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flutprop

Alaskan ports accessibility for wheelchair and scooter

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My family will be on Princess this summer, and both my husband and my father may require assistance when walking long distances. My husband usually rents a scooter when we go to Disney/Universal, and we used a transport chair for my father at Universal over New Years. My sister did most of his pushing and hated it, says she wants a regular wheelchair for our next trip since the large rear wheels hopefully make pushing easier.

 

I see that we can rent both of these items at the Seattle Pier, but I am concerned that getting around the ports in Alaska will still be difficult and uncomfortable for the occupants due to things like wooden walkways,  pavement in poor repair etc. Both can walk, but go slower than the rest of us, and get tired easily. My father says he will just stay on the ship in port, but that seems awful since this trip was his idea. The scooter would not be used on the ship, just in town. Probably would not need to use the wheelchair on board either.

Can anyone give me any feedback on how well these devices do in Alaska? (Skagway, Ketchikan and Juneau)

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I found the Alaskan ports to be accessible. In Skagway we took the train. It rolled right up to the dock and had a car with a lift. In Juneau we did whale watching that was accessible as well as visiting the visitor's center at Mendenhall glacier. I think there are also some short hikes that are accessible but I did not try them. We took the Aleutian Ballard excursion in Ketchikan and it was also accessible. The ADA is in effect in Alaska.

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My DH uses a scooter for mobility when we are on cruises. The scooter allows him to get out and do so much! He does use it on-board as well. It helps when the seas are a bit rough or when what we want is at the opposite end of the ship. 

 

As for the ports - all are very scooter friendly. The staff on the ships is great at helping DH off and on the ship with the scooter and we go all over the place. In Juneau we've gone up to the Capital Building and scootered/walked all around town. We've done excursions and the scooter fits in the bay of the Greyhound type buses. 

In Skagway the train is totally accessible and it is so worth taking the scooter with you even for the round trip. For one, the car that houses those with scooters is less crowded! 


Ketchikan is the only town that has some of the wooden sidewalks but they are fairly easy, although bumpy, to traverse. We've gone up to the Totem Pole park and the local park and fish hatchery and wandered all around Ketchikan. 

 

Victoria has a great walking path into town that is wonderful for scooters. Right now part of it is torn up but there is an easy workaround for it. 


I order the scooter ahead of time from Scootaround. They currently show a 20% discount for Alaska cruises in June and July. I have it delivered to the cabin. The reason is that then DH is wheelchaired from the shuttle drop-off all the way to check-in and then wheelchaired on to the ship. At the end of the cruise he is wheelchaired off and all the way to the shuttle. This is incredibly helpful. He could walk most of it but he'd be totally tuckered out and why start the cruise that way? The service is available, it makes boarding easier, and it's complimentary (tip for the ones who wheel on the ship but those in the port aren't allowed to accept tips). 


Karen

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Thanks to both of you. My husband can make it onto the ship, but we would want a wheelchair push for my Dad. We always do that at the airport for him. Good to know the ports are so easy to get around. I will definitely speak to the siblings and plan on a wheelchair rental, plus possibly a scooter for my husband.

 

We have cars rented in both Juneau and Skagway (with a group of 14 family members it is so much cheaper to take 2 minivans) up the Skagway highway instead of the train, and a couple cars for those wanting to get to Mendenhall.

I think it was Ketchikan I was worried about, so we will just see how Dad is feeling about walking some there.

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22 hours ago, katisdale said:

I found the Alaskan ports to be accessible. In Skagway we took the train. It rolled right up to the dock and had a car with a lift. In Juneau we did whale watching that was accessible as well as visiting the visitor's center at Mendenhall glacier. I think there are also some short hikes that are accessible but I did not try them. We took the Aleutian Ballard excursion in Ketchikan and it was also accessible. The ADA is in effect in Alaska.

Do you remember which whale watching excursion you booked or what company/boat you were on. My son would like to do a whale watching tour and we want to make sure we get the right tour company/boat that is wheelchair accessible. Any information you could provide for this would be great. Thanks

 

Stingray310

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, stingray310 said:

Do you remember which whale watching excursion you booked or what company/boat you were on. My son would like to do a whale watching tour and we want to make sure we get the right tour company/boat that is wheelchair accessible. Any information you could provide for this would be great. Thanks

 

Stingray310

We always use Dolphin Jet boat tours for Juneau whale watching. They have a boat w/c users can roll aboard and stay in their w/c. No stairs/steps at all. Tell them your needs when you book. AWESOME  company!!

CSC_0425.JPG

Edited by STEVE-O
incomplete original mrssage

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13 hours ago, flutprop said:

Thanks to both of you. My husband can make it onto the ship, but we would want a wheelchair push for my Dad. We always do that at the airport for him. Good to know the ports are so easy to get around. I will definitely speak to the siblings and plan on a wheelchair rental, plus possibly a scooter for my husband.

