Cruising with cancer is a GREAT option! With these special considerations, this can be your best vacation ever!
14 months ago, when my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer we had no idea that we would make it this far. Now our mission is to enjoy every minute we have together and to not waste a second.
Our most recent adventure? A 7-day cruise from New York to Bermuda…
Update: If you have no idea how to deal with all this cancer business, we can help you formulate a plan to tackle the immediate issues… finding the best care, talking with your insurance company, finding resources that will actually help, and dealing with the fear, anxiety and overwhelm of this whole situation.
We can’t control the cancer, but we CAN show you how to manage this crisis. And it’s 100% Free.
Let me start by saying, we had the MOST AMAZING TIME on this cruise… but cruising with cancer does require some accommodations.
For example, if you have mobility issues and symptoms like weakness and exhaustion relating to cancer, there are some things you’ll want to consider before you jump on this cruise.
This ship is big, I mean massive. To be able to walk the entire ship, every day, you are gonna need to be in pretty decent shape. I would say we walked a few miles a day just tooling around and checking things out, so if mobility is an issue for you, you may want to develop a plan.
The wheelchair which was our plan sounded like a great idea for cruising with cancer until we got there…
There are a few issues with a manual wheelchair being your mobility plan.
- There is a huge amount of walking to push the wheelchair. Miles of walking. Meaning the majority of someone’s vacation is going to be spent pushing the wheelchair, everywhere.
- The cruise ship is not really handicapped accessible. The rugs make pushing a wheelchair more difficult. Walking down the hallway to your room is particularly difficult as the hallways are extremely narrow anyway, and then there are carts and housekeeping items that block your passage.
- Buffets and heavily attended areas are REALLY difficult to maneuver. The buffet on this ship, for example, is literally packed all the time. It is a nightmare to navigate this when you have mobility issues and require the use of a wheelchair or a walker. More often, we used the restaurants which made it WAY easier for us to navigate.
- Once you get to Bermuda, you’ll want to see even more and that will require even more walking. FYI… my husband and I walked a total of 17,000 steps (about 7 miles in one day).
- The small rooms are TINY. The space in our room was tight, like really cramped. Storing a wheelchair in an already tight space is difficult. See more on that later….
The (brilliant!) solution to the wheelchair dilemma when you’re cruising with cancer
Special Need Group Scooter
This rentable device saved my vacation. And it was worth every single penny.
It’s a compact electric scooter that gave my dad the ability to see the entire ship while preserving his energy for the fun stuff.
He became totally independent with this scooter. And that’s something he hasn’t had in a while.
Here’s the deal: the scooter is small enough to fit everywhere AND you can take it off the ship to tour Bermuda. We used the scooter for the long distances, so my dad could go wherever he wanted and have the opportunity to see everything…but he could also save his energy for the things he really wanted to do.
Having options like that is so important when you’re battling cancer!
Want to make your vacation even easier…
Splurge for the bigger room
Because we got this cruise at the last minute, and we were looking for cheap, we decided to stay in the most inexpensive package available. Which included the smallest room available to fit four adults, two with significant mobility issues, all our luggage, a wheelchair and a walker.
About 5 minutes in that room, I was straight-up panicking and begging them for another option. So, of course, they didn’t have one.
It worked out! We totally made it. But it was cramped, and we would have been much more comfortable with some extra room.
Don’t make the same mistake we did. Cruising with cancer seems to do better with some extra space! ????
Check out Medjetassist
Make sure Medjetassisst is in place so that if God forbid you end up in an emergency situation and need to return to U.S., you can. This membership is a 24/7 emergency travel evacuation plan that will get you to your doctors in the event of an emergency that takes place 100 Miles from your home (including international!)
If you are cruising with cancer or another diagnosis that can create issues for you, this is a really great safety plan. This way you don’t have to worry about a medical crisis on vacation. You’ve already ensured that there will be trained medical professionals ready to air lift you out of there. And for about $150 for the whole year of coverage… that’s a good plan!
