Mobility scooters: A question of cruising

Cruise lovers have widely differing opinions about the use of mobility scooters on board ships. And that affects everyone with mobility difficulties, whether caused by a disease such as multiple sclerosis, injury, or even aging.

Their views are included as comments on a story appearing on website. They vary from calls for mobility scooters to be banned to criticism of such opinions, and points in between.

mobility scootersThe main problem seems to stem from a perception that some people choose to use scooters even though they do not have a mobility issue.

Cruise companies comply with disability equality laws and have their own accessibility policies. That’s why mobility scooters and wheelchairs are widely allowed, although individual cruise lines may have their own restrictions.

Some comments were against mobility scooters:

Jeanette Webster: They shouldn’t be allowed on cruise ships they take up to much room,plus they drive them to fast without care for others.

I have to disagree with a ban but mobility scooter users must do so with care and consideration for others.

Angela Hobbs Clarke: Why should we be inconvenienced by them? We pay a lot of money to cruise, and to be able to move about the ship without large scooters being parked in the halls. How would these disabled people get off in an emergency, and how would we able bodied passengers navigate round them in the dark.

Inconvenienced? People who NEED to use scooters are still people. They should be given access and treated equally. That is their legal right.

Paul Lavin: They are a lethal weapon they should be totally banned everywhere. People with genuine mobility problems should use a conventional wheelchair.

What a disgusting attitude. Everywhere? Really? Lethal weapons, indeed! And as for using a conventional wheelchair, what if they can’t use one? Maybe they are alone and don’t have the strength to get about unless someone pushes them?

Carol Hunter: We went on a cruise in May and there was a man driving round on his mobility scooter, making everyone get out of the way. In the evening, he would park it at the side of the dance floor, get up and have a dance with a few ladies. He’d then get back on his scooter and drive off!!

If this is true, I find such behaviour deplorable. From what Carol says, it would seem this scooter user’s mobility problems are not genuine.

Others spoke in defence of scooters:

Janice Derose: Why not? I’ve been on several cruises, no problem at all with them (scooters). People need a holiday, they shouldn’t need to stay at home just because people like you can’t show empathy. None of us are out of this world yet, maybe we should start saving for one.

Fair point.

David Haverty: One day you may well need one. Will you want to give up cruising? I don’t have one and don’t anticipate needing one in the foreseeable future, but feel compact scooters should be accepted, even if with restrictions on cabin choice or total number of scooters on board.

I agree, on both.

Diane Roe: I don’t drive too fast without a care for others. In fact, over the last few years I have noticed more ignorant able-bodied people who push in front and block the lifts, it works 2 ways!!

Scooter users who have disabilities are mostly accompanied by someone walking, so driving the scooter at walking speed is the norm. It’s true about the lifts/elevators. Able-bodies people can use the stairs, scooter users can’t.

Maralyn Lord: Anybody that says no – I hope that one day they don’t need them (mobility scooters) because whoever is using the scooter, the person with them is usually able to walk. Should they be denied a holiday on a cruise ship? Anybody who says yes (they should be denied a cruise), I hope that they never need to use one. Life is not easy. Should we stay at home because it causes a nuisance to people more fortunate than ourselves?

No one should be forced to stay at home and forego a cruise holiday just because they have reduced mobility and use a scooter.

And finally…

Janet Bottomley: My father takes his mobility scooter but only uses it when he goes ashore. He walks with a stick aboard. And if they only allow scooters in adapted cabins it naturally controls how many are on board.

Great that he’s able to do that.

I have cruised, successfully, using both a manual wheelchair and a scooter. Next time, I’ll will use my folding electric wheelchair that I am confident will give me the best of both worlds.

Happy cruising to all.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.


Wheelchair-users not able to board ships at major cruise port – so much for equality


A woman whose husband was told that she could not board a cruise ship at Liverpool, England, has me thinking. The woman has a disability and was denied access because she could not leave her wheelchair to board her ship.

