Day: 25 February 2023

Cruise liner coming into dock

Quick Guide To Cruising as a Wheelchair User: Tips for Accessibility and Enjoyment

Quick Guide To Cruising as a Wheelchair User: Tips for Accessibility and Enjoyment – As a wheelchair user, cruising can be an exciting and liberating way to explore new places and make lasting memories. However, it’s important to be aware of the unique challenges that come with cruising as a person with a disability, and how to overcome them to ensure an enjoyable experience.

Research

The first step is to research the cruise line and ship before booking. Not all cruise ships are equipped with the same level of accessibility, so it’s important to look for ships that offer accessible staterooms, public areas, and dining options. Some ships may have wider hallways, larger elevators, and even hydraulic pool chairs to accommodate wheelchair users. It’s also important to check the ports of call to ensure that they are accessible and offer tours or excursions that can accommodate wheelchair users. Some ports of call are by tender only, so make sure you do check this out.

One challenge that wheelchair users may face on a cruise is finding accessible shore excursions. It’s important to research the accessibility of each excursion before booking. Some excursions may be more challenging for wheelchair users, while others may be more accommodating. It’s also a good idea to ask the excursion provider about the level of accessibility, as they may be able to provide additional accommodations such as a ramp or accessible transportation.

When booking a cruise, it’s important to communicate your needs to the cruise line. Let them know that you are a wheelchair or full-time wheelchair user or will be travelling with a wheelchair and any other equipment you may require, such as a shower chair or hoist. This will give the cruise line an opportunity to prepare and make necessary accommodations.

Onboard

Once onboard the ship, you may find that some areas are more accessible than others. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the layout of the ship and its facilities. The crew and staff are there to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if you need it. They can help with embarking and disembarking, carrying luggage, and even getting on and off shore excursions. The crew is there to ensure that all passengers have a safe and enjoyable cruise experience.

When it comes to dining on a cruise, most ships have accessible dining options. It’s important to inform the cruise line of any dietary restrictions or requirements in advance. This will allow them to prepare meals that meet your needs. Some ships may also offer room service as an option if dining in the restaurant is not feasible.

Conclusion

Overall, cruising as a wheelchair user can be a wonderful and memorable experience with proper research and communication with the cruise line. While there may be some challenges, the crew and staff are there to assist and ensure that your cruise experience is enjoyable and comfortable. So, don’t let your disability hold you back from experiencing the adventure and excitement of cruising.

If you would like to work with me don’t hesitate to Contact Me.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Links

Side view of mid wheel on Q300 electric wheelchair

Quickie Q300 M Mini: An In-Depth Review for Improved Accessibility

Quickie Q300 M Mini: An In-Depth Review for Improved Accessibility – My previous EW (electric wheelchair) Spectra XTR2 was hitting 5 years old (average lifespan of a wheelchair). I wanted to know what was available on the market, so I went to a showroom to take a look. I thought if the price was right, I might buy my own chair. This way, I could have a chair that met my needs better and not have to use the NHS wheelchair service.

I fell in love with the Quickie Q600 but at the cost of over £9,000 inc the adaptions I needed. It was completely out of my price range. I came home very disappointed.

A few weeks later, I received a letter from my NHS wheelchair service. I was due for a wheelchair review. I know how strapped the NHS is, so didn’t dare to think I would ever be offered anything as grand as the Q600. I’m grateful for any chair provided to me as my independence depends on it.

My appointment arrived and I was shocked as I was actually offered the Sunrise Quickie Q300 M Mini. This is in the same range as the one I tried in the showroom (Q600), making these chairs identical. The only difference is the max speed. The NHS is only allowed to provide electric wheelchairs with a maximum speed of 4mph, the chair at the showroom had a max speed of 8mph (also available at 6mph).

Sunrise Quickie Q300 M Mini

The wheelchair’s width is smaller than my previous chair. It feels very compact. You can customise the chair with coloured facias that cover the batteries, rims that sit on the mid wheels and covers for the arms that hold the castor wheels. There are many colours and designs to choose from.

There is a mountain of options available for this chair. From:

  • Backrest
  • Footplates
  • Armrests
  • Cushions
  • Tilt
  • Recline
  • Swing Away Joysticks
  • Colours
  • Elevated footplates
  • Speed
  • Headrests
  • Seat Riser
  • Controllers
  • Seating Options

The list is rather impressive don’t you think? If purchasing one of these privately, please visit an authorised dealer to ensure you are fitted and kitted out with the proper adjustments and adaptions. Also, make sure you have a home demonstration. Some dealers charge quite a lot for this so do your research. The showroom I visited wanted £250 for a home demonstration. At the end of the day though, you don’t want to spend thousands of pounds on a wheelchair you can’t manoeuvre around your home.

How Functional Is The Sunrise Quickie Q300 M Mini Electric Wheelchair? - Side view of the Q300 M Mini electric wheelchair

The size of this chair is amazing, except for one thing. Because this can literally turn on the spot & the back is shaped differently from my previous chair, (I’m assuming because I have the Sedeo backrest), I keep hitting things behind me.

As the backrest is capable of adjusting along the seat frame. I found mine was set far too forward, making me like it was pushing me off my seat. I got hubby to reposition it for me and he moved it back about an inch which has made a huge difference for me but of course, this now means I have more behind me to be more aware of.

Specifications

Specifications for the Quickie Q300 M Mini
Source: Sunrise Medical – Bottom of the page.

Seating

Sunrise say:

Instead of a solid base, the Flexi-Back wraps around and contours to the shape of your spine, providing complete contact, comfort and stability. Similarly, the integrated laterals ‘hug’ your sides, forcing the foam to mould to your anotomical curves. The laterals are independently adjustable to help atabilise and align your trunk too. It’s such an adjustable, supportive and immersive back that even those with moderate-to-severe kyphotic postures or spinal scoliosis can sit much more upright without any sacrifice to comfort!

