Sailing with Shelley

Friendly Wheels, Issue 22
November 2009

By: Shelley Peterman Schwarz


My husband, Dave, and I LOVE to get away for a vacation, but leaving the comforts and accessibility of home means thinking about the logistics of getting me (in my 3-wheeled Amigo POV/scooter, along with our luggage) through security and on to a plane. This can be somewhat stressful. For people who are experiencing limitations of any kind, traveling today can be very difficult.  As my 86 year-old mother says, "the spirit is willing, but the body has other plans."

Dave and I have found our solution - for several years now, we have been going on a cruise, and for us it's an absolutely wonderful way for people with limitations and their companions to travel. For Dave, who supplies the physical help I need, it's an opportunity to relax and not feel responsible for everyday chores because they're all done for you. We unpack once, sit back and relax, and the beautiful places come to us!

The only stress of the day is finding a deck chair close to the pool. The only "on board" decisions to make are when, where, and what to eat. Your floating hotel is accessible and almost everything is included in the price of your cruise; meals, 24-hour room service, stage productions, games, lectures, classes and demonstrations. For an additional charge you can surf the Internet, gamble in the casino, or be pampered in the spa. And although I've never needed one, there is even a doctor on staff to handle medical problems and emergencies; just knowing that eases your mind.

The cruise ship industry works hard to accommodate passengers with special needs. "Handicapped" cabins are larger than regular cabins and easily accommodate mobility devices. There are even special cruises for people with serious medical conditions like dialysis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, etc., or for those who use assistance animals, complete with a vet on board. Most cruise ships have lifts to help you in and out of the pool, and, I know from personal experience, that attentive staff are always happy to provide assistance, like opening my cabin door or carrying a tray of food from the buffet to the table. The help they provide allows me to be more independent so that I can enjoy my vacation and, perhaps more importantly, Dave can enjoy his without worrying about me.

Some of the large cruise ships have 2,000-3,000 people, counting passengers and crew, and are 14 stories high so we bring along walkie-talkies that we synchronize to the same open channel. That way, we can communicate with each other anywhere on the ship and even with people who have gone ashore sightseeing.

There are travel agencies that specialize in travel for people with disabilities. They take care of all the arrangements, making sure that everything the traveler needs is on board and that all the ports of call are accessible. And should some challenge come up, I know that there will be someone available to help find a solution. It doesn't get any easier than that!

Dave and I are really excited about our next cruise-12 days to Scandinavia and Russia in July 2010. We'll fly to London, board the ship and sail to Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki before spending two days in St. Petersburg, Russia, then on to Estonia and back to Sweden and England.

I can't wait! Never in a million years would I have imagined that I might be able to travel to these places! If you'd like to know more about going on a cruise vacation or think you'd like to join Dave and me on our next adventure, please visit and click on Flying Wheels Travel or e-mail (type "Cruise 2010" in the header).


About the Author: Amigo owner Shelley Peterman Schwarz is a freelance award winning writer and author of six "Tips for Making Life Easier" books and professional speaker. Visit her highly informative Web site at or you can e-mail her at

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