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Resources in Alaska for Disabled Cruisers


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Please put your known and tried resources for shore excursions as well as cruise reviews from old messages about Alaska here so we don't loose them. Please don't post questions here...just older information. Will start a similar message for other destinations.


Here are a few:



Cool Cruiser


posted 07-17-03 08:10 PM

Round trip--Vancouver to Vancouver

Excursions-- I am a T5 para so no walking or standing. We made all the excursions we booked accessible. We did not book anything thru the crusie line.



We took an accessible trolly tour of the town. The trolly had a lift and you could get on and off as often as you want. http://www.juneautrolly.com Did not book in advance just got in outside the cruise ship dock.

Dog Sledding--

We booked our trip with Coastal (http://www.coatalhelicopters.com)thru Orca (http://www.alaskawhaleatching.com). Orca provided a wheelchair lift van which picked us up at the crusie dock and took us to the coastal helicopter pad/office. Orca does not usually do this unless you also book a whale watching tour with them as well.

The coastal office has a ramp and a fully accessible bathroom. Coastal provided boat covers which they helped get on my feet. The pilot and another fellow lifted me into the helicopter. When we arrived at the ice field the pilolt and one of the mushers lifted me out of the helicopter onto the sled minus the dogs. They then pulled my sled over to the dogs and hooked us up. I had to use my hands to balance but once I got the hang of it it was the most incredable experience of my life.



We went to the gold dredge and panning, http://www.klondikegolddredge.com. We tried to book this through the cruise line but they could not get the accessible van. We called the company from Skagway and they sent a wheelchair lift van to pick us up. The entire tour was accessible. We did get a little gold panning and it was a lot of fun. Great people.

We took a hekicopter--Pilots choice through http://www.Temesco.com. They are the only helicopter company in Skagway and Pilots choice is the only tour they will take a wheelchair person on. We rolled across the parking lot from our ship to the Temesco office and Heliport. 2 People lifted me into the helicopter. We stopped and landed at two spots on various glaciers--i was not able to get out. All and all it was fun but nothing to compare with Juneau. Also, Temesco is all bussiness get you on and off. Coastal had a friendly warmer feel.We booked Temesco the day of our arrival by phone.



We took a seaplane with Michelle at http://www.islandwings.com. She flies an amazing plane. They picked us up about a block from the ship in a van. The van had not lift but did open on the side. Her driver is a big fellow. He and my husband lifted me into the van. They had another person available if my husband was not able to help. We then drove a short distance to the seaplane. That was a tricky transfer since you are on the dock and the patoons stick out. Anyway her crew and my husband got me up there. The trip was amazing. Michelle is the only pilot with headsets that you can hear her and also speak to her and each other. We landed in the water but unlike other tours she pulls the plane over to land and the others got out and hiked around. She did not like the view I had so she rotated the plane so I could see the water falls better. When we returned we reversed the process.

I have a list of accessible tours for each place we went to. There were some we did not do do to lack of time. There is one helicopter company with a lift on the plane I believe it is ERA in Juneau.

I did not take my chair with me on the helicopters or seaplane. (not much use in water or an ice field)



Here is another:


Cool Cruiser


posted 03-29-04 06:42 PM

We have been to Juneau and Sitka. Cannot speak to Ketchikan.

In Juneau and Sitka we had wheelchair accessible lift-van tours arranged through our cruise line (Princess). I would check with them first. In Juneau we took a half day trip that included the Alaska State Museum, Mendenhall Glacier, the fish hatchery, and a botancial garden. We still had the rest of the day for a little shopping (close to the pier). I don't recommend the cable car here...you cannot see out from wheelchair height, although you can get onto the car.

In Sitka we had a lift-van tour that included the Archangel dancers, the Russian Orthodox cathedral, the Native Museum and a drive around town. We also did some shopping here and then walked back to the tender dock after being dropped off in town.

I would check with the ship's tour office first. If they cannot accomodate you, I would address this as an ADA issue since these are American ports and companies providing tours in USA ports must offer alternatives that are accessible (or are in violation of the ADA). This applies to the tour company, not to the cruise ship (which is a little shakey about applicability of the ADA).



