So the cruise I had been waiting for since April 2018! My bucket list cruise to Iceland and to see the blue lagoon!!
We boarded at Southampton, really easy, pre booked disabled parking with ABP and had our pass in the windscreen. Upon arrival we were directed straight to the disabled space and our suitcases were taken from us at the car. Once we were inside the terminal which is a short walk/roll approx 200 meters. We just needed our tickets out and we went straight through security (which actually went as well as these things can) we then got taken to our concierge rep who introduced herself to us and invited us to a special on board lunch and we then checked in, tickets, passports, credit card and then our cruise card was given, we were on the ship by 11:30am, so easy and lots of help available if required.
*I have to say if we were not concierge we would of been given a coloured card with a number and wait to be called.*
Our stateroom was a wheelchair accessible balcony, concierge class 1026. This room has plenty of space and can sleep up to 3, the configuration can be a queen bed with the single sofa pullout or twin beds. The front door is automatic which is so helpful as these doors are heavy!
The wardrobe is just a standard size with 2 doors, I would think you would struggle with 3 adults but the bar drops down so we can reach items hanging.
There are also 9 draws, 4 shelves, a safe and a fridge in the room along with a small table which is height adjustable. As above you can see with my hubby trying it out the half sofa that can become a single bed. Both sides of the bed have a small bedside table, my side the right had a US socket and hubby on the left had the phone and pull cord! they are small but adequate. There are also a bedside light attached to the headboard which has a switch under to turn on and off my side had two switches for the main lights also, they are easy to reach and not too bright. One the main counter space you get champagne glasses & tumblers along side a kettle for UK sailings only. There are 2 US sockets there and 1 Euro. Above is a 32 inch interactive tv where you can see you bill, order things like room service, gifts, book speciality restaurant etc.
The balcony is a good size it has 2 chairs, 2 foot stools and 1 circular table and you can still fit a wheelchair out there.
The Wetroom is again a fair size, a lot of storage which is accessible by the sink which you can roll up to as there is nothing underneath. The shower is a bit awkward as the seat is opposite the shower however there are two heads, you can move one up,down and remove to hold in you hand, the other is fixed high up but swivels to the direction you want but you couldn’t reach that without standing, you can also have the choice of both on together or one or the other. The seat is small but works however personally I prefer the larger ones especially when I need to shave!
The toilet is a standard cruise toilet, you have bars going around the shower and toilet as grab rails however I felt it needed a drop down rail to the side of me but that’s my personal preference. As I mentioned there is a lot of storage around the sink to be honest I think it’s the best I’ve ever had on a cruise ship! There is another phone in Wetroom next to the toilet with a pull cord but this door is not automatic but not heavy.
*One odd thing which we have not come across before was the life jackets were in a metal basket under the bed instead of the wardrobe- we still fit two large suitcases under the bed though*
So the ship herself is a mid to large ship holding just shy of 2900 passengers. They have wheelchair accessible cabins from an inside up to a suite all of which have automatic main doors.
Getting around the ship is easy and quite spacious, it certainly doesn’t feel like your on a big ship or experience large crowds of people (apart from the shop sales on sea days!) There are forward and aft lifts that go to the top deck 15 and the bottom deck 2, however only 2 lifts of the 4 go to deck 2 & 3 and they are on the starboard side. There are also mid ship lifts that go to deck 15 and 2 total of 8 (4 each side) The lifts are a good size for a newer ship in comparison to P&O Britannia and you can usually get one pretty quick.
On deck 12 there is an indoor pool with a hoist which is easily accessible.
Also on deck 12 there is two outside pools which is split in the middle, only one has a hoist but again it’s very easy to access and staff available to assist.
There are lots of hot tubs located on deck 12 and comfy seating which we did take advantage of, with a few drinks of course!
The theatre is split level on deck 3 & 4 both having wheelchair access and reserved seating for wheelchairs and companions.
The buffet is called Oceanview cafe located at the back of the ship on deck 14. It has around 10-15 tables reserved for disabled on both sides of the buffet which is a big help and you can usually get a seat however unfortunately you do still get the oblivious abled bodies taking them up when busy but I must say the staff are pro active in telling them they cannot sit there.
