This was our first cruise with our children. We have been on several cruises. Our oldest son who is 21 uses a wheelchair. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the night before which I highly recommend and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. They offer free shuttle from the airport and to Port Everglades. However they do not offer free W/C access transportation, so we had to break the chair down and carry our son onto the shuttle. When I mentioned this to the hotel mangement, they simply said that the shuttle was complimentary service so they were not bound by law to offer W/C accessibility but they would call us a cab. I'm looking into that.
Once to the ship we were able to board quickly after a 30 min check in.
Have passports in hand at all times.
Prior to our sail, I requested a W/C accessible cabin with a roll in shower and that is what we got. You must fill out documentation showing proof that you have a need for a w/c room prior to sail, or you will not be guaranteed a W/C room.
We stayed in room 7618, which was very nice and very large for a family of four. I have pictures if you need them. RC does not post W/C access rooms on the Internet.
Our room also had a balcony, which we napped on often. It was not very easy to move the W/C out to the balcony you will need some help. High end bedding with very soft duvets! A 5 star experience in bedding and our king size bed was very comfortable.
We met our room Stewart within mins. And he quickly brought a rollaway for our 10 year old. The coach folded out which accommodated our oldest son. There was still ample room even with the rollaway. Navigating through the ship was very easy. I recommend a room near the elevators. Often there were people in the hallway with carts that we had to move in order to move through the hallway. We felt the elevators were a bit small for a W/C. Once inside our family of four with a W/C there was not much room for anyone else.
The Windjammer was the place for breakfast and lunch offering a wide variety of foods in the buffet. There are no special tables that accommodate a wheelchair comfortably, I would recommend bringing a W/C tray.
We chose first seating for dinner, which I recommend with kids the dining room, was easy in and easy out. The food was a little disappointing but the fine dining experience was good for the kids.
There are limited excursions for those in a W/C. We were interested in a nice beach with lunch. The only W/C excursions available were sitting on a bus shopping tour that was not W/C accessible taking a pirate ship tour which was recommended for toddlers. Neither of these seemed appropriate for us. We booked a beach excursion anyway. Getting off the ship was very easy without any W/C obstacles. Once off the ship you must wait in a Line for your excursion driver. Be aggressive and make your way to the front asking questions or you will spend un-necessary time waiting.
There are no lifts or ramped transportation in Oho Rios. You will need to transfer out of your chair and get on the bus .My husband carried our son onto a bus. Once our son was on the bus, the driver helped fold his chair and put it on the bus for us. Be sure to take a folding chair and not a rigid chair.
Shaw Park Beach is a small beach. There are venders that will help you down to the water in your W/C for a tip. There are no umbrellas or lunch or non-alcoholic drinks. We were offered a horrible rum punch that would have been a toxic weapon.
Bring snacks there is nothing to eat.
Once we arrived to the beach, and were exiting the bus the bus drivers told we that we were near a nude beach. This was a family excursion and my 10 year old noticed nude people just a 100 ft away. The result of that confined us to a portion of the beach, which was not the area to snorkel nor was it the prettiest part of the beach. Shaw Park was a pretty beach and one of the least expensive excursions however; I would not recommend this for a family.
None of the excursion had or offered W/C beach chairs. The ship did not make any extra accommodations for us. We just worked through it in order to get to a beach. The pool and deck area is very nice. There is a pool lift. We did not use it because the water was too cold however we did see the crew help another person onto the lift and in and out of the water, which was nice.
There is no W/C access to the hot tubs. Disembarking was fairly easy. If you are traveling in a W/C you may move to an area separate from the rest of the ship and you can get off first. The crew was not going to let all of us off together. They tried to separate us as a family. We insisted that we stay together regardless of only our son being in the W/C. This was not a good idea. We also did a light travel exit, which meant that we carried our own luggage off the ship. I highly recommend this type of exit. Otherwise it will take longer. Again there was no w/c transportation to the airport. We waited and waited and finally a w/c accessible van pulled up and we left.