And another:


Cool Cruiser


posted 04-27-04 08:21 PM

We got tours through the ship (Princess) on vans with lifts in both Sitka and Juneau. I would recommend contacting tour companies there by doing an internet search and then ask about van-lift tours.

Per the ADA, if they provide the service of tours, they must either provide their own tours in lift-equipped vans or contract (for the same price) with another company who can provide the same service. Remember, these ports are all in the USA (except for Victoria), so the tour companies are governed by the ADA.

This company will provide some services, but not information (they only want to help you if you purchase through them):



Also check out this as a place to find tour companies:



Check out this resource for Victoria:




Cool Cruiser


posted 05-05-04 01:43 PM


Thanks for your help. We have now secured a van for us in Victoria thanks to the web site accessvictoria. It is $38 an hour, negotiable with the driver, not sure if this is US $ we were quoted or Canadian. Could be cheaper. It is a van that you just go into in your chair. The van seats 3 others. We will be able to do our own thing and at the pace we want, which is something we enjoy instead with a big group from the ship. It should even be cheaper for the 4 of us then taking a group tour and we will probably see more.[/Quote]


And another (for Juneau):


Cool Cruiser


posted 04-24-04 10:36 PM

Check out Capt Larry with Awesome Orca for whale watching - they are handicapped accessible:



Please add to this before the old message disappear!

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  • 5 years later...

Took this tour in August 2009 and highly recommend it. The ramp to board was a little steep, but the crew took a can-do attitude and got my (large) partner in a Pride Maxima on board zip-zip. The tour is delightful, and w/c users are up close and personal in the front row. The crew is prepared to take out seats in the front row to make room for as many wheeled conveyances as necessary. There is a w/c accessible bathroom (which we did not check out, sorry). Have fun!


For more info: www dot 56degreesnorth dot com

Edited by KL&KR
forgot extra info
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Took this tour in August 2009 and highly recommend it. The ramp to board was a little steep, but the crew took a can-do attitude and got my (large) partner in a Pride Maxima on board zip-zip. The tour is delightful, and w/c users are up close and personal in the front row. The crew is prepared to take out seats in the front row to make room for as many wheeled conveyances as necessary. There is a w/c accessible bathroom (which we did not check out, sorry). Have fun!


For more info: www dot 56degreesnorth dot com


Thanks for that information. I am a scooter user and want to go on that expedition badly. Now I feel comfortable making the reservations.

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Took this tour in August 2009 and highly recommend it. The ramp to board was a little steep, but the crew took a can-do attitude and got my (large) partner in a Pride Maxima on board zip-zip. The tour is delightful, and w/c users are up close and personal in the front row. The crew is prepared to take out seats in the front row to make room for as many wheeled conveyances as necessary. There is a w/c accessible bathroom (which we did not check out, sorry). Have fun!

Without a doubt this excursion was one of the best we have ever taken!!!!!!! It was on the Aleutian Ballard, which was the boat used in the second season of the World's deadliest catch....The whole crew was awesome! Lots of bald eagles, fish, crab and a lot of them we could hold! Nancie

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For people afoot, weather conditions in Alaska can make ramps and walkways extremely slippery. Many Alaska visitors (otherwise able bodied) have serious slip and fall accidents.


Make the best possible choices about your foot wear and use whatever handy devices will help you to be safe.


Remember that Alaskan ports have great differences in tides in only a few hours. A ramp you can do at 9am might be as steep as a mountain at 3pm. Ask a lot of questions!


Been there many times and thus far have only had minor slip and fall issues, but I am very, very careful.

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DH is in a wheelchair, so I'll add a couple of comments from our Alaska cruise a year ago.


Ditto to Captain Larry and Orca Enterprises in Juneau. They were incredible from beginning to end.


While not an "excursion" as such we found the Mount Roberts Tramway in Juneau quite accessible, and the building at the top including the cafe, shops and theater were accessible as well. We didn't venture out of the building.


The White Pass and Yukon Railway out of Skagway has one car dedicated to people with mobility problems. There is a lift, and the staff is very helpful. Neither of us used the bathroom in the car, but I believe it's accessible.


I have conveniently forgotten the tour company in Ketchikan as we had a miserable experience. And the tours at Icy Strait Point were okay once we got DH on the bus for one and tram for the other.

