For the 53 million Americans with limited mobility, oxygen requirements, or other form of physical limitation who want to travel, Special Needs at Sea, part of Special Needs Group, Inc., helps make travel easier and a reality. As importantly, the wheelchair, scooter, oxygen, and other rental aides make travel accessible for persons with temporary needs like Gina Morris who rented a scooter when she injured her leg before her cruise, or individuals like Kelly Tetrick who only needs aides when traveling.
Shari Tetrick said the scooter she rented for her husband, Kelly, prior to their cruise changed the entire trip. “Kelly gets around fine at home, but on a large ship and shore excursions, I knew it would be difficult. Originally, Kelly didn’t want a scooter, but I wasn’t going to let anything ruin this cruise.”
Valerie F. felt the same about renting a wheelchair for her father. “The Explorer of the Seas is HUGE, and dad wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much without the wheelchair.”
For Anne Barker, a timely delivery of portable oxygen “saved the day” – and the cruise. When her personal oxygen equipment malfunctioned during a ten-day voyage, “I called my travel agent,” she reported, “and my agent called Special Needs at Sea. I wasn’t able to tell anyone where to deliver the oxygen rental pack, but the company’s representative checked the ship’s itinerary. Oxygen was waiting at the next port, and I was able to continue my travels.”
According to Andrew Garnett, company founder and president, even with the large number of persons with disabilities, the majority of wheelchair rentals, scooter rentals, and other mobility equipment requests are from travelers without disabilities.
“My goal is to ensure that no one misses an opportunity to see the world or join a family vacation because of a physical impairment,” said Garnett. “Even if travelers have their own equipment, wheelchairs and scooters can be a hassle to transport, and there’s always the worry of damage or loss. We end the worry with customized, on-site delivery and pick-up.”
Since 2006, Special Needs at Sea has been operating in over 55 cities and ports in 20 countries and recently introduced a portside Kiosk pilot program. The company also provides audio aides, patient lifts, relief materials for companion dogs, hospital beds, baby cribs, and beach wheelchairs.
Fred Berenbroick rented a scooter for his Holland America Line Caribbean Cruise and found the pier-side kiosks “a huge convenience,” adding that “being able to drive myself on and off the ship made it easier on everyone and saved time. I picked up the scooter and boarded within minutes.”
Special Needs at Sea works with the major cruise lines and is a preferred mobility and oxygen supplier for Holland America Line and Royal Caribbean. They are also the accessibility-preferred partner for Cruise Line International Association and work closely with travel agents, tour operators, and cruise lines to facilitate special need requests. In most instances, travel agents handle the arrangements.