Cruising: You Are NOT Too Fat to Travel
When you’re a superfat or an infinifat, going anywhere can be extremely daunting. Questions about accessibility swirl around you and answers to those questions can seem impossible to find. I remember asking myself if they would even let me on a cruise. Am I too big? Will I take up too much space on a boat? Will I fit in the bathrooms? Chairs? The more I weighed the option of getting on a cruise the more questions I had, but ultimately, I decided to take the plunge and go.
I will tell you that I am so glad I did.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you along your next cruise adventure!
The cruise ships are huge! They are floating resorts. The ships are filled with equipment, furniture and thousands of people. You are not too big for the boat.
There is a lot of walking. So. Much. Walking. I tried to prepare myself for the amount of walking I was going to be doing and did not nearly prepare myself for the volume of walking I did. My tip here is, take breaks, go slow, bring and use your mobility aid if you have one.
The hallways are all very wide, I saw people with walkers and scooters! The doors are narrow, so if you have a scooter, I suggest calling the cruise line and talk to them about getting the handicap room. The doors in the handicap rooms are a little bigger and it will be easier to maneuver.
I booked my cruise on the Disney Cruise Line. I was pleasantly surprised that that I fit in all the seats on the ship including the small number of chairs with arms. There was not one chair I felt like I was going to break. There was one type of chair that was a tight fit on the whole ship. I only found it in two places with many other choices for seating around them. The dining rooms had armless options at every table.
The lounge chairs are made of steel with a thick fabric seat. I spent hours and hours in them—not a single creak. Which is more than I can say for my chairs at home. The best part about the seating is that it’s plentiful! Down the hallways that you would typically use to get from one end of the ship to the other there are porthole benches lining the walls. Big comfy seats that any body would fit in. A perfect place to take breaks and pace yourself.
Elevators can be found at the front, middle and back of the ship. With between 4-6 in each set. They are very big and very sturdy. So if you don’t do stairs don’t worry!
The bathrooms are tiny. That is an unfortunate fact. On the Disney ships the bathrooms are split into two different rooms. A toilet room and a shower room. I was able to use the bathroom and the shower. It was a tight fit. Especially the toilet room. I had to shimmy through the door sideways to get into either bathroom door. The good news is, you don’t really spend a lot of time in your state room and all the public restrooms on board all have handicap stalls. Very private public bathrooms, with full doors as opposed to stalls. I suggest that if you have a bidet, bring it with you, it will make your life a lot easier. If you don’t have one, consider getting one before your next cruise.
Muster drills… are those life jackets going to fit?! Yes, but you don’t have to put them on. And more recently with Covid protocols, you don’t have to gather in a big group of people and wait for everyone to show up. Just have to simply walk to your muster station and check in. Life jackets are in the top of your closet and they will stay there except in the unlikely case of an emergency.
One of the most difficult experiences I had while cruising was during the ports of call. Getting off the ship and going into a foreign land is overwhelming to say the least. I found the tour buses had very narrow entrances that I could not fit in and the taxis were also van-like vehicles with added seats making getting into them near impossible for me. So, unfortunately I did not get to make it to the beautiful beaches of the islands I visited. However, it was a learning experience and on my next cruise I will rent a car to make sure I will be able to see what I’d like to see. The seating options off the boat are not as accessible as they are on the boat. My tip for this is to bring your sturdy beach chair! I stuck a luggage tag on mine and checked it when I got on the ship. It showed up at my room with the rest of my luggage and I kept it under the bed until I needed it.
None of the crew ever looked at me like I wasn’t supposed to be there. I was met with welcoming smiles and kind words. This was important to me. I didn’t want to feel like I was out of place and I didn’t! The one time I felt uncomfortable at the lunch table they sat us at. I just felt like I was in the way, when I told the staff they apologized and happily moved us to a table with a beautiful view. Talk to the crew if you’re having an issue! They will do everything to make you feel comfortable!
This might be the most important tip that I give you. If this is your first cruise BRING A TRUSTED FRIEND OR PARTNER. Someone who will help you if you need it. I know I needed help from time to time. A hand getting out of the very tall shower. An arm to get myself out of those comfortable lounge chairs. Someone to take turns with me carrying my beach chair on the islands.
I’d like to point out that while I had a wonderful experience on Disney Cruise Lines, that was accessible, accommodating and welcoming to me, my brother went on a different cruise line and did not have the same experience.
Every chair had arms, he was barely able to fit in any of them. Admittedly breaking one of the chairs on the ship. I also noticed on other lines docked next to us that their chairs all seemed small and unfortunately with arms. My point here is do as much research as you can on the ships. Call the cruise line and talk to them about your concerns. Don’t be afraid to ask for accommodations that will help you have a better time. We did and they were able to give us a room with a much bigger veranda than originally intended. Watch vlogs from the specific ship you are thinking about taking, maybe you’ll be able to see some of the seating and accessibility options. But take It from my brother’s experience, if you’re a superfat or infinifat? Stay away from Royal Caribbean.
Remember that you deserve to take up space. You deserve to see the world. You deserve luxury and rest. So go out and get it!