To Go or Not To Go…

Many of us living with chronic illnesses know that often it can rob us of our dreams and aspirations – often assuming that what we used to dream of achieving is no longer within our grasp.  However, this is often not the truth – what may be out of our grasp is the most conventional route of achieving a particular dream; but often when living with a chronic illness, we need to find another route to be able to achieve our dream.

A dream of mine has always been to visit the beautiful country of Italy.  In fact it is on my ‘Bucket List’ that we have complied at my social group which I attend. However, due to my problems with dizziness and vertigo, particularly affected by high ceilings  flying there would not be a good option for me as the majority of airports are very large and have high ceilings – using this transport option would mean that I would be extremely unwell even before getting to the desired destination!


Airports - large and high.  My idea of a nightmare!
Airports – large and high. My idea of a nightmare!


Another option would be travelling by a coach; which is one option in which my Mother and I were considering.  However, this was quickly dismissed after a recent trip to the cinema in which I was left in bad pain within my legs due to the cramped conditions, and therefore thought that travelling via coach for many hours would most likely result in severe pain.

Coaches don't offer a lot of leg room - and for me would leave me in pain
Coaches don’t offer a lot of leg room – and for me would leave me in pain


Therefore, the only option left to me is a cruise.  My parents went on one a couple of years ago and loved it – really could not recommend it enough.  Although it is only really my last option left to be able to visit Italy; there are however a lot to think about.  Such as the constant dizziness and balance problems.  Would going on a cruise possibly increase the severity of the dizziness, vertigo and balance issues.  People with vestibular disorders often have super sensitive balance – and although cruises have stabilisers and ‘healthy’ people report not feeling the motion of the cruise ship; a person with a vestibular however may feel the motion and be affected because of it.  On the other hand, my balance and dizziness are a result of a neurological disorder and therefore it is interesting to consider whether I would be affected by a cruise in the same way a person with a vestibular disorder would.

A Cruise - good or bad thing with a condition like mine?
A Cruise – good or bad thing with a condition like mine?


There are a lot of advantages of cruising for a person with a chronic illness; which really do appeal to me:

  • Cruise liners and the companies running them are very happy to accommodate for those with disabilities and chronic illnesses – if you tell them in advance what you need then they will happy to accommodate your specific requirements.  Or if they cannot themselves they will signpost you to places where you will be able to rent certain mobility aids, etc 
  • If like me, you are unable to determine when you will become unwell; symptoms appear with no warning then on a cruise you can simply head back to the cabin to have rest or a nap.  If you were on a conventional holiday and out on an excursion you would not be able to do so
  • With mobility problems like myself; cruise ships have plenty of elevators that you can use, and if you suddenly get tired, there are plenty of lounges, bars, restaurants or seats that you can plop yourself down on to take a break
  • When the cruise liner has reached a particular destination and has docked, if you are not up to go sight-seeing then you do not have to – you can just stay on the ship and relax!
  • Plenty to do and lots going on!  I personally like to be entertained and if I am up to it like lots to do – and cruises offer that.  Amenities often include theatres, cinema, spas, swimming pools, ice rinks, and lots more!

I am yet undecided whether I will eventually go on a cruise; there are many factors to consider, and my health being the biggest factor to consider.  Would a cruise be a good fit for a condition like mine?  One thing though, I would love something to really look forward to and be excited about – my future currently offers me more hospital appointments and the same old routine!

What are your thoughts?  Do you suffer with a chronic illness and like to travel?  What, in your opinion are the best types of holidays for those with chronic illness?  Any more advantages of a cruise?  Its disadvantages?

Please leave comments – would love to know your thoughts as ever!


9 thoughts on “To Go or Not To Go…

  1. I have chosen to only travel via car, unless by God’s grace my condition were to change. The thought of going on a cruise doesn’t seem feasible at all. I can only imagine being dizzy, nauseous, and sick to my stomach out in the middle of the sea. The same with an airplane. The cabin pressure with my vestibular symptoms could be a huge mess. Although I’m so limited in my methods of travel, I am grateful for what I am still able to do. I have been so bad in the past with chronic vertigo that I have had to ride with a bucket in my lap. At least I’ve been able to be a passenger in a car without getting sick for quite a while now.

