A COUPLE who planned to take their two disabled children on a Windermere cruise say they have been forced to cancel the trip because they will be charged for their own tickets even though they are full time carers for the youngsters.

David Williams said while as carers he and his wife were financially constrained, they had always had free admission to other attractions which enabled them to afford such family trips, so he was dismayed when Windermere Lake Cruises told him they would be charged.

"We have both had to give up our jobs to become carers for our children so we are on a very tight budget and when I was told myself and my wife would be charged, it put the trip out of reach which was so disappointing for our children," he said.

However, Windermere Lake Cruises said while carers of disabled adults received concessionary tickets, a policy to charge adult carers of disabled children had been in place for a number of years and had been implemented for valid reasons.

Mr Williams and his wife, who live in Maghull, Merseyside, have three sons, Harry, aged six, Bradley, who is eight, and 10-year-old Elliott. The elder two have autism and other related conditions.

The couple had called at Windermere Lake Cruises and asked about a future trip and what identification would be required for a carer discount to be applied, only to be told they would be charged full price for their own tickets, which Mr Williams said put the excursion beyond their reach.

"I was so surprised because we have taken the children absolutely everywhere to try to give them a full and happy life and we have never been charged before," he said.

"We have visited the Odeon cinema and Knowsley Safari Park among other places and they have not charged for us.

"There is so much being done nowadays to raise awareness of autism and we just feel this is so disappointing.

"This will stop many disabled children enjoying a day out on the lake as many carers are unpaid so cannot afford to accompany the child they are with."

A spokesperson for Windermere Lake Cruises explained that a decision had been made on the issue at board level which had been implemented in July 2014 and had been operating since then.

The spokesperson said the company was fully committed to eliminating disability discrimination and that their policy was detailed and explained in the company's terms and conditions which are available on the company's website.


"It is our policy is that we do not allow children under the age of 16 to travel unaccompanied on any of our vessels," the terms and conditions read.

"This applies to disabled passengers as well as non-disabled passengers therefore no concessionary tickets are given to either disabled children or their parents/carers, which ensures that all of our passengers are treated equally and fairly."

A spokesman for Ullswater Steamers told the Westmorland Gazette that their own company policy was not to charge for adult carers of disabled children, and a representative of the Lake District Wildlife Park at Bassenthwaite said they had a similar policy of allowing free admission for adult carers of disabled youngsters.