Traveling with Accessible and Special Needs Guests

Traveling with friends!

Gayle Zielke, president of First Choice Travel and Cruise has a good friend in a wheelchair and had a husband that has traveled in wheelchairs because of back surgeries. We know how important your special needs are to be sent ahead to the airline, resort and transfer company.

We all have friends and relatives on special diets and allergies.  My daughter and grandson has an auto immune allergy - Celiacs Disease which is very suseptable to cross contamination. 

  • We know first hand when traveling with her how proactive you have to be and concerned on being prepared!  We check on the changes and special needs of our clients.  Traveling with many guests who require special needs/requests helps us experience first hand how difficult ....and recently how easy traveling with a disability and special need can be.  We want you to go on vacation and travel the world a little easier. 

 My friend has traveled the world from here to Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Caribbean, Vegas and pretty much anywhere he wants to go. This is definately positive motivation for all of us to get moving and see the world!  Gayle says, "I have been a travel agent for over 30 years so I am happy to help someone who hasn't traveled in a long time or even if they have never flown or cruised before.  I know which hotels are accessible and which ones might not work best. I can hold your hand the whole way or speak with the family members to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.  I am honest about what will work and what might be a bit difficult.  I always prepare my clients with or even without disabilities that traveling will not be easy but it sure will be an adventure!"

Gayle and her office staff have worked with clients who needed to bring along oxygen or have it shipped to the destination.  This is possible for many destinations and we would be happy to help you with that.  Why wait to take a trip of a lifetime! 

A few tips about traveling with a disability.

  • If you are traveling with a wheelchair or in a wheelchair there is a difference.  Please advise your travel agent of all the necessary information.  Don't be shy, we need to know that you need a roll in shower, that you can or cannot do....  Many agents feel that they cannot ask personal questions but I know how important it is to request those bulk head seats and put the special requests in that are necessary.  Then just because it is requested doesn't mean that the airline will even notice it or that you are in a wheelchair. Sad to say but true so you must speak up and tell them that you need assistance or you need that seat because you cannot walk, etc.  (sounds like it should not be necessary but it is!!)

Special Dietary Restrictions

  • Do you have a food allergy or on a special diet?  Please let us know right away so we can let the resort, cruise line or even airlines know your special requests.  Don't wait till the last minute to mention this important information.
  • The 5 star all inclusive resorts have really come a long way now with Celiac and Peanut allergies in the news so much it has carried over to Mexico and the Caribbean.  You are in luck as most of the nicer resorts ask every time they take your meal order or even seat you at the restaurant.  Not every resort will cater to your special needs but we can help you with the requests and choosing the right destination for your next vacation.

Cruising is the easiest part of traveling with a disability

  • Each cruise line has their own department we work with that is used to dealing with all sorts of special needs or disabilities. 
  • Cruise lines strongly believe that guests with special needs should have the amenities they need to enjoy their cruise. As such, each ship offers designated staterooms with wider doorways and bathrooms that will accommodate wheelchairs and staterooms with lights and under-pillow vibrating alarms for guests with hearing impairments. Guide dogs are permitted on all NCL ships. Many staterooms have refrigerators that can be used to store medications that must be kept cold.
  • Any physical disability or request requiring special treatment or attention should be reported to the Event Coordinator Department when the reservation is made, so that appropriate accommodations can be provided. The cruise lines reserve the right to refuse or to revoke passage to anyone in such physical or mental condition as to be unfit for travel or who, in the judgment of the carrier, may be a danger to themselves or others.


  • Refrigerators are available in many staterooms for storing insulin.


  • Many cruise lines and hotels offer breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that include low-calorie, haute cuisine recipes from Cooking Light magazine. Our top-rated chefs can also prepare vegetarian entrees (nutrition information provided), as well as low/no sodium and low/no cholesterol entrees. Sugar-free and fat-free desserts are also available.  Most cruise lines now offer this hear healthy way to eat right from the menu.
  • The best news is that all the cruise lines including River Cruises have jumped on the band wagon for a healthier diet and menu.

Hearing Impairments

  • Select staterooms are available on most ships for guests with hearing disabilities. Among the adaptive devices to make their cruise more enjoyable are in-stateroom lights and vibrating alarms that fit under a pillow and alert the guest to a doorbell, phone or emergency situation.

Medical Care for Minors Traveling Alone

  • All guests 18 years or younger must have a least one guest 21 years or older traveling with them in the same stateroom. A minor not traveling with a parent or guardian must produce a notarized parental or guardian consent letter authorizing medical treatment in case of an emergency. This letter must be presented to an NCL representative at the pier. Failure to produce the letter at embarkation may result in boarding being denied. There are no refunds in the event of denied boarding.

Onboard Medical Care

  • Guests are entitled to free medication for seasickness. Customary charges may be made for all other services. Commonly used medications are kept on board and may be purchased at the office of the ship's doctor. Dramamine, Meclazine, Alka-Seltzer and aspirin are available free at the Purser's Desk.

Oxygen Users

  • NCL has signed an exclusivity contract with Care Vacations to be the sole supplier for oxygen and mobility services. They will be the only company allowed to deliver and supply all mobility aid equipment including standard (non-motorized) wheelchairs and electric equipment (scooters), oxygen equipment for use during the cruise or tour to those guests who pre-arrange the service with Care Vacations. Please note, liquid oxygen is not permitted on any vessel nor will be supplied by the vendor under any circumstance.

The only exception to the above is guests who require dialysis equipment and supplies. 


  • NCL and most cruise lines will not accept guests who will have entered their 24th week of pregnancy by the time their travel with concludes. A statement from the expectant mother's doctor, stating her due date and fitness to travel must be sent ahead. The cruise lines will not be responsible or liable for any complications of pregnancy which arise or occur during the cruise.

Wheelchair Users Sailing In Disabled Cabins

  • Guests that require fulltime use of a wheelchair must provide their own. Motorized wheelchairs and Scooters are welcome as well; however, they must be powered by gel-cell batteries. Due to safety regulations, NCL will not accept any wet-cell or acid battery-powered wheelchairs on board the ships. The wheelchair battery charger must be adaptable to 110 voltages.

Wheelchair Users Not-Sailing in Disabled Cabins

  • Guests that require fulltime use of a wheelchair must provide their own. Wheelchairs are welcome; however, they must be collapsible if the guest is not booked in a disabled cabin.
  • [1] The number of oxygen tanks which a guest is able to bring aboard is limited by applicable laws and regulations. Please contact your travel professional for further information.

For additional information please contact First Choice Travel and Cruise call 262-542-5955 or .