When it comes to going on vacation, seniors must take many factors into consideration. Since there is such a diversity in age, ability level and interests, certain travel issues are especially relevant to this age group. Whether it’s special deals for cruisers 50 and over, or the importance of travel insurance and special accommodations for those with dietary or mobility restrictions. If you are a first time cruiser, or if your travel needs are changing as you reach retirement years, these cruise tips for the over-50 crowd can make your next vacation hassle free.
Save Money with Senior Discounts and Solo Cabins
Travel agents, senior organizations, and certain travel companies may offer special discounted senior rates. For example, G Adventures, the largest small group adventure travel company in the world, offers up to a 30% travel discount for seniors. G Adventures offers various cruising styles including river cruising, sailing, and expedition cruising.
Cruise ship cabins are typically designed for double occupancy, and an individual traveling solo may pay nearly the same as two people. Seniors traveling alone can save big by booking a single occupancy room. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line’s studio staterooms are single rooms with access to a lounge where solo travelers can socialize while enjoying complimentary snacks. Single rooms are more likely to be found on newer cruise ships.
Travel Insurance is a Must
When traveling, we don’t like to think about all that can go wrong, but we should be prepared. A missed flight or a sudden illness can put a damper on a trip. Travel insurance can reimburse you for trip cancellation, cover the cost of a medical evacuation in the event of an emergency or give you information to access re-booking information for flights or hotels. While it is recommended that everyone purchase travel insurance for major trips, it’s especially useful for seniors who may be more likely to experience medical issues before or during a cruise.
It is important to purchased travel insurance within one week of making the first payment toward a trip to get the maximum coverage. The best strategy is to discuss insurance needs with a qualified professional prior to booking a cruise.
Be Prepared with Medications
It will enhance your cruise experience knowing you are prepared for any illness or injury that may come your way on a cruise. Certain cruise lines provide passengers with complimentary medication such as that for motion sickness, but choices may be limited. It will be helpful to purchase items in advance at home in order to have quick access to them. Pack over-the-counter medication you often use, along with items like band aids and ointments. Be sure to always bring prescription medications from home and pack extra in case the trip is extended.
Major cruise lines have infirmaries and a doctor on board, but the service is limited to minor non-emergencies and to stabilizing passengers with life-threatening conditions. You can save yourself a trip to the infirmary by being prepared with necessary medications, and only visit when you absolutely need to see a doctor, as this will cost extra because in most instances the ship’s doctor will not accept your health insurance.
Plan in Advance If You Have Special Needs
Before booking a cruise, passengers with special needs should consult the cruise line in order to understand what options they have when traveling. Cruise ships often have a limited amount of accessible rooms, so booking in advance is key.
Cruise ships provide a variety of assistance and services for passengers with special needs, but offerings vary from one cruise line to another (and from one ship to another in the same fleet). For example, MSC cruise line offers a dining menu for people who have diabetes, and Celebrity Cruises has pool lifts on all of its ships.
If you have difficulties walking long distances but usually don’t need a wheelchair, you may want to consider renting a chair or scooter anyway. Ships usually carry wheelchairs, but in limited numbers, and are reserved for passengers who have medical emergencies. Look into renting mobility aids or any other devices you may need such as oxygen tanks before embarking.
Choose Appropriate Shore Excursions
One of the best parts about a cruise is exploring the ports traveled to. Cruise lines offer organized shore tours called excursions at each port. Whether it’s swimming with stingrays, whale watching, or coach tours, it is important to recognize how much physical activity will be involved. Before signing up, make sure your physical abilities match those required for the tour.
Cruise lines will have an online directory describing the various excursions offered at each port. This information will include duration of the activity and physical ability required. Some cruise lines label their tours as mild, moderate or strenuous and distinguish wheelchair-accessible tours. Tour descriptions note if there will be extended periods of walking or standing, uneven walking terrain and activities that might not be suitable for passengers with pre-existing medical conditions. Don’t overestimate your abilities, or you will end up paying for activities you might not fully enjoy.
Many cruises are all-inclusive, which is great for the wallet. However, with so many options for food and drinks available, it is tempting to overindulge. It is a good idea to balance meals with physical activity such as walks or exercise classes. Limit heavy foods and large desserts and alternate with healthier items from the menu. Know your limits when it comes to alcohol, and follow a late night with a relaxing day.
It is also easy to overdo it with too many activities, especially when long days of sightseeing are followed by late nights enjoying the ship’s entertainment. It is a good idea to spend a few minutes reviewing the activities available in advance to determine which of the activities sound most appealing.