Generally getting around the ship is easy, the hallways where cabins are, are wide and the cleaning carts are put away, not left in hallway like other liners.
The only slight issue I had to deal with was crossing thresholds as they are slightly higher than other liners so had to slow right down so a joint didn’t dislocate!
In general the whole ship is wheelchair friendly and I was impressed with the little extras they do compared to other cruise lines. For us wheelchair users even all the public toilets have main automatic doors and inside automatic doors with an electric lock switch. I have cruised a lot and have yet to see this much advanced technology on another liner. Well done celebrity!
There are a lot of bars 2 are open in the morning while others open from either 3pm or 5pm. Non of the bars are really accessible as they have high seats and tables however there are a lot of lower seats and tables located around and waiter who can get you the drink. I personally found the best bar to be the ensemble lounge bar as this was bigger and plenty of seating and opened each day from 3pm.
*This ship in our view is not great in bad weather. Our 2 sea days to Iceland we had rough sea and 15 ft waves. We are usually ok however we both felt the extreme movement of the ship, up and down, side to side and a lack of people around the ship. The ship sits very high in the wind and this makes for quite a lot of movement. We have been in worse weather but had better sailings*
So your food options on board (which are free) include:
• Oceanview Cafe (buffet) deck 14
•Grand Cuvée Main dining room deck 3 & 4 -Breakfast 07:30 – 09:00am. -Lunch 11:30 – 13:00pm. -First sitting 18:00pm / Second sitting 20:30pm. -Anytime dining deck 4 only 17:30 – 21:30pm
•Mast Grill (Weather permitting) 11:30 – 18:00pm deck 14
•Spa Cafe (16+ only) 07:00 – 14:00 deck 12.
•Blu (Aqua class only) deck 5 -Breakfast 07:30 – 09:00am. -Lunch 11:30 – 13:00pm. -Anytime dining 18:00 – 21:30pm
•Lumiane (suite guests only) deck 3 -Breakfast 07:30 – 09:00am. -Lunch 11:30 – 13:00pm. -Anytime dining 18:00 – 21:30pm
•Room Service ($4.95 fee for delivery between 23:00 – 0600)
Specialty Restaurants on board (fee applies) *Some do a lunchtime menu see on ship*
•Murano (Contemporary french cuisine) 18:00 – 22:00pm deck 5
•Lawn Club Grill (Outdoor Grill) 18:00 – 22:00pm deck 15
•Qsine Le Petit Chef (animated restaurant) -First sitting 18:00 / Second sitting 20:15 deck 5
•Tuscan Grille (contemporary Italian) 18:00 – 22:30pm deck 5
•Sushi on 5, 18:00 – 22:00pm deck 5 (takeaways available & delivery to stateroom)
•The Porch (raw bar seafood) 18:00 – 22:00pm deck 15
While on our 14 day cruise we did try out almost all the dining options (except a few which we wouldn’t eat) When it comes to food I personally take other peoples opinions with a pinch of salt as it’s a very personal choice. These our, our thoughts and reviews about what we had, starting with the free dining options, The Oceanview cafe.
The buffet is HUGE as stated earlier they do reserve seating for disabled people. The food is fabulous, you could just eat in there everyday and be happy. It’s spacious and each food station has its own sign as you can see in the pictures and there is a wide variety for all tastes. Plus this is one of the bars I mentioned earlier that is open from 06:30 – 01:00am. We found the food always good and hot and the best selection and taste we have had on a cruise ship.
We had a meal in the Grand Cuvée, Anytime sitting and again the food was fantastic! We think this was the best main dining room food we have had on a cruise ship. The staff are so friendly in there also great choice in menu and would always accommodate any allergies or diet requirements, happily surprised.
We had room service a few times which also was at a good standard, always arrived hot. The menu is a bit limited sorry but Princess cruises still win on this one. The breakfast is a little hit and miss of being hot or cold but we always got a phone call to see how it was and after one breakfast that was cold and hubby told them they put us on the priority list for the rest of the cruise! We had paid concierge so you would have thought we would be on it already, oh well.