When her husband tried to book the cruise, he was informed that the port of Liverpool doesn’t have equipment to assist people in wheelchairs. So, he was told that he could not book a place for his wife on the cruise.


Fred Olsen’s Boudicca at Liverpool Cruise Terminal (Pic: Wikimedia Commons).

Ann Fisher and her husband had wanted to travel on a seven-night Emerald Isle cruise with the Fred Olsen line.  But that plan sank when Fred Olsen said she had to leave her wheelchair and get up the gangway steps alone.

Mrs Fisher, a retired lecturer, had twice cruised with Fred Olsen from Liverpool. Now, though, a port policy change means she and her wheelchair have been left high and dry.

Speaking to, she said: “It’s quite devastating. I wouldn’t consider going from another port because of the travelling involved.”

Also, she wonders why she was able to cruise without hassle in the past, despite her disability: “It was so easy when we did it before. We got a taxi to Liverpool, and were in our cabin just over an hour from leaving home. It was ideal for someone like me who finds it difficult to travel.”

Liverpool port lacks wheelchair facilities

Her husband John Fisher confirmed that Ann’s disability had previously not been a problem. He said: “We were able to enjoy two Fred Olsen cruises from Liverpool in 2013 and 2014, occupying a wheelchair-adapted cabin.

“Access to and from the ship was easily accomplished. Four sturdy members of the crew lifted my wife’s wheelchair at the corners. Her chair is lightweight, as is she.”

A Fred Olsen spokesman said there is neither an overhead bridge nor a sloped gangway at the Port of Liverpool. As such, the company is restricted from assisting guests, who are fully confined to a wheelchair, to board ships.

I can sympathise with the Fishers but also with Fred Olsen. After all, health and safety regulations would not allow staff to manually lift a wheelchair and its occupant. It wouldn’t be safe for the occupant or the staff. Whatever happened in the past is irrelevant as it is no longer allowed. Period.

What does puzzle me is why the Port of Liverpool doesn’t have facilities to ensure people with disabilities have access. It is the 21st century, the UK’s Disability Discrimination Act requires companies to provide access for disabled people. Liverpool’s cruise terminal in only 10 years old. For it not to have such facilities is an absolute disgrace. Shame on you, Liverpool. It needs sorting out, NOW.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

Wheelchair user’s dream: Motorized, foldable and lightweight

As regular readers will know, I am a bit of an advocate when it comes to accessibility and mobility issues and, from time to time, do address these subjects. Those subjects are of particular interest to me as I have to use a wheelchair as my mobility is severely restricted because of multiple sclerosis.

Occasionally, I come across something that simply deserves to be highlighted because it fulfills a need that people with disabilities have. For example, someone who needs a wheelchair to get about has a general choice of a manual or motorized one.

A manual one either has to be self-propelled, if the user is physically able to do so, or be pushed, so the wheelchair user has to relinquish independence and rely on someone else.

The alternative, as I have discovered, is not much better. Motorized wheelchairs are great to use, easy to maneuver and control and give the user the feeling of real independence. However, they have a major downside too – and that is their weight. They are so heavy.

In fact, anyone that uses a motorized chair and wants to take it to different places needs a specially adapted vehicle with either a hoist, ramp or elevator platform to load the chair on board.

BUT, there is an answer to the problem. There are now good quality, lightweight, folding motorized chairs that make the old problems disappear:

  • They give the user the independence provided by all motorized chairs;06 blue
  • They fold-up in seconds to go in the boot (trunk) of even a small car;
  • They are light enough to be lifted easily into and out of a car by one person;
  • Their batteries simply pull out in seconds to be transported separately on aircraft;
  • They are light enough to be carried on and off tenders if the user is going on a cruise holiday.

Talking of cruises, here is a report from Emma. She had just taken delivery of one such folding motorized chair from Better Products for Disabled People. This is her story:

Earlier this month my husband and I set off on our first ever cruise, heading to the Norwegian Fjords. We had been recommended cruising for its excellent accessibility but had no idea what it would be like.