A word from someone who has been there, done that. The walk onto the ship can be long, back and forth, and uphill. It's so much easier to have someone wheelchaired on then having them "make it". My DH could make it sometimes when it's been a short walk on but other times, depending on the tide, it's been quite a trek and we've been so grateful we've opted for the wheelchair. It's also been a godsend on disembarking. Please consider the wheelchair on option if you can. 

 

Karen

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Agree that Dolphin Jet Boats are a good choice for a whale watching tour. When you reserve you can also set up accessible transport to the pier.

 

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4 hours ago, luvteaching said:

A word from someone who has been there, done that. The walk onto the ship can be long, back and forth, and uphill. It's so much easier to have someone wheelchaired on then having them "make it". My DH could make it sometimes when it's been a short walk on but other times, depending on the tide, it's been quite a trek and we've been so grateful we've opted for the wheelchair. It's also been a godsend on disembarking. Please consider the wheelchair on option if you can. 

 

Karen

Thanks Karen. I will consider that, but unless things get worse in the next few months, he should be good. We did 2 weeks in the Caribbean last summer and the only problems he had were at Mahogany Bay in Roatan, where he was not able to make it up the hill from the ship and thus our son and I went on our private excursion by ourselves, and at an unexpected layover in Houston where we had to go quickly across the airport and still missed our flight (not due to his speed, it was gone already but no one could tell us that, so we booked it)  Getting around the ship, and up the embarkation gangway has never seemed to be a problem for him. My Dad however, would probably be exhausted with the slow climb.

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18 hours ago, katisdale said:

Agree that Dolphin Jet Boats are a good choice for a whale watching tour. When you reserve you can also set up accessible transport to the pier.

 

Thank you..... I forgot to mention the accessible transportation!!!!

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23 hours ago, STEVE-O said:

We always use Dolphin Jet boat tours for Juneau whale watching. They have a boat w/c users can roll aboard and stay in their w/c. No stairs/steps at all. Tell them your needs when you book. AWESOME  company!!

CSC_0425.JPG

 

Thanks for this info, we will definitely check them out for an excursion, sounds like just what we need.

 

Stingray

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Another vote for Dolphin Jet Boat tours - they were great. They do provide transportation, but we ended up renting a minivan so that we could go to Mendenhall Glacier too.

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Years ago my mom brought 19 of us to alaska...each"kid" and their family  took a day pushing her wherever she wanted to go...it was great to spend time alone with her and for the grandchildren to have her attention...we were all expected to attend dinner together....it was a great trip and brought her so much pleasure...

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On April 2, 2019 at 3:07 PM, katisdale said:

I found the Alaskan ports to be accessible. In Skagway we took the train. It rolled right up to the dock and had a car with a lift. In Juneau we did whale watching that was accessible as well as visiting the visitor's center at Mendenhall glacier. I think there are also some short hikes that are accessible but I did not try them. We took the Aleutian Ballard excursion in Ketchikan and it was also accessible. The ADA is in effect in Alaska.

 

Do you remember the tour company you used in Juneau that included the whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier and was accessible for a scooter?  I'm trying to set up plans for a Sept. 1 sailing.  TIA

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On 4/3/2019 at 2:22 PM, luvteaching said:

A word from someone who has been there, done that. The walk onto the ship can be long, back and forth, and uphill. It's so much easier to have someone wheelchaired on then having them "make it". My DH could make it sometimes when it's been a short walk on but other times, depending on the tide, it's been quite a trek and we've been so grateful we've opted for the wheelchair. It's also been a godsend on disembarking. Please consider the wheelchair on option if you can. 

 

Karen

Most cruise lines offer this service, HOWEVER, all they will do is get you onto the ship and deposit you into a ship's chair and leave with the wheelchair. If you need a wheelchair for embarkation you are more likely to need one during the cruise. 

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7 hours ago, jlp20 said:

Most cruise lines offer this service, HOWEVER, all they will do is get you onto the ship and deposit you into a ship's chair and leave with the wheelchair. If you need a wheelchair for embarkation you are more likely to need one during the cruise. 

Good morning, 

 

Actually HAL takes us right to the cabin. Princess took us to the cabin when the cabins were available at boarding time. When they weren't we were left near customer service. Once onboard DH can walk for a bit - the boarding ramp at Seattle and back and forth plus the incline are too much for him especially lugging his oxygen as well. We have his scooter waiting in the cabin and we're set to go! 

 

Karen

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Check if you need a tender at any ports - Sitka will be a tendered port for us in late June.  You will have to manage a gap of usually 18” or so but more importantly you will need to be responsible for getting the wheelchair or scooter on and off the tender.

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I have a progressive muscle disease, and this will be our first cruise where I will be taking a transport chair for part time use. I am concerned about getting back onto the ship when the tide is high. We've been to Alaska before, and I remember some port days when the extreme tides required stairs, rather than a ramp, to get on and off the ship. Just wondering how folks using wheelchairs handle these situations, as I can no longer climb stairs.   

