(Soon to be) Leaving on a cruise ship…

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Welcome to the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge brought together by WEGO Health – a social network for all health activists.  Again, I am participating in the annual Writer’s Month Challenge in which I will be writing about my health activism and health condition based upon prompts given.

Today’s prompt reads as follows:

Travel Time…If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Why?  We also know travelling with a chronic illness can be challenging, so any tips for others that you can share would be great!

This particular prompt is a very interesting one for me, as in just over two weeks I myself will be going on holiday!  Yes, I am due to go on the first holiday I have had for a number of years.  The prospect is both very exciting and nerve-wracking.  This is the first holiday since my diagnosis of my neurological condition, and in addition is the first time I will be travelling since my symptoms have become worse, such as the mobility problems I live with as well as the worsening of the dizziness and vertigo.

My parents and I are going on a cruise with Royal Caribbean, sailing on one of their magnificent ships ‘Adventure of the Seas’ departing on May 8th.  The cruise is to travel around the Mediterranean visiting places such as Cadiz, Barcelona, Nice, Livorno and Rome.  I am particularly looking forward to visiting the places in Italy, as it is a country that I have wanted to visit.  I love Italian food, and think the language sounds beautiful.  It is a place full of history, a subject that I am interested in, and the architecture of its building are spectacular.

The beautiful cruise ship that I am about to depart on for my adventure around the Mediterreanean
The beautiful cruise ship that I am about to depart on for my adventure around the Mediterranean

I will admit that after I was diagnosed with the neurological condition, and since the symptoms that I constantly live with worsened I thought that I would never get to visit the sights in Italy that I had wanted to visit since I was young.  For example, I am unable to fly as due to my dizziness I would not be able to handle being in airports for a considerable amount of time because of their considerable size and high ceilings.  There are several local bus companies that do offer trips to Italy, however since the pain in my legs has worsened during the past couple of years, we ruled that option because of the likelihood that being in a bus for a long time without being able to stretch my legs would worsen the pain in them considerably.  So, the only option left was to go on a cruise.  At first, I was very skeptical as I was certainly worried that the dizziness would worsen due to the movement of the ship.  However, as both my parents have been on a cruise before, and eased by concerns and anxieties about cruising as well as listing off a large number of benefits of going on a cruise versus other types of holiday.  And by agreeing then I would be able to choose a cruise that would allow me to fulfil my dreams of visiting a place I had wanted to for so long.

The beautiful city of Rome which I will soon be experiencing
The beautiful city of Rome which I will soon be experiencing

After mulling it over, I agreed and took the plunge by booking the cruise we are to depart on in a couple of weeks.  The countdown now is most certainly on and I am busily preparing for the cruise and purchasing new clothes and bits and pieces that I need to take with me such as sunglasses, hats and other holiday necessities.  Another necessity that I have to take is my wheelchair; due to the neurological condition I am unable to walk far and therefore will need it to use on excursions and around the ship so I will be able to enjoy everything I want to experience.  Granted, I never dreamt that if I ever got to visit Italy I would do so in a wheelchair but sometimes dreams do not turn out the way that we expected.  I have decided to pack some items that are my personal necessity items such as my iPad – before leaving I will download some films that I will be able to watch on the days where I may be feeling very unwell and am stuck in our cabin due to the severity of my symptoms.  This may not happen, of course, but I thought I would prepare for the possibility that it could happen.  I am planning to watch a film or two on the journey to Southampton in order to distract myself from the pain and trembling in my legs that has worsened recently and may also worsen whilst travelling in the car due to the lack of leg room.  A notebook of course is another item that I will be taking with me; an item that will be very useful in taking notes for the blog post that I will be writing when I return home.  And of course, no holiday would be complete without a camera to document the experience of travelling to new places for posterity.  For this, I am planning to take as many photographs as possible with my smartphone, and then I am planning to build a scrapbook of my cruise experience as something to look back on when I am having a bad day due to chronic illness.