We had a few snacks from the Mast Grill, which was ok, just your regular hot dogs and burgers and we had ice cream from here and the Spa cafe a lot!
We brought a 4 night dining experience with our on board credit and chose to eat (In order) Murano, Lawn Club Grill, Le Petit Chef & Tuscan Grille.
Murano we were a little nervous about as we haven’t really had french food and didn’t like the idea of snails or frogs legs however the menu once we understood it was pleasantly encouraging. Carl had scallops and for main lobster flambéed next to the table. I had mushroom cappuccino and chateaubriand (beef steak) cut next to me at the table. We shared desert of a mixture of different little lovelies. We were really impressed with the food and Carl said it was the best lobster he has ever had. We both really enjoyed it and think it’s worth paying the cover charge. I wish my stomach wasn’t particularly paralysed so I could eat more! I know many people don’t like to pay extra for food while on a cruise however we do so we can experience all that is offered again this is a personal choice.
So our next meal was in the Lawn Club Grill. Shame about the cold wet weather but we got blankets and as you can see we were warm enough! You can see your food being cooked, it’s like a huge BBQ, really relaxed and friendly. The food again is fantastic and really worse the extra cost. If you wanted everything on the menu you could!!
Our next was Qsine Le Petit Chef, now this one was the one I was most looking forward too as they show your dinner being made on your plate via animation as you can see in the pictures. You get 4 courses, set menu but they can adjust slightly and eat Chef from different parts of the world do a course and at the end you vote for your favourite. *Please note the animation story changes from week to week and this is about the one we experienced* I seemed to enjoy it more than Carl lol, the food was ok nothing too special but the animation made up for it and made it a really good dining experience. The only thing we were not keen on is that we had to wait for everyone to finish before you can move on to your next animation and course as it’s all done at the same time, we noticed that we seemed to always be the first to finish 🐷 I think it’s worth the money to experience this however unlike the other 2 we wouldn’t pay the money to go back just for the food.
Our last was Tuscan Grille unfortunately I had become poorly with a bad chest infection and unknown to us at the time Carl had come down with shingles so we were not feeling up to eating a lot but we still wanted to at least try a main meal. We both stuck to our favourite which is a filet mignon steak. We both thoroughly enjoyed it to the best we could which was a shame as I’m sure we could of experienced a wonderful meal here. Due to being unwell I didn’t get pictures as I just wanted my bed.
Our Itinerary was Ireland and Iceland, we had some excursions arranged via the cruise line and others we did ourselves. I will go over what we did and how accessible it was however due to just wanting to chill Day 1 (Guernsey) and Day 2 (Waterford Ireland) we stayed on the ship as it was tender only. Also I wasn’t sure how I would be as on day 1 was the 1st anniversary of my dad passing away. So we start from Day 3 in Cork Ireland.
We arrived in Cork Ireland 14th August 2019. We had booked our own independent visit to the Titanic Museum, we did our research first and found out it was only about a 4 minute walk away from the port so we decided to do this. We got off the ship on deck 2 with no issues and google mapped which way to go and off we went. As we booked this ourselves hubby got in free as my carer. The streets were a little tricky to navigate, not many dropped kerbs but we managed it there and back. It’s a sleepy fishing village, quaint and old so not designed for wheelchairs. There is a pretty promenade front with a children’s playground. The local shops are not accessible as they have a big step in front of their doors. Apart from the Titanic experience which is just about accessible with a side entrance leading to a single wheelchair lift where you open the gate roll in and hold button down type. The gift shop is small and difficult to move around with a lot of people in, we did the 09:30 tour which was quite but once finished about an hour and half later it was really busy. It would be hard to do the tour with more than 1 wheelchair so I would suggest to call and ask them as they were very helpful. If you didn’t fancy doing this then I would recommend to either arrange an excursion with cruise line or seek one independently, there are also taxis just outside the port you could always take if wanted.
