So, you’re planning a cruise this summer, eh? Well, before you set sail on the high seas, consider what you need to know about taking a cruise with hearing loss. What do you need to pack? What cruise lines offer the best accommodations for those with hearing loss? What types of activities and settings does each ship offer? Some ships are better than others, so do your due diligence ahead of time to have the best vacation possible.
What to pack
Make a checklist well in advance of that frantic, last-minute, suitcase-stuffing packing spree. When you have hearing loss, especially if you wear hearing aids, you don’t want want to walk out the door knowing you’re forgetting something important. In addition to your passport, tickets and bathing suit, make a checklist for your hearing.
- Assisted listening devices.
- Vibrating/flashing alarm clock.
- Back-up hearing aid batteries.
- Hearing aid storage case.
- Hearing aid cleaning kit.
- Hearing aid accessories, like a splash guard or neck loop.
Keeping track of your audiology equipment helps you enjoy your vacation, so that you don’t miss out on those little sounds that make up the details of your memories later on: the ocean waves, the chatter of the dolphins or the conversation with your loved ones.
Which cruise line to choose
Call ahead or go online to determine which cruise line is best-suited to your needs. While most cruise lines offer special rooms or kits for those customers with hearing loss, the number is limited and they can book up quickly. Plan on reserving your room early on to lock in the best option.
Royal Caribbean: Tactile/visual alert kits are available for rooms, as is a teletype (TTY) phone, and amplified phones are available in the room as well as common areas. Theaters are wired for assistive listening devices (ALDs), and ASL interpreters can be requested at booking or 60 days in advance.
Disney Cruise Lines: This alert kit also includes a bed-shaker alarm clock in addition to the standard visual alerts and TTY phone. ALDs are available for the theaters, and guest services can also provide you with scripts for the shows.
Holland America: Holland’s room kit also includes a bed-shaker alarm clock, but the strobe lights for the smoke detectors vary depending on the ship. ALDs are available for the theaters, and closed captioning is also available for some of the movies they show.
Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian can provide ASL interpreters to guests if requested 90 days prior, and they also offer an access officer whom you will meet with on embarkation day to ensure your needs are met throughout the trip. Room kits are available as well, and rooms on certain ships are hard-wired with visual alert systems.
Most of the theater rooms on your cruise ship should provide you with an ALD, and some, like Disney, offer closed captioning or scripts as additional supplements to the entertainment. But the cruise may have other activities that involve small groups, one-on-one interaction and quiet settings, all of which are ideal if you have hearing loss. Spas, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, libraries, ping pong tables and shuffleboard tables are just some of the options you may find onboard.
Each cruise line’s offerings vary, as do their individual ships. Once you narrow down your search to the cruises that are most appealing to you, call and ask about that particular ship’s accommodations. Doing so could have a major effect on your time spent onboard.