Witten by Chillie Falls, November 5, 2022 for AccessAdventure.net
For the first time I sailed on Margaritaville At Sea Paradise on November 2, 2022. Contained within are the results of my wheelchair/scooter/handicapped accessibility study and my recommendation concerning the advisability of cruising on this ship.
The first very good sign was that embarkation was extremely smooth. I parked in the handicapped area after dropping off my suitcase. That leads to the first problem. Neither the ship or cruise line, or possibly the Port of West Palm, have a working relationship with Scootaround. No scooters, nor an oxygen concentrator for my cabin were available.
The bottom line: I had to use my small scooter from home which is not equipped to use on a cruise ship. But, since I can not walk enough even with my walker, to get on board, much less enjoy the cruise, I gave it my best effort.
I rolled over from my car to the attendant that took my suitcase and he accompanied me to the porters, who checked my bag, and took me through the check-in procedures. This was accomplished in no time, however, I was early and had to sit for an hour until we were allowed on the ship.
As smoothly as embarkation went, disembarkation was a totally disorganized mess.
There were no section numbered luggage tags like found on every other cruise I have been on. I was provided with one plan tag and told to write my cabin number on it. When I finally got off the ship, and down the elevator to where one picks up luggage, this too was unorganized and the bags were not even separated by floor. One had to just hunt for their suitcase.
I had an accessible cabin. The bathroom was fine, and thankfully had enough room to turn the scooter around. The room was long and narrow. One side had two single beds head to head. the other side was closet, drawer space and a desk/vanity. The center was less than 3 feet, so no room to turn around and barely enough space for my fat butt to squeeze past the scooter to get to the bathroom.
The door was not automatic so I had to fight with the door coming and going from the scooter. At least, it was not heavy.
Most public restrooms were not wheelchair/scooter accessible. I only found one automatic restroom door on the entire ship.
I pushed the button, and the door did open, but only to reveal a good inch 2 inch lip to traverse.
There was no way my scooter could get into that “accessible” restroom. And then the automatic door would not close.
Margaritaville at Sea Paradise had eight elevators but only one went to Decks 12 and 14. Deck 14 was the Crow’s Nest Sports Bar and Grill. It was not open when I was there.
Deck 12 is the jogging track with inside views of the main pool deck below, and the panoramic ocean views to the outside. After one exits the elevator, there is about a 30 ft walkway and a door to access the track….with a step up. So, all of Deck 12 is inaccessible unless one can do steps. Should I point out that wheelchairs and scooters do not do steps!
The main pool deck has lobby elevator banks at either end with automatic doors to the pool area. Unfortunately 3 of the 4 doorways to the pool area have lips of 1-1 1/2 inches. Going out, it is a pretty good “bump”. However, my scooter would not go over the lip to get me back to the elevators. The 4th doorway which had the smallest of the lips was closed for maintenance. I had to stand up to take my weight off the scooter, and lift the front end over the lip. A nice lady waiting for me to get out of her way, actually pushed me from behind to get the back wheels over the lip.
I saw no evidence of lift chairs that could allow any handicapped person use of the pools or hot tubs,
Please do not get me wrong. This report is not an indictment of Margaritaville at Sea Paradise. I am a solo handicapped cruiser. And I enjoyed the cruise. The vibe is fantastic. The entertainment terrific. The food sensational. And the rest of the ship reasonably accessible.
If you are not mobility challenged, I would have no problem recommending this cruise. However, if you are in the accessible community, this cruise has enough red flags that I would be unable to recommend it. I did it, am glad I did it, and enjoyed most of it. But, it was not easy.