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I can only speak to the scooter but I've watched the ship's crew members taking wheelchair users up and down some pretty steep ramps and they do it carefully and with a smile. For DH's scooter one member is in front and the other in back and they monitor him. We cruise HAL and in Juneau they dock at either one of the new docks which are floating docks. The docks adjust to the tide changes so they never get really steep. 

Karen

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5 hours ago, luvteaching said:

I can only speak to the scooter but I've watched the ship's crew members taking wheelchair users up and down some pretty steep ramps and they do it carefully and with a smile. For DH's scooter one member is in front and the other in back and they monitor him. We cruise HAL and in Juneau they dock at either one of the new docks which are floating docks. The docks adjust to the tide changes so they never get really steep. 

Karen

Thank you, Karen. Knowing that the crew will step in to help makes me feel better! 

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On April 24, 2019 at 7:21 AM, luvteaching said:

I can only speak to the scooter but I've watched the ship's crew members taking wheelchair users up and down some pretty steep ramps and they do it carefully and with a smile. For DH's scooter one member is in front and the other in back and they monitor him. We cruise HAL and in Juneau they dock at either one of the new docks which are floating docks. The docks adjust to the tide changes so they never get really steep. 

Karen

 

Karen, do you have the names of tour companies you have used for Alaska cruises that are scooter friendly? I asked previously on this board, but didn't get a response. The ports I am interested in are Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. Thanks for your help, this is the first time I'm trying to organize the trip with a scooter.

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21 hours ago, jakesnana said:

 

Karen, do you have the names of tour companies you have used for Alaska cruises that are scooter friendly? I asked previously on this board, but didn't get a response. The ports I am interested in are Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. Thanks for your help, this is the first time I'm trying to organize the trip with a scooter.

Hi Jakesnana, 

 

In Juneau we did a ship's tour with the scooter to Mendenhall. The scooter fits under any of the Greyhound type buses. I didn't realize this until a few years ago and what a difference it has made! In Juneau we tend to do it ourselves and go over to the Alaska State Museum, we've been up to the Capitol Building and the Juneau/Douglas museum, and wandered as far as we can go. The same is true in Ketchikan as we've gone up to the Totem Pole park and to Cape Fox Lodge (but the hill was too steep for the scooter so I had to push for a bit!). 

In Skagway we've done the White Pass Yukon Railroad several times and they are great with the scooter. They have a handicapped accessible car and my DH rides his scooter on to the lift and they lift it up into the train car. The advantage is that there are a lot less people in the car so more room to spread out and move around! We've also done the trolley tour but had to leave the scooter near the ship until we got back. Last year we did the Bennett Lake excursion with Chilkoot Tours and the train and bus were not handicapped accessible so left the scooter behind and DH did fine. 

 

I hope this helps!
 

Karen

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2 hours ago, luvteaching said:

Hi Jakesnana, 

 

In Juneau we did a ship's tour with the scooter to Mendenhall. The scooter fits under any of the Greyhound type buses. I didn't realize this until a few years ago and what a difference it has made! In Juneau we tend to do it ourselves and go over to the Alaska State Museum, we've been up to the Capitol Building and the Juneau/Douglas museum, and wandered as far as we can go. The same is true in Ketchikan as we've gone up to the Totem Pole park and to Cape Fox Lodge (but the hill was too steep for the scooter so I had to push for a bit!). 

In Skagway we've done the White Pass Yukon Railroad several times and they are great with the scooter. They have a handicapped accessible car and my DH rides his scooter on to the lift and they lift it up into the train car. The advantage is that there are a lot less people in the car so more room to spread out and move around! We've also done the trolley tour but had to leave the scooter near the ship until we got back. Last year we did the Bennett Lake excursion with Chilkoot Tours and the train and bus were not handicapped accessible so left the scooter behind and DH did fine. 

 

I hope this helps!
 

Karen

 

Thanks Karen. How do they get the scooter into the luggage hold on the bus? Lift it up? The scooter is being rented, so I don't know how much it weighs, I hope it's not too heavy. Which ship/cruise line offers a tour to Mendenhall that is scooter friendly?  Thanks for all the help.

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11 hours ago, jakesnana said:

 

Thanks Karen. How do they get the scooter into the luggage hold on the bus? Lift it up? The scooter is being rented, so I don't know how much it weighs, I hope it's not too heavy. Which ship/cruise line offers a tour to Mendenhall that is scooter friendly?  Thanks for all the help.

HI Jakesnana! 

 

We rent DH's scooter from Scootaround and they have a discount going for Alaska cruises. The driver puts the scooter in the bag. They lift it in. The seat back folds down a bit and the tiller (steering part) moves down closer to the seat. The drivers do it without a problem and we're so grateful for that! We did our tour to Mendenhall through Holland America and it was no problem. 
I'm glad to answer questions but it takes a bit to get back to the boards during the school week! 

 

Karen

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