New Wheelchair-Accessible European River Cruise Ship Unveiled

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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

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Extension Cords and Power Strips Confiscated on RCI Cruise Ships

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adventure-of-the-seas-1I 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

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Free Parking for Disabled Vets at Florida Airports

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Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law last week that gives disabled veterans free parking at all Florida airports. This is actually the second go round at this legislation, as a similar bill was adopted in 2015; however it only granted free parking to veterans that drive adapted vehicles. Continue reading

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Cruisers Beware – Access Varies From Line to Line

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adventure-of-the-seas-1By 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

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What Does the Carnival ADA Settlement Really Mean?

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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

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Access Rocks on Tahoe’s MS Dixie II

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The MS Dixie II Paddlewheel

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

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Why Do Travel Agents “Push” Travel Insurance?

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As I was going through my mailbox and answering “Ask the Expert” questions, I stumbled across one that really stood out. Now granted I’ve answered just about every accessible travel question you can imagine– and a few you can’t — however this one really didn’t ask for advice, but instead solicited my opinion about a travel agent that “pushed travel insurance”. It wasn’t like I could do anything to solve the problem at hand, but I thought if I explained the rationale behind the travel agent’s actions, then perhaps the person who wrote to me would have a better understanding of it all.

And although it really didn’t make the “Ask the Expert” cut, it seemed incredibly blog-worthy. So if you’ve ever experienced the hard-sell on travel insurance from your travel agent, here are some of the reasons behind it all. Continue reading

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