Look for handicapped bathrooms
These are great. These one-person bathrooms (rather than multiple tiny stalls) can be found all over the ship. You push a button and the doors open automatically to a large bathroom that can easily accommodate a wheelchair.
Two words of caution:
The doors are really heavy almost to the point of being dangerous. I attempted to stop one from closing and it practically knocked me over. Be prepared to go in and prepared to leave as soon as the doors open. Once they start closing get out of the way.
Make sure you lock the door! If you don’t, anyone who pushes the button after you go in can accidentally reveal you to the world… (Ask me how we know!).
Ask for any additional equipment you need.
Toilet seat risers, shower chairs, etc. were available when you contacted guest services.
My dad is deaf and so they presented us with a pager that would go off with any messages or announcements made by the crew. It was a complete waste of time, we used it once and then pulled the battery!
We couldn’t shut the sound off, so those of us who could hear were awoken early the next morning to a very loud and annoying and constant beeping that pretty much told us that there were a lot of activities happening on the ship today.
Things to do…
The activities on the cruise were fantastic and created for everyone so you’ll be in good shape if you’re cruising with cancer. For example, several of the movies on board had closed captioning, so even if you are hearing impaired you can enjoy the movie. Bingo had large visual cues that were easy to see, and there was plenty of time to “do stuff” and rest.
Had some different rules for the card games. At the Let it Ride table the casino rule on the ship is you can only use one hand to look at your cards. My dad has some significant dexterity issues and wasn’t able to make the one hand work. With some help from the dealer and the Pit Boss, we were able to get an exception.
PS: we didn’t have much luck on the slots, but we had a good amount of luck on Let it Ride. If you like that game, definitely take a shot. We watched a guy win $4,000 dollars after he hit 4 of a kind.
Activities were at your pace and your interest and included a full water park, mini golf, game shows, bingo, Salsa dancing, slot tournaments, Broadway shows, comedy shows, karaoke and, much more.
I wasn’t sure about three full days in Bermuda, with no other stops.
My take on cruising had always been that the major draw of a cruise vacation is your ability to see multiple destinations. So, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about 1 destination for 3 days.
Well, it turns out, I am a huge fan!!
And it was fabulous for my parents too. It gave me a chance to check the place out and determine the best way to move around out there. So, when we headed out we already had a solid game plan for touring. 3 days was IDEAL for cruising with cancer.
Previous cruises I have taken have been a mad dash to see a destination within the 6-8-hour time frame and this was much more relaxed and easy to manage.
It was so much better to have enough time to actually see this place and to have enough time to really explore, shop, and enjoy the destination much better than attempting to fly through it in 6 hours!!
Three days in Bermuda was fantastic.
The best part, almost everything on the boat remained open while we were docked. The restaurants, the pool, the spa, some planned activities are all running, in case you decide to stay back. So, the first afternoon when we returned from off-ship, my husband and I were the only two people in the Hot Tub (on a ship of 4,000 people, that was pretty awesome!).
Which means, you could have the ship to yourself while everyone else was exploring! And they have sales during this time for things like the Spa. By booking on the 2nd day of Bermuda I had a 75-minute Hot Stone Massage for the price of a 50-minute massage (which is like $50 difference!) And because I booked for 7 pm, I got to explore Bermuda, then get my massage! Win/win.
Cruising with cancer is a FANTASTIC way to check some things off your bucket list. All in all, this cruise was one of the best vacations we have ever had!
And once we figured out exactly what we needed to be successful, everything was smooth sailing. A little bit of prep and you will be totally prepared for the vacation of a lifetime!
P.S. If you’re drowning in all this cancer business, and you have no idea where to start… The Cancer Combat Plan is a step by step guide from someone who has struggled through this and found ways to manage the chaos, the stress and the overwhelm.
Things feel better, and more in control when you have a plan. So if you’re looking for action steps, resources, and strategies that will help you manage this crisis, we’ve got you covered. And it’s totally free…
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