3 Barbados Cruises for the Disabled Cruise Reviews

I am writing to you from the perspective of a disabled person in who uses a wheelchair. I have recently returned from a Caribbean cruise on the TUI Discovery. Firstly I would like to point out the positive points from my trip with ... Read More
I am writing to you from the perspective of a disabled person in who uses a wheelchair. I have recently returned from a Caribbean cruise on the TUI Discovery. Firstly I would like to point out the positive points from my trip with Thompsons. The travel to and from the UK to Barbados with Thompson Airlines was faultless, with the cabin staff going out of their way to help and assist my wife. However this is where the positives end. I would point out my wife is registered disabled and from time to time her condition becomes so bad that the only way for her to get about is to use a wheelchair. Prior to our trip my wife’s condition worsened and we were forced to take the wheelchair on holiday, so that she could be mobile with her ability to walk very limited. Prior to going on holiday we contacted the Thompson Welfare team to see if it would be possible to get a Taxi transfer from the airport to the ship as my wife would have struggled to get up the steps of the large coaches used to transfer people from the airport to the ship. We were told that we would need a medical letter in order to be able to book a cab if we did not have a medical letter then we would have to get a cab on our own. As the enquiry was a week before we departed it left little or no time to book a doctor’s appointment and obtain a medical letter. At this the time we also asked the Welfare team what Trips/Excursions provided by the Thompsons would be suitable for a wheelchair user. We were advised that they did not know and we would have to ask on the ship, I would have thought that this is information should be available from the welfare team. On arrival at the airport we were surprised to see that a taxi had been provided for people that could not manage the stairs, of the 4 disabled passengers my wife was the only one that could not manage stairs and subsequently was allocated a taxi. At this point I should point out that we had had to change the date of our holiday due to a family commitment, prior to changing our holiday we had the following, Cabin with a Balcony, Premium Economy flight seats and an all-inclusive package. We had to lose all of these as we shifted the booking date by one week. On arrival at our cabin we found that the cabin was not wheelchair friendly, with the door not wide enough to get the wheel chair through this meant that my wife had to get out of her chair to enter the room and struggle to the bed. The cabin we had been allocated was potentially the smallest one on the ship and had no place to store the wheelchair which made moving around the cabin even more difficult for my wife. Prior to departing my wife had been talking to Thompsons and identified a suite was available which we tried to book this but where told that we would have to do this once we were aboard. Of course once we were on board we were told that there were no upgrade options available. Once we had settled into the tiny cabin we decided to visit the destination team eager to find out what trips where suitable for wheelchair users as this was a once in a life time chance to visit 10 unique Caribbean islands. On arrival at the destination desk we were greeted by a male member of the team, We asked what trips would be suitable for a person on a wheelchair to which he replied ‘None’ , His explanation was that in the Caribbean the tour coaches where very small like mini buses and there would be nowhere to store a wheelchair, He then went to the back office and emerged with a handful of maps of the destinations and stated that we would have to make our own way around, To be honest his whole attitude was ‘I can’t really be bothered with a person in a wheelchair, I just want to deal with able bodied people’ Somewhat disappointed we returned to our cabin, my wife was very upset as she felt she would now be effectively imprisoned on a ship for several weeks. The next day we went back to the destination desk and where greeted by a dark haired eastern European girl, She was very blunt when we asked again if there were any trips that where suitable for a wheelchair user, so blunt in fact that my wife started to cry as we wheeled away from the desk I could hear other passengers telling the girl that she was out of order. I decided to go back later and ask to talk to the line Manager, A women reluctantly came out of the back office from her manner I could see she was only playing lip service as I forced her to go through each destination and what trips we could possibly do. She suggested a few and stated that we could pay but if we got to the bus and found that we could not store a wheelchair or my wife could not get onto the bus then she would happily refund us the cost of the trip. Can you imagine the humiliation of trying to get on a bus in front of a load of other guest, failing and have to give up and return to the ship? One the second night it became apparent that the cabin we had been allocated was really inadequate for a disabled person, I went to the main reception area and enquired about an upgrade and was told that there was no upgrades available and we would have to wait until the second week. The dining area specifically the buffet area had two disabled tables allocated both on the very edge of the restaurant at busy times these where used by non-disabled people and