Edited by ILoveScotland
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  • 2 weeks later...

been to alasksa x2. first with mom [s/p stroke who has balance & endurance issues} accompanied by my sister. on princess diamond

-juneau rented a car from rent a dent. they picked me up @ the dock took me their office, i came back got mom & sis. we drove to mendenhall glasier which was easy access to wheelchair. botanical gardens. then to department store, got directions to locals' restaurant. back to juneau for shopping. car was left on the street! they said we'll find it !!!!

-skagway rented a car from herts, i think, again i went picked up the car came back for sis & mom, had down loaded a mile marker by mile marker travel guide with pictures [sorry don't have the site] for the yukon highway. drove into canada. was a wonderful trip, we could see the train accross the river for most of the way but we could stop when ever for pixs! the only bathroom facility on the road is a outhouse! not hc accesable, mom got stuck on the toilet [no grab bars] she was laughing so hard saying" i'm stuck in a outhouse in the wilderness",lol she told everone! go figure all that beauty & her biggest chuckle is the outhouse lol!!!!!!!! brought a picnic lunch from the ship that our butler arranged. then back to skagway for shopping. also mailed back everthing we bought @ the post office.

-ketchikan was drizzling , used poncho to keep mom & wc dry. brought a clamp on umbrella which turned out to be a pain too big. we just strolled & shopped. very accesable for wc.


second trip with dh who has ms & uses wheelchair for distances.

-juneau took rcl tour : sea plane to tauku lodge for salmon bake. getting on the plane was tricky for him but staff was very accomadating. there was alot of snow @ the lodge, using the wheelchair was difficult but again staff was very helpful.

-sitka we took the "jeep adventure". we thought we'd be going off road but instead it was a caravan up the yukon highway! i had my notes fom the first trip & the person talking on the cb type radio gave basically the same info.i had down loaded!! i guess there's just so much you can say about a rock formation or a bridge lol. renting a car is definately the way to go!!

- st. rupperts island we took rcl's the bear watch boat excursion. boat ramp was a little steep & slippery but dh was able to walk up with staff assistance, ship too small to use the wc inside, just had rows of benches but on the outside deck there was very limited seating & dh was able to be @ the rail in wc [for stability] take pix's.

-seattle VERY hilly we rented a car last minute from office @ port & went to pikes market wc accessable.

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  • 3 years later...

In June of this year we flew to Anchorage Alaska precruise, staying one night and planned to take the Alaska railway to Seward. We traveled with my adult son who is a quadraplegic and unable to transfer from a wheelchair to a cab. Anchorage does have a few wheelchair accessible cabs and was able to get one at the airport to the hotel without problem.


There are only two or three cabs at the present time that are wheel chair accessible, meaning the passenger can ride in the chair, the problem is the operators of the cabs are independant contractors and make thier own hours. This is where we ran into a problem getting to Seward on the 7AM train.


We were told by the cab company ( there are two cab companies, both with two cabs) to call about an hour before we needed to get to the train statiion and they would try to get us a can. The majic word is try. I was assured there would be no problem but when I pushed for a guarantee the cab dispatcher him and hawed. What they failed to tell us was they had no way of knowing if any of the cabbies would be in at that time of the morning and they had no control over thier starting times as they are all independant contractors. Anyway, we needed to be at the train statiion no later than 6:30AM, problem is none of the cab drivers( with the accessible cabs) begin working before 8AM. We called both cab companies every 15minutes from 4AM until a little after 6AM with no response.


We finally decided to try a regular cab, using the hoyer lift we rented, to get him in the cab. We called ahead to the group we were traveling with who agreed to have a few strong men waiting to llift him out of the cab. We then called two cabs, one for my son and my husband and the wheel chair, the other for me and the luggage. We arrived at the train station at 6:25AM. If we did not make this train we would have missed the boat, literally.


There is an afternoon train from Anchorage to Seward, that would not present a problem as the cabbies are all up and on the road by then.


Another word of caution about the railroad. They are wheelchair accessible but if the wheelchair you are using is large there may be a problem The lift onto the train just about fit the manual chair we were using for the trip. It is narrow to accomodate the train door and walkways. There is an elevator to the domed area, that is also very narrow. If you are using a standard size wheel chair there shouldn't be a problem. The rail road was worth all the trouble getting to it. The ride was beautiful and my son was able to view a lot of the scenery from the spot reserved for his chair. The staff of the railroad was super, very friendly and helpful.

