Caregiver Cruise

2016 Caregiver Cruise to New England and Canada!

We know it can be difficult to travel when your loved one has memory impairment, but we all still need a vacation! Both the individual with a dementia diagnosis and their caregiver are able to attend the cruise, making the program possibly the first of its kind in the country. Insight provides supervision during excursions, and respite at sea, giving cruise participants the opportunity for a vacation in a safe environment, in the company of others who “get it.” In addition to the many benefits a cruise offers – the chance for a vacation, seeing new sights, a getaway – the caregiver cruise provides families with a sense of normalcy.

One caregiver shared: "It was just fun to be with other people because at home I’m pretty isolated and this gave me an opportunity to be with people, be entertained, go to the shows, just relax and enjoy things - without my husband and with my husband."

Check Out What We Did!

We made daily posts here with trip highlights and excursions so you can feel like you've cruised along with us!
We departed from Baltimore on Thursday, May 26, 2016, and returned Saturday, June 4, 2016 with stops in Boston, Portland, Bar Harbor, St. John, and Halifax.

Day 5: Bar Harbor????

Day 5: Bar Harbor????

May 30, 2016

As we awoke this morning and looked out our windows, we could barely see a thing. The entire Bar Harbor area was covered in thick fog! If you stood outside on the deck, you could barely see the ledge of the ship. Luckily as the day went on, the weather improved – the rain stopped, it warmed up, and the fog lifted and it turned out to be a lovely day (by mid-afternoon)!

Last night, we had our suspicions that the weather was going to be problematic as we were headed into somewhat of a storm. Also, throughout the night, we were kept company by the ship’s fog horn going off every 30 minutes or so throughout the night. It really only bothered you if you were outside standing next to it when it went off (just ask Christi)! With that being said, we went back to talk to our friends at the Shore Excursion desk to see if it was possible to switch our “Scenic Boat Trip of Frenchmen’s Bay” as we assumed the fog would make that difficult and the water might be rocky. After much discussion and back and forth, we were able to switch to a chartered coach scenic tour up Cadillac Mountain.

As the trip has progressed, Joel has taken on an honorary title of “Shore Excursion Director” as he has been working closely with them to manage all our shore excursions. Christi has been given the honorary title of “Restroom Director” as she is frequently asked by numerous guests where the bathrooms are throughout the ship. It just so happens that we have become quite familiar with the location of every public restroom on the ship!

You would think that after all our work last night, things would go smoothly today; right? Not so much. Today we had the most difficulty with keeping our group together and navigating the ship departure to shore. First, because the waters were so shallow close to shore, we had to take a tender from the cruise ship to the shore. Little did we know, the tender that we would be taking would be Grandeur of the Seas’ very own life boats! What an experience!!! Now we can all say that we have been in a lifeboat!

Our group was scheduled to meet in the theater at 9:15am to get our tender assignments and then be on our way to the chartered coach. Two of our group members, AGAIN had family in the Bar Harbor area that they were going to spend the day with. They have pointed out that while they’ve had family in every port thus far, they are done. No family in Canada! So the remaining group was all set to go. Because of the weather, we were delayed almost 45 minutes getting our departure from the ship. Once they announced our group number, Christi took the lead of the group and Joel assumed his “sheep herding” position at the rear to ensure that everyone was kept together.

This is where things went awry.

Our group ended up getting split because some had to take the elevator because of accessibility problems and others were directed down the stairs. Christi went with the elevator folks and Joel took the group down the stairs. Once we got to the bottom of the stairs one of the group members needed to use the restroom (a non-memory impaired individual). They had instructed him to go back to the 4th floor (we were on level 1) to use the bathroom. Joel gave him specific instructions to come back to the stairs at level 1 and wait for him. Joel assisted his group through the line only to find that Christi’s group was being directed to a different tender! Joel got his group on the tender, ran across the security line to get Christi’s group redirected back to the first tender where we successfully got everyone from her group on. While this was happening, Joel had Christi wait for our potty passenger at the stairs. When Joel returned, our potty passenger had not returned. Joel instructed Christi to go onto the tender the group, and Joel took off up the stairs (after having to be checked back through security) to look for our potty passenger. After no luck, he ran back down and told Christi to go ahead with the group to shore and he would meet them there. Oh, did we mention, there were also 70 other people on the tender that were being held up from their excursions?

As Joel now scoured the ship searching every bathroom and the potty passenger’s room, looking like a crazy person running around the ship, he went back to our shore excursion leader to let him know we had a missing person. They initiated a ship wide announcement for that person to meet us at guest services. As he finished his last search of the ship and ran to guest services, Christi had sent him a text message saying “you have the tickets for the excursion!” To which Joel put his hand in his pocket and pulled them out. Just at this moment, our shore excursion leader came to tell Joel that the potty passenger had already been checked out of the ship and was on a tender!!!

When the potty passenger came down the stairs, it was at the time where Joel was redirecting Christi’s group to the correct tender, and the cruise staff saw his excursion sticker and escorted him to a different tender on the other side of the boat, assuming he was with that group. Which he was not.

Christi then contacted Joel to tell him that she found him on the shore! Now, we were running almost an hour behind schedule. Christi convinced the bus driver that we did indeed have tickets (just not physically in her hand) and that we needed to be on the bus. After calling the ship, they confirmed we did have a reservation and let the group on the bus.

Once they were on the bus, Christi had assumed Joel was on a tender on his way over to the shore. Well, wouldn’t you know it, all the tenders were in use and it would be about 20-30 minutes before he would be able to get to shore. Oh, and did we mention there were approximately 40 other people on the bus with our group? So they would not hold the tour any longer and off they went; without Joel.

Needless to say, Joel did finally make it to shore, and while the group was driving around taking in the scenery (they could not go to the top of the mountain because it was fogged out), Joel took in some of the sights in Bar Harbor in the pouring, cold rain.

The group finally arrived back around noon, and some folks decided to get right back on the ship, while others toured around on their own to do some shopping and get their last fill of Maine Lobstah and Blueberry Pie. By late afternoon the return tender line was quite long, but everyone finally made it back on board. We had about an hour before it was dinner time. A couple of folks opted to skip the main dining room and do a casual dinner in the Windjammer. After dinner the group took in the Magic Comedy show and then some retired to their rooms and others gathered to play cards in the Centrum lounge.

Joel clocked back in as Shore Excursion Director to go solve a problem with tomorrow’s scheduled tours. They assigned us the wrong times! Luckily, they have come to know Joel pretty well by day 5 and were able to get everything all rearranged.

Next up – St. John New Brunswick! It is supposed to be another chilly cloudy day, but no rain! And the lesson of the day – go to the bathroom before you meet the group!

Morning Fog.

Waiting for our tender!

Most of us made the tour of Cadillac Mountain!

Path out to the overlook.

Pretty views, despite the rain.

A little rain never hurt!

Great views from the bus too!

A little more lobstah for lunch!

The afternoon cleared up for some pretty views of Bar Harbor!

And warm enough for some ice cream too!

A few more nice views!

Time to get back in line for the tender.