This wheelchair user can't enthuse too much about her first cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on Celebrity's Century. To other folks' raves about the food, service, entertainment, the lovely ship, etc., I add my own -- a most disabled-friendly vessel! A few observations:
CABINSThe ship has 7 outside and 1 inside cabins specifically designed for wheelchair users, all located on Plaza Deck 5, adjacent to the Guest Relations Desk, where help is always available should you need assistance. The cruise line requires a letter from your physician stating that you must use a chair before they will book you. These cabins are twice the size of regular ones and could otherwise be too tempting to our non-disabled brethren! The higher priced suites can accomodate a chair but have no special provisions. Regular cabin doorways are too narrow. In the specially designed cabins, one closet has a pull-down rod. For the hearing-impaired, there is a flashing light to indicate a phone call and another in case of emergency. A cordless phone for use in the cabin is a nice touch. TV programs are close captioned.
BATHMy one regret on this cruise -- I couldn't figure out a way to pack up this room and bring it home with me! It is large, with roll-in shower with pull-down seat. The sink and mirror are height adjustable, and the commode has plenty of grab bars. Seat height is 18 inches. The lip between cabin and bath is about 2 inches and is ramped.
GENERAL ACCESSThe ship is completely accessible, although I could not get back in from the Promenade Deck without help. Many of the doors are automatic. The Islands Cafe is cafeteria style, but even if you are with a spouse who is used to putting your plate on his tray, you will not be in the line for more than a minute before a nice young man magically appears to help you make selections and ANOTHER one takes over as driver. Only problem is they seem disappointed if you do not take one of everything!! And very strong willpower is necessary to resist!
SHORE EXCURSIONSThe Guest Relations staff member we spoke with was very knowledgeable about what I would be able to do. The ship docks at all ports except St. Marteen, but we were glad we decided to book an excursion there anyway. The tender crew carried me in my chair down a flight of steps and back up on our return with no problem. The only small problem here was that the gangway between ship and tender was too narrow for a chair, so my husband had to carry me about eight feet. Once ashore, the chair stowed easily under the bus.
WHEN IT'S OVERPassengers who use wheelchairs get first priority when disembarking, then Captains Club Members, then by deck (from high to lower). So if you are with a group, you may want to inquire about this, as waiting in the comfort of the ship is much better than waiting in the baggage pick-up area. Although that way you do get to say good-bye to all the new friends you've made and hope to see again on your very next cruise. For which you will begin planning the very minute you get home!
Sue Vastine can be reached at email@example.com
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