I’m afraid I have to disagree with this statement. I feel I have got my seating position the best I’m going to get it. (Unless I’m missing something). I still can’t get complete contact, comfort and stability. Believe me, when I say, I have had my backrest up/down, forward/back, tension straps loosened and tightened, wings pushed in/out and nothing is coming close to comfort. I’ve even changed my seat cushion to no avail.

I sit with my seat tilted backwards to keep me in my seat and push me back against my backrest. If I’m sitting watching the TV, yes, I can get good contact with my backrest. When sitting anywhere else, I don’t have this comfort. I still feel my limber area is not getting the support needed.

The video on Sunrise’s website regarding the backrest shows that the side wings can be moved up and down along each side. I am yet to work out how this is done. I can’t comment on seating cushions as my chair wasn’t ordered with a seat cushion as I have two of my own seat cushions.

I’ve got elevated footplates. I was quite taken aback by how bulky and heavy they are. They seem to stick up to a point higher than my knees. (Seen in the drop kerb video below). They have padding on the inside by my knees but the padding is hard so they cause more problems than solve!

Adjustments

At the time of writing this, I have moved my armrest up/down, I’ve tried two different cushions, reclined my backrest into many different positions, tightened/loosened the tension straps inside my backrest and even moved the backrest frame out further to stop me from feeling like I’m being pushed out of my seat. I still feel I’m not as comfortable as I should/could be!

I like to have my backrest in a very upright position. My back hurts if I don’t. Unsure if it’s the type of backrest I have (my previous one had no wings, just straight with some tension straps) but I just can’t seem to feel comfortable.

Smooth Ride

The most significant difference for me is that this is a mid-wheel drive chair, whereas my last chair was a rear-wheel drive. Controlling this chair is very different from my previous one. There are 3 type of wheel drives:

How Functional Is The Sunrise Quickie Q300 M Mini Electric Wheelchair? - What's the difference between different wheel drives.
For a full description, visit: Permobil

This is probably the smoothest ride I’ve ever had in any of my electric wheelchairs and this includes the Storm 3 I had many years ago. Navigating small kerbs is surprisingly smooth and I stress small kerbs. (It’s always sensible to mount any kerb face-on, not at a sidewards position).

Sunrise says:

Our PATENTED all-wheel independent suspension ensures all six wheels remain on the ground whilst climbing and transitioning obstacles. Any shocks or bumps are absorbed by the wheel‘s suspension, providing a soft and smooth ride.

Source: Sunrise Medical

This time, I agree. The suspension is very good. I have, however, found one obstacle that took me by surprise. My parent’s house has a ramp up to their front door (the image right is an example of their front door). The ramp sits under the white step meaning you have a very small step over the threshold, then you step down into their hallway.

When I popped around there to show off my new chair, my chair bounced around unevenly going over this threshold and I nearly cracked the PVC door frame, even though I was driving straight. Yes, I was going very slow too. It is extremely difficult to remember that the main drive wheel is directly under me and not behind me.

Pulling away has what I describe as a slight delay. You push the control knob and it takes (what feels like ages) for the chair to start moving. I notice this most when waiting to cross the road. I assume this is to prevent the chair from jerking when moving off.

To The Test

I have taken a full 4.5-mile round trip to put my chair to the test and learn its & my capabilities. It coped much better than I expected. Although I think I was who failed the test. I was very nervous going up and down hills and some kerbs, especially when at an awkward slant. When I arrived home, I had not lost one light on my battery indicator, which did surprise me.

I took some video footage (below) to show how the chair’s suspension is very good. You see me going over cobbles and believe me, it looks bumpier than it feels. It makes for a very smooth ride. Another note to mention is when you’re riding along the pavement over dropped kerbs, the chair keeps you in a straight line. It doesn’t pull you to the side as other chairs can.

Another video shows how manoeuvrable and compact this chair is as I used a shop’s wheelchair lift to go upstairs. You can see that the turning circle capabilities on this chair were a major factor in being able to use this lift, especially when I got to the top as the door was now to the side of me.

The first cobble test, found this to be very smooth indeed.
The second cobble test was a rougher set of cobbles. A little more bumpy but still a lot smoother than some other chairs.
I was amazed at how I kept in a straight line going over the drop kerbs. My other chair would almost have me in the road.
Again, the tight space wasn’t an issue for the Q300.

Conclusion

If you’re looking to purchase this chair privately, do visit a professional supplier that will take your measurements and give you honest advice as to what you may need. There is so much that can be altered/changed on this chair it is a bit of a minefield. Don’t forget that home demonstration, especially if you have adaptions in your home for your chair like a through-floor lift.

I’ve given this chair a 3/5 for a couple of reasons (I so wanted to give this 5/5):

  • Footplates are so bulky and heavy. I can’t actually take them on/off by myself (I have actually seen smaller less bulky elevated footplates on other chairs)
  • I still can’t get myself into a comfortable position even though Sunrise claim this is almost impossible
  • The armrests can not go any higher than I’ve got them already. This is important to me to keep me in an upright position. This also causes me back pain. – I’m looking into if I can modify my right one to make it higher.

Outside of the above, this is a very neat chair.

  • Its suspension is extremely good
  • Turning circle absolutely amazing
  • Style is great as you have different coloured shrouds and wheel inserts
  • The controller (NHS version) is your basic controller
  • Many ways in which you can modify this chair to meet your needs

Am I happy with this chair? You bet I am, fingers crossed it lasts me and that I don’t have any issues in the future.

If you would like to work with me don’t hesitate to Contact Me.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Links

Sunrise Medical
Mobility For You

Skip to content