    • Thank for your comment and input Michele. I am happy for you that you have been able to travel on holidays and enjoy them. Travelling by bus or car wouldn’t be a feasible option for me because I would be left in pain because of the spastic paraparesis as I experienced at the cinema. Still having a long and hard think about it as there is a lot to experience. A major problem with chronic illness is not being able to be spontaneous; and instead need to think things through thoroughly and consider the effects that it will have on our health. I would just love the opportunity to experience Italy for myself and make memories and experiences that I will be able to treasure forever.

  2. The only disadvantage of a cruise ship is in fact that it’s making those movements; I needed anti-nausea medication from time to time – not very often though, despite the fact that I ate a lot on the ship. The food was beyond delicious and there were huge buffets four times a day; plus they offered all kinds of food for people with allergies – gluten free, lactose free, etc. On the first morning I thought I had to skip my daily muesli, because I guessed they certainly just had “normal” milk there. In fact they had several milk and surrogate drinks, including the soya drink I usually take instead of milk.
    The good thing is also that they have medical personnel on board (on the ship where I was they even had a small hospital), so if you need help there is always someone available.

    I like to fly when I travel somewhere, because I’m unable to sit for very long. Of course that also means that I cannot fly very far. I would love to see Japan, but (apart from the cost) it would mean a flight of many hours – too much for me. So I’d rather stay in Europe or at least close.

  3. I am not sure how your dizziness would handle a cruise, the ships are so large these days you really can’t feel them move…much. Some people are still very sensitive. Just don’t get a midship room. Get an outside cabin with a balcony so you have fresh air and a view of the horizon. I prefer up high and as near the front as possible (less vibration). I have been on dozens of cruises with lupus, eds, fibro, neuropathy, bipolar and kidney issues. I have enjoyed all of my cruises and I have enjoyed the ability to do as much OR AS LITTLE as I wanted. The scopolamine patch (behind the ear) is great, but does have side effects after about 4 days (blurred vision being the worst).
    Still, with all of the options you mention and the issues behind them, I would say a cruise could be very fun and relaxing.
    There are areas of ships with very tall ceilings, so, be aware of those areas and avoid them if that is an issue for you. These are the areas that face the center areas of the ship (where shopping will be located etc) that the glass elevators are. (most ships look almost identical)
    I hope you find a way to reach your dream, what a fun and chronically awesome trip that will be!

  4. JUST completed a cruise to Honduras, Belize, and Mexico. As a chronic patient w/ residual effects from a stroke including balance and vision issues, I can say that I had no problems at all. Of course, I’m not one to get sea/car/air sick. My mother, who is “healthy,” was more bothered than any of us, but never resorted to meds. There are several options for meds and pressure point controls, and my favorite is simply the use of peppermint oil. Do consider that a transatlantic crossing will be different from cruising in smaller bodies of water. Depending on where you live, if you’ve got access to a boat – go get on it and see how you do. If you do book, make sure you get a room in the center of the ship (I disagree with Jules on the exterior room b/c there’s more bobbing the further from the center one gets) — and read all the disclaimers and health/trip insurance policies carefully — and consider making friends with the ship’s doctor early on to provide a sense of security. In the grand scope of things though — if you get sick, you won’t be the only one!

    Do note that airlines are selling “economy comfort” seats these days that allow for a bit more leg room.

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  6. Rhiann, My Dystonia has impacted my travel in terms of the amount of physical activity involved but I’ve certainly seen the world, at least Europe. However, I’ve more recently developed hypersensitivities to smells and dust/dirt particles that have almost completely curtailed my travels as I need a high degree of control over my environment, way more than I can achieve at a hotel or other lodging. Even visiting my dad in Florida can prove difficult as I require special laundry detergent, a minimum of items that attract dust/dirt and function best without carpeting, upholstery, decorative objects, and items on the walls. As for you, a cruise is the easiest way to travel, minimum of transfers and you can choose your level of activity. Even with the large ships there can be some motion when the sea is rough but any mode of transportation involves motion, even the subway and cars. I encourage you to look into the cruise option and consider a shorter term Mediterranean cruise for starters. I had my own particular issues with smells and dust but it really is an easy way to travel. -Pamela-

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