Ever receive a robo call about winning a “free cruise”? You may be owed up to $900!

If you received a recorded or robocall between July 2009 and March 2014 announcing that you have won a free cruise you may be entitled to a settlement of up to $900 per telephone number. This is the result of a settlement in the class action lawsuit brought by Philip Charvat. The plaintiff alleges that Resort Marketing Group, Inc. (RMG) made pre-recorded telemarketing calls offering free cruises with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The defendants in the lawsuit vigorously deny that there was any violation of the TCPA and the cruise line companies vigorously deny that they authorized RMG to make any calls on their behalf. The parties have agreed to the settlement to avoid the expense, delay, and uncertainties of litigation. Judge Andrea R. Wood of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has granted preliminary approval of the settlement.

To find out if your telephone number is part of the settlement and make your claim simply go to https://www.rmgtcpasettlement.com/Landing.aspx. Frequently asked questions about the lawsuit and the settlement can be found at https://www.rmgtcpasettlement.com/Faqs.aspx.

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Princess Cruise Celebrates – The Sound of Music’s 50th

Princess Cruise - The Sound of Music - Under the Stars

Image courtesy of Princess Cruises

The Sound of Music made its debut the same year Princess Cruises made its first voyage. That was 1965. Now, both are celebrating 50th anniversaries. To honor the movie, Princess will show The Sound of Music on every ship during every cruise – under the stars (of course) beginning mid-April 2015.

Princess Cruises is partnering with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to screen the biggest movie musical of all time, and feature sing-a-longs, trivia games, and other movie-themed experiences throughout the year.  The offerings celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the cruise line and the musical and are part of a year-long campaign to honor the classic film.

In addition, Princess Cruises is offering movie fans chances to win a free cruise and a $500 onboard gift card every month through December 2015.  More details about the themed onboard experiences and cruise giveaways are available at Princess Cruises.

A phenomenon from its first showing, The Sound of Music won five Academy Awards®, including “Best Picture” and continues to inspire audiences around the world with unforgettable songs including “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” “Climb Every Mountain,” and “The Sound of Music.” Starring Oscar® winners Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, the film follows Maria (Andrews), the warm-hearted young woman who brings joy and music to Captain von Trapp (Plummer) and his seven children.

“The Sound of Music isn’t just a classic film – watching the movie together is a classic family activity. In a year in which both Princess Cruises and The Sound of Music mark their golden anniversaries, this is truly a fun and memorable way to join in the celebrations,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.

The Sound of Music will be shown once on every sailing throughout 2015 on Princess Cruises giant Movies Under the Stars top deck screens, with the sing-a-long version featured in the Princess Theater. Song birds can meet and rehearse for a special The Sound of Music edition of Princess Pop Choir and a themed Trivia Challenge will test fans’ movie knowledge.

For information about taking a Princess cruise during the year-long celebration contact AREA Vacations at travel@area-vacations.com or call 770-591-5552.

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Carnival Pride Returns to Baltimore

Carnival Pride returns to BaltimoreCarnival Cruise Line announced that its popular ship Carnival Pride will return to the Port of Baltimore launching a year-round cruise program on Sunday, March 29th, when the newly refurbished ship will depart on a seven-night cruise to the Bahamas from the Cruise Maryland Terminal!

Carnival Pride’s year-round schedule from Baltimore encompasses a wide range of departures to cater to cruise enthusiasts, from five-night Bermuda cruises to seven- to 14-night voyages visiting top destinations in the Caribbean, The Bahamas and Florida.

Carnival Pride recently underwent an extensive multi-million-dollar dry dock that added a variety of our Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, including new dining venues such as Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and Bonsai Sushi, exciting bar concepts like Alchemy Bar, RedFrog Pub and the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, as well as new entertainment choices like Hasbro, The Game Show; Seuss at Sea and Playlist Productions. A massive WaterWorks water park featuring Green Thunder, the fastest and steepest waterslide at sea, was added, as well.

Carnival Pride’s five-night Bermuda sailings feature two days and one night at King’s Wharf with two fun days at sea. Six-night Bahamas cruises call at the popular ports of Nassau and Freeport, while the seven-night Bahamas itinerary also includes a call at Port Canaveral, Fla., with easy access to Orlando’s attractions.  Seven- and eight-night eastern Caribbean cruises feature Grand Turk, the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, and Freeport. Eight-night Bahamas sailings visit Charleston, S.C.; Port Canaveral and Nassau.

