Disabled Access for Cruise Ships?
Cruise line ups training on facilities for disabled
Agent training on cruising for disabled passengers has been introduced by Norwegian Cruise Line.
NCLâ€™s online training programme NCLU has introduced a module on accessibility â€“ the fifth course to be added to the site at www.nclu.co.uk
The course is designed to provide agents with knowledge of the lineâ€™s facilities and policies to sell cruises to disabled passengers.
Course information includes a guide to fleet-wide facilities for guests with limited mobility, hearing and sight impairments, as well as advice on how NCL can accommodate guests with dietary or medical equipment needs.
The course concludes with top tips for agents when booking disabled passengers.
Video footage of the companyâ€™s facilities is also included online, together with downloadable resources such as forms to help agents make requests for guests with special requirements.
Agents can also read customer reviews of ship facilities as well as advice from the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality.
Those completing the course by August 28 will be entered into a prize draw to win a four-night Western Mediterranean cruise on board Norwegian Gem.
The current fleet has up to 27 wheelchair accessible cabinss per ship with facilities such as grab bars, ramps and Braille signs on doors.
NCL is further investing in accessible facilities on new ship Norwegian Epic being launched next year.
All public lounges, restaurants, shops, entertainment venues and information desks have been designed to be wheelchair friendly and 42 cabins will be fully accessible, with features such as grab rails in the bathrooms, sinks and toilets, wheel-in showers, raised beds, adjustable hanging rods in wardrobes and extra wide doors for easy access.
Extra wide passageways and designated accessible locations in the gym, spa and bars will also feature.
Andy Wright, managing director at Accessible Travel, which specialises in holidays for disabled, wheelchair and elderly guests, was involved in the creation of the training module.
â€śAny vehicle that raises awareness on accessible travel is welcomed by us,â€ť he said.
â€śWe know first-hand that this is an area which has often been neglected so itâ€™s great that NCL is addressing this with a proactive approach. Meeting the needs of disabled travellers goes deeper than product knowledge alone but this is certainly a step in the right direction.â€ť
NCL UK general manager Stephen Park said: â€śFrom agent feedback and working with Accessible Travel we understand some agents may lack confidence in booking disabled customers because of either a lack of product knowledge, or they may be uncomfortable asking customers quite specific questions about their needs.
â€śWe want to help break down these barriers by giving travel partners easy access to the information they need to provide the right cruise to the right person regardless of their requirements.â€ť
by Phil Davies