Mobility Issues for tours

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#1
2 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
Hello! My husband and I are first time river cruisers. We are at two very different places as far as health and activity levels. I want to do everything I can, walk and see the sites. He is unable to walk far, fast, long, or uphill. He can walk, the ship won’t be a problem, I just don’t think he will be able to keep up on tours. When I plan vacations, I try very hard to accommodate his needs, but sometimes I am unable to find a good balance that suits us both. I am trying to find out more details on how the tours are run so that he can plan in advance which he may want to try and which he may want to skip. My hope is that he could do what he can and then wait for me in a pub or cafe. My TA didn’t help much before we booked, so we just went ahead and booked and decided we’d try to figure out the tours before we sail.


We are booked for the Viking Rhine Getaway from Amsterdam to Basil in early October 2018. If anyone can help with any details, I would very much appreciate it. I know this is a lot to ask, so thank you in advance if you can help.


Kinderdijk - How are folks transported from the ship to the windmill tour? By coach, by foot, or both? If walking, about how far? Is there any places to sit and relax if I continue the tour and he decides to just take in the view? Does the coach drop off and pick up at the same location? One of my fears is that a coach may drop us off at one end of a tour and pick us up at another end of a tour. This would make it difficult for us to meet up again and I don’t want him to be left stranded.


Cologne, Germany - There is an included morning tour of the cathedral and the afternoon is free. Are you transported to the cathedral by coach and then transported back to the ship for lunch? If this is the case, it might make more sense for us to stay in town, explore a little, find our own place for lunch, and then return to the ship by taxi.


Koblenz, Germany - The castle tours are what interest me the most, but they are typically high on a hill it seems. How are folks transported to the Marksburg Castle? If by coach, is there a steep walk up to the castle? The website description says this tour is “demanding”. Can anyone tell me if there is any place to sit at the coach drop off point where he could walk around and take photos of the castle from below? Or better yet, a cafe close to the coach drop off point? Does the coach drop off pick up at the same location? What about the pedestrian-only Drosselgasse? Are we dropped off by coach or walk from the ship?


Heidelberg, Germany - This included tour takes us on a drive (that much I know) to Heidelberg. We then “ascend” to the Heidelberg Castle and “descend" into the Alstadt, or Old Town, for a walking tour (I’m getting this off the website description). Does this mean we will walk up to the castle and walk back the same way? Or are you expected to walk up to the castle, through the castle, down the other side, and walk in to Alstadt? If my husband is unable to walk with the tour to the other end, would he miss the pick up? This is one tour I am worried about that the coach will drop us off at one location and pick us up in another.


Strasbourg, France - Here it looks like we drive, I guess by coach, to city center where we take a walking tour of Petite France area. If he decides to skip the walking tour and just hang out and wait, will it be easy enough for me to get back to him for our return trip on the coach? Does the coach pick up at the same place?


Breisach, Germany - I’m not sure either one of us will do the included Black Forest tour. This might be the day we do an optional tour or explore on our own, possibly Colmar. It looks like we travel to Colmar by coach and then walking tour. Any tips?
#2
Rhine, Germany
2,129 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
The Viking Rhine Getaway is a very popular itinerary and I am sure a lot of past cruisers are happy to help you with your detailed questions. You could also have a look at the roll call for the Rhine cruises (not sure what the thread is called).


From my land trip experiences:

Make sure you see Cologne Cathedral, if the shuttle somehoe does not work out there is always a taxi available which should not be too much money as the ship does not dock that far away (unless Viking has to move out of Cologne centre due to the overcrowding on the landing stages).

You mention the castles, especially Marksburg Castle. The Marksburg is indeed high on a hill and you will certainly be transported there by coach as it would be too much to ask any passenger to walk all the way up the hill. But the castle itself I do not recommend for anyone (from my own experience) who has ankle problems, does not like uneven surfaces or needs rest every 10 minutes. It could be the most challenging outing to match your needs to his to. It is the only real castle that the Rhine Getaway visits so you might like to see it. You might be taken there by coach from Koblenz while the ship sails from Koblenz, so your husband can stay onboard. The details for this you will find in the info you will be sent before your cruise. The castle has a shop but I do not know the distance from the coach point to the shop. It is difficult to take photos due to foliage. You will need to see what it is like when you get there. The castle is best photographed approaching from the river I find. In Koblenz itself, for amazing views over the valley I recommend taking the cable car up to Ehrenbreitstein fortress, the station is close to the Viking dock and on top of Ehrenbreitstein you can walk from the station 700m to get to the viewing area. There is a museum and a café. A superior experience that you can do together, skipping the guided tour in town (but that is also good of course).