For those who prefer more immersive, longer length cruises, Carnival Pride offers two Carnival Journeys adventures departing from Baltimore.  An 11-night Carnival Journeys voyage departs Baltimore Jan. 17, 2016, calling at Grand Turk, Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, and St. Croix, ending in San Juan Jan. 28, 2016. There is also a 14-day Carnival Journeys voyage, operating roundtrip from Baltimore March 13-27, 2016, and featuring Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique, Antigua and St. Maarten.

Now more than ever, Carnival Pride makes an excellent cruise vacation choice. For more information or to book your cruise on Carnival Pride please call AREA Vacations at 770-591-5552 or send and email to travel@area-vacations.com.


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New Carnival Vista Sailing from Miami

Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, Carnival Vista will take cruising to new heights, introducing groundbreaking features such as SkyRide, a suspended open-air cycling experience; the world’s first IMAX® Theatre on a ship; Kaleid-O-Slide, the line’s first water tube slide; and RedFrog Pub, including the line’s first onboard brewery.

Carnival is also bolstering its leadership position in Galveston, repositioning Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty to Texas in 2016. Those ships will be joining Carnival Freedom which arrives in Galveston Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty will replace Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph, respectively, in Galveston. Details on new homeports for Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph, as well as year-round departures from San Juan, have not been announced.

With Carnival Breeze, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Freedom, Galveston will be home to three of our most innovative ships offering the widest array of cruise durations and itineraries to top destinations in Mexico, Belize, Isla Roatan and The Bahamas. These three ships will carry 600,000 passengers annually from Galveston – more than any other cruise operator.

Island-Intensive Caribbean Cruises from Miami on Carnival Vista
Carnival Vista kicks off its new schedule from Port of Miami with a special four-day cruise to Grand Turk departing Nov. 29, 2016. The ship will then launch year-round six- and eight-day cruises beginning with an eight-day voyage departing Dec. 3, 2016. Six-day cruises feature Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, while a mix of different eight-day itineraries visit some of the Caribbean’s most sought-after destinations, including Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts, St. Maarten and La Romana (Dominican Republic).

The ship will also offer a combination of one-time voyages, including a five-day cruise departing Dec. 11 and seven-day voyages departing Dec. 17 and 24, 2016, that offer an exciting selection of ports including the Caribbean’s newest destination, Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, as well as Mahogany Bay, Grand Turk, Belize, San Juan, St. Thomas and Cozumel, depending on the itinerary.

In addition to visiting breathtaking Caribbean destinations, guests can experience all the Carnival Vista has to offer – from the colorful Havana area with tropics-inspired staterooms and suites and Family Harbor with special accommodations and a new family concierge to delicious choices like Seafood Shack and new al fresco options at the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi and Cherry On Top, featuring a mixed-to-order premium ice cream bar.

Three- to 11-Day Carnival Vista Sailings from the Big Apple
Prior to the start-up of year-round service from Miami, Carnival Vista will operate a pair of voyages round-trip from New York beginning with a three-day cruise November 4-7, 2016, followed by an 11-day voyage departing Nov. 7, 2016, and visiting Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Antigua and St. Maarten. Carnival Vista will then offer a spectacular 11-day cruise from New York to Miami Nov. 18-29, 2016, with calls at Grand Turk, Bonaire, Aruba and St. Maarten, an unmatched combination of great destinations not available on any other cruise from New York.

Carnival Vista is slated to operate an inaugural season of European cruises May to October 2016 before repositioning to New York, then launching year-round Caribbean cruises from Miami in November 2016.

Exciting New Options in Galveston
Carnival Liberty and Carnival Breeze will shift to Galveston in 2016, providing consumers with Texas-sized fun on departures from the Lone Star State.

Carnival Liberty will launch year-round four- and five-day cruises to Mexico from Galveston beginning March 21, 2016. Four-day “long weekend” cruises depart Thursdays and feature a stop at Cozumel, while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays visiting Cozumel and Progreso. Prior to the start-up of its new Texas-based program, Carnival Liberty will offer a special three-day cruise round-trip from Galveston March 18-21, 2016.

Carnival Breeze – currently the line’s newest ship – will offer three different week-long itineraries visiting popular ports in the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida beginning Dec. 11, 2016. Western Caribbean voyages call at either Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel or Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Cozumel, while a Bahamas/Florida route includes Nassau, Freeport, and Key West. Carnival Breeze will also offer a special two-day cruise from Galveston Dec. 9-11, 2016, before kicking off its new year-round seven-day schedule.

Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty bring exciting new choices to Galveston, each with an array of on-board features. Carnival Breeze offers such innovations as a multi-dimensional cinema experience called Thrill Theater, Bonsai Sushi full-service Asian restaurant and WaterWorks highlighted by a 312-foot-long slide, while Carnival Liberty offers a classic American steakhouse, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and a 14,500-square-foot spa.

New Value-Packed 12-day Cruises Offer Exciting Destinations
In preparation for their new deployments, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Breeze will each operate a unique 12-day cruise in 2016, visiting a variety of exotic Caribbean destinations. These departures have been created especially for those guests who are looking for a longer-length cruise vacation providing more time to enjoy the ships’ wide range of amenities while visiting less frequently traveled islands throughout the Caribbean.

Carnival Liberty will offer a 12-day cruise from San Juan to Galveston March 6-18, 2016, calling at St. Thomas, Barbados, Tobago, Grenada, Aruba and Grand Cayman. Carnival Breeze will operate a 12-day cruise departing Miami Nov. 27, 2016, and arriving in Galveston Dec. 9, 2016. Featured ports on this one-time voyage include St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Curacao, Aruba and Cozumel.

For information about any of these new cruise options or to make a reservation please contact AREA Vacations by email at travel@area-vacations.com or call us at 770-591-5552.

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MSC – Where Kids Sail FREE!

From the charms of the Caribbean to the wonders of Europe, kids 11 and under can enjoy it all . . . compliments of MSC. And kids 12-17 sail at a reduced rate. What’s more, MSC provides countless activities that offer captivating adventures for everyone.

Complimentary Kids Clubs!

Four separate Kids Clubs programs are available from 9 a.m to 11 p.m for young guests; each tailored to a specific age group:

  • mini club – 3 to 6 years old
  • Junior Club – 7 to 11 years old
  • Y-Team – 12 to 14 years old
  • MSC Generation Teen Club – 15 to 17 years old

Cool Kids Zones!

Your children are sure to be delighted by the colorful and spacious play area with lots of room to run, jump, and have fun. On MSC Poesia, children can enjoy the Stone Age dinosaur play area, while MSC Fantasia offer igloos and life-size polar bears in Il Polo Nord, “The North Pole” children’s play area that includes a swimming pool with waterslide.

Fun Kids Activites!

On board our ships you’ll find a wide selection of family, kid and teen activities like basketball and soccer tournaments, table soccer, carnival parades, volleyball, crazy ping pong, karaoke, treasure hunts, dance competitions, miniature golf, tennis and more! Budding artists can channel their creativity with fun crafts. Future journalists and cartoonists will be proud to see their work published in the new kids newspaper.

Digital Fun For Kids!

In addition to sporting, arts, and crafts and theater activities, MSC offers Microsoft Xbox Kinetic, Nintendo Wii and a wide variety of games from which to choose. The teen corner now includes a docking station for iPods, iPhone, iPads and USB readers; and a social corner connected to Net TV and with Bluetooth keyboards. For the ultimate virtual reality experience MSC Spendida and MSC Fantasia feature the stunning 4D Cinema where cinema comes to lift. A giant screen and special headphones for an audio/visual experience like never before.

Flavorful Foods Just For Kids!

The fun continues even with our children’s menus. Kids love our authentic Italian favorites like pasta and pizza, but we offer All-American favorites, too, such as hamburgers, hot dogs and delicious pastries and desserts. And, My Teen Card makes it convenient for kids 12-17 to make pre-paid purchases while onboard.

Kids sail free on MSC is not a promotion on certain sailings, it is all sailings all the time. So what are waiting for? To take advantage of what MSC has to offer contact AREA Vacations at travel@area-vacations.com or call 770-591-5552.

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Norway – 9 Customs and Etiquette Advice

Hurtigruten - NorwayAbout 4,463 miles is the distance between the central U.S. and Norway. With such great lengths invariably comes new customs, unique walks of life and different ways of doing things. So before setting sail on a Norwegian cruise and docking at cities across the Scandinavian country, it’s helpful to learn about the Norwegian people and their customs. Here are nine things you should take with you:

1. For starters, more than 99 percent of the 4.3 million people who live in Norway speak Norwegian, the official language. Norwegian has two written forms of language: Bokmål (literally “book language”) and Nynorsk (“New Norwegian”). Although both have the same legal recognition, Bokmål is more common. You will see both on signs throughout the country.

