I went on a 14-night cruise to the Canary Islands in October 2018 and had an absolutely wonderful time. Travelling is quite a feat for me as I have a congenital type of Muscular Dystrophy and respiratory failure. I have to take an awful lot of essential equipment including ventilators, batteries, a hoist etc. A cruise seemed the best way to travel and see parts of the world I would otherwise not be able to visit.
We set sail from Southampton and I breathed a sigh of relief that my bed and hoist had been delivered and set up in my cabin. I couldn’t relax until that moment. I travelled with my Mum, two PAs and my Sister and her family. It was particularly special for me to be able to go away with my young nephews and witness their enjoyment as well as broaden my own horizons.
The access on the ship was great and I made the most of being able to move freely throughout. I visited the spa, the casino, watched shows in the theatre and ice rink and took part in a few quizzes. I got to talk to a lot of interesting people, fellow guests and staff and what I loved was that I could do this with or without my family or PAs because it was so accessible and I felt safe.
On the days in port we either explored the immediate area or organised tours or activities in advance. My favourite day was undoubtedly the day we stopped at Lisbon. I had emailed a company that specialised in private tours and they tailored a 4-hour tour of the historic area of Belem. We were picked up at the cruise terminal and were taken about in a wheelchair accessible minibus by a wonderful guide called Sergio. We visited a bakery and sampled their world-famous custard tarts, went over the road to the Monastery and learnt a lot about the history and culture of the city. I loved the fact I could explore these places, soak in the sights and sounds and get a taste of life through our local tour guide.
Much to the embarrassment of my family, I tried to speak Spanish in all the Spanish ports. I have been learning for 4 years so this was my chance to put it into practice! I tried local food, enjoyed the amazing weather in the Canaries and although the itinerary was packed full, the fact that the things that make my physical life easier were back on board the ship made the whole experience one that I could enjoy without discomfort, pain and exhaustion. The financial support from CS Disabled Holidays made it possible for me to rent a specialist profiling bed and have it delivered and set up in my cabin – this piece of equipment made all the difference to me and I would like to thank them for their help towards what was a fantastic experience that gave me a real sense of freedom.