We were taking my new folding motorized wheelchair but were concerned after the warnings from the cruise company about narrow doors and door thresholds. We need not have worried.

For a week I had more freedom than I’ve had at any point since my MS took most of my eyesight; I could navigate the ship just fine, the wheelchair took it all in its stride. Door thresholds were no problem; narrow corridors and doors were only an issue because of my lack of sight and skill and I improved quickly.

The battery handled it brilliantly; I spent at least eight hours a day in the wheelchair zooming around deck, attending shows, going to meals or out on excursions and never had a single problem.

What I did have were lots of admiring glances which turned into questions about where I got my wheelchair from and how I like it. Who would have thought I would be a travelling sales woman? BPDP folding electric wheelchair you are an international lifesaver.

Now, you cannot say better than that. Much to the relief of my wife, Lisa, my BPDP chair is on order. When it arrives, we’ll have the best of both worlds. I’ll get my independence back as I use a motorized chair and it will come out and go back into the car as simply as a manual chair.


Better Products for Disabled People <<>>


new strap


Norovirus: Sanitisers not as good as soap and water

hand washhand sanitiser

Some people refuse to go cruising for various reasons but the one fear that seems responsible for the reluctance of many is that of becoming ill in an on-board epidemic of one type or another.

And, without a doubt, the most well-known bug that dominates their thinking is the Norovirus – and that is emphasised every time a cruise ship reports an outbreak.

Of course, when you think of the number of cruises are completed by all the ships of all the cruise lines – the proportion of those that report an outbreak of illnesses is absolutely tiny.

Nevertheless, Norovirus is the cause of real trepidation, so let me explain exactly what it is.

Norovirus, sometimes known as winter vomiting bug, is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans everywhere – not just on ships – and affects people of all ages. The virus is transmitted by fecally-contaminated food or water, by person-to-person contact and via aerial transmission of vomited virus and subsequent contamination of surfaces.

Much of the contamination can be avoided by good hygiene procedures so that the virus is not transmitted by person-to-person or person-to-foods. Many norovirus outbreaks have been traced to food that was handled by one infected person.

While having Norovirus is unpleasant, it is not usually dangerous and most of its victims make a full recovery within two to three days.

The genus name Norovirus is derived from Norwalk virus, the only species of the genus. The species causes approximately 90% of epidemic non-bacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis around the world and may be responsible for 50% of all foodborne outbreaks of gastroenteritis in the United States,

On cruise ships and in hospitals, you will often find hand sanitisers placed at strategic points in an attempt to reduce, or even eliminate, infections. However, it seems they are not as good as washing hands.

Indeed. the UK’s Health Protection Agency claims that sanitising gels may be of benefit when used after a hand wash but adds they should not be regarded as a substitute for soap and water. Sanitisers may fail to remove all contamination from the hands, the agency warns.

The Center for Disease Control in the US also claims clean, running water plus soap should be used where available but that a hand sanitiser, containing an alcohol content of at least 60%, may be used instead where there is no convenient water supply.

However, one study in the US indicated that alcohol-based hand sanitisers may actually increase the risk of Norovirus in healthcare settings. Staff in long-term care facilities where Norovirus has been reported were found to be six times more likely to use hand sanitisers either to the same degree or more frequently than they would use soap and water.

So, wherever you are, keep your hands clean and make sure you wash them thoroughly.

hand wash how to






Before our Hawaii cruise, it was time to enjoy Oahu

Tahiti dancers in the Polynesian Cultural Centre's boat pageant.

Tahiti dancers in the Polynesian Cultural Centre’s boat pageant.

When I was a first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, my life didn’t change but 14 years later it has – now my mobility is severely affected but my determination to enjoy life hasn’t changed. I see no reason to shut myself away and suffer; my need is to get out and live life as well as I can. Yes, I need a wheelchair to travel more than 10 to 15 yards but so what? In today’s world of improving (though by no means perfect) accessibility, a wheelchair is no reason to be held back.