2. When greeting someone from Norway, use a firm handshake, direct eye contact and a smile. Like the U.S., Norwegian greetings are casual but meaningful. If you want to stay on the side of caution and be very polite, people may use the honorific title “Herr” (Mr.) or “Fru” (Mrs.) followed by their surname.

3. Though informal, Norwegians generally have reserved body language, so don’t take offense if someone appears cold or aloof.

4. Norwegians are punctual in both social situations and business.

5. Keeping calm and not displaying strong emotions in public are common virtues in Norway.

6. Avoid discussing business. Norwegians tend to separate their business and personal lives.

7. Similar to the rising trend in the U.S., many couples live together without getting married. A wedding is not a prerequisite to starting a family, so it’s best not to make presumptions about people’s marital status.

8. In general, Norwegians are known to be humble, good-natured and friendly. Many people recognize Jante Law, a term used to describe a pattern of behavior associated with Scandinavians that frown upon individual success and achievement. Essentially, it is meant to teach people to be modest. As such, Norwegians try to see all people as standing on equal footing.

The tenets of the law are: 

– You shall not think you are special.
– You shall not believe you are smarter than others.
– You shall not believe you are wiser than others.
– You shall not behave as if you are better than others.
– You shall not believe that you know more than others.
– You shall not believe that you can fix things better than others.
– You shall not laugh at others.
– You shall not believe that others care about you.
– You shall not believe that you can teach others anything.

9. Most Norwegians have simple tastes and are not prone to excessive showiness.

One of the best ways to experience Norway is on Hurtigruten coastal cruise. You will be immersed in the culture and visit as many as 30+ ports in the 6, 7, or 12-night itinerary. For more information about visiting Norway or taking an exciting Hurtigruten cruise please contact AREA Vacations at travel@area-vacations.com or call 770-591-5552.

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Carnival Miracle – Upgraded to Fun Ship 2.0 in 2015

CarnivalThe Carnival Miracle, a Spirit Class cruise ship operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, will undergo an extensive refurbishment this spring that will add an array of new and exciting on-board innovations, from unique bar concepts like RedFrog Pub and Alchemy Bar to fun entertainment choices such as Playlist Productions and Hasbro, The Game Show, and the family-friendly Seuss at Sea program! The new features – part of Carnival’s ongoing Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative – will be added during a two-week-long dry dock that will take place March 7-21, 2015.

The exciting new enhancements include:

  • Red Frog Pub – Carnival’s Caribbean-inspired watering hole featuring the region’s best rums and beers – including Carnival’s own ThirstyFrog Red – enjoyed in a distinct British-West-Indies-meets-Key-West atmosphere
  • Alchemy Bar – at this vintage-themed cocktail “pharmacy,” mixologists “prescribe” concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative names like “Forty is the New Twenty” and “Restorative Basil Drop”
  • Playlist Productions – these four spectacular shows – 88 Keys, 80’s Pop To the Max, Getaway Island and Heart Of Soul – combine captivating live performances of recognizable pop and rock songs with dazzling special effects to create unforgettable evenings of entertainment
  • Seuss At Sea – part an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Seuss at Sea brings the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss to life with fun activities like the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and Friends, Seuss-a-Palooza Story Time, and more
  • Hasbro, The Game Show – this audience-participation favorite features larger-than-life adaptations of the company’s iconic and popular games with titles like Connect4 Basketball, Sorry Sliders, and Yahtzee Bowling
  • Cherry On Top – this “candy and more store” celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more
  • New SPORTS Bar – at this sports lovers’ paradise, guests can catch live sporting events and check out scores on the real-time 24/7 sports ticker
  • Spin U – developed in partnership with legendary DJ IRIE – Carnival’s official DJ who has entertained crowds from South Beach to Las Vegas – this fun DJ academy provides aspiring spin-masters ages 15-17 all they need to know to “hit the decks” and rock the club!

These innovations complement a wide range of existing onboard features such as the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez, a Serenity adults-only retreat with magnificent ocean vistas, a classic American-style steakhouse serving prime cuts of beef and other gourmet cuisine, a nine-hole miniature golf course, a 14,500-square-foot health and wellness center, and The Taste Bar offering bite-size samples from popular Fun Ship 2.0 dining venues.

