Cruises provide a comfortable way to visit a variety of places in a relatively short time. They can be great fun for people with or without hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and are planning a cruise, we have a few helpful tips that can make your cruise more enjoyable and hassle free.
Check In-When you check in for your cruise, you will typically find yourself in a large open area with high ceilings and lots of people milling about, most of them confused as to where to go and why it is taking so long. Relax and take a deep breath. You've already prepared for this situation. Preparing means finding out where those with special needs and requirements can go to check in. These check in areas may be marked, but its best to inquire before you travel, so that the staff will be alert and prepared with your travel kit. Travel kits are provided by the cruise lines for those with hearing loss. Traditionally, they contain ALD, bed shaker alarm clock, and strobes for notification of announcements. Whatever your cruise line, you will be able to obtain a travel kit upon check in.
Night Dinning-Passengers are giving seating arrangements for dinner. These are assigned and cannot be changed for the entire cruise. Be sure to speak with your travel agent or someone at the cruise lines, so that they can make arrangements to have your seating in a less noisy, more tucked away part of the dinning room. Some areas of the dinning room can be exceedingly loud as they are right by the doors where people enter or exit. In addition to this seating arrangement, be sure to have your servers--you will have the same set of dinning room staff serving you every night--made aware of your hearing loss. The dinning staff on most cruises are helpful and courteous, so making them aware of your special needs before hand can make interaction easier and put you at ease from the first night.
Safety Drill-One of the first things that will happen on your cruise, after you are registered and allowed to go to your room, is a safety drill. During the drill you will go to a specified deck, wearing a life preserver that you will find in your room. You may be asked to step outside with the other passengers, where wind can interfere with your ability to hear the instructions. In order to make sure that you hear all of the safety instructions, introduce yourself to the crew member who is performing the safety drill for your section. Make him or her aware of your hearing loss, so that he/she knows that you need to be up close and an effort needs to be made to speak over others and any background noise.
Cabin Placement-Make sure your cabin isn't too close to the main entertainment deck. The main deck tends to have parties and BBQ and attracts people at all hours. Though most cabins are generally quiet, the ones closer to this deck can sometimes be noisy. As a person with hearing loss, preserving your ears and making sure you are able to communicate within your personal space is very important. You also want to make sure that you get a cabin with a teletype (TTY) phone or an amplified phone. Also, remember to keep your cabin key away from your hearing aid as as your hearing aid can demagnetize the key!
Learn the Layout-Cruise ships are busy places with lots of areas that are typically flooded by fellow passengers. Most days that is good news, as there's nothing better than finding new friends on board, but there are also times when you'd like to find a quiet place to play a game or hang out with loved ones. The library, more often than not, will be packed on days when the boat is At Sea--the days you have no shore excursions--so finding those tucked away places that others may not know about can be a lifesaver for your ears.
Stock Up—if your hearing aid requires them, bring extra tubes and unless your batteries are rechargeable make sure you bring lots of batteries. The typical battery use last between five and fourteen days. Batteries have a color coding that lets you know what size you require. Yellow means your battery is size 10 or 230; brown is size 312, orange is size 13, and blue is size 675. Remember to keep your batteries in a waterproof bag.
Excursions-Every cruise line will have excursion for you to do when you are in port. Many of these will be appropriate for people with hearing loss, but some you may want to avoid because of water or excessive background noise. In those cases, you don't have to accept an excursion that might not be as fun. If you visit TripAdvisor.com you can look up your cruise destinations and find a list of tours that are available for you to do on your own. These tours typically cost as much as the ones the cruise offers, but with the added benefit of being smaller--just you and your loved ones or friends--and you have greater control over the arrangements and thus can make sure they meet your special needs.
Protect— An inexpensive but good investment is a waterproof hat or an umbrella. Dri-aid kit is also useful for trips to help reduce excess moisture and keep hearing aids functioning properly, and you can also purchase a small hearing aid dehumidifier at most well stocked pharmacies. These are small enough to fit in your luggage and to keep on the nightstand in your cabin.
Insurance--Talk to your audiologist about purchasing insurance for your hearing aids in the event they are lost or stolen. Hearing aid insurance, much like trip insurance, helps to give you peace of mind when traveling.
Service—If you are unsure how to clean your hearing aid or require maintenance before you cruise, make an appointment with your audiologist. Your audiologist can make sure your hearing aids are in top working order before you start on your journey. Also remember to pick up the essentials for cleaning your hearing aids a brush, cloth, and wax kit.
Assistive listening devices (ALD)—can help diminish background noise onboard and in other noisy public places, making traveling safer. Assistive listening devices serve an important function, allowing people with hearing loss the same accessibility to information and communication as people with average hearing. Your cruise ship may provide assistive listening devices for the theatre or for other activities, so make sure to speak with someone at the cruise line before you go. If you'd like to invest in your own ALD, speak to your audiologist about which of these exciting accessories would best be suited for your summer travel needs.
Traveling by Plane Before You Cruise:
If you're traveling by plane to get to your cruise, remember that there is no need to remove your hearing aid when going through screening check points. If you need to interact with security make them aware of your hearing loss. Here are some tips by the TSA Security requires that you send your assistive listening devices (ALD) through x-ray screening. X-rays will not hurt the device or for that matter your hearing aid. Occasionally scanners will cause excess noise in your hearing aids, so as a general rule when passing through turn down the volume. In order to keep appraised of any alerts or changes in flights, Ask that alerts like gate changes be sent to your cell phone. Remember, despite the warning to, “Turn off all electronic devices” there is no need to turn off your hearing aids when flying. Unless, of course, the pressure in the plane causes you discomfort.
Traveling on a cruise is one of the most fun times you will ever have, but it is also hectic, fast paced experience. Often a person with hearing loss finds themselves in difficult listening situations trying to navigate through a sea of people. The most important travel tip of all is to relax and stay calm. The challenges with reaching your destination will fade beneath the bright sun of a fun filled day.
Don't forget to speak with your hearing health provider about tuning your hearing aids or upgrading before you set out on your adventure! If you need help finding a hearing health provider clickHERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!