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In general, I really love Oceania's smaller ships, food, and service. Major
discontent has been with the variety of shore excursions--mostly strenuous
activity, with almost nothing requiring light actiity, minimal walking/stairs.
Someone pointed out Celebrity's disability policy, which sounds great.
I will explore this, but can you suggest small ships/lines that are also able
to accomodate to the mobility challenged?
On Board any ship I rarely experience a problem. I can get on and off tenders easily, onto buses, and find the staff most accomodating when it
comes to helping get a rollator aboard a tender. It's the content of Oceania's shore excursions that are too strenuous for me.
What have your positive experiences been on other lines? Yes, I know that
arranging private tours will solve that problem on any line, but the 'lazy' in
me wouldn't mind not having to make the effort on every port.
I have sailed primarily with Princess although some other lines as well. Princess almost always has an "easy" option for tours. If you choose this option you can plan on being on a bus driving by the sites. If you read the descriptions carefully many of the moderate tours can be used IF you can manage the steps up into a bus. For each of their excursions there is a drop down menu that lists steps required, distance to walk etc. I have found (with one glaring exception) the excursion staff to be knowledgeable and interested in everyone having a successful excursion. Overall I have been extremely pleased with Princess. I do however find myself planning more and more excursions independently. I am not a fan of taking a ride around an area when I could stop and explore a bit if I could bring my scooter or even just park closer to the attraction.
We passed on an Oceania cruise with family recently for exactly the reason that the excursions would be too strenuous. That said, we have cruised and traveled quite a bit since DH started needing a wheelchair. The trick is to plan ahead and find your own excursions that will meet your needs. The destination boards on Cruise Critic are a great place to get information.
You just have to stay away from cruise lines where all the excursions are included in the price, because that won't be a good deal.
Also, if you like Oceania, you probably know that Azamara's ships came form the same line as the smaller Oceania ships, so that may be an option as well. We did fine on Azamara Quest.
I use a manual wheelchair and took my first cruise this summer to Alaska on Golden Princess. I found Princess to be very accomodating on/off the ship. We took Princess arranged tours in Juneau and Skagway but opted for a Private tour in Ketchikan. Princess did arrange for accessible buses for their tours (Whale and Wildlife Watching in Juneau. Gold panning, Sled Dog and 30 below zero experience in Skagway). We were not in a designated accessible cabin but were in one of the new Window Suites and it was very accomodating for me including the cabin door. I did have to get out of my wheelchair to use the restroom but since I have some mobility that wasn't a big issue for me. All ports are very accessible as required by ADA. We found maybe a small handful of locations that weren't but I had no interest in them anyway. My onboard experience was great. My only real issue was the door leading outside were heavy but there was always someone around more than happy to assist. In January I am going on the Disney Magic for 8 nts out of Galveston and I will post about my experiences upon my return.
Future: Emerald Princess - March 1, 2015 - 7 nt. Western Caribbean;
Sailed: Golden Princess - August 4, 2012 - 7 nt Alaska w/ Glacier Bay; Disney Magic - January 18, 2013 - 8 nt. Bahamas; Royal Princess - October 29, 2013 - 5 nt. Maiden Caribbean Voyage; Ruby Princess - April 12, 2014 - 5 nt. Western Caribbean; Disney Fantasy - November 29, 2014 - 7 nt. Eastern Caribbean;
For smaller ships, also check out some of the HAL ships (Statendam, Ryndam, etc.). HAL caters to a slightly older group, so tends to offer more sedate and less physically demanding excursions, although we normally just arrange our own shore trips regardless of the cruise line...it is cheaper, and we can do exactly what interests us.
Crystal's two ships are also smaller, have excellent service, and each have four fully accessible cabins.
1986 HA Constitution: Hawaii 7 day
1988 NCL Skyward: Western Caribbean 7 day
1992 Crystal Harmony: Transcanal 15 day
1994 Golden Princess: Mexican Riviera 7 day
1995 HA Independence: Hawaii 7 day
1997 Celebrity Zenith: Transcanal 15 day
1999 Grand Princess: Mediterranian 14 day
2000 Regal Princess: Alaska Inside Passage 7 day
2000 Crystal Harmony: SF to Sydney 20 day
2001 HAL Ryndam: Cape Horn/SA 17 day
2003 HAL Statendam: Hawaii RT San Diego 15 day
2003 RCI Vision of the Seas: Mexican Riviera 7 day
2004 HAL Ryndam: Sea of Cortez 10 day
2004 Island Princess: Hawaii RT LA 15 day
2005 Island Princess: Hawaii RT LA 15 day
2006 Celebrity Mercury Mexican Riviera RT San Diego 10 day
2009 Sapphire Princess Mexican Riviera RT Los Angeles 7 day
2010 Sapphire Princess Mexican Riviera RT Los Angeles 7 day
2013 HAL Westerdam Alaska Inside Passage RT Seattle 7 day
In nearly every port, Crystal provides at least one tour that is "For Those Who Require Less Walking". They are generally city tours and do have some stops, but those stops don't require a lot of walking. I've done those tours on Crystal and they are usually quite good.
The problem with mass market lines is, they have able bodied persons who describe and rank their tours with regards to accessibility. That's been an ongoing problem because there's no way an able bodied person can judge what's easy and what's not.
I suppose it depends where you want to go, but we use Fred Olsen. Their ships are small and have quite an extensive excursion programme catering for all abilities as many of their passengers are older.
As previously stated, we don't book ship excursions. I have limited mobility, but just do plenty of research and organise our own trips.
W really are not keen to go on the very large ships. I also agree that cruises with inclusive excursions will not be good value either.