Cruising with a Visual Impairment

We were supposed to go to a wedding in another state. Looking at the logistics, driving several hours to get there and a lack of reasonably priced accommodations close enough to allow us to stay for even half of the reception, we decided it simply was not practical.

That left me with a week off and nothing to do. Let’s go on a cruise!

Things don't make you happy

O.K. Staying home is infinitely more practical. It is also, for me, infinitely more...well, mind-numbing comes to mind, although that may not be the exact term either. There is a body of research all saying things don’t make you happy. Experiences make you happy. Buy that cute outfit and you are happy until you wear it once or you see a cuter outfit you have to have. Have an experience you enjoyed and you “can eat out on that” for a very long time.

I just looked up that phrase - you can eat out on that - and apparently no one uses it anymore! What it means is to have experiences that make good stories and people will invite you to dinner. More good experiences.

Cruising for travel

So, what does all this have to do with the price of tea in China? (Remember THAT one?) I am legally blind with AMD and I am cruising. How about them apples?

Cruising is relatively inexpensive compared to other travel options. For slightly more than $2000 we are getting eight nights of lodging, unlimited food, nightly free entertainment, a gym and some, exercise classes, pool, hot tub and five ports of call to explore. The ship we are taking also has a vertical wind tunnel for “skydiving,” a casino and other things that can be considered “spectator sports,” although I definitely intend to “skydive.” In short, cruising offers bang for the buck. Get last-minute deals and the value is even better.

Going on a cruise with a visual impairment

But can visually impaired people cruise? That is a qualified yes. Note that word is qualified, not unqualified. Most cruise lines I quickly researched suggest you bring someone with vision along. Offerings for the visually impaired include things like Braille signs, large print menus in specialty restaurants and maybe, an orientation tour of the ship. In other words, they are not knocking themselves out. Also, while they do offer accessible tours, the word “accessible” applies almost exclusively to physical impairment. Once off the ship, you are not the cruise company’s responsibility.

Cruise accommodations

That said, with a little planning and common sense, cruising can make a great vacation for those of us with visual impairment. Staff on board is plentiful, pleasant, and helpful. It is hard to get lost for too very long as long as you are on the ship. Buffet staff will answer questions although English is not always their forte. They will also run for little things like an extra fork. Cabin stewards are the sweethearts of the universe. I think it is a job requirement. They already put your jammies on the bed (take the good ones and leave all ratty pjs at home. Do not be embarrassed in front of your cabin steward!) and put the remote back next to the bed. Anything else? Ask. Just make it reasonable. These guys are sometimes six months at sea, working seven days a week. Cut them a break.

Travel companies for the visually impaired

I have some information about travel companies that cater almost exclusively to the blind and visually impaired. In fact, one of them is owned and operated by a “girl” (we will always be girls ya know) who was a year behind me in high school. Hi, Susie!

Anyhow, to make a short story longer, I will be sharing some of that research next page. Bon voyage, guys!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

"When my MD progresses, I experience ________"