Michelle Monro explores accessible cruising in her new book ‘The Autonomous Cruiser’
I have been cruising for more than forty years, the last twelve working as a guest speaker on Celebrity, P&O, Princess Cruises, Cunard, Cruise and Maritime, Fred Olsen and Royal Caribbean. Twenty-five years ago, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, after which I began to notice the lack of information available for people with limited mobility; places I had visited previously presented obstacles that I hadn’t encountered before.
Information on accessibility is hard to find and the internet is filled with dead sites – with no one policing the web pages, you can source information only to find it is out-of-date and has been for some time. For example, one woman planned a dream trip to Venice as a surprise for her husband who is a permanent wheelchair user. She set off, husband in tow, thinking she had planned the perfect trip. Sadly, when they arrived, she found several bridge lifts had been dismantled two years earlier, leaving the couple unable to access the city’s key areas.
I believe information is power: the power to be able to control our choices and know what we are going to come up against when we drop anchor in a desirable location.
Everyone experiences different degrees of mobility. For those that can manage a few steps, there is a good and varied choice of accessible tour options, but for those that are permanent wheelchair users, choices can be more limited. Having trawled through thousands of websites and articles and interviewed countless company representatives within the travel sector, I’ve found there are those that are willing to go that extra mile to make cruising more accessible, you just have to know where to look.
I decided to address all of these issues with a cruise book dedicated to disabled people who want to cruise on their own terms. A market first, ‘The Autonomous Cruiser: The Complete Guide To Cruising For and With Disabled Travellers’, took a number of years to write and then had to be updated several times to include Brexit and Covid. This is a subject I am deeply passionate about and I hope will help everyone enjoy sea travel. A general how-to on cruising it’s aimed at giving people the power to take control, make their own choices and organise the perfect seafaring holiday, getting the best out of both the ship and its destinations and not waste precious time in working out what to do or how to do it.
Living with a disability presents a lot of obstacles, but a cruise holiday doesn’t have to be one of them. Bon voyage.