This particular prompt also asks for tips for others regarding travelling with a chronic illness.  However, as I have mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have not travelled since being diagnosed with a neurological condition, or not taken a holiday since the symptoms associated with my condition has worsened.  Therefore, I would like to make this particular post interactive and ask my readers (aka YOU!) for their tips regarding travelling whilst living with a chronic illness?  What are some of the items I should be packing in my luggage?  What are some of your coping techniques when your symptoms flare whilst travelling?  Any tips that you can offer would be much appreciated and would love to hear others’ experiences of cruising with a chronic illness or even better a neurological condition.  So, please leave any tips and suggestions in the comment section below:

I look forward to writing a post about my holiday of a lifetime and sharing my experiences and tips that I may have found whilst travelling with a neurological condition.

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4 thoughts on “(Soon to be) Leaving on a cruise ship…

  1. Oh my goodness! That is awesome! I’m so glad you decided to book a vacation for yourself 🙂
    I loved being on the one cruise my family went on, my advice, if you suffer motion sickness, pack your gravol.
    *if thats what you need / can have*
    Even though the big tumblers in the bottom of the ship keep it all lovely and stable my mum still got motion sick.
    I just don’t think she was meant for the water like my brothers and I !

    Don’t overpack, but don’t underpack, when I go out places, I know I take along a lot of little things, but its best to have with you what you need to be comfy in your temporary environment!

    I hope you have an AMAZING VACATION! 😀

  2. Cruising is a wonderful way for the disabled to travel as you don’t need to be dragging your luggage around. Unpack once and forget it until time to go home. I have a neuro / muscular condition and use a mobility scooter to get around. I have cruised all over the world and loved every minute of it. Your cruise line will offer shore excursions that you may purchase, however, unless you are able to climb the steps onto the bus, they will not guarantee that you can take your wheelchair. Not all ports have ADA equipped buses or luggage bays beneath. You will need to do a lot of computer research on each port to decide what best fits your needs. You can not always rely on what the cruise line tells you about accessibility. Check directly with port authorities, tourism offices, disability organizations, public transportation companies, including specific sites you wish to visit. My friend and I plan many of our own scooter tours of the port cities. Many places we have to be content with exterior views only due to steps with no ramps. A few places we have received special accommodation to ride in a private elevator to view otherwise inaccessible areas.
    Rome and Florence are fascinating cities but a long distance from the ports of Civitivecchia and Livorno. There are many curb cuts, but not consistent. You will also experience cobblestones. Barcelona is very easy to navigate with a wheelchair.
    On board the ship, make sure you have booked a wheelchair accessible cabin. This will have space to maneuver your wheelchair, wider doorways, level entry or small ramp into bathroom and a roll-in shower with plenty of grab bars. You will discover that there can be a great deal of walking or rolling to get around on the ship. You will be happy to have your chair.
    Elevators can be a challenge. It is best to allow extra time and start out a little early so as to avoid peak usage times. Some passengers are inconsiderate and will push ahead of you into the elevators. If an empty elevator arrives, get in! It is easier to take a short ride in the opposite direction than wait on the outside hoping for space to get in.
    To travel from one end of the ship to the other use the promenade deck rather than fight with laundry carts in cabin hallways.
    Request mattress toppers, rubber shower mats and toilet risers from your cabin steward. They can often get them for you.
    If you are concerned about motion sickness and want a classier solution than the terrycloth wrist bands, look into “queasy beads”. You can also usually get motion sickness pills at no charge at the Guest Services desk. Sipping ginger ale, sucking on ginger candies and nibbling on green apples are also supposed to help settle a queasy stomach.
    I hope some of this will be helpful to you. Please do extensive research of each port to enjoy to your fullest. I am confident that you will have a wonderful time!
    Try not to over pack. Choose clothes that will mix and match and don’t be afraid to wash out a few items in your sink. Do you really need an iPad and a notebook? Won’t one serve both functions for the trip? Lot’s of things are small and don’t take up much space until you get a dozen of them. The longer I travel, the less I take as it is easier to keep track of everything.

  3. One thing which came to my mind (not just for the chronically ill) – be careful with regard to air condition! As you are travelling to a warm place and hopefully have sunny weather be careful that after an outing and after being outside on the ship immediately put on a jumper or cardigan when you go inside, because most likely they will have air condition on. You may enjoy the cool air when you are hot and probably sweating, but it is so easy to catch a cold. It happened to me on my cruise – luckily I felt the sore throat for the first time on our flight home, so the journey itself was not spoiled for me, but afterwards I spent almost two weeks on the sofa feeling bad. I thought I had been careful, but obviously I had been careless at some point, otherwise this would not have happened.

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