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Agent Newsletter – September 2009




September 2009




A Golden Anniversary? A wedding or conference at sea? A multi-generational family reunion? On these landmark travel occasions it’s important to have everyone booked and onboard. Leaving a loved one at home because he/she uses a wheelchair or needs oxygen can spoil a trip for your clients and lose revenues for your agency if the entire group cancels or pursues other options because all group members cannot be accommodated.

There are an estimated 53 million Americans with disabilities. According to an independent survey conducted by the Open Doors Organization in partnership with TIA (Travel Industry Association) and SATH (Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality), adults with disabilities account for twenty percent of the population. A large and underserved market segment, persons with special needs want to travel. They spend $13.5 billion in travel annually and take 68 million trips a year.

Special needs travel is an excellent specialty to develop to help grow your agency. Special needs travel can also boost earnings for general travel agents who understand and service this niche because persons with special needs almost always travel with others, giving you access to exponentially increased bookings. How can you tap into this ready and waiting market?

Know your products - The basics still apply. You have to know your products and destinations thoroughly, adding the element of accessibility. For those who sell cruises, the cruise lines are making it easier with each new ship. The industry as a whole has invested substantially in ensuring accessibility features and programs onboard. Almost every line has special needs cabins and features fleet-wide and many have taken extra steps adding pool and spa lifts. Royal Caribbean even has a lift onto the ice rink on its Freedom class ships, while Holland America Line has a tender lift system on 13 of its 14 ships to assist guests in getting ashore when the ships must anchor in the harbor of a port of call. Read more.


Cruise vacations can be excellent choices for travelers with disabilities, but choosing the right line and ship is key. Holland America Line is one such line that provides safe, easy, and accessible accommodations for all persons with disabilities, to the extent that it is feasible.

Almost ten years ago, Holland America Line installed the industry's first system for the safe, comfortable transfer between ship, tender and pier for guests using wheelchairs. The custom-built system is now on 13 of 14 ships. Continuing its commitment to being a leader in providing accessible solutions for guests, each new ship and each time a ship is refurbished, it is carefully designed with accessibility in mind.

All of Holland America’s ships have accessible cabins but the ships of the Signature Class (Eurodam and upcoming Nieuw Amsterdam, which debuts in June 2010) and Vista Class (Zuiderdam, Westerdam, Noordam and Oosterdam) have the most with 30 and 28 cabins per ship respectively whereby enabling travelers to take their pick of staterooms in every category type. These staterooms have roll-in showers with a hand-held shower head and vertical bar to adjust the fixed shower heads and heavy-duty handrails. Staterooms with verandahs have ramp access to/from the verandah. Guests can also request additional in-room equipment, such as elevated toilet seats.  Read more.


Salem, Massachusetts may be one of the spookiest towns in America. Best known for the witchcraft trials of 1692, October is a particularly good time to visit Salem when the “Halloween Capital of the World” comes alive.

Beginning October 1, Salem kicks off a full calendar of Haunted Happenings that range from a Haunted Harbor Cruise, reenacted scenes of the Witchcraft Hysteria, Costume Galas (for both adults and pets) and a ‘Mourning Tea,’ which celebrates the dearly departed. Salem in October has something for everyone - for the entire family to adult-only events. Vendors fill the streets with the most unusual wares in a place where it’s not uncommon to see people in costume month-long.

Salem also has specialty museums, a rich maritime heritage, green city parks, and superb seafood. Visitors can follow the Salem Heritage Trail, a Red Line along the sidewalks to navigate through Salem’s sites. The Witch History Museum, The Salem Witch Museum, Cry Innocent, the Tall Ship Friendship and the fascinating collection of art and history at the Peabody Essex Museum are all worth visiting and wheelchair accessible. As some of Salem’s sites date back to the 17th century, they either have limited accessibility or no accessibility. The outside of Salem Pioneer Village 1630 is wheelchair accessible, while the first floors of the Derby House (home of America’s first millionaire) and the Narbonne House can accommodate standard wheelchairs up to 26” in width. Derby House and Narbonne House recommend that you call at least three days in advance (978 740-1660).  Read more.


Interesting Fact: Nathaniel Hawthorne was born "Nathaniel Hathorne" but changed his name to disassociate himself from his ancestor John Hathorne, a judge at the Salem Witch trials.

Cruise Information: Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean all sail from Boston, just a short drive from all Salem has to offer.


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  • Special Needs Group, Inc. is not a travel agency and will not compete for your clients.

  • According to a survey by AARP, in 2005, the mature adult population spent more than $192 billion on travel.


  • "I refuse to allow a disability determine how to live my life. I don't mean to be reckless, but setting a goal that seems a bit daunting actually is very helpful toward recovery." Christopher Reeve


Twins Michael and Nicholas Hadler love going to the beach. Like many 10-year old boys, they enjoy playing in the water and building in the sand. However, as Michael was born with cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair from a very early age, trips to the beach were somewhat daunting for the family.

“Going to the beach was not enjoyable,” stated mom Luky Hadler. “We had to carry Michael through the sand.” As Michael was getting older and heavier, it became more difficult to transport him. “I realized I couldn’t keep doing this myself."

The Pembroke Pines, FL residents were determined to find a better solution. “I did extensive research online. I was looking for a wheelchair that could go on the beach and in the water,” says Hadler. She looked at several different beach wheelchairs but passed up on buying them as they were either very expensive, looked clunky or the wheelchair had to be shipped from far away.  Read more.

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Toll Free: 1-800-513-4515
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About Special Needs at Sea and Special Needs Group...

Special Needs Group, Inc. is a one-stop resource for special needs travel around the world. We offer a broad range of special needs equipment for purchase and rental including wheelchairs, scooters, power chairs with capabilities to support 500 pound or more; oxygen (liquid, cylinder, and concentrator); hearing impaired equipment, Braille printing, baby cribs and more. Recommended by the world's major cruise lines and hotels for superior service and value, we also provide consultation services regarding special needs policy and new-build design. Special Needs Group, a U.S. company, is not a travel agency; we do not compete in any way with travel agents.


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