How does one wheelchair travel on day trips from cruises in the Med?

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#1
Queensland
8 Posts
Joined Feb 2016
My wife and I are booked on a Princess Mediterranean cruise for later this year (October 2018) from Barcelona to Barcelona via Greece, Montenegro, Italy, etc. . and one of us is virtually full time in an electric wheelchair. However the cruise line web site for shore excursions only lists one wheel chair compatible tour for the entire cruise and this is in Livorno for a tour to Florence.
The website indicates that the trip is in a motor coach for 40 people. Can anyone advise me how someone who cannot walk can get up the steps into a motor coach please? Or do they use a special coach that wheelchairs can drive into?
Also if any one has a similar mobility issue and has done this tour before any tourism advice on things to see and do and how to get around will be greatly appreciated. We particularly want to see Rome and Pompeii, however a bit of Greece and the other places would also be nice if we can swing it.
#3
12,548 Posts
Joined Apr 2013
I'll try to be helpful as my daughter is mobility challenged and uses a variety of assistive devices depending on the situation (braces with rollator, manual chair, scooter). One day, it will be a motorized chair, but she's not there yet.

Your biggest issue will be that most of the paths and roads are not paved, they are often cobblestones. Even where there have been pretty decent sidewalks or paths constructed, they are not smooth in the sense of the US. Pompeii had steps just to enter the area that you want to see. Once at the excavation, it was manageable. The ruins are interesting up to a point, but it was VERY hot and pushed daughter to her absolute limits. We did another excursion that involve ruins in Greece--not accessible by any stretch of the imagination. Ephesus was the same--no way that you will see anything from a chair as you simply can't handle the stairs.

Florence was actually one of the easier places--some cobblestone streets, but some paved piazzas, etc. We were in one museum there that had an elevator just for HA issues. Some places do not have one--again, you might want to check in advance for any places you particularly want to visit. The problem is that there are often steps to get into a building and many have not added ramps! I would consult a good, current guidebook about any place that you specifically want to see. Our Med cruise was on a different cruise line.

Our experience with Princess is that they are pretty good about their explanations of excursions--if they show the wheelchair symbol, they have had transportation to make it work. However, in Japan they had only a single gangway open at some of the ports and it was incredibly steep. We watched as they needed 3 crew members to get an elderly man in a manual chair up this gangway. I had a couple of issues with this. First it was just plain too steep to be safe. Secondly, it was the only open gangway, which essentially closed it for 15+ minutes while they figured out how to get this individual back on board. My daughter was furious....for the gentleman and because "That's going to be me someday."

Good luck--Europe and chairs are not an easy combination, although things are getting better in the main tourist areas.
#4
Queensland
8 Posts
Joined Feb 2016
Thanks for the information. it is appreciated.
We have had the misfortune to be one of the people man handled onto a Princess ship. At the Brisbane port there was a rail line immediately in front of the gang way and then a series of steps to get up onto the gangway. Three little men tried to lift the wheel chair plus occupant, if it had not been so serious and dangerous it would have been hysterically funny. In the end we boarded through the goods hold as it actually had a reasonable ramp we could move up without the rail line obstruction. It was a combination of a poor port facility combined with poor planning by the cruise line.
We had planned on the European cobblestones and I have been modifying the wheel chair with bigger wheels to accommodate the rougher terrain.
The heat in Greece does not phase us. Where we are from temperatures are usually in the high 30 to 40+ deg Celsius range.
#5
Gold Coast Australia
220 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
I think you'll be ok in Rome. Pompeii would be impossible in my opinion as most of the walking areas are very bumpy. Kotor (Montenegro) and Santorini will be a problem as that is a tender port and I thought I have read on the Princess site that wheelchairs cannot be accommodated when tendering. Mykonos will be easy as long as you tie up as we have tendered and been at the portside in Mykonos. Barcelona no trouble at all.
#6
South Florida & Shenandoah Valley, VA
6,149 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Originally posted by leck57
I think you'll be ok in Rome. Pompeii would be impossible in my opinion as most of the walking areas are very bumpy. Kotor (Montenegro) and Santorini will be a problem as that is a tender port and I thought I have read on the Princess site that wheelchairs cannot be accommodated when tendering. Mykonos will be easy as long as you tie up as we have tendered and been at the portside in Mykonos. Barcelona no trouble at all.
I agree with this with one exception:

  • the Forum and Palatine Hill in Rome will be difficult, especially if using the entrance across from the Colosseum that includes a long hill. If they use the entrance on the Via Foro Imperiali, which has a much shorter but still inclined entrance path, it might be possible. Once in the Forum the Palatine is only accessible up another steep hill paved with 2000 year old stone. I was there in October using a cane (recovering from having both hips replaced 3 months earlier) and had to take it very slowly and carefully.
Do take a look at the Disabled Cruise Forum especially about the question on boarding the buses. While I have been on many tours in Europe on buses and vans I've never seen a lift on a single one.