Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cruising While Fat: Doing my research, asking for help...

I've spent a lot of time over the past few days researching Cruising While Fat (and cruising in general), as my fiance and I have decided we'll be doing a short, 4-night cruise as the first leg of our honeymoon. I am, of course, concerned about various aspects of the trip. As a fat person (fat enough to not fit in many standard chairs, etc) and a disabled person (unable to walk/stand more than 3-5 minutes without severe pain), I'm definitely always worried about new/unknown situations and environments. Hence the obsessive researching.

I've learned a lot from various online articles, forums, and blogs I can't possibly hope to reference here. (I started by searching for info about mobility scooters and accessible accommodations, but it's been a series of whirlwind trips down the rabbit hole with 20-30 tabs open at a time as I followed whatever train of thought caught my eye! I will say I think my favorite resource overall is - in particular the forums.)

Along the way, someone pointed me to John Heald's Blog. John is Senior Cruise Director for Carnival Cruises, and it was mentioned that his blog has great info and that he often helps people personally/answers fan questions. I thought I'd send him a quick little note and it turned into a veritable NOVEL as I poured out my questions. Here's hoping he answers!

Hi John,

I stumbled on your blog as I was researching in preparation to be a first-time cruiser this July, and I'm so glad I did!

My future husband and I hope to begin our honeymoon with a Monday through Friday cruise from Long Beach, CA, to Ensenada, Mexico on the Carnival Inspiration this coming July. We're both first-time cruisers, and I've been reading and reading on, on the forums, blogs, etc. I am getting more and more excited - and more and more convinced this will only be the first of MANY Carnival vacations! I can't wait to celebrate the beginning of our marriage on this beautiful ship. I've read tons of advice to 1st time cruisers from longtime cruisers, but I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on this as well. I'm sure you have a different perspective and will have great advice!

I also have a few specific questions, that are far more anxiety-producing and that I really hope you can help me with. I've found tons of great information online but as a fat and disabled woman I have a few concerns that I haven't been able to find answers on. I really hope you can help me.

First off, let me start by telling you the good news I have read online. People say:
--Overall, Carnival has the most spacious standard cabins, so that larger people without additional special needs may be comfortable without needing a handicapped accessible room.
--Carnival has a great bathroom layout, and that because of the way the shower is arranged, even larger people can comfortably shower.
--Hosts and wait staff are always very responsive in accommodating requests for armless chairs in the dining room, and sometimes even anticipate the request without being asked.
--Many theatres and lounges have sofas and bench seats that are comfortable for people of all sizes, in addition to/instead of traditional theatre seats with arms that may not fit all bodies.

This is all GREAT news, and did a lot to alleviate my worries. However, I'm really hoping for your help because I have some worries specific to my size (at the larger end of the large-people scale).
--There are two different types of accessible cabins, "modified" and "accessible" -- which would be the right choice for someone of size with mobility limitations, using an electronic mobility scooter to get around the ship (but able to walk around the cabin)? Also, I was told that accessible cabins are only available for the "inside" and "outside" cabin classes, and not for the Jr Suite. We'd like to do a suite but don't want to get ourselves in trouble with accessibility issues. Can you advise?
--Can you help me locate contact information for approved vendors for rental of electric mobility scooters for use on the Carnival Inspiration?
--I read a horror story about a larger woman on a mobility scooter breaking the gangplank and nearly falling into the gap between the ship and the dock. Can you calm my fears by sharing the weight limit of the gangplank on the Carnival Inspiration?
--Is there a weight limit on the toilets in the rooms? I see that they are wall-mounted rather than supported on the floor. Is this the same in the accessible cabins? I read one story where a self-identified "SSBBW" woman expressed concerns about the toilet in her room and the staff were able to install a block under the toilet to support it. Is this something you've heard of? Can it be arranged ahead of time? 
--Will it be possible to sit during the safety drill? I cannot stand comfortably for more than 2-3 minutes.
--Are there any other things that you've learned over the years that larger cruisers should anticipate/be prepared to do differently?

Thank you for your patience in reading this long email, and I appreciate any thoughts and advice you can share to make this truly the honeymoon we are hoping and wishing for!

My sincere thanks in advance for your help,


Have you gone on a cruise as a fat person? What advice can you share?