thus we often struggled to get a seat in the buffet restaurant. I did suggest to the restaurant manager ‘Eastern European’ that he needed more disabled seating and to his credit he provided some additional disabled tables however these where often taken by non-disabled people. The show area had a designated area for disabled passengers who could park their wheelchairs with their partners sitting next to them. Again this was not policed and many times we found that there was nowhere for me to sit and had to effectively Neal down during the show next to my wife in her wheelchair. On the Wednesday I requested that we see someone so that we could travel back a week early, but no one got back to us until the Friday evening at which time we had missed any opportunity to return home and thus where stuck on the ship for the second week. When we eventually got to meet her, she was very sorry and very helpful, She managed to get our room changed to a larger cabin and also arranged a cab to pick us up for the homeward trip to the airport. The toilets that are marked as disabled on the ship are too small to take a wheelchair in, on the occasions my wife used these she found it very difficult to get the wheelchair into the toilet and then get safely onto the toilet as there was not enough room to maneuverer. There are a few decks where there are no toilets so we had to use the lift to move between floors to locate a toilet, Deck 4 has no toilets. The main pool was not accessible for my wife as you could only get into the pool using the poolside ladder. The pool in the Glass house was accessible however it was inside. On our last day we had a bottle of champagne in our room with an apology note On a more general note we found the non UK staff to be very helpful and always willing to help, however we found that the UK staff could not really be bothered, this was an opinion that was shared by many other guests on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We have just returned from our first cruise with Seabourn on Seabourn Spirit in the Caribbean. It has taken us a little time to analyse why we were so very disappointed in this cruise. It has been a long held ambition of ours to sail with ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise with Seabourn on Seabourn Spirit in the Caribbean. It has taken us a little time to analyse why we were so very disappointed in this cruise. It has been a long held ambition of ours to sail with Seabourn and our expectation was high – much higher than the actual delivery which fell short on many occasions. Many of the issues were caused by our expectations that this ship was accessible, with a few restrictions. My husband cannot walk well, has difficulties with stairs and often uses either a very small electric mobility scooter or a manual wheelchair. These needs were discussed with Seabourn prior to booking and a special needs form completed as requested. Despite obvious attempts to make the ship accessible, it is clear immediately on boarding that issues are numerous. The first problem is boarding. Nowhere did we find a warning that boarding would be via a staircase. As it happens, in Barbados the stairs were not too steep and given time and help my husband was able to climb the stairs. However, in other ports the stairs were often steeper and were very difficult, particularly as there was never any assistance available on the dockside. This restricted our ability to leave the ship. The second major problem was boarding the tender. On other ships this has not really been a problem. Lifts normally go to within a few steps of the tender boarding platform. Boarding tenders tends to be from midships where movement is less and the entrance to the tender also tends to be midships reducing movement significantly whilst also providing a safe landing into the interior of the tender. Arrangements on Pride are quite different. There are two steep wooden staircases to negotiate as well as a passage through the marina area where there are only rope rails. On arrival at the tender boarding platform (at the stern of the ship where movement is extreme), one is faced with stepping onto a tiny platform at the stern of the tender with no rails to hold. Crew are excellent at helping but it is frightening to have to step on the small tender platform and then step down onto the stern on the tender before negotiating yet more steep steps into the tender. General warning about the need to use tenders is just not good enough. We had to cancel all of our booked shore excursions in tender ports since on any particular day we could not be sure if my husband would be able to board the tender. This had a very significant impact on our enjoyment of the cruise. We were also disappointed in the accessibility of the suite. It was only big enough to drive the scooter in if the dressing table chair was removed first. There was no electricity socket near enough to charge the scooter. This problem was solved by wiring in an extension through the cupboard below the TV so that the cupboard doors could not be shut. There is a step into the bathroom that is easy to forget at night. There are no grab rails near the WC. The shower is tiny and with inadequate grab rails. The shower chair eventually turned up but was so unstable that it could not be used. Someone came to tighten the screws on the legs but this failed to solve the problem. The walk-in wardrobe had clearly been made to smaller to attempt to make the suite accessible. This meant that use of the hanging rail near the door prevented the door from closing. If the