Friday, November 23, 2007

Are Shore Excursions Handicap Accessible?

Cruises can be a great vacation, but are they still enjoyable if you have accessibility issues? And if you do find the perfect cruise for you, will you be able to partake in the shore excursions?

In the past, it was often hard to find a cruise ship that was truly easy to navigate for a person in a wheelchair, but fortunately things have changed in the last few years, thanks evolving disability acts. A travel agent can help you find a ship that's perfect for your needs, but generally you'll find newer ships are much more handicap accessible and you'll have fewer difficulties and restrictions on your on-board roaming.

However, shore excursions are run by third parties, and in foreign countries they may not be worrying about disability acts instated in your country. This means you need to be a little more careful in selecting tours to take when you disembark.

In many cases, cruise lines will have certain shore excursions marked as handicap accessible (often with a wheelchair icon) in their brochures or their online booking system. Also the trips will be rated by difficulty level (1, 2, or 3). These pamphlets with their brief descriptions can only tell you so much however, so if you have doubts or questions about anything, your best recourse is just to ask.

How will transfers be done from ship to shore (if the ship is not docking but tendering people ashore with boats, transfers can be more troublesome) and from shore to tour transport? Will the excursion itself require walking or navigating over uneven terrain? Are vans, buses, etc. equipped with ramps and handicap seating?

You will find that while many shore excursions aren't suitable for people with accessibility issues, there will likely be some interesting tours to take at each port of call.

For more on cruising with accessibility issues, browse this article.

No comments: