I'm back and in one piece! Wow what an interesting way to have a holiday, on a cruise ship, and as a paraplegic with high needs requirements. I've been back for a few weeks now and I'm still processing the holiday, as there were difficult and fun times. I'll start the blog from just a few days prior to us leaving.
We were leaving Melbourne on a Wednesday at 4 pm. On the Thursday night prior to leaving Mum came through and said to me that she was printing her boarding pass and getting all the documents ready, when she realised that she didn't have 6 months left on her passport for when we re-entered the country. A slight but major requirement required when travelling overseas. I assured her that there was a process to speed through a passport and that it'd be ok, and to look at the government site as it'd explain it all. The following morning she felt a little more informed as she'd looked at the site and it'd confirmed what I'd said the night before. That morning she rushed off to the local post office with her documents, chatted to a man there, found out that the form needed to be done online, printed off, and that with a current photograph needed to be at the main post office in the city as at one pm when they sent them all to the passport office.
I think it was Monday night that Mum received an email saying that her passport was ready. She rushed off to pick it up on Tuesday morning, which meant all she needed to do was finish packing. We were all ready to go as I'd packed on Monday and Tuesday, because half of my luggage was continence products, just in case I got gastro.
Wednesday finally arrived and we went about our early morning routines as usual. My carer arrived at 10.30 am, and our friends who were house sitting arrived at 11 am. The maxi taxi was booked for 12.30 as we didn't need to board until 2 pm. We were the last deck to board, the ship was sailing at 4 pm from Melbourne. Each person was allowed 32 kg of luggage of which I had one huge suitcase and a smaller one, Mum had two medium sized cases and my carer had one case. We also needed to take the shower chair with us, as well as the wheelchair charger and a box I use in the mornings to help transfer from the shower chair off and onto the bed, plus a fold up manual wheelchair. There was a lot of luggage to take, however I was very organised.
The taxi arrived on time and I brought him inside to show him all the luggage and equipment that needed to be packed into the cab. He packed two suitcases in and the folded manual wheelchair, then loaded me in. Then he decided that we needed an additional taxi as he couldn't fit it all in. I was sure he could have and that he was just being lazy. So he called for a cab, and half an hour later it arrived. The remaining items and Mum were loaded in and finally we were on our way.
We arrived at the terminal and I was so surprised at how easily everything flowed. It was like checking into a hotel. There were no other cars as we'd been warned there'd be huge queues due to the bad set up of the area, before getting onto the dock area to get to the ship. We pulled right up and people took all the luggage before I could even breath., We were escorted to a lift and zoomed up to the customs/boarding area. Someone there organised everything for us because I was in a wheelchair, and we were on our way to getting onto the ship! It was all so smooth, I was very impressed. Little did I know it was the calm before the storm.
We walked/drove onto the ship and were greeted by some very friendly staff and directed to the lifts. I knew what deck we were on which made it easier to know where to get off as the ship was huge. We landed in a very long corridor on our deck and needed to travel a fair way down to our cabin. We arrived at a cabin that I thought was mine, I kept trying the electronic key and at the same time was saying "I'll never get through this doorway" as it was so narrow. I was paranoid as they'd given me cabin doorway widths and I'd measured my chair at least 50 times. Then Mum realised I was at the wrong cabin! Eventually we found my cabin, which I was sharing with my carer, and rolled in through the doorway. We were greeted by our lovely cabin steward Phan.
Immediately I noticed that there were two normal twin beds in the room, not my special bed nor my hoist that I'd hired! The ship was leaving at 4 pm and it was now about 2.20 pm, I wasn't going unless my equipment was there. The room steward knew nothing about it as he hadn't been told. Head office, who knew all about it since July 2017 hadn't relayed that information to the ship!! I asked to speak to his manager, so he quickly went off to page him to the room. In the mean time, I noticed that our suitcases and equipment we'd brought with us had been delivered to the room, before we even arrived. So I looked to see what was there, AND NOTICED MY HUGE SUITCASE WAS MISSING! OMG.....I immediately rang our friends at home and asked them to go into my unit to see if it was still there. The answer was YES. Another reason I may not be going on the cruise. Luckily by now my solution brain was in overdrive, so I called the taxi and told him the story and asked him to send another cab to pick up the case and bring it to the ship. That was organised in no time and it was on it's way. Luckily it was school holidays so it was quieter on the roads.
