If you’ve always wanted to take a cruise, but thought you couldn’t because you use a wheelchair, then pick up a copy of Sylvia Longmire’s new book Everything You Need to Know about Wheelchair Accessible Cruising and get ready for that bon voyage party. Not only does this well-researched resource give you the nuts and bolts of accessible cruise travel, but it also includes information on what each cruise line offers in terms of service and ambiance as well as their demographics. Longmire also points out the most accessible ships, includes helpful information for choosing an itinerary, and even offers her own personal access reviews on a number of itineraries that she has sailed.
Accessible Travel Netherlands recently announced the dates for their 2020 accessible river cruises aboard the accessible Prins Willem Alexander. This former hospital ship has 25 accessible cabins which are each equipped with two hospital beds, a wash basin, an emergency call button, and plenty of room for even the largest wheelchair or scooter. Continue reading
There’s a new accessible river cruise ship in town and her name is MS Viola. Not to be confused with AmaWaterways AmaViola, this Phoenix Reisen ship was recently gutted and refitted to be wheelchair accessible. Even better, Phoenix Reisen — a Germany-based travel agency — is working in conjunction with Malteser Hilfsdienst and Runa Reisen to offer a seamless travel experience to wheelchair-users and slow walkers. Continue reading
I always enjoy giving presentations because I get the best comments and questions from my audiences. Such was the case a few weeks ago when I gave an accessible travel presentation at the Mercy MS Center in Sacramento. At the end of the presentation one lady told me that she had recently had her power strip confiscated while boarding a Royal Caribbean International (RCI) ship, and that “they had a whole table of them” that had been taken away from passengers. She needed the power strip to charge her scooter, and since this was a new development to me, I decided to look into it. Continue reading
By now, you’ve probably heard the story of wheelchair-user Ann Fisher, who was denied passage from Liverpool on the Fred Olsen liner Boudicca. The problem is, Liverpool doesn’t have any overhead boarding bridges or sloped gangways, so passengers have to board vessels by climbing up stepped gangways. And if they can’t do this with “minimal assistance” they won’t be allowed to cruise. Continue reading
These days you can rent just about any piece of medical equipment and have it delivered directly to a cruise ship. And in theory that’s great, however sometimes things can go horribly awry. Continue reading
The media is all a buzz about the recent Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) settlement agreement between the Department of Justice and Carnival Corporation. Basically it requires Carnival to make access improvements on 62 Carnival, Holland America and Princess ships, pay a modest fine to the government and reparations to the damaged parties, and appoint compliance officers to oversee access on the ships. And of course, as in most settlement agreements, Carnival admits no wrongdoing or violation of the ADA. Continue reading
When the mercury rises in the Central Valley, it’s time to head to Tahoe. And that’s exactly what we did last week. Granted, we traveled there to see Journey and the Steve Miller Band (who by the way, rocked Harvey’s amphitheater); however we lingered a bit to check out the access on the MS Dixie II — Lake Tahoe’s only sternwheeler. And I have to say that the MS Dixie II equally rocked, on access for wheelchair-users and slow walkers. Continue reading
Just when I thought there was actually some glimmer of hope to actually getting some cruise ship access regulations on the books in my lifetime, I got this fateful e-mail from the Access Board.
“The Access Board is extending the deadline for public comments on accessibility guidelines it has proposed for passenger vessels an additional 120 days. Comments on the guidelines, which were released in June, are now due on January 24, 2014, instead of September 23, 2013, as indicated in a published notice. The extension will more than double the allotted time for comments and is responsive to concerns raised by interested parties on the need for additional time to review the rule and prepare feedback, including responses to questions posed by the Board.”
So of course I decided to check out the comments that have been received. There were only a handful, and besides mine there were a few from consumers, as well as three from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The consumer letters all addressed access issues. Can you guess what the CLIA letters addressed? Well…drumroll… they all asked for a 120 day extension to fully evaluate the proposed regulations. So here we are back at square one.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with CLIA, it is the world´s largest cruise association and it focuses on the “promotion and growth of the cruise industry.” I’m sure they will come up with lengthy comments and encourage the Access Board to adopt less restrictive regulations. After all, the cruise lines are CLIA members.
In all fairness, I think the Access Board should hear both sides. And since “disabled passengers” don’t have an association to speak for them, it’s up to each and every one of you. That’s right – you!
So if you’ve even taken a cruise and had a problem, or are thinking about taking one but can’t because of an access issue, then it’s time to let the Access Board know. As long as the regulations are going to be delayed, you may as well have a voice in the outcome.
As you probably are quite aware, cruise ships are technically covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, however since there are no specific access regulations – known as the ADAAG – it’s still rather a moot point. The ADAAG for cruise ships has been a work in progress by the US Access Board for many, many years; and quite frankly I’m stymied by the delay. But that’s another issue. Continue reading