Day 4 & 5 we were in Dublin Ireland, 15th & 16th August 2019. We arrived in Dublin at 3am due to the tide, when the tide is out it’s unsafe for the ship to sail into the port as the tide becomes very low. We took an excursion with the cruise on the 15th August to Butlers Chocolate experience. Our meet up time was 14:15 dock side, there was two gangways deck 4 & 2 midship, being in a wheelchair we were advised to leave on deck 2 due to the steepness, this is again down to the tide but we got off without any problems. We got to our mini coach and the first two seats were reserved with our stateroom number and my folding electric wheelchair was stowed away in the back boot. We had a scenic drive to the Butlers chocolate factory and once arrived we were shown to the lift which was the same as the one in Cork’s Titanic experience. We watched a short video about Butlers and the story behind it and was given, wait for it….. 3 chocolate buttons!! After this there was a very short self guided tour in pictures and writing explaining about how the chocolate is made and about the history of Butlers, this was all completed within 10-15 minutes and we were then kept waiting in a hallway for a good 20 minutes waiting to go into the actual working factory for a guided tour. This was a bit poor but there was nothing we could do. The tour around the factory was ok nothing special and most of the machines were not in use. After this we then got given a chocolate elephant to decorate and keep, this was different and quite fun. Once we were back onto the mini coach we were back to the ship within 15 minutes. The tide has gone down quite a lot on our return leaving only one gangway open with a very long queue however a staff member called us over and got us on straight away, thanks to concierge class! The excursion overall was ok, it was wheelchair accessible however the mini coach wasn’t an adapted one so you needed to get up 2 steps in which I crawled.
Day 6 & 7, 17th & 18th August 2019 were both sea days heading up to Iceland. The weather had changed was was quite rough as I’ve previously mentioned. We did a class called Mixology 101, how to make cocktails, however they were very strong harsh ones in which I didn’t like or drink but the experience was a good laugh!
Day 8 & 9, 19th & 20th August 2019 we arrived in Reykjavik Iceland and again like Dublin its very tidal so the gangways changes a lot and it was quite steep at times but my little electric 10J wheelchair managed just fine. The actual port is nothing much at all, a very small and very very expensive shop then nothing…. We took a cruise excursion again to the Blue Lagoon on the comfort package where you get entrance to the blue lagoon, towels, dressing gowns, face mask and a free drink of choice (champagne not included:(). The Blue Lagoon is very well geared up for wheelchair users and they let a carer in for free if you book direct, unfortunately the cruise lines don’t offer this and the price is a lot more via the cruise but as we had on board credit and the drive is a good 45 min from cruise port we decided to keep the stress away and just do it with Celebrity.
So the Blue Lagoon A’s said is really well geared up for wheelchairs, only one snag is that there is only 1 disabled changing room so if someone is using it you have to wait. They have their own wheelchairs for us to use as the minerals from the water ruin metals (including jewellery) I would 100% recommend going here, we really enjoyed it and this was my bucket list of things to do, swim in the blue lagoon Iceland. As said we really enjoyed it up until, wait for it…… I started to have a reaction! We had suspected this may happen due to my condition of MCAD (Mast Cell Activation disorder) So out we got, showered off epi-pens, antihistamines and 8 hours later I was back to normal, not a lobster looking itching person!
*Above picture is just as I started my reaction as you can see*
Now I personally would advise if you have this condition or are allergic to Silica, Algae, Sulphur and more to call them up as they are very helpful. As I said we suspected this may happen so we went prepared with all our rescue medications and lucky we did otherwise I would of also seen an Icelandic hospital! It’s a shame this happened but I’ve learnt to live with this and much more and I’m just happy I got to get in and tick it off my bucket list!