Carnival Miracle Itineraries
Carnival Miracle operates year-round departures from Long Beach, California, featuring three different week-long Mexican Riviera cruise options: a three-port itinerary featuring Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas; a two-port option that includes a stop in Cabo San Lucas, along with a two-day overnight stay in Puerto Vallarta; and a third choice featuring a day-long visit to Puerto Vallarta, along with a two-day call at Cabo San Lucas.

Carnival Miracle will also offer 15-day Hawaii cruises round-trip from Long Beach departing Oct. 17 and Nov. 28, 2015, and Jan. 16, 2016, along with a special one-time 13-day Mexican Riviera cruise departing Jan. 31, 2016.

Reservations are currently being accepted for all of Carnival Miracle’s 7 to 15-day departures from Long Beach. For additional information, please contact us at travel@area-vacations.com or call 770-591-5552.

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Discover Alaska with Princess Cruises

For many people a trip to Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime event. It is a perfect destination for multi-generation travel with much to offer people of all ages. Alaska is rich with history; offers breath-taking scenery – a real paradise for photographers; and the wildlife is spectacular. One of the best ways to visit Alaska is by taking a cruise or cruise-tour. Here is short video describing the experience on Princess Cruise Lines.

For more information or to book an Alaska cruise or cruise-tour please contact AREA Vacations at 770-591-5552 or travel@area-vacations.com.

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Cruise Lines Respond to Ebola

Cruise ships in general are arguably one of the cleanest, safest, and most sanitized environments – outside of my kitchen, of course. Nonetheless, the recent press devoted to Ebola has caused concern for travelers – especially cruise passengers. It is interesting to note the public’s concern over the Ebola virus and the seemingly lack of concern over the flu virus. The flu is much more easily spread than Ebola and kills as many as 49,000 American’s in a single year. Yet the public is seemingly more concerned about Ebola. Another interesting aspect of the public’s reaction is that the flu is preventable. Yet only 1 out of 3 American’s bothers to get a flu shot. Isn’t that amazing? I can’t recall the last time anyone said they weren’t taking a cruise because they were afraid to catch the flu.

Well, the cruise lines take the flu, Ebola, Norovirus, and all transmittable diseases and illnesses seriously. It would be bad for business otherwise. Carnival Cruise Lines just announced on 10/24/2014 additional precautions to be taken with regard to the public’s concern over Ebola by releasing the following letter to passengers sailing in the near future:

We know there has been considerable media coverage about the Ebola virus, which has raised concerns among the public in general.  We’d like to take this opportunity to provide you some important information in an effort to ease any concerns you may have. 

At Carnival Cruise Lines, the safety, health and welfare of our guests, crew, and staff is always our number one priority.  Therefore, we have implemented strict screening and boarding procedures following collaboration with federal and international health authorities.

At embarkation, all guests, visitors, and crew boarding our vessels must complete a mandatory health screening questionnaire prior to embarking. Those individuals who answer positively to any of the screening questions will be asked to submit to further medical screening prior to being allowed to board.

As part of our screening process, guests are asked to disclose if they have visited or traveled through countries with a US CDC Level 3 Travel Warning (any of the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and/or Guinea). Guests must also disclose if, within 21 days of their cruise departure date, they have been in contact with, or helped care for someone known or suspected to have the Ebola virus, or is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to Ebola. Any individual who answers positively will be denied boarding.

Carnival and other cruise lines continue to monitor the situation closely, along with Cruise Lines International Association and our colleagues in the rest of the travel industry. We remain in close contact with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for updates and guidance. Guests seeking more information on Ebola can visit the World Health Organization’s website at www.who.int or the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/.

We greatly appreciate your understanding and cooperation in our efforts to safeguard our guests and crew. Most importantly, we look forward to having you sail with us.

Carnival and all cruise lines take extraordinary measures to keep the ship’s environment clean, safe, and sanitary for the passengers and the crew. So, relax and enjoy your next exciting cruise vacation. As for me, I am more concerned about catching something from the handle on the grocery store shopping carts. So, I keep sanitizing wipes nearby. Happy sailing!

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The World is Now More Accessible Than Ever – Explore it; Enjoy It!

The world is now more accessible than ever before. Twenty percent (62 million) of the U.S. population has some form of disability, and the number of these individuals is increasing daily. These people want to travel and they are able to travel. If you’re part of that twenty percent, a world of travel awaits you.

Travel professionals at AREA Vacations who are accessible travel advocates certified by Special Needs Group www.specialneedsgroup.com, the leading global provider of special needs equipment for the travel industry, have unique, and specialized knowledge about how to help individuals with disabilities enjoy a wonderful, hassle-free and memorable trip.

