concierge that he attempt to locate some assistance to aid me in leaving the ship because of my temporary disability. My husband explained that we would be encumbered by carry-on baggage and medical equipment. Our answer from the informed Concierge was a definitive, No. Im to assist my special guests on their departure. Youre to go to the regular departure deck. We questioned ourselves as to what the connotation of special guests might be on this cruise and finally came to the conclusion that they were the Pinnacle members. However, when we arrived at this designated departure deck, we were informed that we were not at the proper location. Thankfully, another worker at the port took me down the ramp in a backwards direction, which was, prior to the opening of the new ramp, against the policy of the seaport. Once we were safely off of the Enchantment, we once again searched for the exact meaning of the word special.
Once again, during the month of October, we boarded the Enchantment for a 9 night cruise and were greeted in the same fashion. At this time, I was using a wheelchair and a rented scooter. On the second day of the cruise, we received a phone call from the Loyalty Ambassador insisting that we promise to be at the Welcome Back gathering as we were to be recognized as the guests with the greatest number of cruises. We did so and were astonished that there were only 10 Diamond Plus members onboard. The question and answer we gave ourselves was, Did this make us special? Absolutely not! We assumed that it was just a question of numbers. During the cruise we asked nothing of the same dedicated Concierge and rarely even entered the Concierge Lounge. Once again, however, we required assistance during the disembarkation, and when asked, the Concierge agreed that it was most likely appropriate. Upon our arrival at the Lounge at the prescribed time of 8:15, he told us to wait and left the lounge. Upon returning, he simply walked around the room, obviously tending to business but nonetheless well aware that we were still waiting over hour after our baggage number had been called. I finally and reluctantly took a walking stick which my husband carries at times and went to the departure deck for those who had personal mobility devices and required assistance. My husband was told to leave the ship and wait for me briefly outside, but that time turned into at least 10 minutes. I was still holding on desperately to the walking stick and informed a crew member that my arms and legs would no longer maintain the erect position and that I was about to fall. A wheelchair was immediately provided, and I left the ship in extreme pain.
As we travelled home from the port, I questioned whether or not I could ever sail on Royal Caribbean again should the situation arise once more that I would be considered disabled. Could I with confidence in the cruise line recommend Royal Caribbean as their choice for anyone whose mobility was in any way impaired? It is doubtful. I do believe that I would cancel any voyage on a Royal Caribbean vessel should I anticipate that this treatment would be given if a similar situation was to even possibly occur once again.
As I ponder these two situations, I question the professed consideration and the veracity of Royal Caribbeans policies in their effort to support someone who on occasion might require rather minor additional assistance during their journey. Why would anyone, be they seasoned cruiser, first time guest, or specifically a disabled individual be subjected to such disrespectful, insensitive behavior and treatment when they have anticipated a stress-free vacation?