Rüdesheim Drosselgasse is an easy distance and Viking might not supply a coach to it, but past cruisers can tell you more here. There are cafes and restaurants galore, the Drosselgasse is small but slightly uphill. It should work well there.

The Black Forest tour has been rated as being inferior tho the other offers on this itinerary by past cruisers, but you might like the landscape. I prefer the Alsace area and Colmar and would recommend going there if you think it is feasible for you together.

Have fun planning.

notamermaid

Edit: the webcam view from Ehrenbreitstein: http://www.ehrenbreitstein.de/webcam.html You will have an even better one!
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#3
New Jersey, the Philly end
7,089 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
As notamermaid notes above, Marksberg is difficult. The walk from the parking to the front of the castle is steep. The entry into the castle is steep and uneven, then a fair portion of the interior is uneven floors and steep, narrow stairs.

Strasbourg is generally flat with decent footing. Lots of nice cafes to sit outside and enjoy watching. The issue I see there how far he will need to walk to the bus drop-off.

Kinderdijk has a transient dock so probably no bussing, just a walk to the dock for the boat ride on the pond and to the working windmills. It's the Netherlands, flat and a good walking surface. I recall needing to get up and over a dyke from the ship, but I'm not certain of that. I hesitate to guess the total walk involved, as that is not an issue for us - but a mile or so?

Heidelberg usually involves a bus up to, and down from the castle. Then you have walking that involves up and down inclines and stairs. Again, not certain of the total walking distance. Walking in town is flat and easy . . . As with Strasbough, the location of the bus stop might require a bit of a walk.
#4
Texas
158 Posts
Joined May 2016
Amsterdam should be a coach tour with a boat ride. Both should work for you. Depending on where the ship docks, you could easily walk into the city. Congested traffic makes cabs slow.

Kinderdijk is no coach with a walk over across and down a dyke. The rest is flat like most of the Netherlands. You can get a great view of the windmills from the sun deck of the ship.

The rest of the trip will involve uphill slopes, ramps, and steps. The towns are along waterways and the land slopes up and away from the river level. Historic Europe does not provide ADA access.

In Cologne you will have a coach or not, depending on where the ship docks.

The Marksburg is an excellent experience but strenuous. A coach from Koblenz to a parking lot - a steep uphill climb to a café - narrow steep steps in the castle. The ship waiting after the castle visit will probably dock at a pleasant riverside park below the castle.

The Rhine Gorge will be all sailing and you should be able to enjoy that together. You might check to see how your room on the ship is accessible by the ship elevator. The elevators on ships do not always go to the lowest room deck. Also, the sun deck does not have elevator access. Have you considered that you may be required to climb steps to go over and across ships docked beside you?

Heidelberg is coach to castle grounds with castle filled with slopes and stairs - there is a café with a view where the bus unloads. A bus back down to the Altstadt where the ground is fairly level and there are lots of cafes.

Srasbourg is coach to a spot near the old town. There are gradual slopes up to the Cathedral with lots of cafes on the way. The coach will pick you up where you originally arrived. About a 20 minute walk to the Cathedral.

The Black Forest is probably the most friendly excursion for you. It is a drive through the mountains with stops at a monastery (gradual slopes) and a clock shop with café. Enjoyed the beautiful veiws, don't know why it is unpopular.

Colmar is delightful, but will be more walking than the Black Forest trip. One was in the morning and the other in the afternoon so we could do both. Breisach where you will probably dock is interesting but requires hill climbing.

You should be able to have many good shared experiences.
#5
San Diego
78 Posts
Joined Jul 2015
Viking offers "slow walker" groups for some locations.

For anyone with mobility issues, Marksburg Castle is not an option. The castle entrance is very step, I mean UNBELIEVABLY steep, with uneven cobblestones.

