While we’re all bathing in the afterglow of the London 2012 Paralympics, I thought we should talk about disabled passengers on cruise ships.
When I was growing up in post-war Britain 60 years ago, disabled people were generally thought of as an embarrassment.
If you were unfortunate enough to be born without limbs, or sight, or with emotional or psychological problems, or an accident or war caused such problems, the vast majority of people tried to avoid talking about the subject.
They didn’t mean to be rude or anything – they just didn’t really think about how difficult it was to cope with any form of social stigma.
If you were disabled, you were virtually guaranteed an unequal life.
That’s why the recent Paralympics in London were so great. They went a long long way to making a global audience rethink their attitudes to fellow human beings that maybe they’d previously overlooked.
Hopefully, we will now all be that more considerate and understanding Though I doubt it, for there are still, unfortunately, many parts of the world where anybody who looks or sounds different is still treated appallingly.
What I’d really like is for a cruise ship to invite some of the Paralympics competitors and medal winners on a cruise. And for the captain and crew and cruise line to take careful note of all their comments about how easy or difficult it is for passengers with various types of disabilities to actually get around a ship and enjoy the trip.
Of course, most cruise lines will tell you they do consider the needs of their less able (mentally and physically?) passengers. However, I believe, in many cases, some cruise lines could improve on what they already offer.
What disabled passengers need, apart from anything else, are more ships that have gangways, cabins and corridors where a wheelchair can actually fit. Crew trained to deal with different disabilities. More signs in Braille. More help for passengers who are deaf. And for a wider acceptance of guide dogs so that their blind owners can go on holiday at sea.
But don’t ask me. Ask someone who is actually disabled. Or preferably several someones at different levels of disability – who have got to live with it (that goes for their carers too), and may want go on a nice relaxing cruise with as little hassle as possible.
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