door was not closed then the light would not go off. If the clothes were moved to close the door, movement during the night caused them to slide back down the rail so the door could not be opened in the morning. It is clear that a lot of work has been done to make the door thresholds around the ship easier to negotiate. However these steep ramps are impossible for scooters. As there is no flat area at the top near the door, the scooter just grounds on the crest and hangs in mid-air with its wheels off the ground. These ramps help those unable to step up but do not help scooters. Getting to the Sky bar (the only outdoor space with chairs for use during the day) was impossible since the lift was not big enough for a scooter or a wheelchair. In general public spaces were very crowded making it hard to find seats that were accessible to anyone with some walking difficulties. Sidling between chairs and tripping over feet is just not an option. In our view it would be much better to make some of the issues clear. If we had known the problems we would have considered carefully if we could manage without the scooter or if we should have tried one of the bigger and more modern Seabourn ships. As it was, life on board was a constant frustration making it hard to enjoy other aspects of the cruise. Not all other aspects came up to our expectation. The promised “fine wines” poured with meals turned out to be the lowest price vin de table available from supermarkets at a few pounds a bottle. The promised service turned out to be patchy with tables in the crowded Veranda Café left with dirty dishes while people wandered around trying to find somewhere to sit. Often repeated requests were necessary for such simple items as a glass of water or orange juice. Breakfast in the dining room took over an hour for a simple cooked breakfast to arrive. The ordered plate of fruit never did arrive. A simple 3 course dinner one evening took over 2 and a half hours meaning that we left before coffee in order to get to the entertainment. We did speak to staff on several occasions about items that could be rectified on board and the crew did everything they could to rectify deficiencies. However the major issues could not be addressed and resulted in a wide discrepancy between our expectation and delivery. Everyone told us that the problems we were encountering were due to the age and design of the smaller ships and we would not have these problems on the larger ships. However, at the price of cruises with Seabourn we are reluctant to consider another cruise if it is not possible to find out a bit more about the realities of life on board for those with walking difficulties. We feel that the publicity and the web site are very misleading and lacking in real information about the ships. The result for us was a very disappointing cruise that fell far below the advertised standard. In spite of writing to the company over a month ago we have not had any contact from them.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Like many we had flight delays but the transfers were seamless, then the problems started - my son is wheelchair dependent and the cabin we booked in Nov. 2009 was not allocated / not happy. 7 hours after boarding my son`s wheelchair had ... Read More
Like many we had flight delays but the transfers were seamless, then the problems started - my son is wheelchair dependent and the cabin we booked in Nov. 2009 was not allocated / not happy. 7 hours after boarding my son`s wheelchair had not been delivered after many enquiries - we found it in reception without any identification! Just imagine your legs being taken away and the £2000 chair you had just bought being abandoned for anyone to claim! Then we found that there were only 2 ways of getting on deck - out of the lido buffet on deck 9 or Sirens on deck 11. Anyone who thinks the food in any of the `restaurants` was good does not know what good food is - some was edible but that is all - the only good food we had was in the airport on leaving! Stained bedlinen, grey towels, dreadful pool towels, no air con., uncomfortable beds / malfunctioning electrics, / sewage smells (and we were on deck 9), stabilisers not working, (I`ve been on ships in North Sea gales and never felt the swells experienced on `The Dream` in the Caribbbean) entertainment staff constantly telling us how wonderful they were - any one who thinks the entertainment was West End standard has a) not been to the West End b) does not go to the theatre regularly. We have previously cruised with Thomson and have only ever praised standards and staff. The only positive thing to comment on about this cruise, `the exotic caribbean` was the itinerary. Others have mentioned sewage odours!, listing, boiler / sewage malfunctions / engine fires / roped off areas with damaged sunbeds. We found the `Destinations Desk` useless- every enquiry was answered by `we haven`t been here before` - so it was a case of get off the ship/coffin and find out yourself. We have previously cruised with Thomson and never found fault but this was dreadfull. Thomson should not have taken this crate across the Atlantic after engine failure, they should have given passengers boarding in Barbados the option of joining the cruise, BUT they should not have continued sailing a ship that was no fully functioning - nor should they continue to advertise that they make holidays tailored just for you - our Caribbean cruise certainly was not `just what we expected or wanted.` Read Less
Sail Date December 2010

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