May 16, 2022

Cruise Ship 101 for Overweight Travelers

The cruise lines took a beating with the Covid-19 pandemic. In most cases, they were completely shut down and when they resumed, cruising was very different than it was before. The good news, most lines are back up and running. Even better news, because the demand still isn’t back to where it once was, we can have a bit less crowded ship to enjoy ourselves. There are many reasons to consider a cruise for your vacation. There are also some challenges for overweight travelers, so let’s help you navigate some of those challenges with a little Cruising 101.

All Cabins Are Not Equal

Often when looking at a cruise, we start by looking at the price of the cabins. Cost is a legitimate consideration, but it is worth discussing the difference. Even cabins of roughly the same size will have differences based on their layout, location on the ship and sleeping arrangements. For example, the layout of a cabin in the interior can be different from the layout of a similar size cabin that has a balcony. If you are able to book a suite, even better. Those factors can even vary between the different cruise lines. The good news is that there are a lot of resources available, so put it to use. Even ships within the same line can have very different layouts.

Pro Tip: Some time on YouTube will often turn up some videos on the specific ship you are considering that will show you some footage from fellow travelers. These videos can often give you a lot of information about things that the cruise line simply doesn’t put on their website. This video from our friends at Chubby and Away travel is a good example.

All Bathrooms Are Not Equal

The bathrooms are small. Period. Often narrow, with tiny showers and tiny toilets, these can seem like a cruel joke for overweight travelers. Once again, doing some homework can mitigate some of these issues. For example, the larger balcony cabins on a ship may have a toilet positioned so that it is in a tighter space compared to the smaller cabin with a different configuration. It can be maddening. If you can find showers with a curtain rather than an enclosure, that’s a plus. It gives you more space to move around. Don’t worry if the water gets out. There is a drain in the floor and you can request more towels. Showers with removable shower heads are also a plus. Also, can the door close while you are in there? There are some things we just want to keep private. There are a few other options. The showers in the gym and spa areas are typically roomier. So are bathrooms in the public areas. They may not be ideal, but they can be a workable fix.

All Furniture and Seating Are Not Equal

Cruise ships aren’t as bad as airplanes, but they are still trying to maximize space, usually at our expense. Sometimes the seating in theaters or other entertainment venues can be pretty tight. Some, however, have moveable armrests and other features that help. The deck furniture is usually ok, but some of the furniture you find on your balcony can be downright tiny. If your dinner seating has arms, the waiter can almost certainly get you a chair without arms. It is ok to ask.

All Excursions Are Not Equal

For many travelers, the excursions off the ship are the best part of the trip. This is another time when doing your homework will pay off.  Nobody wants to ride an hour in a cramped minibus to find out that the zip line activity we have been waiting for won’t allow for our size. Some research will often help us learn if there are challenges related to size, mobility or access that could prevent overweight travelers from fully enjoying an excursion or even participating at all. Check ahead to see any restrictions and if there are accommodation options available.

Have you been on a cruise? What challenges did you face? What tips can you give your fellow travelers? Let us know in the comments below.

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Big Guy Big World is a travel blog, following Mark Jacoby’s journey as a big guy on a bigger journey, exploring the world during a global pandemic. Follow along as we experience some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places.

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