Cruising with Fortisips
Last year I wrote about my experiences in flying with drinks, this year I thought I would try cruising to see if it was any easier.
I picked a cruise sailing from the UK and back to eliminate any flying. I then chose a smaller ship as I thought it would be easier, in practice the P&O Adonia with 700 passengers sailing from Southampton. I made sure the cabin had a fridge to keep the drinks in.
Having booked the cruise, I asked for a table for two as I had problems eating. They said this was possible because this was a medical reason, but unfortunately when I got onboard I was on a round table for eight with nowhere to hide. I saw the head waiter, but he refused to make any changes saying all tables for two were booked twelve months ago. At the first meal I announced to everyone that I had mouth cancer and would have problems eating. They were very understanding, and I did not have any adverse comments.
I contacted the cruise line a month before departure to enquire about bringing the drinks onboard. They sent me a medical questionnaire :-
Will you be bringing any of the following medical equipment on board?
CPAP or BIPAP N Nebuliser N
Feeding Pump N Other Y
If you have ticked “other”, please provide specific information below:
I had Mouth Cancer and have a problem eating. I need to have soft food with plenty of sauce/gravy. In case you are unable to provide this, I need to bring my own liquid drinks on board. This is about 21 small bottles and 7 sachets of powder. I also have a separate travel bag of liquids and other equipment to allow me to deal with the problem, which I should like to carry on board. I have no mobility issues.
Do you suffer from any pre existing medical conditions for example: heart disease, hypertension,
Diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, cancer? YES X
If you have ticked “yes”, even if these may be under control, please provide specific information below:
I had nasal cancer tumour six years ago which was removed by surgery followed by radiotherapy. I wear a special dental plate called an obturator to cover the hole in my palette and replace most of my teeth. I have difficulty eating, as I also have a problem opening my mouth sufficiently.
There were a lot of other questions on mobility and health issues, but these were the main two. I also attached a copy of my PINNT card and the letter from the hospital which was written last year when I flew.
Arriving in Southampton, I drove up to the cruise terminal. Someone took the cases from the boot, and another person took the car keys to park it off site which was included in the cost. I carried my drinks and hand luggage about 20 yards to the check in desk with no waiting. Check in was quick, we had to put everything through a scanner, but there was no queue and I did not have to take any of my liquids out of my bags. There was quite a long walk up to the ships deck and quite a wait for our cabin to be ready, but minor problems compared with flying.
I had a balcony cabin, and kept my drinks out there to keep them cooler and save space. The next days drinks were kept in the fridge.
Meals on board
The ship had a main restaurant with two sittings for evening meals, and a self-service cafeteria for daytimes. The head waiter must have seen the information on my medical questionnaire, because each night he came to me with the next day’s menus. We discussed which was best for me to eat, and I always had extra sauce. Sometimes they made up a special dish for me, and if for some reason I had a problem with a dish, the table waiter would report to the head waiter and he would come and ask if I would like anything different. I have never been treated so well in a restaurant.
On the third evening I was boasting that I had not had to have a single Fortisip; then disaster struck. Through no fault of the ship, I had a problem with my lower denture, and could only use it occasionally. So we started going to the self-service where my wife could enjoy what she wished, and I could revert to Fortisips. I managed to use my denture just for evening meals, with the soft food and extra sauce provided.
Departing was as easy as arriving, although we had to vacate our cabins by 8 am and could not leave the ship until about 9:20 . Cases were put out the night before, and delivered to the arrivals hall. We were called in stages and carried our hand luggage off the ship. Picked up cases and used trolley to move over road to car collection. Then short walk through car park.
Cruising is expensive, and you can run up an unexpected bill as there is a cashless system for alcoholic drinks with the bill coming on the final morning, but is much easier for those with eating problems.