A cruise in a wheelchair? Absolutely. Hawaii in a wheelchair? Of course.


Just a few days ago, I brought you memories of a great cruise that Lisa and I enjoyed around the islands of Hawaii on board Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America.

Mention was made of our shore visits on Maui, the Big Island – two stops there at different ports, and Kauai but how could Oahu, the most populated of the islands, and the one containing Honolulu the state capital, be ignored?

Well, of course, it cannot; so back to Hawaii we go.

On arrival at Honolulu airport, we were greeted with leis of flowers.

On arrival at Honolulu airport, we were greeted with leis of flowers.

The Pride of America cruise actually starts and finishes in Honolulu so, to make the most of Oahu, Lisa and I arrived by plane three days before embarkation.

We stayed at the tremendous Outrigger Reef on the Beach hotel where, on our first morning, we enjoyed breakfast in one of its restaurants with no windows and the Pacific Ocean only a few yards away.

During our stay on the island we packed a lot in. This included visits to the Polynesian Cultural Centre, Pearl Harbor, Paradise Cove Luau, dinner at the Top of Waikiki, and coach tours that included passing the golden statue of King Kamehameha. Fans of the modern version of the TV cop show Hawaii 5-0 will be used to seeing that statue outside the Steve McGarrett team HQ in the series.

Polynesian Cultural Centre: Tonga's host.

Polynesian Cultural Centre: Tonga’s host.

The cultural centre features the traditions of many of the original Pacific islanders, including those from Tonga, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, the Marquesas islands and Hawaii itself plus the Maoris from New Zealand. Their skills are fascinating to see and experience and it is certainly not a place to rush through.

USS Arizona likes where she sank in Pearl Harbor.

USS Arizona likes where she sank in Pearl Harbor.

The Shrine Room at Pearl Harbor is a memorial to all who died.

The Shrine Room at Pearl Harbor is a memorial to all who died.

Another ‘must’ is a trip to Pearl Harbor, the US Navy base that was notoriously attacked by Japan on December 7 1941 – bringing the then neutral USA into World War II. I am a Brit and even I found our visit there to be emotional.

If you go to Hawaii and don’t go to a luau, you will have missed a treat.  It’s a series of entertainment spectaculars plus a great meal. There are a number of luaus to choose from and we chose the one at Paradise Cove. We were picked up by coach close to our hotel and that’s when the fun started as we were kept fully entertained by our guide. As I was in my wheelchair, when it was time to get our dinner from the servery, he told Lisa and me to stay at our table while he brought our food to us. It was absolutely perfect.

One night we decided to eat in the Top of Waikiki revolving restaurant. Having taken an elevator as far as it would go, we found ourselves one floor below the restaurant with the only access being via stairs. Seeing my problem, a senior staff member appeared and took us to another elevator that was actually inside the kitchen. Still, it got us to our table.

At the end of our three days on the island of Oahu, we boarded the Pride of America for our cruise.

Sunny and warm outdoors on winter cruise


There’s something rather special about choosing a December cruise in the northern hemisphere and wearing shorts, t-shirts and sandals – all without feeling cold.

Yes, in the northern hemisphere. Yes, in winter. But lovely sunny weather and not at all cold. How can that be? Well, Lisa and I were cruising around the Hawaiian Islands.

prideNow plenty of cruises start or finish in Honolulu and go to other places but we chose to take the only cruise around the archipelago, aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America (pictured right).

We sailed from Honolulu, the state capital on the island of Oahu, and visited three of the other islands during a week-long cruise. It was picturesque with both beauty and dramatic scenes including Kauai’s Na’pali coast (main picture), sunset at the 10,000 feet high Haleakala – a dormant volcano – on Maui, some smouldering volcanic lava at Kilauea on the Big Island (pictured below) and, spotted from our balcony, whales swimming free as nature intended.

