TIPS FOR FLYING ABROAD FOR TRAVELERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
September and October, the traditional "shoulder season" between summer’s high season and winter’s low season are good months for slow walkers and individuals with special needs to travel. There are fewer tourists overall, meaning more space on walkways, fewer lines for museums and other attractions. Prices traditionally drop, too, especially for international destinations.
If you are planning to take advantage of shoulder season to travel abroad, here are a few facts you should know before embarking on an international trip.
Booking an International Flight: While U.S. regulations mandate that U.S. air carriers cannot refuse transportation on the basis of disability (except in extreme cases) these rules may not cover foreign air carriers serving the U.S. Non-U.S. airlines belonging to IATA (International Air Transport Association) voluntarily adhere to rules similar to those of the U.S.; however, smaller overseas airlines may not be IATA members. Check with all airlines you will be connecting with. U.S. airlines are required to provide information concerning accessible facilities and services. Read More.
CRUISE LINE SPOTLIGHT: CUNARD LINE
In October, the brand-new Queen Elizabeth will join Cunard Line’s iconic Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. Cunard’s ships are recognized as "The Most Famous Ocean Liners in the World." From their vast array of enrichment programs, delectable cuisine, legendary voyages, comfortable accommodations and personal service, Cunard is the epitome of luxury cruising.
Cunard welcomes aboard guests with disabilities and those requiring assistance. All three of Cunard’s ships have wheelchair accessible staterooms. About two percent of Cunard’s rooms are accessible: The Queen Mary 2 has the most accessible staterooms, 31 out of 1,296 total rooms, followed by the Queen Victoria, 20 out of 1,000 and the Queen Elizabeth with 20 out of 1,029. The staterooms are across different categories including the Queen Grill Suites, Princess Grill Suites, Balcony, Ocean View and Inside rooms. Rooms are equipped with accessible closet rods, lowered shelves and a bed height of 22". Stateroom bathrooms are nicely equipped with a roll-in shower, grab bars, lowered sink, fold-down shower stool, ramped threshold, toilet seat riser, sliding bathroom doors, hand-held mirror and portable hair dryer. Read More.
CITY OF HIGHLIGHT: SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
San Juan is a booming tourist destination. More tourists visit San Juan each year than any other spot in the Caribbean. Founded by the Spanish in 1521, it also is the oldest city in the United States. The city has an eclectic combination of sights and sounds and has much to offer its visitors: centuries-old architecture; stunning beaches; wonderful eateries, including those serving authentic criollo food; enjoyable museums; and lively nightlife.
Most cruise ships dock right in the heart of Old San Juan. Old San Juan comprises seven square blocks of cobbled streets and colonial architecture. The 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial buildings have been exquisitely preserved and carefully restored. For people with mobility impairments, touring the city by foot can be challenging. The sidewalks are very narrow and the streets are paved with cobblestones. So choose your tour based upon how much physical exertion you can endure. Most of the old buildings in San Juan are not wheelchair accessible but a few of them are and definitely worth visiting.
To protect the beautiful city of San Juan from its enemies, the city built a massive wall and forts. San Felipe del Morro, Puerto Rico’s best known fort, was constructed to defend the port of San Juan and keep seaborne enemies out of the city. Overlooking San Juan Bay and providing stunning vistas, the dramatic El Morro also is a labyrinth of tunnels, dungeons, barracks and lookout towers. Fort San Cristobal is one of the largest forts built in the Americas. Built between 1634 and 1790, Fort San Cristobal’s impressive walls reach over 100 feet. The Fort’s primary function was to protect San Juan from land-based attacks. Both of these forts – for the most part – are wheelchair accessible. As cannons needed to move between levels, these forts were built with ramps – a built-in bonus for accessibility. Some ramps are steep, though, and so it is advised to bring a companion along for assistance. Read More.
Interesting Fact: Most of the beers sold in Puerto Rico vary from 7 to 10 ounce bottles or cans. Puerto Ricans prefer their beers extremely cold so the portions are small in order to be consumed before the beer has time to warm up.
Cruise Lines out of the Port of San Juan: Azamara Club Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Silversea Cruises
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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.