On the 2nd day in Reykjavik, 20th August we had another excursion booked through the cruise of a panoramic view of Reykjavik, again not an accessible coach. Unfortunately this was a complete waste of money, I would not recommend Iceland Travel at all. The tour guide was rude, uninterested, wouldn’t explain things that he briefly spoke about and absolutely no enthusiasm, really disappointing and the worst excursion I have ever experienced on all the many one I have been on in the past! Anyway the short story of this capital from the guide basically is that they have ruined it, demolished most of their historic properties and replaced with concrete high rises all looking the same, black or grey. We were shown a few original colourful houses behind these which showed old Reykjavik as a quaint fishing town. Getting around is very much like the UK with lack of dropped kerbs but it’s super and I mean super expensive it’s off putting. Our overall thoughts about Reykjavik was quite disappointing.
Day 10, Akureyri 21st August 2019. This was our last stop in Northern Iceland where we crossed the Artic circle 4 times arriving and leaving!
When we woke up and looked out of the balcony we were like, wow, now this is what we thought Iceland would be like! It reminded us of Alaska, snow topped mountains, waterfalls off cliff edge, small colourful shops and homes, just beautiful!
We were booked on a cruise excursion called Panoramic Akureyri and Godafoss waterfall, one of the largest waterfalls and a must see, I was so excited to do this just as much as the blue lagoon but unfortunately my health took a turn for the worst that the night before I came down hard with a very bad chest infection, running high fever and in a lot of pain. Due to my complex medical conditions this could kill me so like always when we travel we bring everything I may need just in case! So on the antibiotics and paracetamol and bed rest- gutted is an understatement of how I felt and still feel now writing this! It just means we will have to go back ;). Carl nipped off the ship and FaceTimed me so I could at least see the port and the shops. It was so cold in Iceland and we only had thin hoodies so Carl brought me a proper thick Icelandic hoodie but it broke the bank at £135..!!!!!!
Carl wanted me to stay warm and not knowing what the rest of the cruise would be like my health always comes first to him! Carl took a walk around the port which was mostly flat and wheelchair accessible and he could see the village or town in the distance which didn’t seem to difficult to get too.
Day 11, Sea day 22nd August 2019. Unfortunately nothing to report on this day as again I spent it in bed resting up as the next day we were at our last stop Belfast and I didn’t want to miss anymore.
Day 12, Belfast 23rd August 2019. We arrived into Belfast an hour late due to bad weather but it was better for me as that morning I was still really really low but by lunchtime I had perked up a little. We docked at 2pm and this time we arranged our own taxi to take us to the official Titanic museum, this is where it was built so there was a lot more story here and interesting facts. We got there for 3pm and it’s all self guided over 4 floors and completely wheelchair accessible. Carl went free again and due to my sensory, crowds and claustrophobic issues I was given a titanic card where if I was struggling staff members could come to help us out which was really good. The Titanic experience was great a lot of interesting things and we both enjoyed it even though I was still quite poorly.
Day 13, Sea day 24th August 2019. I woke to feel a little better however I had now had a few days of antibiotics in me and on the way back to the port in Belfast we stopped at a pharmacy to get cough medication and lozenges. We had a quiet day of packing our things up as we planned to self disembark the following morning early to get on the road to come home. Unfortunately for Carl he wasn’t to well and as they day went on the left side of his face over his eye had started to swell. After we had packed most of our belongings we had a roll around the ship and had some dinner then an early night as we were up for 5am!
Day 14, Southampton 25th August 2019. We arrived back into Southampton early morning and we had disembarked the ship, loaded up the car and set for our 2 hour 43 min drive home, Carl’s face was a lot more swollen today so a call to emergency Dr was made on route home and we were back to our fur babies by 10am!
We loved the cruise ship and the itinerary it was just a shame that we both became poorly and suffered however these things can’t be helped and we still enjoyed it and blessed we made it back ok after all it’s always a risk going away with my conditions. We would certainly recommend Celebrity Cruises although they are expensive but we personally don’t feel concierge is worth the extra. The itinerary was fantastic 14 nights and only 4 sea days is just awesome and we both would do this one again in a heartbeat!
I’ve tried to cover as much as possible on this blog but any questions email me, post on here or on my Facebook page and I’ll be more than happy to help if I can. I’ll end it with some of our holiday snaps of personal use. Thank you for reading :).