Here are a few tips from Special Needs Group to ensure that when your next travel opportunity arises, you are ready to go.

Outline your travel needs

Take time to evaluate the logistics of your trip in relation to your ability to keep pace. What modes of transportation will you be using? Airplane, motor coach, train, ship, transit vans for ground transfers? Make a list, referring to relevant brochures, your trip organizer or travel agent to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Now, make a list of your specific requirements. Be honest: what types of special needs equipment do you depend on at home? What do you use or need (or wish you had!) when shopping, sightseeing locally, dining out or going to the movies, attending concerts, the theater, street fairs or sporting events at home?

Can you hear and see clearly without special auditory equipment or visual aides? How far can you walk without a rest break? Are stairs difficult? Can you get in and out of the tub or shower at home without handgrips or other assistance?

Travel, whether solo or in a group, is no time for roughing it or trying to “tough it out.” If a wheelchair, scooter or portable oxygen will make your trip easier, place that item on your list. Many people who do not use wheelchairs or walkers at home feel more comfortable using these mobility aides for tour and excursions. In fact, most of Special Needs Group’s wheelchair and scooter rentals are to individuals who only use such aides when traveling.

Plan Ahead

If you already own a scooter or portable oxygen, it’s important to know the policy and procedures for bringing that equipment onboard all the transport vehicles included in your itinerary, from planes to taxis to ferry boats. Does that transport have a way to stow your scooter or wheelchair? Is oxygen allowed on board? Some airlines prohibit certain types of batteries, such as wet cell batteries, or oxygen cylinders. Airlines operate under strict rules, so there may be packing procedures to follow if they do allow the equipment. Keep in mind, most airlines need at least 48 hours’ notice to make special arrangements, and be prepared to fill out forms.

Overall, cruise ships are more lenient in allowing oxygen, but some disallow certain types of oxygen. All require that the oxygen be delivered to the ship, and that you have enough for the entire voyage. Oxygen may never be brought aboard in your luggage. Requirements vary, so check your cruise line for proper instructions. Again, documentation and paperwork are required.

Whether you are headed for a cruise ship, hotel or all-inclusive resort, double check for wheelchair access at that venue, plus any venues you will be visiting on the trip. Confirm that accessible hotel rooms, resort accommodations or ship staterooms are available for your travel dates. The earlier you book, the better your chances of securing fully accessible accommodations. And early booking increases your chances of securing a ground floor hotel room or cruise stateroom near the elevator, if these issues are important.

Check on the access to public rooms, restaurants, bars, toilets, the swimming pool, hot tub, beach area and other amenities. Are there TDD phone devices? How will you get in and out of the shower or bathtub? Are there flashing lights to accommodate hearing? Braille room numbers? Knowing in advance the scope of your needs gives you time to arrange advance rentals of any necessary equipment, scheduled to arrive when you do. Everything from scooters, lifts, ramps, TDD kits and special mattresses, including special needs cribs, is available for rental.

Will road travel or car excursions be part of the trip? Many car rental companies have vehicles that are modified for drivers or passengers with mobility limitations. Check ahead to make sure a suitable vehicle will be available for your travel dates. If you will be hiring a car or van, make sure the company is aware of your special needs.

When traveling with a limitation or disability, full travel insurance for medical coverage abroad and trip cancellation insurance are even more important and strongly advised.

Ask the Right Questions

When making the final bookings, be sure you ask the right questions, even if the accommodations or cruise stateroom are categorized as “accessible.”

For example, are doorways wide enough for the largest wheelchairs? Do the doors open outwards or into the room?

Are all the public areas of the hotel, resort or ship accessible? Do you need to make special arrangements in the dining room to accommodate the wheelchair or scooter?

Will the bathroom facilities truly fit your needs? Is the bathroom large enough for the wheelchair or scooter? Is there a roll-in shower? Grab-bars?

Are there facilities for companion/assistance animals?

Are there shopping and entertainment facilities close by if you are staying at a hotel or resort?

On shore excursions or tours, does the van have a lift and method for transporting wheelchairs and scooters?

Simply stated, don’t take anything for granted. It’s easy to arrange for almost every situation, and the world is wonderfully accessible, once you know what’s needed, what’s available and how to find the necessary equipment.

The world is accessible to you – please contact AREA Vacations at 770-591-5552 or travel@area-vacations.com to review your travel options.

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