There were a number of shore excursions including one to Kona, home of the famous and delicious coffee of the same name, and another that enabled us to take a voyage on a glass bottomed boat, allowing us to see underwater sights that I could not otherwise have seen.

smoking lavaBecause I need a wheelchair to travel more than a few yards, we booked an accessible cabin. It was huge, with a balcony to match and a superb accessible bathroom. It was everything we needed.

Most days we were docked portside but at one stop, the ship had to anchor and use tenders to take passengers to and from the shore. I was most impressed by the attention NCL paid to disabled passengers. I had to get out of my wheelchair to board and disembark the tender but the crew ensured my safety and comfort before bringing my folded chair on board.

At the other end, the same attention was paid as my chair, now unfolded and ready for use, was waiting for me on the jetty and one crew member ensured I was seated properly before we left the jetty. On our return to the ship, exactly the same service and courtesy was extended.

Last sunset before we returned to Honolulu.

Last sunset before we returned to Honolulu.

NCL specialises in what it calls Freestyle Cruising and that means that passengers choose when and how they wish to eat and be entertained; no need to pre-book, just turn up and enjoy. This may not be everyone’s preference but it is convenient when going on sunrise or sunset shore excursions.

Lisa and I both agree that the Pride of America cruise is the best way to see Hawaii as you get the chance to visit so many of the islands, each with its own contrasting character. Oahu is the gathering place, Maui is the valley isle, Hawai’i is the Big Island and Kauai is the garden isle.

The ship itself has, unsurprisingly, an American theme. It has 18 restaurants plus 11 bars and lounges, with a variety of entertainment, including Broadway shows. If you’re a lover of casinos, however, you’ll be disappointed. Gambling is not permitted in Hawaii or in its territorial waters, so there is no casino on board.

Love the idea of cruising – or simply hate it?

royal princess

There are those who are hooked on cruising and others willing to give it a try but, at the other end of the scale, there are those who would not dream of setting foot on a cruise ship even if you paid them.

The reasons they give for not giving cruising a chance include fears for their safety at sea, heightened by some problems such as running aground and incidents such as engine failure or fires on board; health worries over norovirus or other infections in a closed space; rough seas in bad weather; and “being at sea for days on end”.

There is no need to dwell on the negatives except to say that, despite media ‘horror stories’, serious incidents with a ship are so rare as to be almost negligible. There is no need to be at sea for days on end, just choose a cruise where the ship is in a different port almost every day.

Yes, rough seas do happen but generally the ship will avoid the worst, even if it means changing the planned itinerary. Infections, also, can happen from time to time through lack of proper hygiene procedures being followed by other passengers. Cruise ship crews do their best to prevent outbreaks but no system is 100% idiot-proof.

club 6On the positive side, to many there is no better way to relax than by enjoying a great holiday where everything you need is provided without the detailed planning or stress of organising it all yourself. The major decisions you really need to make for a cruise are the destinations you’d like to visit, the price you are willing to pay and the timing that suits you best.

Committed cruisers know that cruises offer real value for money, a complete all-in-one package, excellent dining in a number of different restaurants, both family deals and ones restricted to adults-only, a wide variety of entertainments plus luxuries such as hot-tubs, sunbathing, even massages and other ‘pampering’.

There really can be no easier or relaxing way to visit a number of different places with the luxury of just unpacking and repacking your suitcases just once. You don’t need to traipse from hotel to hotel, unpacking at each one; on a cruise, your ‘hotel bedroom’ comes with you in the form of your stateroom.

Of course, the style and quality of what is on offer can vary not only between cruise lines but also between ships of the same line. I suspect that many experienced cruisers have their own favourites but others like to choose their cruises based on factors such as destination ports rather than a particular cruise line or ship. That really is all down to individual choice.

The fact that cruising is becoming an ever more popular holiday is clearly shown by new ship after new ship, often larger than ever before, being brought into service by one cruise line or another. But, don’t despair, if these huge ships seem too big for your taste; there are much smaller ones that carry fewer passengers and which might better suit your own desires and needs.