WHICH IS BEST FOR ME – SCOOTER, WHEELCHAIR OR POWERCHAIR?
As 2009 closed, several new ships made a huge splash within the cruise industry, foreshadowing the future of cruising, including Disney Cruise Lines’ 4,000-passenger Dream and Royal Caribbean Cruises’ 5,400 passenger Oasis of the Seas, the largest passenger cruise ship ever floated. Within the next twelve months, several more behemoth vessels will enter the waters including Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, sister ship to the Oasis; and the largest ship ever for Norwegian Cruise Line, the 4,200-passenger Epic. With increased ship lengths – 1,184 feet from bow to stern for Oasis and Allure – more and more cruisers are requiring wheelchairs, scooters, walkers and other mobility aides to navigate these newer ships.
For the customer who has never rented mobility equipment before, the differences between renting a scooter, wheelchair or powerchair can be quite confusing. Customers frequently ask us, "What is the best mobility equipment for my needs?" Below are simple differences and descriptions about scooters, wheelchairs and powerchairs.
Scooters can benefit anyone who gets tired after walking or has pain when walking. When renting through Special Needs Group, customers have an option of three types of scooters: standard, heavy duty or bariatric. All scooters have three wheels due to easier navigation although four wheel scooters are available upon request and on limited availability. Standard and heavy duty scooters can fit through most standard cruise staterooms and hotel rooms; the bariatric scooter can only fit in wheelchair accessible cabins. All scooters are steered using a bicycle-style handlebar (or tiller). Scooters may be used indoors or outdoors and can generally travel easily over different surfaces. The maximum weight capacity for scooters is as follows: standard scooters – 250 lbs.; heavy duty scooters – 350 lbs.; bariatric scooters – 500 lbs. Read More.
CRUISE LINE SPOTLIGHT: CRYSTAL CRUISES
Crystal Cruises aims to provide travelers with the finest experience in all of luxury travel. Best known for its signature features like onboard sushi bars, extensive wine cellars and complimentary language classes, Crystal Cruises is like no other line. In 2009, Crystal was voted the "Best Large-Ship Cruise Line" by Conde Nast Traveler magazine for the 16th straight year.
Crystal Cruises has two ships in her fleet, the Crystal Symphony and the Crystal Serenity. Both ships were designed to be accessible for the physically challenged, with ramp access to most decks and public areas. The Crystal Serenity is the larger of the two ships with 535 staterooms, eight of which are wheelchair accessible. Two of the accessible staterooms are Penthouses, two have verandahs and four have large picture windows. The Crystal Symphony is slightly smaller with 461 staterooms, four of which are wheelchair accessible. Two of the accessible staterooms are Penthouses and two have large picture windows. Accessible rooms have 32" entry doorways to both the room and bathroom. The bathrooms have a roll-in shower, grab bars, lowered sink and vanity, fold-down shower stool, hand-held showerheads and a ramped threshold; toilet seat risers are available upon request. The rooms also have accessible closet rods and shelves.
The ships themselves are quite accessible with features including accessible gaming and accessible showroom seating. Additionally, many of Crystal Cruises shore excursions are wheelchair accessible so guests with disabilities should check with the Land Program department to schedule an excursion. Guests must bring their own wheelchair or scooter or must rent one through a company such as Special Needs Group as wheelchairs are only provided onboard for emergencies and for embarkation/disembarkation. Read More.
CITY OF HIGHLIGHT: TAMPA, FLORIDA
The metropolitan city of Tampa offers several activities for the mature adult and adults with disabilities. Although the area may be best known for Busch Gardens theme park, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, its beaches and golf courses, Tampa has several other lesser known gems.
On February, 6, 2010, the Tampa Museum of Art held its public Grand Opening. The new $26.6 million, 66,000 square foot museum includes a three-story atrium, state-of-the-art gallery spaces, seven expansive interior galleries and an exterior sculpture gallery. The museum provides an expansive collection of contemporary and classic art and also has world-class traveling exhibitions. From February-April 2010, the museum will have a Henri Matisse exhibit where 170 works of art spanning 50 years of Matisse’s career will be on display.
Built in 1926, the Tampa Theatre is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a Tampa City Landmark. Inside the theatre, audiences are transported to an ornate, beautiful, romantic Mediterranean courtyard. The ceiling above is replete with twinkling stars and clouds. Antique furniture, wooden carvings and an organist who plays before movies and shows, completes the experience. The theatre presents and hosts over 600 events a year including a full schedule of first run and classic films, concerts, special events and tours. Leading up to the Oscars, during the month of February, the theatre is showing Oscar classics like Somewhere in Time, Titanic and Chicago. On March 7, 2010 the theatre will host an officially sanctioned Oscar Night where guests can walk the red carpet and watch the live telecast of the Academy Awards. About twice a month, the theatre also offers a balcony-to-backstage tour that lasts about 1.5 hours. Read More.
Interesting Fact: Ybor City was once known as the Cigar Capital of the World with nearly 12,000 tabaqueros (cigar-makers) employed in 200 factories. Ybor City produced an estimated 700 million cigars a year at the industry’s peak.
Delivering an Accessible World.
Toll Free: 1-800-513-4515
2860 West State Road 84, Suite 107, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
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.