My wife suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and has limited mobility. We would never have booked this cruise had we not been led to believe that there was a suitable disabled access stateroom meeting our requirements on board the Nautica.
This cruise was sold to us in the U.K. by Oceania on the basis that we would have an accessible stateroom with wheelchair accessible shower, disabled grab rails, grab rails at the wash basin and grab rails at the toilet. In spite of promises by the booking agent none of this was available when we boarded. On-board staff stated that accessible staterooms just meant that the entry door was wider than normal to provide wheelchair access and that there were no wheel-in or walk-in showers on board in any stateroom. We did consider disembarking but our flights and extended stay at our departure port of Shanghai had been booked, were non-refundable and could not be changed. On-board staff stated that the U.K. representative just wanted to sell cruises and ship's staff were always left to sort out the ensuing mess.
The allocated stateroom had a bath with a shower over so there was no safe way for my wife to shower. The toilet had no grab rails, the bathroom had no grab rails and it was wholly unfit for disabled purpose.
We were moved to a stateroom with a shower but it had a very high step for access, approximately 200 to 250mm in height. I had to lift my wife into and out of the shower / toilet / wash basin cubicle when she wanted a shower, use the toilet or to wash her hands. I had to hold my wife up while she showered as there were no grab rails. We were given a shower stool but this took up too much space for us to use as I still had to hold my wife and help her shower without suitable grab rails. I had to hold my wife at the wash basin and when using the toilet. On the only occasion we tried to give her some privacy and dignity when using the toilet she fell off landing between the toilet and bulkhead bruising her shoulder and side. On board staff were made aware of all of the above at the time.
We had also pre-booked, with Oceania, private saloon/sedan style car tours for the ports being visited. These vehicles were not provided, instead we had unsuitable vehicles with high access meaning that I had to lift my wife in and out of the vehicles.
On joining the Nautica there was an issue at the boarding accommodation ladder whereby ship’s staff were reluctant to lift my wife and her wheelchair on board. They only agreed when I asked for one rating and I would assist. To be clear, the wheelchair was of a lightweight 7.2kg travel style and my wife weighs just 51kg so not a lot of weight but awkward on a sloping accommodation ladder. Throughout the cruise we were made to feel a nuisance when disembarking or boarding and I had to help with the lifting on every occasion. At no time was a ship's side door made available even although we could clearly see that they were level with the jetties.
The Executive Concierge and on-board Tour Team did what they could to help us and were very friendly but at the reality was that they obviously could not convert a suite to accessible or provide suitable tour vehicles where there were none.
Since arriving home we have discovered that allegedly Oceania does not have any vessel with properly equipped disabled staterooms or suites.
On returning home we wrote to a Director of the company who passed our complaint to another person to reply. The reply did not address any of our points in a satisfactory manner and we have not received any compensation.
We had pre-booked a Mobility buggy via Oceania's recommended provider. The buggy provided had too little ground clearance to clear the ramps at deck exit or entry doors and could not be taken ashore. We explained the issues to the buggy provider who were very apologetic and granted a 100% refund.
In retrospect we should have been forewarned when Oceania’s UK agent repeatedly refused to put our requests in writing, stating that it was not Oceania’s policy and that all such arrangements were confirmed by recorded telephone calls.
It is some time since our cruise and owing to ill health following the cruise we have been unable to take another holiday as yet. However, we draw the facts to the attention of the wider community and will in due course be reporting the issues in more detail to ABTA .
My wife had never been to the Far East and sadly this was to be her last opportunity to travel such a distance. It is with deep regret that this adventure was to be such a catastrophe with its lasting impact.
Transferred to Stateroom 4055
Unfit for the purpose of a physically disabled wheelchair user.
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