Are you planning to go on a cruise for your next vacation trip? If you need assistance getting around the cruise ship and port stops, renting a mobility scooter can make your vacation all the more enjoyable. However, you will need to get information from both the cruise line and scooter rental company so that you can plan your trip accordingly.
Cruise Line Requirements
Contact the cruise line to find out what specific guidelines it has for taking a motorized mobility scooter on board. Inquire about the width of the ship's stateroom doors, as sizes vary by ship. You also need to know about the availability of electrical outlets in the stateroom since you will need to charge the scooter's battery.
Ask the scooter rental company for the size of the scooter before renting it. Scooter sizes vary in width. A wider scooter will have a larger turning radius, which could make it more difficult to navigate on the ship.
Once you know the size for the scooter you want to rent, contact the cruise line again if the scooter won't fit through the ship's standard doorways. You may need to request changing your cabin assignment to an accessible stateroom. You will pay more for a larger cabin, but it may suit your needs better.
You also need to make certain the stateroom is large enough to store the scooter, especially if you don't use it all the time. The regulations of cruise lines require that you charge the scooter in your stateroom; therefore, you will have to keep the scooter in your cabin at night.
Maneuverability is another concern. Three-wheel models are lightweight and easy to maneuver. The scooters fit through most standard stateroom doorways. Four-wheel models offer greater stability, but they are larger and require more room to make turns. They also don't fit through standard stateroom doorways.
Find out how the rental company handles scooter breakdowns while you are traveling. If the scooter experiences a minor mechanical problem, an online member of the cruise line may be able to make the necessary repair.
Some rental companies (ask the company, such as Wheelchair Haven Inc., beforehand) can have a replacement scooter waiting for you at the next port if it has an office there. However, it's a good idea to take along a folding wheelchair as a backup in case a scooter breaks down and you can't get it replaced during the trip. Unless damage to the scooter is your fault, most rental companies will give you a refund, but you need to notify the company of the problem as soon as possible.
Handicapped Accessibility at Port Stops
Since regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act do not apply in foreign ports, not all ports of call may be handicap accessible. The cruise line or port authorities can give you information about accessibility.
Check with the cruise line beforehand to find out at which ports of call the ship will dock. Since most times you can't use scooters to board the ship's tender boat to be transported to shore, you will need to be able to take the steps. Once you leave the tender boat, you can use a wheelchair to navigate around the port. Likewise, if you book a shore excursion and plan to use a scooter, inquire in advance whether transportation vehicles have ramps or lifts.
Scooter Delivery and Pickup
Ask about the rental company's method for delivery and pickup of the scooter. Many cruise lines work with preferred providers who deliver the scooter directly to your stateroom. At the end of the cruise, you leave the scooter in your cabin. You will have to make other delivery arrangements with the rental company if you need the scooter to board the ship.