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According to the Anchorage Daily News of a day or so ago, in Anchorage the city let opportunities for cab licenses for both standard and accessible cabs with the fees paid by the owners/drivers adding up to a very large sum.


After the training period, there should be vast improvements in service in Anchorage which should benefit the 2014 tourist season.

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  • 5 months later...
  • 1 year later...

for my 29 year old son in a manual wheelchair. I'm hoping that there may be some "wheelies" who can give some more excursion suggestions for our May 2016 trip. We will be on The HAL Westerdam and he has an inside room booked on the ship. Hopefully he will be able to see the beautiful scenery from the outer decks as he doesn't have a veranda.


He would love to go on a fishing trip if that is a possibility as well as whale watching. I see that Orca Enterprises has some good reviews for accessibility here. Still the case?


Many thanks and happy cruising!

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 6 months later...
There are some good tips here but I notice that a lot of them are really pricey. Does anyone have any suggestions of ways to still have a great experience but lower the cost?


This really no cheap way to see the sites in Alaska. The only cheap way is to stay in port and just take in the shops and some very local sites around the port but you really won't see the full natural beauty that people go to Alaska to see.

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  • 4 months later...
Has anyone ever stopped at Icy Strait? Just wondering what tours/activities you'd recommend there?

I've been there when it was a tender port, so it was a little difficult getting ashore, then up to see anything. I understand there's a dock now, so that part of the visit should be easier.


There's a lot of gravel, so getting around can be tough, but there are walkways.

There's a large building of shops and crafts where the tender dock was; I don't know if that is where the ship's dock is now.


I took a trolley ride out through the woods. It was a lovely ride, with a guide who explained a lot about the area. The trolley picked us up behind the shops' building, so there was a decent walk out there.

Upon return, there was a native show explaining the story of the natives. It was in a separate building off to the side of the shops, and a decent walk for me as I was at the time. Then another decent walk back to the dock.


I'm not sorry I took the tour, as it was a good one, even though it was tough to get to where I needed to be.

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  • 4 weeks later...



I've booked a couple of tours already but want to visit Mendenhall Glacier. I know there's the blue bus but had a look at the pics and don't think that would be suitable as my gran uses a mobility scooter.


I can get an excursion through the cruise company that will allow the scooter for 35GBP per person but we'll then have a set amount of time there and would have preferred to do it ourselves. Has anyone travelled there with a wheelchair or scooter or have any idea on best way to do this?



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The only private (not ship sponsored) way to get a scooter to Mendenhall Glacier is to go in one of the two wheelchair accessible taxis in Juneau. We went this summer and, based upon a telephone conversation with both taxi companies, just planned to obtain the wheelchair accessible taxi when we got there, especially since we weren't certain about what time we wanted to go. However, when we got to Juneau, we discovered that both of the drivers of the wheelchair accessible taxis had taken the day off. (Apparently the drivers own the taxis, even though they work for a taxi company). So if we had been in a scooter or a motorized wheelchair, we could not have gone.


Fortunately our disabled family member uses a manual wheelchair, and although he cannot walk, he can transfer to a sedan type of automobile. So we managed to get that type of taxi (which you have to request because the ones which come to the ship are the large vans).


So I recommend that you contact one of the taxi companies and reserve the wheelchair accessible taxi ahead of time of your visit.


We wanted to spend more time than that stated by the cruise line excursion, so that is why we took the private transportation.

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  • 2 months later...

Era (phone 800-843-1947, website eraflightseeing.com) has a lift with a capacity of 250-lb. But the person I spoke to cautioned me that the lift stays at their base, so a handicapped person would have to stay in the copter rather than get out and walk around on the glacier.


BTW, TravelJuneau.com is VERY knowledgable and helpful. I saw a single reference somewhere to a company that had a lift, the poster wasn't sure of the name but thought it was something like Era. With that information, the TravelJuneau phone rep was able to give me the phone # and website and tell me a little about the company. TravelJuneau is part of the Chamber of Commerce, I think, so has no mandate to push any particular company.

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