Marella Discovery Cruise Review by steve_and_Julie
- Sail Date: March 2017
- Destination: Caribbean
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.
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