This was going to be interesting… navigating through airports, new hotels, new places, different countries… all on one foot and a knee scooter. I had so many questions and the “unknown” was unnerving. I had already been dumped on my scooter because of bumps in the road so I was pretty nervous and feeling pretty vulnerable.
I alerted both airlines that I might have some trouble sitting in a regular seat. We were flying Virgin America Airlines there and Southwest back home. Virgin immediately emailed me back asking what I needed and how they could help. Southwest, who we are A-list frequent flyers with, didn’t respond. I was so happy when I went to print our boarding passes and saw that Virgin had upgraded us to seats with more leg room, free food, and lots of other goodies. My kids were still in the regular seats but my husband and I had something to look forward to. I’m a huge fan of Virgin America now!
My husband found a great parking service at LAX where they would drive us in our car to the airport, drop us off, and then return to the car to the parking structure until we returned. This eliminated the need to move everything out of the car, into a bus, and then out of the bus. Considering I was on a knee scooter, I was thrilled. The cost was about the same as our normal parking service ($20 per day.) This made life SO much easier the morning of the flight.
The airport security allowed us to move to the front of the line. Being on a knee scooter may have gotten us to the front of the TSA line but the time it took for them to search me was really long. It was actually pretty invasive but I understand the need for a thorough search.
The next 2 weeks was interesting and I definitely got more comfortable by the end of the cruise. Each port was an unknown but it really did all work out. I had rented a motorized sit-down scooter for the cruise but really didn’t use it that much at all. I found that I didn’t like being down so low and that the knee discomfort being on the scooter was better than being “unseen” by the crazy cruise passengers. The buffets were the worst! People acted like I was invisible and would just plow over me to get to the food. By the second day, we just made arrangements to always eat in the main dining room where the food was brought to us. The window of time was shorter but it was just such a better experience. Also, the scooter wasn’t very nimble so getting into tight spaces like a crowded main dining room was almost impossible. I found the knee scooter to be much better for most situations on the cruise. I really just had to be aware. I had to make sure I didn’t go over a bump too quickly and I really had to hold on tight if I was going over uneven surfaces in the ports.
The cruise ship was good about providing a wheel chair (free) that I could have used around the ship so don’t spend the extra money for that. They also provided a shower chair so that was nice. Although we didn’t have a handicap room, it was pretty easy to get around and through tight spaces.
The cruise ship itself was really pretty handicap accessible. I never had to wait in line for a bathroom and all of the doors had a big button I could press to open and shut the doors (except for in the stateroom.)
I had to do a lot of research about the ports early on. I ended up hiring a private guide in Jamaica, who was awesome. He dropped my mom and I off at an easy to get around shopping center while he took the rest of the family to cliff jumping and hiking spots. I highly recommend Chris Jamaica Tours whether you are in a handicap status or not.
The private island of Coco Cay was also pretty easy to get around. The tender boat was too difficult to scooter on to so I just took my crutches. They had beach wheelchairs waiting at the dock so I transferred quickly to that. My family parked me in a great beachside lounge chair so I could watch them. There was shopping and lots of things to watch while the kids ran around everywhere having fun. We were on the first tender boat to the island and also on the last back to the ship.
Cozumel was also super fun. The kids and my husband left early for a snorkeling trip while my parents and I took our time getting ready. Since it takes me twice as long to do anything, I was ready about the time the kids finished their snorkeling trip. We met them at the dock as they were finishing up and were able to catch a cab right from the dock. It was super organized and they were very accommodating about my limitations. We found a van that seated all 8 of us and we headed off to Paradise Beach. It was perfect- easy to navigate, good food, lots to do for the kids, etc. The cab driver waited for us to return and so it was a very easy, affordable way to spend the day at the beach in Cozumel.
I am so glad I didn’t let this injury prevent us from going. Would I have liked to be out doing all of those fun things? Sure! But we all had such a great time and I got to spend more time with my parents than I normally would have if I was out running all over the islands!
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