I LOVE to cruise! I have been on two cruises with two different cruise lines and I have been converted. While the overall experience was pleasurable, I found that it was difficult to participate in the cruiseship activities because I have a severe hearing loss.
Here are some of my experiences:
On the first cruise and the first time I experienced the safety drill I was very scared. I had no idea what was going on and I had been separated from my husband. I could not hear or see the person leading the safety instructions nor could I understand any PA announcements. I had put my life vest on incorrectly because I couldn't see or understand the demonstration. This created a really anxiety ridden start to my first cruise. The second cruise I wasn't as scared because I knew what to expect but I had a similar bad hearing experience. If there had been a real emergency I don't think I would know what to do.
On the second cruise I was able to indicate that I was deaf/hard of hearing as we signed up for it online. It was a nice surprise to see a personalized letter that recognized my being there as a hard of hearing patron. They had an ADA kit in the room for me. The phone, alarm clock, door bell, and smoke detector were all able to be connected to a bed vibrator. I felt a little more relaxed having a door bell for the room steward and room service, as I cannot hear anything without my hearing aids in.
I had later found out that you can request a sign language interpreter, but you have to do so 6 months in advance. I am lucky enough to be one of the very few hard of hearing people that knows sign language, but I use lip-reading as my primary way of communicating. I now wonder if we could request a CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) person instead of a sign language interpreter. If we can that would enhance our experience 1,000 times!
Which leads to my next experiences with the cruiseship activities and the shore excursions.
I wanted my husband to experience some of the shows that the ship had going on even though without any ALD's (assistive listening devices) or other accommodations I would get nothing out of them. We went to a comedy show and I was so bored I fell asleep while everyone else was rolling in the isles with laughter. The next night we went to the comedy show I brought a book. We had to sit in the back by the door where there was light coming into the theatre so I could read. If I had a script or CART available I would be able to laugh and have fun right along with my husband and we would be able to share that experience. We also went to the musical shows and one of them were show tunes, and I couldn't even tell which show tune they were singing. Thankfully there is a little more going on and I could just watch the dancing. So it wasn't as boring as the comedy shows.
I love to watch cooking shows on TV, and when I found out they had one on the cruise ship I was so excited! We went and it was in a small auditorium. It was being filmed as well. I was so disappointed because I understood very little of the show. They handed out the recipes for us to look at but I couldn't understand the dialog.
They also had movies showing in that same auditorium. I thought what a great thing to do right? Wrong. When I went to the front desk to ask if they had and ALD's for the movie. They couldn't answer me right away. So I was asked to come back. So, I went back and they said they do have some but they couldn't find it. I was asked to wait again. By this time the movie was starting so they told us that they would bring it to us. They did. Much to my disappointment it didn't work. My husband tried it on and it didn't work for him either. I started to get bored and I fell asleep during the movie. I didn't want to leave because my husband could still watch it, but I was miserable. When we returned the ALD and let them know it wasn't working they were apologetic but of course "there is nothing they can do". It would have been such a wonderful experience if the movie was captioned. I know that I wasn't the only one who could have benefited from having the movie or any activity on the ship captioned.
Even the activities out by the pool are hard because the music is so loud I can't even talk to anyone.
We are so limited to what we can do and we have to pick activities that are visual or in a small room. I should be able to enjoy any activity just like everyone else.
Like I said, I love to cruise and if I love it with such a limited experience how much more would I love it if I could have accommodations that would allow me to go to any activity I choose!