When we took the Grand European Tour there was a person in a wheelchair and they offered an alternate tour in Koblenz of the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.
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#6
Lakewood, CO
32 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
We did the Viking Rhine Getaway in 2015. Our choice was always the "gentle" or "leisurely" walking group due to some mobility issues. The Black Forest was an easy bus tour, no problems at all. For Strasbourg, the gentle walkers group was dropped off closer to the city center, so less walking to see the cathedral. We did the optional tour to Colmar and we were provided with a little train for the city tour, so minimal walking there. Heidelberg castle was some walking, but I don't remember it as very difficult, and walking around town was not difficult at all. The gentle walkers tour of Cologne was also easy - the guides are very aware of mobility issues and will avoid places with a lot of stairs or hills to climb. Kinderdijk was flat and easy to get around. We chose not to climb the stairs in the windmill, and there were benches and places to sit for those who didn't want to walk too much. We did not do the Marksburg Castle tour due to its difficulty, and water levels affected our cruise schedule, so we missed seeing Rudesheim and the Drosselgasse.

Please keep in mind that the gentle walking tours may not see as much as the faster moving groups. I'm sure we missed parts of the city in Strasbourg, Colmar, and Cologne because of the slower pace and avoidance of stairs and steep hills. We did have some couples who chose to separate, one walking with a regular group and one with the slower group.
#7
36 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
Scubadoldo,
You've presented some excellent questions and it's so good to see how hard you're trying to work things out for you and your husband on your upcoming trip.
I've never been on your itinerary so I can't answer to the specifics of your questions, but Viking should be able to connect you with one of their concierges who could.
I did go on a Viking Danube cruise a few years ago so I can speak to my experience with that.
Our cruise did offer a "leisurely" excursion option to sign up for at many of the ports. We walked at a slightly slower pace, maybe a shorter route, and avoided many stairs and steep inclines when possible. When we visited the Abbey in Melk, which is high on a hill, we had a van that took us up to the top and brought us down from there. Viking could tell you what could be worked out for the specifics of your locations.
I have exactly the same difficulties as your husband and I learned one thing from my Viking trip-
I took advantage of the leisurely tours and always had one couple in their 90's, who were traveling with their son and daughter-in-law, in my group. The problem was that they were always far ahead of me. I had my cane, but they had rolling walkers! Yes, the pavement was bumpy, but they made it work. They were also able to put down their seat and sit a bit when the guide stopped to talk. That was an eye opener for me. I like to travel-and do it solo-so I did lots of investigating when I got home and purchased a sturdy, sleek one online. I've used it extensively on subsequent trips and it has been a godsend. Inclines are still tough but they are now doable. I can tote things in my basket, hold a drink of water, and sit to rest when needed. It has really helped me to continue enjoy traveling which otherwise would have been beyond my ability.
So, I'm sorry that I couldn't answer your specific questions, but I hope I gave you some good food for thought. Oh, I am taking a Viking Tulip cruise in April so I will be able to give you current feedback about visiting the windmills after that trip.
Enjoy your planning and dreaming!
Jean


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#8
53 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
My DH and I took this trip in 2015 - I was mobility challenged as I had a broken foot and was in a boot and using cane. I was a member of the "leisure group" for all tours. All the guides we had were very conscious of the limitations of our group - and did a great job of avoiding inclines and stairs.


Kinderdijk - We were bused to the windmills and then took tour. there were several places to rest - and the terrain was flat. I did not go up inside all the way because staircase was narrow, but still enjoyed tour.

Cologne, Germany - Too included morning tour of the cathedral - again bussed to Cathedral plaza and had Dom tour and then short walking tour in area. We were then allowed to board bus back to ship or stay in town and catch and theand shuttles. We found a little "Touring Train" ( saw them in Strasbourg as well) and did a quick tour of the area - cant remember price but was was worth it

Koblenz, Germany - We knew there was NO Way I could maneuver the steps of Marksburg castle - so instead we did the alternative tour of visiting the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. Very interesting tour - beautiful views of Koblenz and it consisted a of gondola cable car across river and then walking tour of fortress ( mostly flat and paved). The bus then picked us up and returned us to the ship.

Heidelberg, Germany - Bus to Heidelberg Castle and walking tour. There were some areas of castle I chose not to visit due to steps, but overall it was fine. We then were bussed back to the old town for free time before busses departed back to ship.

Strasbourg, France - Bus to town and then waking tour walking tour of Petite France area and Cathedral. We dropped off after cathedral, had lunch and then took cab back to ship.


Rudeshime - we again took the little train up to pedestrian area and the the dinner. no problems there.

Breisach, Germany - We did the WW2 Audie Murphy tour - Bus tour to Colmar area, visit WW2 museum and then to Audie Murohy Memorial - was bout 500 feet from where bus dropped us off. Back on bus and drove back through Colmar back to ship.