In the mean time I was still waiting for the supervisor to appear to sort out my bed and hoist situation. I decided that I'd hop in the lift, leave Mum and Peta at the room in case the supervisor arrived, and I'd go to the reception area and see if they could help me. As I was going down in the lift, the doors opened on another deck, and I noticed some equipment that looked very much like mine at the lift. I zoomed out, as what were the chances that someone else had the same equipment? Sure enough it was mine, however it was marked incorrectly, and was on it's way to someone else's room! There are 2900 passengers on board, imagine if it'd got lost? I sat there directing these four guys who were trying to squeeze it into a lift that was far to small for the bed. Eventually they used the goods lift, and by the time I arrived back at my room, the equipment was there. I remember looking at Mum at one stage and I really thought she was going to have a stroke. I wasn't worried about the case and equipment as I'm good at organising things and finding solutions, I was calm. I was more worried about Mum.
In the mean time the supervisor arrived at my cabin and told me that Miss Monica, the customer service representative on the ship, had called him to say that the suitcase had arrived, but there is a problem with -
- How was I going to pay the taxi driver?
- And how to get the suitcase onto the ship?
I had said to the taxi driver I'd pay when I got back, or had asked Miss Monica to pay and to put the cost on my bill. As for how to get it onto the ship, I didn't understand. The issue was that the people on the docks weren't allowed on the ship, and those on the ship weren't allowed on the docks. Just a gangway separated me from my suitcase..lol. Eventually they worked something out, and it arrived in my cabin. While all of this was going on, I was rearranging all the furniture in the room to fit the bed in. Tables and chairs were going out, side chests of drawers were being moved, it was all happening. The reason being that I needed space on each side of my bed for whom ever was assisting me with dressing etc.
At 4.20 pm we made it to deck 14 to have some lunch, from either the burger or pizza bar, and a drink. We were on our way to New Zealand, except there was some La Cucaracha band playing so loudly by the pool, not far away from us, I looked at Mum and said "I hope it's not like this and so tacky every day". They were awful and oh so loud! We sat down and just looked at each other and laughed as it'd been just madness for the past two hours. I zoomed over to the side of the ship to see if I could get any decent shots of us leaving Melbourne but we'd already started to move, and I missed that opportunity. We also started to look around and couldn't believe the older age group on the cruise. I was sure that the old age homes and shoved their residents on a bus for an outing. That outing was a really all about off loading them at the ship, just so they could have a holiday themselves for two weeks. The amount of pushes and walking sticks was incredible. We all felt so very young. We didn't stay there for long as dinner was at 6 pm, yes 6 pm? When I'd booked they'd said there were two sittings 6 and 8 pm, so we chose 6 pm. We took off to unpack and change for dinner after a bite to eat.
After we'd done all of that and finished dinner, early, we walked around the ship a little then had a reasonable early night as were all exhausted from just day one!
I'll post a few different BLOG entries over the next few days. It's taken me ages to set up and upload all the photos in relation to the cruise. Not only did I want to capture photos of the cruise and holiday, I also wanted to film and show people with disabilities and who may be in wheelchairs what is and isn't possible on this particular ship, the Golden Princess. iIt's very difficult to get information if you've never cruised before. And just in case they were looking at travelling. I'm almost finished editing the pages so will shoot out some more blogs soon.
I also had a dose of hookworm last week, as well as with the fatigue of the disease, and the non stop holiday running around, am exhausted and have had a great deal of tiredness therefore it's been difficult to work on everything. Apologies for any spelling and grammatical mistakes :)
Chat soon :)
ABOVE - VERY SEXY SELFIES BUT IT WAS VERY WINDY. I SOON LEARNT THAT HAVING ANY DECENT HAIRSTYLE WAS NOT POSSIBLE TO MAINTAIN ON THE CRUISE.
BELOW - I'M FASCINATED WITH TANKERS AND THEY WAY THEY FLOAT WITH THE CRATES JUST PILED ON TOP OF EACH OTHER.
ABOVE - MY LARGE SUITCASE THAT HAD ALL MY CONTINENCE PRODUCTS IN IT, AS WELL AS MY SLIDE BOARD. I'M NOT SURE WHERE I MANAGED TO PUT MY CLOTHES ETC?
In a wheelchair permanently since early 2010 due to a disease called NMO. I am loving getting out and about in my wheels. My blogs capture my journey.