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HAL- help with wheelchair?


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Hi all,


Sailing on Holland America's Amsterdam shortly with a folding wheelchair.


Just read complaints elsewhere on the net about HAL's not helping people in wheelchairs.


Will HAL's staff help me, if I need it, to get our chair from the ship to the dock. I know the ramps are steep. My husband can walk down the steps.


Also, will they help in a tender port to put the folded wheelchair in and out of the tender? My husband can get on by himself with difficulty if the sea is rough.


Just wondered if there is a problem with HAL.


Thanks for sharing all your experience with me,:)

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We have been on several HAL cruises with a wheelchair. My mother uses a power wheelchair on the ship, but a folding one for shore excursions. HAL will help, but don't be surprised if you hear some grumbling from the gangway officers about this. We had tender lifts on our 3 trips (twice on the Ryndam, once on the Statendam). They are VERY reluctant to use the tender lift and want you to wait until late in the day to use it, but once they make it available it works pretty well, except for once when it was rough coming back to the ship (in Loreto). They had to lift the entire tender up to the Promonade deck with my mother inside to get her out of the boat!!! It was some excitement. The tender lift can be used ONLY for manual wheelchairs of 18" seat width or less (no scooters or power chairs). In general though we found HAL helpful at all ports and around the ship and no different from most other cruise lines in this area. All of our trips are since 2001, so it may have been different before this.


In South America (2001) some of the port areas are very rough. In Punta Arenas there are a number of stairs up from the tender dock, so be aware of this. In Buenos Aires there are rough bricks at the dockside that can make walking or pushing a wheelchair a little tricky, but we did get help there. South America is not very wheelchair accessible, but in all ports we found both workers and people in general very willing to help with the chair (in and out of shops, up stairways, etc.). We had to lift my mother in and out of vans and taxis in most ports, as buses without lifts will not work for us, and we arranged our own trips since none of HALs are wheelchair accessible. Are you going to Iguassu? The Argentina side is fairly accessible.

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Thank you Splinter for your reply-always thoughtful and helpful!:)


Glad to hear HAL will help if I get stuck on the gangway carrying the chair.


My husband can walk up and down stairs thank goodness. Just worried about ports a little.


Punta Arenas-going to Magdalena Penguin Reserve


Have no other trips scheduled as of now.


If you could pick one trip, or "must see" in each port-which would you choose?

Ports are:

Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Port Stanley, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Rio.


Thought maybe we could disembark and check out the taxi tours at the port.


Thanks as always you're great at calming fears!!:eek:

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Just noticed you will be sailing to Hawaii in 5 days!!!:D

Have a wonderful voyage. Thanks for answering since you're so busy now!

We are booked on Infinity next Nov. for Hawaii.

Please post and let us know how the trip was.

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Yes, we leave on Friday on the Island Princess. First time for us on this new ship, so will report in. We have an accessible cabin for 3 (E505), which puts me in a bunk (which should be fun considering I had surgery this summer due to a knee injury I got falling off a ladder...I am a little ladder phobic right now!).


I would really encourage you to arrange tours ahead of time on your South American trip. Cab drivers rarely speak English in most ports, so work only if you know exactly where you want to go. We arranged all our tours through http://www.southstartours.com They don't list these on their website...it is best to call them. If you can get a group of 6-8 together you will get a van instead of a bus, an much better (and cheaper) tours than through the ship, with good English speaking guides. Some also recommend http://www.portcompass.com You might want to read on the South America port discussion board on this site.


As far as your ports, they are the same as ours. We were on the Ryndam in 2001. We used South Star from Santiago to Valpariso. In Puerto Montt we used a local company and had a private tour using a Mercedes. It was not cheap, but was cheaper than the similar ship's tour, and there is so much beautiful country around there (and we reversed the direction from the buses so did not have crowds, and included or excluded what we wanted). The company we used was this one: http://www.chile-travel.com/eureka.htm

Don't miss the craft market here (near the pier) as it had the best selection and prices on the entire trip.


In Punta Arenas we had rain and cold, and just had a city tour which we could have missed. We did a little shopping here. Some went to see penguins, but we were too early in the season and there were not many there (November).


In Ushuaia we did not take a tour. Many said the train trip was very over-rated. Some took boat trips and did see a lot of penguins. We just walked around this charming town (be sure to have some chocolate at one of the many shops). The scenery was beautiful.


We lucked out with calm and warm weather in the Falklands. Walked around town a bit (even a wheelchair accessible bathroom on the main road!), and I took a trip to the penguin sanctuary. You can purchase shuttle tickets for this right at the pier for about 1/2 of what the ship changes for a tour, and I saw pretty much the same things. Docents will walk you around the pathways at the sanctuary for free.


In Buenos Aires we had a city tour through South Star one day, then took a cab to Calle Florida the second day for some shopping. Be sure to only take the radio cabs at the port, and go into a hotel to get a reliable cab back to the ship on your return if you do this. Do NOT flag down a cab on the street in this town! Some in our group went to Iguassu falls overnight here, which I would hightly recommend (I have done this when not on a cruise). They saved a lot of money by arranging this through South Star instead of through the ship.


In Montevideo we had a car tour of the city through South Star, then my dad and I took a free shopping shuttle into town and walked from there into the heart of the city and just walked around the parks, etc. We then took the same shuttle back to the ship. We did purchase some leather goods here.


In Rio we took 3 tours through South Star. I would definately not recommend tours on your own or using cabs here due to the high crime rate. The first day we had a city tour that included Sugar Loaf, the beachs, and Corcovado as well as a drive through the rain forest. Don't miss any of this. A bus trip through the ship will require you to take the train up to Corcovado, which is difficult for someone with a mobility impairment. Only vans and cars can drive up. While there are MANY stairs up to the base of the statue, you can see a lot of the city from the parking area at the top. There are also a lot of steps to the cable car at Sugar Loaf. That evening we took a dinner and entertainment tour. Had a great Brazilian barbecue dinner, then a Mardi Gras show which was quite spectacular. Our second day in Rio we took a tour to the old imperial summer capital of Petropolis, up in the mountains where it was cool. A beautiful drive, and interesting history at the old imperial palace. Our tour guide took us from there to the airport and waited with us to get safely through security before she left (I bet the ship tour guides did not do this!!).


Have a good time...it was the trip of a lifetime, and I have since been back to Brazil (which I loved) and will go again.

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