You will enjoy it- Viking really works to accommodate its guests on the tours.
#9
Hartsdale, NY UDSA
1,577 Posts
Joined Jan 2002
Originally posted by ScubadoIdo
Hello! My husband and I are first time river cruisers. We are at two very different places as far as health and activity levels. I want to do everything I can, walk and see the sites. He is unable to walk far, fast, long, or uphill. He can walk, the ship won’t be a problem, I just don’t think he will be able to keep up on tours. When I plan vacations, I try very hard to accommodate his needs, but sometimes I am unable to find a good balance that suits us both. I am trying to find out more details on how the tours are run so that he can plan in advance which he may want to try and which he may want to skip. My hope is that he could do what he can and then wait for me in a pub or cafe. My TA didn’t help much before we booked, so we just went ahead and booked and decided we’d try to figure out the tours before we sail.


We are booked for the Viking Rhine Getaway from Amsterdam to Basil in early October 2018. If anyone can help with any details, I would very much appreciate it. I know this is a lot to ask, so thank you in advance if you can help.


Kinderdijk - How are folks transported from the ship to the windmill tour? By coach, by foot, or both? If walking, about how far? Is there any places to sit and relax if I continue the tour and he decides to just take in the view? Does the coach drop off and pick up at the same location? One of my fears is that a coach may drop us off at one end of a tour and pick us up at another end of a tour. This would make it difficult for us to meet up again and I don’t want him to be left stranded.


Cologne, Germany - There is an included morning tour of the cathedral and the afternoon is free. Are you transported to the cathedral by coach and then transported back to the ship for lunch? If this is the case, it might make more sense for us to stay in town, explore a little, find our own place for lunch, and then return to the ship by taxi.


Koblenz, Germany - The castle tours are what interest me the most, but they are typically high on a hill it seems. How are folks transported to the Marksburg Castle? If by coach, is there a steep walk up to the castle? The website description says this tour is “demanding”. Can anyone tell me if there is any place to sit at the coach drop off point where he could walk around and take photos of the castle from below? Or better yet, a cafe close to the coach drop off point? Does the coach drop off pick up at the same location? What about the pedestrian-only Drosselgasse? Are we dropped off by coach or walk from the ship?


Heidelberg, Germany - This included tour takes us on a drive (that much I know) to Heidelberg. We then “ascend” to the Heidelberg Castle and “descend" into the Alstadt, or Old Town, for a walking tour (I’m getting this off the website description). Does this mean we will walk up to the castle and walk back the same way? Or are you expected to walk up to the castle, through the castle, down the other side, and walk in to Alstadt? If my husband is unable to walk with the tour to the other end, would he miss the pick up? This is one tour I am worried about that the coach will drop us off at one location and pick us up in another.


Strasbourg, France - Here it looks like we drive, I guess by coach, to city center where we take a walking tour of Petite France area. If he decides to skip the walking tour and just hang out and wait, will it be easy enough for me to get back to him for our return trip on the coach? Does the coach pick up at the same place?


Breisach, Germany - I’m not sure either one of us will do the included Black Forest tour. This might be the day we do an optional tour or explore on our own, possibly Colmar. It looks like we travel to Colmar by coach and then walking tour. Any tips?
Hi,
Haven't done Viking but have done AMA. May I suggest a "shooters cane" folding cane with seat-try Magellans, Travelsmith etc to purchase-for DH. Also remember that both of do not have to be on the same tour- so if one is more aggresive as far a sights seen etc you can split up and both can have a great time
Enjoy
Carole
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Carole-Lee

#11
Florida
3,994 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Koblenz, Germany - How are folks transported to the Marksburg Castle?

If by coach, is there a steep walk up to the castle? Ship passengers were taken by coach to the parking lot just below the castle.


The website description says this tour is “demanding”. Can anyone tell me if there is any place to sit at the coach drop off point where he could walk around and take photos of the castle from below? Or better yet, a cafe close to the coach drop off point? Does the coach drop off pick up at the same location?There is only one bench to sit in the parking lot. After 2 minutes, I decided to slowly walk up on the road (not the steps) to the self service terrace cafeteria where you can sit comfortably at beer garden tables and watch the river panorama down below and the castle above you. I was waiting for my relatives taking a castle tour.
The coach will wait for you in the parking lot which is just below the castle, not in town, so no cafes there. But the parking lot was not too far from the castle terrace - said my right knee.

I was not on a cruise, but I was sitting on the terrace long enough to see three groups of Viking passengers. By the way, you will see (older) Germans with hiking sticks all the time. They look like ski poles, not like 'old people' equipment.