Holland America Line offers Braille Menus

cruise ship at sea

The Holland America ms Eurodam

Just ask! Holland America contracts with me to transcribe restaurant menus into braille. The braille is a standard offering. Because each cruise is a little different and has its own lunch and dinner menus, creating braille menus for a cruise line is an ongoing process. At the beginning of that process there may be a question: “do you have braille menus?” In the case of Holland America, the answer will be “of course.”

As I braille, I imagine what I would chose were I aboard ship perusing the menu in the lovely dining room. There are Appetizers, Soup and Salads, Entrees, Desserts, Beverages, and Wine selections, with many choices in each category.

Dishes range from elegant and exotic to familiar and down home; some may reflect the cuisine of the area in which the ship is cruising. HAL understands special diets. Although I am a vegetarian, I would have ample options for each course.

I bind the braille menus for a cruise into books with the lunch menus in one book, dinner in another, and a table of contents in the front listing the menus by cruise day. Dinner menus I recently brailled for a 17-day cruise required 113 pages of braille. Even considering that braille takes more space than print, about three braille pages to one print page, that is a lot of tantalizing dishes from which to choose.

A friend took her granddaughter on a cruise. The teenager, enchanted by the array of desserts, ordered several each meal, taking some back to her room for a midnight snack. By the end of the cruise, she had enjoyed every dessert on the menu.

ms Eurodam Rembrandt Dining Room

Holland America ms Eurodam Rembrandt Dining Room

A few years ago when my place of work was in a large office building, I was concerned about how my noisy braille embosser sounded to the office on the other side of the wall. The nice lady smiled and said, “It is no problem at all. The sound of your braille printer reminds me of the relaxing thrum of the engines on the wonderful Holland America cruise I took.”

I was transcribing braille menus for Holland America Line then, and I continue to do so today. When I braille the cruise ships’ menus, I, too, have a feeling of being on a cruise, but through the stories the menus tell, not the sound of the braille embosser.

If you are contemplating a Holland America Line cruise and need braille, let your agent know in advance. HAL will be glad to oblige.

images courtesy of Holland America

Braille Menu Memories

I like to braille restaurant menus!

One of the pleasures of eating out begins before the food is served. For many diners, the first course is a thorough reading of the menu mixed with discussion among dining companions as to the options. Braille readers are denied this camaraderie if a print menu is all that is available.

closeup of a fingertip on interpoint braille

Embossed Interpoint Braille on Paper

The first menu I brailled was for a popular Seattle restaurant. This was in the days when braille menus in restaurants were a rarity. In this restaurant, the braille menus were prominently displayed on a table in the spacious entry way where they drew attention from all diners.

When the restaurant manager offered the very first braille menu to a customer who was blind, the woman burst into tears. It was the first time in her life she had been given a menu she could read for herself. She placed her order and then read the menu from cover to cover while she enjoyed her meal.

The enthusiastic manager kept me well supplied with free lunch coupons, which I shared with my braille reading guests who eagerly used the braille menus. Although the restaurant is no longer open, the good will over the braille menus lingers.

A True Story

This was told to me by one of my braille students.

A lady was eating in a restaurant. Her guide dog was lying under the table with his head facing out, just as she had placed him. Some bacon fell from a plate carried by a passing waitress and landed right in front of the dog’s nose. The dog quickly crossed both front paws over his muzzle, as if to resist the temptation, and remained in that position until the bacon was removed. All guide dogs receive specialized training in staying on task when working, but isn’t that exceptional discipline?

Perkins the Braille Dog would have snatched that falling piece of bacon before it hit the ground. Then again, Perkins is not a guide dog. He’s a family pet.

image by kainita